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Linn-Mar wrestling's Tate Naaktgeboren scores revenge, wins second straight Junior national title

CEDAR FALLS — Tate Naaktgeboren doesn’t lose often. In three seasons at Linn-Mar, he’s compiled a 98-5 career record. He’s a three-time Class 3A state finalist with two titles. He won a Junior folkstyle national title last year, too. Dude wins. A lot.

Which means the losses, few as they are, tend to stick with him.

Like, for example, the one he took 70 days ago at Clinton’s Bob Lueders tournament.

Naaktgeboren suffered a rare 9-4 loss to Aeoden Sinclair, a talented sophomore from Milton High School in Wisconsin. Sinclair caught Naaktgeboren on his back for a takedown and three nearfall late in the second period. Held up as the difference.

For the record, Sinclair is also a winner, a Wisconsin state champion, USA Wrestling’s preseason national champ. He won 15U national titles in both freestyle and Greco-Roman and was a 16U freestyle All-American. He’s considered the No. 30 overall prospect on MatScouts’ 2024 Big Board, and is currently ranked 23rd nationally.

But that loss stuck with Naaktgeboren, a future Iowa State wrestler. They all do, really, but we mention that one specifically because Naaktgeboren got a shot a revenge this weekend at USA Wrestling’s National Recruiting Showcase here at the UNI-Dome. He made good on that opportunity by beating Sinclair, 5-3, in the finals at 182 pounds.

Both guys blitzed the rest of the field to reach Saturday’s championship match. Naaktgeboren pinned his way through while Sinclair recorded two pins, a second-round technical fall and a very impressive 13-5 major decision over West Burlington-Notre Dame’s CJ Walrath in the semifinals (Walrath then rebounded for third).

In the finals, Sinclair led 3-0 in the second period scoring an escape and a takedown. Naaktgeboren escaped to make it 3-1, then scored his own takedown with nine seconds left by pulling in a single-leg to make it 3-3 entering the third period. Naaktgeboren then used an escape and crafty leg-pass defense to hang on for the win.

In doing so, Naaktgeboren secured his second straight national title. He solidified his standing as one of the country’s premier big men — he’s ranked 9th nationally at 170 and is considered the No. 30 overall 2023 prospect. He is now one-third of the way to the Junior Triple Crown (winning a national title in folkstyle, freestyle and greco).

These are all things we already knew about Tate Naaktgeboren, but the guy that won on the staged finals mat on Saturday at the UNI-Dome was not the same guy who lost 70 days ago in Clinton. He’s already a great wrestler who just continues to get better.

Because that’s what winners do.

9 Iowa wrestlers win USA Wrestling's folkstyle national championships

There was a heavy Iowa high school presence at USA Wrestling’s folkstyle national championships this weekend. There were technically three different tournaments going on:

  • The National Recruiting Showcase, which was basically the Junior folkstyle national championships.
  • The 16U folkstyle national championships, which is self-explanatory.
  • A High School Open Division, which was basically … everybody else.

Iowa high-schoolers ultimately won nine individual titles across all three competitions.

Five of those nine titles came in the National Recruiting Showcase: Naaktgeboren; Iowa City West’s Hunter Garvin (152); Columbus Catholic’s Max Magayna (160); West Delaware’s Wyatt Voelker (195) and Don Bosco’s Jared Thiry (220).

Garvin pinned his way to a title and was named the tournament’s most outstanding wrestler for the second straight year. Even with five pins, he still scored 52 points in five matches and allowed just 12. The Stanford-bound senior has won this event four times — as a Cadet in 2018 and 2019, as a Junior last year, then again this weekend.

Magayna, a two-time Class 1A state champ, was equally as impressive, going 5-0 and outscoring his opponents 31-3. He recorded two pins — a 60-second fall in the first round, then a 98-second fall in Saturday’s finals. He is considered the No. 46 overall prospect in the 2024 class by MatScouts and looked every bit the part this weekend.

Voelker, a runner-up last year to Iowa City High’s Ben Kueter, stormed to a title this weekend. He opened with a hard-fought 7-5 first-round win over Indiana state finalist Connor Barket, who went on to finish third, then Voelker rolled: 18-9 winner in round two, followed by three consecutive pins in the quarterfinals, semifinals and finals.

