Logan-Magnolia's Briar Reisz, a three-time state wrestling finalist, is still seeking his first title
One of the quieter storylines of the 2021 state wrestling tournament centers on Logan-Magnolia's Briar Reisz.
The senior is, by virtually every measure, one of the state's most successful wrestlers. He owns more than 190 career wins and is a three-time state finalist. Entering this year, only 65 wrestlers in state history have reached the state finals all four years.
Reisz (pronounced like "Rice") hopes to become No. 66 this week, but he also hopes the fourth time will be the charm.
Yes, Resiz, the 1-seed this week at 152 pounds, is a three-time Class 1A state finalist but has finished second each time.
"I hung them up on a little hook in my room," Reisz said, of his three silver state medals. "It motivates me. I know that I've been so close my sophomore and junior year. I'm right there, so close to winning it."
Iowa state wrestling: Updated coverage from the first day of the tournament
Reisz is actually one of six wrestlers this week hoping to reach the state finals for the fourth-straight year. You know one of them: Centerville's Matthew Lewis, who is hoping to become the state's 29th four-time state champion. You surely know of two more: Fort Dodge's Drake Ayala and Ankeny's Caleb Rathjen, both going for their third in Class 3A.
The other three: Centerville's Nathaniel Genobana, Sergeant Bluff-Luton's Jack Gaukel, and Reisz. All three are three-time state finalists, but with a combined zero titles.
It's not as though Reisz has just wilted under the lights in the finals each year. He's actually lost to some of the state's best wrestlers along the way.
As a freshman, Reisz fell to West Sioux's Adam Allard, a three-time champ with 206 career wins. As a sophomore, he lost to Lisbon's Robert Avila Jr., who's on track to become a four-time champ as well. Last year, Lisbon's Marshall Hauck, who's now at South Dakota State, scored an escape and a takedown in the third to beat Reisz, 7-5.
"It's a little frustrating, but those losses were on me," Reisz said. "They were learning experiences for me."
For subscribers: The Register's complete 2021 state wrestling tournament preview
Of the state's 65 four-time finalists, only one failed to win a state title: Connor Ryan, who was a four-time finalist for North Scott (2009-10) and Bettendorf (2011-12). Every other four-time finalist won at least two titles.
Reisz hopes to become to become the first four-time finalist to win just one state championship, instead of joining Ryan. He took a good first step during Thursday's opening round, with a second-period fall over Missouri Valley's Ben Hansen.
Up next: a quarterfinal match against Lisbon's Lincoln Holub. Win there, then he'll meet either Western Christian's Jace Mulder or Riceville's Lawson Losee in the semifinals. Navigate that, and Columbus Catholic's Max Magayna, an undefeated freshman, could be his likely opponent in the finals.
What a matchup that would be, between Reisz, who is trying to avoid infamous history, and Magayna, who needs to win this year to take his first step toward becoming the next star.
No pressure, right?
"Little bit," Reisz said and smiled, "but nothing crazy."
- Class 3A: Ames' Greenlee comes from long line of successful heavyweights
- Class 1A: Logan-Magnolia three-time finalist Briar Reisz still after first title
- Matches to watch: Analysis of Friday's top quarterfinals in each class
- Photos: Every picture from the 2021 state tournament
- Updates: Opening sessions, as they happened
- How to watch and follow the Iowa state high school wrestling tournament this week
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Don Bosco takes the early team lead
The Dons are in pursuit of a third-straight Class 1A team title this week, and made quite a statement in Thursday's opening round.
Don Bosco went 11-1 in the opening round, and took the team lead with 41 points. Lisbon sits second with 31, followed by Logan Magnolia (23), West Sioux (17.5), and Lake Mills (16).
All 12 Don wrestlers who qualified for this week are still competing, and nine of the 11 first-round winners scored bonus, including six pins, as well as Andrew Kimball's thrilling 6-5 comeback win over Columbus Catholic's Gavin Reed at 113. Don Bosco scored 18 bonus points in session one, which would be fourth in the team race on its own.
It was going to take a herculean effort — or an epic collapse — for any of the other Class 1A contenders to catch Don Bosco this week. Thursday's first session showed why.
OTHER TEAMS: Lisbon pushed eight wrestlers into the quarterfinals, while Logan-Magnolia and West Sioux each have five in the quarters. Underwood, in sixth place, has four quarterfinalists, and both Nashua-Plainfield and Lake Mills have three.
A lot of first-round pins
There were a total of 168 matches in Class 1A's opening session Thursday morning — 112 first-round bouts, followed by 56 in the wrestlebacks — and more than half resulted in pins.
There were 94 total pins in Thursday's first session, meaning 56% of the total matches resulted in one wrestler putting both of their opponent's shoulders on the mat.
There were 11 at heavyweight — 7 in the first-round, plus all four in the wrestlebacks — and 10 at 220. The fewest came at 138 pounds, where only three matches ended in a fall.
Riceville's Mitchell Marr had the quickest pin, in 22 seconds. He was one of 12 to record a pin in under a minute, and one of 38 to record one in the first period.
The seeding formula must be working — or these guys were just good.
How did all the Caels do?
Seven wrestlers in the 1A tournament are named Cael, presumably after Cael Sanderson, the four-time undefeated NCAA champ for Iowa State-turned-head coach at Penn State, leading the Nittany Lions to eight NCAA titles since 2011.
All seven Caels advanced to Friday's second session, posting a 7-4 combined record.
Three are into the quarterfinals: Don Bosco's Cael Rahnavardi (145), Don Bosco's Cael Frost (160) and St. Albert's Cael McLaren (170). The others are in the wrestlebacks: Akron-Westfield's Cael Morrow (106), North Linn's Cael Bridgewater (132), Pekin's Cael Baker (152) and Martensdale-St. Marys Cael Cassady (160).
Even more, four other 1A wrestlers have different spelling variations of the name. They went a combined 2-4. West Fork's Kale Petersen (106) and Wilton's Kael Brisker (138) are both in the quarterfinals. Ogden's Kale Munson (126) and ACGC's Cale Rowley (152) were both eliminated.
Honoring Dan McCool
Before the session began, the Iowa High School Athletic Association took a moment to honor the late Dan McCool, the longtime Register wrestling writer who died last May.
McCool routinely attended the state wrestling tournament even after he no longer wrote for the Register. He could usually be found up on the concourse selling his book “Reach for the Stars: The Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament.”
This year was the first in a long time where he was not present. As such, the IHSAA honored his memory with a moment of silence before wrestling began. The small crowd gave an applause afterward to acknowledge his dedication and commitment to the wrestling community, both in Iowa and beyond.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.