Two Huskie wrestlers finish on the podium at state tourney

By Giovanni Coronel
Posted 2/22/23

The time has finally arrived for the state’s best high school wrestlers to converge for a high stakes tournament to earn the right to be called a state champion. Taking place in the Wells Fargo …

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Two Huskie wrestlers finish on the podium at state tourney


The time has finally arrived for the state’s best high school wrestlers to converge for a high stakes tournament to earn the right to be called a state champion. Taking place in the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, the Iowa high school boys state wrestling tournament would commence once again. 

This four-day tournament, Feb. 15- 18, would feature hundreds of matches across three classes (1A, 2A, 3A) and 15 weights. Highland and Mid-Prairie both had wrestlers who competed in this intense tournament.

While the Golden Hawks did not get a wrestler to end their tourney run on the podium, Highland had two wrestlers, Carlos Valenzuela and Luke Guseman, who placed and secured a medal for their impressive efforts. 


Mid-Prairie Results 

Terry Bordenave, Mid-Prairie’s lone state participant, would begin his tournament run in the 2A-195 lbs bracket against Solon’s Braydon Hoffman. This match would go the distance and while trailing in points in the third period, Bordenave was not able to close the point gap, leading to Hoffman getting a victory by decision 6-3.

After receiving a bye Bordenave would wrestle in his last match of the tournament. Now in the consolation bracket Bordenave would lose by fall in 3:26 to Perry’s Keegan Snyder. This loss eliminated Bordenave from the tournament and he would finish his season with a 26-8 record. 

Highland Results 

Three wrestlers represented Highland at the state tournament: Valenzuela, Guseman, and Jack Peiffer. They all had different levels of success at this tournament with Valenzuela obtaining the top finish by placing in sixth. 

“It was a long, grueling, rollercoaster of a week at the state tournament.  Tons of emotions go into this week every year and it never gets easier.  I am proud as hell of the 3 guys that wrestled at the state tournament,” Highland coach Nick Cole said. “We had some very bright spots and we had some not so bright spots during the four days.  Each guy would probably agree that they didn’t get what they wanted and aren’t satisfied with the outcomes but they should be proud of what they were able to do.”  

Peiffer, wrestling in the 1A-138 lbs bracket, came up just short in his first match. After a narrow loss to Kingsley-Pierson’s Tyler Orzechowski by decision, 4-2,  Peiffer would head to the consolation bracket. 

In his second match Peiffer’s tournament run would come to an end after his second straight loss. Losing by fall to East Sac County’s Charlie Veit in 5:30 Peiffers season came to an end and he would finish with a 24-25 record. 

“Jack Pieffer wrestled the best he has wrestled all season at the state tournament. I am looking forward to watching him put in a summer of hard work and getting back to Des Moines,” Cole said. “He belonged in that bracket and we look forward to him being a leader in his final season.  Jack is very capable of accomplishing some great things.  I think this tournament he realized a lot about himself and that will push him to have a great season. 

Guseman, wrestling in the 1A-120 lbs bracket, put together an impressive scrappy run in this tourney and it began with a victory by fall in 1:59 over Jesup’s Ethan Krall. The second round would give Guseman his first setback of the tournament, when he lost to Lisbon’s Brandon Paez by fall in 2:42. Paez would later go on to finish in first place in the 120 lbs bracket. 

Knowing another loss would end his tournament earlier than he would want, Guseman would bounce back in the consolation bracket with a victory by tech fall, 20-5, over Central Community, Elkader’s Braxton Bormann. 

This was the start of three consecutive victories for Guseman, winning his next two matches by decision, 8-6 over Sioux Central’s Kaben Morrow and 5-3 over Edgewood-Colesburg’s Dawson Bergan.  

On the third day of the tournament Guseman’s run of victories would come to an end when he lost to Lake Mills’ Hayden Helgeson by decision, 5-2. 

Those victories were not in vain however as Guseman’s string of success before his second loss would still qualify him to take wrestle in the seventh place match. Although he lost the match to Don Bosco’s Jaxon Larson by fall in 1:25 Guseman would still find himself on the podium, with an eighth place finish.

Guseman went 4-3 at the state tournament to procure a medal and his season came to a close with a 29-10 record.

“Luke Guseman had a great tournament. I think he’s way better than an 8th place finish but still something to be proud of.  He came in as a 17 seed and wrestled really well,” Cole said. “I am very proud of him.  He had a good season and I am really looking forward to his senior year.  Much like Jack, I am looking forward to his progress in the offseason and coming back better next year.  Luke is a very tough competitor.  We are also looking at him as one of our leaders next year and being a part of our team continuing to get better.  Having two returning qualifiers with the experience like they have will be big for our team.”

Being a senior this would be the last tournament of Valenzuela’s high school wrestling career. Going into this tourney with high expectations the significance of what Valenzuela has accomplished as a wrestler from where he began did not go unnoticed by his coach.

“Carlos Valenzuela....not sure where to begin with him. I am going to miss him and the things that he brought to our program.  When he came in the summer of his freshman year he didn’t know what wrestling was,” Cole said. “Never wrestled a day in his life.  I remember working with him the first day that he came into the room and knew that he had some ability and some crazy good athleticism. Little did I know how good he would end up being.  This is a tribute to the time that he has invested into the sport and how much he has ended up loving the sport.”

After receiving a bye Valenzuela would kick off his state tournament journey in the 1A-132 bracket with a win by decision, 3-1, over Wapsie Valley’s Easton Krall. With the win it would be his only match on day one. 

On day two in the quarterfinal round he would pick up another win. This victory would be by fall in 4:34 over Lenox’s Dylan Stein. Earning two straight victories at the state tournament to advance to the semifinal round is something aspiring wrestlers who enter the Highland wrestling program can be inspired by.

“Wrestling will never define him but he is a better person because of his decision to give wrestling a try.  He has done everything that was asked of him and trusted in the process and how things were done in our program,” Cole said. “Our program will definitely miss him but he also left the program better than when he came in.  I know there’s young kids in our program who look at him like their hero.

The third day of the tourney would see Valenzuela, in the semifinal round, suffer his first loss . Being defeated by tech fall, 16-0, by North Butler-Clarksville’s Tanner Arjes, this would send Valenzuela to the consolation semifinals, falling just short of earning the right to wrestle for first place   

On the final day of the tournament Valenzeula would come up just short, losing in a tie breaker, 2-0, to Columbus Catholic’s Gavin Reed. With one more match slated for his high school career Valenzuela’s fifth place match went the distance and was as close as could be, but he was defeated by decision, 6-5, by MFL MarMac’s Holden Mathis 

“I know the tournament didn’t end the way that he wanted it to or probably expected it to but, for a kid who didn’t start wrestling until 9th grade, I would say that is an unheard of and outstanding accomplishment,” Cole said. “He had an incredible season and will get his name on the wall as a state placewinner.  I am thankful that he stuck with us!”

Going 2-3 in the tournament Valenzuela was able to place sixth and his season came to an end with an impressive 49-4 record. 

“This is by far one of the toughest tournaments they will ever wrestle in and I am proud as hell for how they went out and competed each match,” Cole said about his three state wrestlers. “You could wrestle this tournament every weekend and get a different result each time.  You just have to be ready to go that 3rd week of February every year.  It’s on the calendar and should be highlighted in red.  I am proud of them and I am proud to be their coach.  It’s a bittersweet feeling knowing that it’s over.”


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