Thiry, a state champ for the Dons in February, scored just nine points in three matches, including back-to-back 1-0 wins in the semifinals and finals. They were identical in score and script: a scoreless first period, escape in the second, rideout in the third. His three wins came over the fourth-, third- and second-place finisher at 220 pounds.

Iowa City High’s Cale Seaton (126) and Linn-Mar’s Kane Naaktgeboren (138) both won 16U national titles, putting them one-third of the way to a 16U triple crown. Seaton outscored his five opponents 68-33. Naaktgeboren, a 16U national runner-up last season, outscored his four foes 38-7. Neither guy gave up a takedown all weekend.

Nashua-Plainfield’s Rinken brothers, Jayden (100) and Garret (120), both won titles in the High School Open Division. Jayden went 3-0 and scored 31 points, anchored mostly by a 21-5 technical fall win in the finals. Garret scored 45 points in his first three matches, then rallied from down 3-0 to beat Oklahoma’s Blade Walden 6-5 in the finals.

Future Northern Iowa wrestler Cory Land wins national title at 126 pounds

Northern Iowa wrestling fans got a good glimpse of the Panthers' bright future this weekend, both in Voelker's first-place performance and in Cory Land's national title-winning run at 126 pounds.

Land, the well-credentialed Greco extraordinaire from Alabama, stormed to first this weekend as well, winning his five matches by a combined 46-12. The Northern Iowa signee also solidified his standing as one of the top talents in the 2022 senior class.

Land's had a knack for producing strong performances at tough competitions. He won five Alabama state titles. He's made the finals at the Super 32 Challenge twice. He won the Cadet Greco-Roman world team trials, then won a world silver medal. He took third at the Junior folkstyle national championships last year.

Then came this weekend's stellar performance, where he racked up 15 takedowns in five matches and allowed just one. He came in as the top seed and backed it up with five consecutive dominant showings.

Doug Schwab, Northern Iowa's head wrestling coach, stood matside all weekend and took in each one with a big, big smile.

More Iowa observations from USA Wrestling's national championships

  • Lisbon's Wyatt Smith made the heavyweight finals of the High School Open Division. He won by fall, by 8-5 decision and by 11-2 major to reach the finals, then lost to Indiana prep Paul Clark, 5-3, in the championship match. In that same bracket, Cedar Rapids Prairie's Carter Dawley went 2-2 and took fourth.
  • West Delaware's Cam Geuther went 3-2 and took fourth at heavyweight in the Showcase. He won his three matches by a combined five points — 3-0 in the first round, 8-7 in the quarterfinals, then 4-3 in overtime in the consolation semifinals.
  • Walrath, West Burlington-Notre Dame's state champ, went 5-1 overall in his third-place finish at 182 in the Showcase. Outside of his semifinal loss to Sinclair, Walrath totaled 42 total points in his five victories, which included two pins and two majors.
  • Carter West and Isaiah Fenton, two more Nike wrestlers, took third in the High School Open Division at 106 and 160, respectively. Both lost their first matches then wrestled back for third. Fenton won five in a row, including a 5-2 consolation semifinal win over Union's Stone Schmitz, who finished fifth.
  • Bettendorf's Jayce Luna took the same bath to third at 132 in the High School Open Division. After a 10-9 first-round loss to eventual champ Sam Sutton from Alabama, Luna won four straight matches by a combined 58-9, capped by a 5-1 win over Southeast Polk's Trevor Oberbroeckling in the third-place match.
  • Winterset's Carter Smuck also lost his first match and wrestled back for fourth at 195 in the High School Open Division. His two losses came to Louisiana's Corey Hyatt.
  • Bondurant-Farrar's Chase Fiser beat Denver's Joe Ebaugh, 5-1, for third at 138 pounds in the High School Open Division. Both guys lost to Missouri's Gavynn Carpenter, an eventual finalist, on the front side, then wrestled back for top-four finishes.
  • Don Bosco's Kyler Knaack, who wrestled 126 at the state tournament in February, jumped to 145 this weekend and took fifth in the 16U tournament. He won his first three matches to reach the semifinals, then rallied for fifth.
  • Waverly-Shell Rock's Braxten Westendorf jumped from 120 in February to 138 this weekend, and won three straight wrestleback matches — two by fall — to finish eighth in the 16U tournament.
  • Norwalk's Dominic Tigner, who didn't qualify for state in February, made the quarterfinals of the 16U national tournament and finished sixth at 160 pounds.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.