The CNA sports staff has compiled a list of breakout wrestlers who will seek to out-perform their prior season for the upcoming 2020-21 wrestling season.
Players were selected by evaluating the current state of the program, the team’s success with each respective player, and how they are forecasted to improve or play with the team in the upcoming season. We also took into account their success from a year prior, and whether it will carry over into the new season, or not due to potential changes in the team’s roster, coaching or strategy.
Garon Wurster, Creston/O-M
Tyler Hetu – While many were watching Sam Chapman and Jackson Kinsella work their way to state last season, Garon Wurster was quietly putting together a strong campaign that was just shy of a state-qualifying season.
A first-place finish at John J. Harris and a second-place finish at Hawkeye 10 (which he won a year prior) had Creston/O-M head coach Cody Downing feeling good about Wurster’s chances for state as the postseason approached. But, after a second-place finish at sectionals had Wurster advancing to the penultimate District meet, a first-round 10-6 dec. loss to Kale Downey of Clarinda in districts put Wurster behind the eight ball.
He ultimately came up just short on a no contest due to Downey finishing second. Downing really felt he had a chance last year, and his feelings are probably going to get stronger this season. He has a legit chance of making some noise this season.
Justin Parsons, Creston/O-M
Brennen Normand – A group that was heavy on the top end of the weight classes in 2019-20, Creston/Orient-Macksburg saw major progression from their 106 pounder, Justin Parsons. The Panthers look to be a strong group led by No. 3 182 in Class 2A and state runner up Kinsella, but Parsons could help the team get back to being a dual powerhouse.
As a sophomore, Parsons started out his season with a sixth-place finish at the Dallas Center-Grimes Invitational and continued the success. He took sixth-place finishes at the Clear Lake Invitational and John J. Harris Invitational, a fifth-place finish at the Riverside Invitational, fourth place at the Hawkeye 10 Tournament, third place at sectionals and won the Creston Junior Varsity Tournament.
After seeing the development throughout the year, it could factor into a big season for Parsons if he can continue to build on that success. If Parsons can continue to be reliable, he can take over the almost guaranteed points that were lost from Chapman’s graduation.
Adyson Lundquist, Southwest Valley
Tyler Hetu – Putting Ady Lundquist on this list is not a PR stunt. This girl is legit. Like, really legit.
The Southwest Valley product went against boys for much of the 2019-20 season, but her performances adjacent to SWV wrestling really put her on the map.
She had a sectional win, eventually falling in the final, going into the third period before getting pinned for second-place. A little over a month later, she won the Iowa AAU Girls State Championship with the Scramblers, pinning her way before winning a 9-8 decision over North Scott’s Faith Rains. Seven days later, she wrestled (unattached) her way to third in the Female Elite Championships at 108.
The former cheerleader turned wrestler will continue to be a stud, and carve a different path to success than the traditional boys high school wrestler does. As the girls wrestling scene in Iowa grows, Lundquist’s notoriety will too.
Brennen Normand – Lundquist is a girl that’s garnered some hype around her throughout the last 12 months, winning her match during IAwrestle’s “Night of Conflict” in September, placing first at 106 for the 2020 AAU State Tournament or finding herself ranked No. 9 at 106 for IAWrestle’s Iowa High Schools Girls Rankings in March.
As a freshman, she was a district qualifier but was unable to compete due to a “skin condition.” Looking forward to this year, it seems like Lundquist has a plan for what she wants to accomplish on and off the mat.
“I want to be the girl that started Southwest Valley’s girls wrestling team,” Lundquist said in April.
Seeing the drive to want to start a program after her freshman season shows what she’s willing to do to be successful. There’s no reason to believe she won’t follow through with what she wants and continue to build.
Bryce Shaha, Mount Ayr
Tyler Hetu – After suffering a nasty knee injury in early December, there were uncertainties on where Bryce Shaha would be when he returned. But, once he came back, he rolled through competition.
The multi-state qualifier has unfinished business and there’s not a doubt in anyone’s eyes he’ll have a successful senior season. He carries a first-place finish at John J. Harris, and last seasons sectionals and districts into 2020 as notable podium placings to retain. He opens the season at No. 8 in Class 1A’s 126 weight after wrestling at 120 last season.
Shaha may not be the odds-on favorite for a state title at 120 or 126 with both state title winners from the year prior returning, but an eighth-place finish last season has him on the list of potential wrestlers on the top of the podium this season. Expect him to be back there again and to put on a show.
