State wrestling: It's a two-team race in Class 3A between Waverly-Shell Rock and Waukee
There's a chance that the Class 3A state team title won't be decided until Saturday night's final round.
And that's because of Waverly-Shell Rock's performance during Friday night's semifinal round.
The Go-Hawks surged into the team lead in the Class 3A state tournament with 134.5 points. They usurped Waukee, who began Friday with the team lead and sits second with 126. Southeast Polk (99), Bettendorf (81.5) and Ankeny (77.5) round out the top five.
But Waverly-Shell Rock and Waukee have clearly separated themselves from the rest of the class.
The Go-Hawks finished the night with five finalists: Ryder Block (132), Aiden Riggins (152), McCrae Hagarty (182), Jake Walker (195) and Luke Walker (220). Another four are alive in the wrestlebacks, including two who are alive for third.
The Warriors have four in the finals: Carter Freeman (106), Koufax Christensen (113), Thurman Christensen (126) and Griffin Gammell (182). Another five are alive in the wrestlebacks, including three alive for third.
And although the Rams have a lot of ground to make up at a distant third, they do have two finalists, in Nate Jesuroga (113) and Joel Jesuroga (145), as well as six alive in the wrestlebacks — and all of them are alive for third.
Barring something wacky, though, Class 3A is a two-horse race. Saturday morning's wrestleback session and ensuing medal matches will be crucial, as will Saturday night's finals — especially the one at 182 pounds, between Hagarty and Gammell.
An epic team race was expected, and that's exactly what we've got, between Waverly-Shell Rock, the two-time defending Class 3A state champion, and Waukee, a team still searching for its first team wrestling state title.
May the best team win.
More state wrestling coverage
- Finals matchups: See every title bout in every class
- Class 3A: Waverly-Shell Rock, Waukee dueling for crown
- Class 2A: West Delaware rolls to second team title in three years
- Class 1A: Don Bosco closing in on team three-peat
- Recap: Day 2 of the tournament, as it happened
- Pump-up music: What do Iowa's state wrestling champs listen to?
- Streaming guide: Whether you're near Wells Fargo Arena this week, here's what to know
- Every photo: Our complete visual recap of the 2021 state tournament
Class 3A finals analysis
A quick, instant-reaction look at the Class 3A finals matches.
106: Carter Freeman (Waukee) vs. Blake Gioimo (Cedar Rapids Prairie)
Freeman needed a late score to defeat Fort Dodge's Dru Ayala in the semifinals, while Gioimo used a big second-period to top Indianola's Bowen Downey. These two guys are a combined 49-0.
113: Nathanael Jesuroga (Southeast Polk) vs. Koufax Christensen (Waukee)
This will be the fourth meeting between these two this season. Jesuroga won all of them, including twice by major decision.
120: Trever Anderson (Ankeny) vs. Chad Bellis (Dubuque Hempstead)
Anderson is back in the state finals, a month after injuring his shoulder. He won a title as a freshman and took third last year. Bellis, an Illinois transplant, took out Waverly-Shell Rock's Bailey Roybal, another past champ, in the semifinals.
126: Dustin Bohren (Bettendorf) vs. Thurman Christensen (Waukee)
Bohren needed a takedown in sudden victory to defeat Sioux City North's Nick Walters 3-1 in the semifinals. Christensen, Koufax's older brother, topped Iowa City West's Grant O'Dell 6-2 to advance.
132: Ryder Block (Waverly-Shell Rock) vs. Drake Ayala (Fort Dodge)
The rematch we've all been waiting for. Block beat Ayala 9-7 last month. It was just the third loss of Ayala's legendary career. In response, Ayala bumped up to 132 for the postseason, and is eagerly seeking Saturday night's highly-anticipated rematch.
138: Hunter Garvin (Iowa City West) vs. Dylan Whitt (Cedar Falls)
Garvin is in the finals for the third straight year, and is seeking his second straight title. To get it, he'll have to beat Whitt, who upset Waukee's Cole Ferguson 7-5, thanks to a wicked second-period headlock.
145: Dreyzon Phillips (Fort Dodge) vs. Joel Jesuroga (Southeast Polk)
This is a sneaky great matchup. Phillips is making his second straight trip to the state finals, and has allowed just two points in three matches so far. Jesuroga, who has grown into one of the state's brightest budding talents, has only allowed three.
152: Aiden Riggins (Waverly-Shell Rock) vs. Caleb Rathjen (Ankeny)
Another epic rematch. Riggins beat Rathjen 9-8 last month. Yet another highly-anticipated matchup between a future Hawkeye (Rathjen) against a current Go-Hawk. Giddy up.
160: Caleb Corbin (West Des Moines Valley) vs. Tate Naaktgeboren (Linn-Mar)
A pair of returning state finalists here. Corbin lost to Waverly-Shell Rock's Evan Yant, who's now at Northern Iowa, last year. Naaktgeboren lost to Iowa City High's Ben Kueter, who is now at 195 pounds. This should be great.
170: Caleb Helgeson (Johnston) vs. Mickey Griffith (Des Moines Lincoln)
Last year, Griffith became D.M. Lincoln's first state champ since 2003. Now he's back again, and against a familiar opponent. Griffith and Helgeson, who is in the finals after reaching the semifinals each of the past three years, have wrestled twice this season. Each won one of the previous meetings. Makes sense, then, that the third is here.
182: McCrae Hagarty (Waverly-Shell Rock) vs. Griffin Gammell (Waukee)
This matchup could decide the team race, or at least play a decisive role. It's also the second time this season these two guys, with extremely similar body types and wrestling styles, have wrestled. Hagarty won a thriller last month.
195: Jake Walker (Waverly-Shell Rock) vs. Ben Kueter (Iowa City High)
Walker's appearance in the finals is a large reason why Waverly-Shell Rock has the team lead. He knocked off top-seeded Taner Harvey of Boone in the semifinals, 5-3 in sudden victory. He'll have his work cut out for him against Kueter, a defending champ who has outscored his three opponents 31-7 this week.
220: Bradley Hill (Bettendorf) vs. Luke Walker (Waverly-Shell Rock)
Another rematch from the regular season. Hill has wrestled like a man possessed this week: 3-0 with three pins. Walker scored a late takedown to defeat Southeast Polk's Kalob Runyon 3-1 in the semifinals. Hill beat Walker last month. Now, they'll meet again for the title.
285: Gabriel Greenlee (Ames) vs. Griffin Liddle (Bettendorf)
A rematch of last year's heavyweight state final, which Liddle won 7-2. Greenlee won the rematch last month 3-1. Both are athletic, move quick and have tons of horsepower. You'll want to stay all the way to the end for this one.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.