Can’t Spell ‘StatE chamPs’ without S-E-P
With coaches statewide anointing West Des Moines Valley as the unbeatable pre-season State Champions, the Rams went back to building its own State Championship team in their usual way: one piece at a time – one day at a time – one workout at a time.
The Rams returned superstars Perrien, Brown, Lendt, and Barnes; added new talent DeVos and Christenson; developed existing Varsity guys Babcock, Wonderlich, and Ames; while siphoning balance from Jeff’s Varsity in Brand, Breitsprecker, Strickland, Shaw, and Dishinger.
The Rams first struck during First Responders’ Night – a home fundraiser and tribute dual meet – following the murder of two local police officers. The event packed the house with nearly 3,000 police officers, firemen, EMT’s, and SEP / Valley fans, all clamoring to watch the drama-soaked battle. With Perrien’s return appearance and a last second blast double, SEP defeated Valley 36-30 to shock the State.
From then on, SEP’s “blood in the water” approach steamrolled the remaining competition during their undefeated dual season. Most satisfying of all was the Rams’ 48-18 drubbing of Fort Dodge in the State Dual Finals, led by a succession of pins from Babcock, Christenson, Wonderlich and Dishinger. The Rams’ pre-made team championship shirts, “Can’t Spell ‘State Champs’ without S-E-P”, were worn in the championship photo, thrown into the crowd, and heavily covered by the media.
The shirts were a sign of greater things to come for the Traditional Tournament. An unbelievable semifinal round by SEP resulted in an uber-rare Friday night mathematical lock. With 8 Placewinners, 6 Finalists and a State Champion in Zach Barnes, the Rams dominated the competition by +35 points, totaling 158.5, a #23 National Ranking, and a State Traditional Title 3-Peat.
120: Gauge Perrien (Jr.) - 2nd
126: Adam Brown (Sr.) - 2nd
132: Cade DeVos (So.) - 2nd
138: Nathan Lendt (Jr.) - 2nd
145: Zach Barnes (Sr.) - Champion
160: Thad Brietsprecker (Jr.) - DNP
170: Gavin Babcock (Sr.) - 2nd
182: Gabe Christenson (Fr.) - 6th
195: Cody Wonderlich (Sr.) - 4th
HWT: Levi Brand (Sr.) - DNP
Back2Back - 2016 State Champs
2016 was supposed to be the year that the Rams handed its chokehold on the state to another team. The deck was stacked against the Rams, as they'd graduated 5 State Finalists and 2 State Champions from their 193 point, 2015 State Championship team. Fort Dodge had a class they'd been anticipating for years. West Des Moines Valley had its best team yet, bolstered with fresh talent. But instead of relinquishing their grip, the Rams squeezed tighter than ever.
The first shot came in the form of a party spoiling win at #1 Fort Dodge, amidst a packed house, a laser light show, and the reunion of their 1985 State Championship team. Next was the defeat of the newly minted #1 West Des Moines Valley, also on their home turf. The Rams remained undefeated, but they'd have to fight for every point, every inch, every time. This burden fell not only to the returning place winners, but also fresh Varsity faced Seniors Sol Jones and Daniel Ramirez.
Even the State qualifying district pairings were aligned against the Rams. The Iowa High School Athletic Association paired #1 Southeast Polk and #2 Valley together. #3 Fort Dodge drooled over their soft district. The Western district was so sparse that Council Bluffs Lewis Central - who lead the state with 11 state qualifying wrestlers - failed to qualify for the State Dual Tournament, eventually finishing 27th at the Traditional State Tournament.
With its sights set on the Traditional State Title, Fort Dodge withdrew from the 2016 Dual State Tournament, leaving Valley unchallenged until the finals against SEP. The teams were so evenly matched that the coin flip, of all things, perhaps played the determining factor in Valley's upset State Dual Championship over SEP.
Painful as the loss was, it only hardened the Rams for the Traditional State Tournament. When Valley quickly stumbled out of the race, SEP's 9 State Qualifiers edged ahead of Fort Dodge's talent loaded team, every point, every inch, every session. The tournament was epitomized by Sol Jones' challenge after losing the final match of his career: Let's. Go. Again. Tasked with locking up the title before the finals, the Rams tore through the backside brackets, upsetting one less-motivated wrestler after another.
In the end, the Rams amassed an impressive 141.5 points (10 ahead of Fort Dodge) and won the 2nd consecutive (and 3rd out of 4 years) State Traditional Champship. This feat was all the more impressive and all the more telling of the Rams' season, as they did so by placing 8 (of 9) qualifiers, winning without a State Champion.