Brennen Normand – A year ago we didn’t get to see the full force of Mount Ayr’s team. Shaha entered the season ranked as the No. 9 120 in Class 1A, but he missed part of the season due to injury. This year, he’s back and ready to go as part of a loaded No. 5 Mount Ayr team.
Despite missing time, he finished eighth at the state tournament after returning post-Pride of Iowa tournament. Big performances came from a first-place title at the John J. Harris Invitational for 120 pounds and first-place finishes at Sectionals and Districts to send him to the state tournament. He also finished in second place at the Quad State Classic.
Whether the time off affected Shaha or not is unknown, but this year we will be able to see all of the best from one of the Raiders’ most talented wrestlers.
Elliot Cooney, Nodaway Valley
Tyler Hetu – The term “bad dude” gets tossed around frequently, especially with wrestlers, but if there was a list, Elliot Cooney would be near the top.
Finishing 40-6 at 113 last season, Cooney worked his way to state for the second time in his career. He just missed the podium, falling behind by takedowns in his first match and then falling by pin in consolation. The early exit visibly had Cooney upset, showing he expected much more out of his second time around.
With a slate wiped clean and Cooney embarking on a third opportunity at state, he can shake off the nerves of wrestling at state and find his way to a spot whether it be on the right side of the bracket, or the left (consolation) side. Entering this season Cooney’s attitude alone should be enough to keep him in every match until the whistle. He won’t accept a loss.
Brennen Normand – Cooney dominated opponents throughout the regular season, being ranked in the top-10 for 113 pounds for much of the season. Now, during his junior season, he is seeking a third-consecutive state tournament appearance, but more than that, to place.
He’ll need to break the snide at the state meet, however. In five matches in the Wells Fargo Arena, Cooney has one win. This season, expect him to change that record.
Jarryn Stephens, East Union
Tyler Hetu – Jarryn Stephens flew under the radar at times it seemed, but this season the Class 1A No. 9 at 120 definitely be well-known to many.
Notably last season in districts, a first-round win put Stephens up against Bryce Shaha of Mount Ayr. Stephens fell in a 4-3 decision, but clinched a state-qualifying bid by taking second by default. At state, he won a match in consolation in a 6-4 dec. over HLK’s Ethan Kulpka, but lost to Underwood’s Steve Barnes by pin in just under four minutes.
Ready to get back to the grind, Stephens has already posted a second-place finish at the Benton Preseason Classic Nov. 8. He’s already up to form, and will be a big name for the Eagles this season as he looks to go back to state.
Brennen Normand – Stephens made a run at the end of the season for East Union to advance to the state tournament as the lone Eagle. His road to the tournament was tough, squaring off with Mount Ayr’s Shaha at Districts. He fell to Shaha and took second to advance.
During the season, he had first-place titles at the Lenox Invitational and the Pride of Iowa Tournament. He recorded one win in consolation, so expect him to make a deeper run as a senior.
Devin Whipple, Bedford/Lenox
Tyler Hetu – Big man Devin Whipple returns to Bedford/Lenox wrestling as one of two state qualifiers for the Tigers last season. His partner last season was Drew Venteicher, who departed for Loras College. Now, he’ll look to become the next regular to appear at state for the blue and yellow.
Whipple posted first-place finishes at the Riley Invitational, Pride of Iowa tournament and the Quad State Classic at 285. He also was first in Sectionals and Districts, and had a favorable enough matchup at state to move past the first round. He lost in the second round, winning through consolation for a seventh-place finish at state. Everything he did earned him the No. 3 rank in Class 1A at 285 entering this season.
Whipple’s junior season will be one where wins a lot. When and where will be the case, and hopefully it’ll be late January in Des Moines.
Brennen Normand – Bedford/Lenox’s Devin Whipple was a huge part of the Tigers’ dual success last year, being part of a strong top-end tandem with Venteicher. For 2020, Venteicher is wrestling for Loras College, so expect Whipple to retain his spot among the best for Bedford/Lenox.
Whipple’s strong season ended with a seventh-place state finish after two wild ultimate tiebreakers. He finished in first place for 285 at the Coach Riley Invitational, Pride of Iowa Tournament, Quad State Classic, Sectionals and Districts.
He was close to fighting for a state title as a sophomore, look for him to potentially be in the running again.