Your Prep Sports Area Wrestlers to Watch this Season

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Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

It’s hard to imagine but the first day of the state wrestling tournament is a little more than two months away.

That’s right, as the wrestling season gets into full swing this week every wrestler is shooting for the same thing, a spot at the State Meet at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines that runs from February 20-22.

Before the season gets rolling here is a list of 12 wrestlers in the Your Prep Sports area to watch this season.

Hayden Taylor

Sophomore, Solon

Taylor capped an impressive debut season with a dominant showing at the state meet on his way to becoming the first freshman state champion in Solon history.

In his first state meet Taylor earned a 15-0 tech fall over a defending state champion in the semifinals before posting an 11-3 major decision in the Class 2A 126-pound title match.

Taylor won WAMAC Conference, sectional and district titles and finished his freshman season 51-2.

Hunter Garvin

Sophomore, West High

One of the most exciting and dominant young wrestlers in the state Garvin recorded 23 points while posting a 39-4 record on his way to a runner-up finish at the Class 3A state tournament.

Garvin lost just two matches to in-state competition in his debut season, both by decision, falling to Carson Taylor of Fort Dodge 13-8 in the 120-pound state title match.

Only 14 of Garvin’s 43 matches last season went the distance and he outscored opponents 46-12 in three consecutive state meet wins to reach the finals. 

Ashton Barker

Junior, West High

One of the biggest surprises of the Class 3A state meet last season Barker burst onto the scene with three wins over top-five ranked opponents on his way to a third-place finish at 170 pounds.

The strong state meet capped a breakthrough season for Barker who won eight of his final nine matches and finished the season 21-5.

Barker became the first Liberty High medalist in program history last season in his first trip to the state meet and now joins a power-packed West High lineup.

Ethan Wood-Finley

Senior, City High

Wood-Finley has been rock solid in the 106-pound spot in the City High lineup the past two seasons.

The senior makes the move up to 113 this year and is looking for a breakthrough following back-to-back fifth-place state meet finishes.

Wood-Finley has won Mississippi Valley Conference and district titles each of the past two seasons while going a combined 78-12 and opens the season ranked sixth in Class 3A at 113 pounds.

Kael Scranton

Sophomore, Clear Creek Amana

Scranton turned some heads in his first season of varsity action posting a 36-11 record and advancing to the Class 3A state meet.

After dropping both of his state meet matches last season Scranton is ready to do more than just make a return trip to Des Moines this season.

The sophomore opens the season ranked seventh in Class 3A at 132 pounds.

Zeb Gnida

Senior, Solon

A stalwart in the Solon lineup each of the past three seasons Gnida will look to close his career by reaching the state medal stand for the third consecutive season.

Gnida has won 40 matches and picked up state medals each of the past two seasons placing fourth at the 2A state meet as a sophomore before finishing sixth at 132 pounds a year ago.

He opens the season ranked fourth in 2A at 152 pounds. 

Graham Gambrall

Junior, West High

In his first two seasons Gambrall has already won 84 matches, a pair of MVC and district titles and picked up two state medals.

Now Gambrall is looking for his state meet breakthrough.

Gambrall finished sixth as a freshman, was eighth at the 3A state meet at 138 pounds a year ago and opens this season ranked sixth at 152 pounds.

Will Hoeft

Senior, West High

Hoeft tore his ACL at the MVC Conference meet last January but still managed to win a district title and earn the first state medal of his career with a sixth-place finish at 182 pounds.

After offseason surgery to repair his knee Hoeft returned in time to play the final five football games during the fall and opens the season ranked third in 3A at 182 pounds.  

Ben Kueter

Freshman, City High

Kueter has yet to wrestle a high school match but is already garnering attention as one of the top young stars in the sport.

The freshman brings an impressive resume and a No. 5 ranking in Class 3A into his freshman season where he will fill a hole in the upper weights for the Little Hawks.

Kaleb Williams

Senior, Liberty High

Williams had his junior season end in heartbreaking fashion with a loss in a district wrestle back match for a spot in the state meet.

A three-year varsity starter Williams posted a 21-11 record last season and will be seeking his first state meet appearance this winter.

Jax Flynn

Senior, Solon

After earning the first state medal of his career last season Flynn is a prime candidate for a breakthrough season.

Flynn went 46-7 and finished seventh at 170-pounds at the Class 2A state meet last season and opens this year ranked second in 2A at 170 pounds.

Rowan Udell

Senior, Regina

Udell was solid last season posting a 25-9 record but is seeking to take things to another level this season.

He opens the season ranked tenth in Class 1A at 195 pounds and is seeking his first state tournament appearance in his final season.

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