Gambrall Finishes Off Strong Week With First State Title


Photo by Amber Seaton

Ryan Murken

Your Prep Sports

DES MOINES – Graham Gambrall did the best wrestling of his career over the span of three days at the Class 3A state meet.

That is what it takes to go from an eighth-place finish a year ago to the top of the podium the way Gambrall did on Saturday with his 10-5 win over Ankeny senior Sam Kallem at Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines.

How did Gambrall go about making that transformation from two-time medalist to state champion?

It started with attitude.

“You have to act like you belong, you have to act like you’ve been here before, you’ve got to put your big boy pants on,” Gambrall said. “You have to have that persona that you are the baddest guy here.”

Gambrall certainly sported his big boy pants this week in Des Moines.

The West High junior won three consecutive matches over top-four ranked opponents in two days on his way to the 3A 145-pound title.

Gambrall came from behind late to beat three-time finalist and fourth-ranked Ben Monroe of Ankeny Centennial 6-5 in the quarterfinals.

Then he scored eight third-quarter points to beat top-ranked Deven Streif of North Scott 9-7 in the semis.

Gambrall capped his impressive week with a 10-5 win over third-ranked Kallem in the title match.

“He’s a dangerous man,” West High coach Nate Moore said. “No one can beat him right now.”  

Gambrall was sixth two seasons ago and eighth last year at state, dropping his opening-round match each season.

He got over that hump on Thursday and looked like a different, more confident wrestler in three consecutive wins over opponents that finished the season with a combined 119-13 record.

“It’s just heart,” Gambrall said. “I wanted to win and I just battled.”

After falling behind early in both the quarterfinal and semifinal matches Gambrall got out early against Kallem with a takedown with eight seconds left in the opening quarter and never trailed.

He added a takedown in the second and two more in the third with what has became his patented late-match flurry. 

“He just grinds and grinds and grinds and grinds,” Moore said. “When you are in the match and you grind and grind and grind no one can hold up with you.”

Gramball joined sophomore Hunter Garvin (132) and Will Hoeft (182) as state champions for West High as the Trojans jumped Mississippi Valley Conference rival Linn-Mar for fourth in the team standings in the final session on Saturday.

The Trojans finished with 99.5 points. Waverly-Shell Rock won the team title with 181 followed by Southeast Polk with 141 and Fort Dodge with 122.5.

“It’s a family we all want to win for each other and we want each other to do the best,” Gambrall said. “We wanted to win and give ourselves a chance to bring home a trophy or at least give it a shot.”

Class 3A State Meet

At Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines 

Team scores (Top 10; area teams) – 1. Waverly-Shell Rock 181; 2. Southeast Polk 141; 3. Fort Dodge 122.5; 4. West High 99.5; 5. Linn-Mar 92; 6. Bettendorf 81; 7. Ankeny 78; 8. Johnston 66.5; 9. Waukee 57.5; 10. West Des Moines Valley 55; 16. City High 39

Consolation Semifinal

106 – Dustin Bohren (Bettendorf) dec. Grant O’Dell (West High) 3-1

Fifth-place Match

106 – Owen Helgeson (Johnston) dec. Grant O’Dell (West High) 12-5

Saturday’s Championship Matches

132 – Hunter Garvin dec. Aiden Riggins (Waverly-Shell Rock) 8-1

145 – Graham Gambrall (West High) dec. Sam Kallem (Ankeny) 7-5

182 – Will Hoeft (West High) dec. Taner Harvey 5-4

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