Four Time Finalists, SB-L’s Gaukel finally gets state title

By Jeff Budlong for The Predicament

DES MOINES -- This time, the tears were happy.

After three bitter disappointments in the state finals, Sergeant Bluff-Luton's Jack Gaukel finally got the state title he has chased so hard only to see it just elude him on Saturday nights at the Iowa State Championships.

"It feels amazing, it's been a long time coming," he said. "There's a lot of nights where I just had that pain inside and it really just drove me to get back to this moment and really just try to put out the best performance I possibly could. I just feel like I did that tonight."

Gaukel left no doubt this time around, earning a 10-2 major decision victory over Winterset's Tyler Brown to claim the Class 2A 152-pound title.

"I couldn't let up because when I let off the gas pedal that is when I tend to get caught up on and stuff starts to sneak up on me," he said. "One thing we talked about in the tunnel is, 'Just be you, do what you do and don't let up and good things will happen.'"

The victory snapped a string of stinging disappointments in the finals for Gaukel. He lost a 3-2 decision to West Liberty's Will Esmoil as a junior, and that was on the heels of a 3-1 sudden victory loss to Clear Lake's Eric Faught as a sophomore. He was pinned by Albia's Aden Reeves as a freshman.

"I believed in myself and my coaches," he said. "I just genuinely believe I was the best guy. I'm not saying that as a slight to anyone I wrestled, those guys are really rough competitors. I just had that conviction within myself that I was going to be able to get it done no matter what and I was lucky enough to do that tonight." 

Gaukel, who follows Colton McCrystal as a four-time finalist for the Warriors, said he would not trade the previous three years. It drove him and molded him into the person and wrestler he is. That wrestler will join Iowa State next year and chase new dreams.

"It feels awesome," said Gaukel, who let out three years of pen-up emotion after the win. "There is just a lot of emotion that went into it with last year happening and feeling like this. I just really wanted to right the wrong and put up as many points on the scoreboard that I could."

Things did not go as well for two other wrestlers who were looking to avoid losing for the fourth consecutive time on championship night.

Centerville's Nate Genobana was unable to get off bottom in the second period against Independence junior Isaiah Weber. Weber easily escaped to start the third and went on to get the victory 2-0 in their 2A 138-pound match.   

Genobana came up short a year ago falling to Williamsburg's Jalen Schropp 8-3. As a sophomore it was Webster City's Drake Doolitte who claimed a 9-4 victory in the championship match, and ADM's Andrew Flora held Genobana off in the finals his freshman year 1-0.

While Genobana came up short, it was redemption for Weber, who entered the matchup 0-2 in finals having lost to four-time state champion -- and Genobana's teammate -- Matthew Lewis each of the past two years.

"In my opinion, I didn't wrestle to the best of my ability, but I still got it done so that is all I could do," Weber said. "To be honest, all throughout the day I was nervous … but I have been here two times and if I win or lose I am still the same person. I just went out there and had fun."

Logan-Magnolia senior Briar Reisz battled in his final at 152 in Class 1A, but came up short to Columbus freshman Max Magayna 7-5. Magayna went 42-0 on the season.

Reisz concludes his stellar career having lost to a who's who of finalists that began with three-time champion Adam Allard of West Sioux as a freshman. That was followed by a loss to Lisbon's Robert Avila Jr. as a sophomore. Avila, a junior, picked up his third state title Saturday night 5-2 to Don Bosco's Cael Rahnavardi. Reisz was denied a year ago in a 7-5 loss to Lisbon's Marshall Hauck.