Five Quarterfinal Matches Featuring Your Prep Sports Area Wrestlers to Watch


Photo by Jeff Yoder

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

DES MOINES – Day one at the state wrestling meet is done. The opening round is history.

Now things really start to get good.

By the time the dust settles and the lights go out at Wells Fargo Arena on Friday night the 2020 championship matches will be set.

Before we can focus on Friday’s main event, the evening semifinals we must focus on the morning quarters.

Here are five of the best quarterfinal matchups involving Your Prep Sports area wrestlers.

Class 3A

Grant O’Dell (West High) vs. Brandon O’Brien (Linn-Mar)

A couple of Mississippi Valley Conference rivals that know each other well get the morning started with a top-five matchup at 106 pounds.

Fourth-ranked O’Dell (26-6) earned a 2-1 consolation win over O’Brien on this way to a seventh-place finish last season as a sophomore and enters riding a seven-match winning streak.

No. 3 O’Brien (19-1) returned to action for the first time since December at the district meet last week posting three consecutive first-period pins

O’Brien won the only meeting between the two this season 6-1 at a dual back on December 19.

Ethan Wood-Finley (City High) vs. Bailey Roybal (Waverly-Shell Rock)

Another battle of premier lightweights comes at 113 where a couple of returning state medalists looking to climb the podium square off.

Wood-Finley (25-2) is a two-time state medalist placing fifth the past two seasons at 106 pounds while Roybal (36-1) was fifth at 113 pounds a year ago.  

Roybal is unbeaten against in-state competition and enters red-hot, riding a 15-match winning streak that includes wins over fourth-ranked Ryder Downey of Indianola and seventh-ranked Lane Cowell of Fort Dodge at the state dual meet on Wednesday.

Wood-Finley missed nearly a month at the end of the regular season but has been razor sharp in his return pinning three postseason opponents in less than 90 seconds.

Graham Gambrall (West High) vs. Ben Monroe (Ankeny Centennial)

This 145-pound showdown should be fun.

A two-time medalist Gambrall (33-5) finally got over the opening round hump on Thursday advancing the quarterfinals for the first time with a third-period pin of Johnston junior Peter Erickson.

Fifth-ranked Gambrall hasn’t lost in 2020, winning 16 straight matches, nine via pin or tech fall.

In his first ever quarterfinal Gambrall gets the experienced Monroe (36-2) a three-time state runner-up seeking a title in his final state meet.

Monroe was runner-up at 106, 120 and 132 the past three seasons and owns a 156-15 career record.

The only losses for the fourth-ranked Monroe this season have come to top-ranked Devon Strief of North Scott and third-ranked Sam Kallem of Ankeny.

Ben Kueter (City High) vs. Jake Matthiadess (North Scott)

Kueter got his feet wet at the state meet on Thursday with a 9-4 opening-round win over Cade Schmidt of Norwalk.

The difficulty level picks up for the second-ranked 160-pound City High freshman sensation on Friday in the former of sixth-ranked Matthiadess who placed third at the state meet a year ago.

Kueter (21-0) track record but one that says he will be up to the task on Friday.

Matthiadess (25-4) has lost twice to fourth-ranked Linn-Mar freshman Tate Naaktgeboren and once to top-ranked Caleb Helgeson of Johnston who could await the winner in Friday night’s 160-pound semifinal.

Class 2A

Zeb Gnida (Solon) vs. Tyler Brown (Winterset)

A state meet veteran in Gnida and a first-time qualifier in Brown meet at 152 pounds with each seeking their first trip to the semifinals.

Gnida (45-6) has dropped heartbreakers in the quarterfinals the past two seasons falling 5-4 to Kruise Kiburz of Winterset in the 132-pound quarters a year ago.

Third-ranked Gnida can get a measure of revenge on Friday against No. 6 Brown (40-6) who has lost three times since dropping to 152 in January all to fourth-ranked and unbeaten Panorama junior Wyatt Appleseth. ­­

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