Gaukel, Genobana, Reisz trying to avoid history

By Matt Levins for The Predicament

Nathaniel Genobana

Sergeant Bluff-Luton's Jack Gaukel scores a takedown against CLGLR's Kalen Meyer at the Class 2A Dual Team Regional finals. (Photo by Wayne Dominowski)

Brian Reisz of Logan Magnolia

Connor Ryan holds a unique place in the deep and storied annals of Iowa high school wrestling.
The former North Scott and Bettendorf standout wrestled in the finals all four years, which is not all that unusual. After all, 62 wrestlers have accomplished that feat.
What makes Ryan’s accomplishment unique was that he finished as a state runner-up all four years, the only person who can make that claim.
Not that anyone ever set out to be a four-time runner-up, but three other wrestlers will try to avoid joining Ryan this year, possibly quadrupling the number of four-time state runner-ups in one year.
Sergeant Bluff-Luton senior Jack Gaukel, Centerville senior Nathaniel Genobana and Logan-Magnolia senior Briar Reisz will be looking to avoid history when the 2020-21 high school wrestling season commences on Nov. 30. They have performed under the bright lights in front of a packed house at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines on statewide television. Now, they want to have their hand raised on Saturday night and take that final step to the top of the podium.
While most wrestlers are chasing history, this trio is trying their hardest to avoid it.
“My goal is still the same as it has been the last three years — to get my hand raised on the blue mat on Saturday night in the finals and be a state champion,” said Gaukel, who brings a 147-12 record into his senior season. “It’s an incredible experience with the Grand March and then a sellout crowd at Wells Fargo Arena watching you wrestle in the finals. I have been very, very blessed to be a part of it three times. I may not have got the result I wanted, but it’s an incredible experience.”
“It was a great experience,” Genobana said. “It sucks losing three times in a row in the finals, but I have been fine-tuning some things and making some adjustments that will hopefully help me get to the top this time. I have been working on finishing my shots, having a more diverse attack. Following through on my attacks is what I need to work on.”
“I am all healed up now, so there are no excuses now,” said Reisz, who suffered a torn ACL last season which slowed down his offense. “Peak Performance helped me get back and get second. After all that, I can’t be too disappointed with the outcome. I had surgery on Feb. 25 and took six months off. I am back and ready to get going now.”
Ryan didn’t exactly lose to any slouches during his four years on the big stage. Ryan, who went on to wrestle at Iowa, lost twice to Cory Clark, who went on to be a national champion at Iowa. He lost to former Iowa City West standout Jack Hathaway, a two-time national qualifier for Oregon State and his senior year he dropped a 9-6 decision to John Meeks of Des Moines Roosevelt as Meeks clinched his fourth state title. Meeks would go on to wrestle at Iowa State.
None of this year’s trio has any intentions of joining Ryan.
Gaukel lost in sudden victory two years ago and dropped a 3-2 match to Will Esmoil of West Liberty in the Class 2A 152-pound final last year.
Genobana lost a 1-0 decision to ADM’s Andrew Flora his freshman year and lost an 8-3 decision to Jalen Schrod of Williamsburg in last year’s Class 2A 138-pound final.
Reisz lost a pair of two-point decisions to Lisbon wrestlers the last two years, falling to Robert Avila two years ago and Marshall Hauck last year.
Gaukel got started in the sport when he saw a pair of wrestling shoes in a friend’s closet. After telling his mother he wanted a pair of wrestling shoes, she told him he had to go out for wrestling to get a pair of wrestling shoes. Gaukel fell in love with the sport from the start. Even a lost summer of wrestling because of the pandemic isn’t going to keep Gaukel from chasing his goal of becoming a state champion.
“It really stinks that we didn’t have any summer competition at Fargo and some of the other big meets,” Gaukel said. “I am really looking forward to this season. Last year really motivated me to work even harder to get to the top. I’m just going to go out there and do the things I’m capable of doing and achieve my goal.”
“My goal is to take it all this year, just like it has been the last three years,” said Genobana, who started wrestling in second grade. “This year I am going to have fun with it, take more risks. This is my last chance, so I want to make the most of it.”
“The first two years I was very nervous in the finals, but last year I just went out there to have fun. I was just happy to be able to wrestle out there,” said Reisz, who started wrestling in first grade. “I never placed in a tournament until eighth grade. I placed second that year. I just kept making big jumps, especially in high school. Last year I wrestled the best I could. (Hauck) just had a better match than I did.”