113: Gauge Perrien (So.) - 3rd
120: Adam Brown (Jr.) - 2nd
126: Nathan Lendt (So.) - 2nd
138: Zach Barnes (Jr.) - 3rd
152: Sol Jones (Sr.) - 6th
160: Gavin Babcock (Jr.) - DNP
182: Kameron Padavich (Sr.) - 4th
220: Ethan Andersen (Sr.) - 2nd
HWT: Daniel Ramirez (Sr.) - 3rd
State Champs - Again - 193 pts.
SEP finished the 2015 season in the same way it began - in the driver's seat with the pedal to the floor. As a result, this year's Rams solidified itself as one of the greatest teams in the history of Iowa.
The boys had another undefeated dual season and set scoring records at nearly every tournament it entered (Gardner-Edgerton, Ed Winger, CIML), despite typically having 1-3 Varsity members out of the line-up throughout the year, showcasing the program's depth.
By the time the post-season rolled around, the Rams were firing on all cylinders for the first time since Week 1 - and it showed. The Rams tied the state record with 13 State Qualifiers, 11 of which eventually placed at the Traditional State Tournament.
Prior to the big tournament, the Rams ran through the competition and into the State Dual Finals, where they met their back-and-forth rivals, (and fellow Nationally ranked team) Bettendorf. Despite starting in the teeth of Bettendorf's daunting middle-weight line-up, the Rams quickly caught up and blew past Bettendorf with hard fought wins at 170, 182, and 195 before consecutive pins at 220, 285, and 106. Ultimately, the Rams bested Bettendorf 34-28 for their 2nd State Dual Title (2013 & 2015).
With the momentum of the Dual Tournament behind them, the Rams charged into the Traditional Tournament lead and never looked back, opening the gap with Bettendorf nearly every session. By Tournament's end, the Rams amassed a ridiculous 193 points (2nd All-Time in 3A) on the strength of 11 Placewinners and 3 State Champions to win the Rams' 2nd Traditional State Title, and a National Ranking of #7:
106 - Guage Perrien - 6th (Frosh)
113 - Nathan Lendt - 3rd (Frosh)
120 - Adam Brown - 8th (Soph)
126 - Nolan Hellickson - Champion (Senior)
132 - Zach Barnes - Qualifier (Soph)
138 - Keegan Shaw - 4th (Senior)
145 - Aaron Meyer - 2nd (Senior)
152 - Briar Dittmer - 2nd (Senior)
160 - Brady Buchhiet - 7th (Senior)
182 - Kameron Padavich - Qualifier (Junior)
195 - Deion Mikesell - 2nd (Senior)
220 - Ethan Andersen - Champion (Junior)
285 - Jacob "Turbo" Marnin - Champion (Senior)
Despite graduating a strong Senior Class, the Rams still return the 2nd most State Tournament points (behind Fort Dodge) and return 7 State Qualifiers and 8 returning Varsity members, including 2 x State Champion Ethan Andersen. As for the rest of the weights, only time will tell who will step up for the Rams to compete for another title.
2014: Andersen dominates - Rams 2nd
The Rams capped of another stellar season, winning the Gardner-Edgerton Invite, Ed Winger Classic, CIML Invite, placing 4th at Cheesehead, and falling just 4 points out of 1st at the State Traditional Tournament with 158 points (the most ever for 2nd place team). The Rams qualified 12 for State, includingBatterson (Soph. - 113), Williams (Sr. - 126) and Buchheit (Jr. - 152). SEP earned 9 place winners (Brown (Fr. - 5th @ 106), Hellickson (Jr. - 3rd @ 120), Shaw (Jr. - 3rd @ 132), Kerr (Jr. - 7th @ 170), Mikesell (Jr. - 5th @ 195)) with 4 finalists (Meyer (Jr. @ 138), Dittmer (Jr. @ 145), Marnin (Jr. @ HWT)) and a Champion in Ethan Andersen (Soph. @ 220). Andersen dominated his way through year, going 49-0, winning GE Invite, Cheesehead, Ed Winger, CIML, while racking up a SEP single-season record of 37 pins. Andersen's domination continued through the State Tournament, where he pinned his first three opponents (including the #17 Nationally Ranked Wrestler) , before piling up an 18-7 win in the Championship match. Andersen's win makes it 3 SEP Wrestlers (Miklus, Fisher, Andersen), 3 Champs, at 220 lbs.
In 2015, the Rams plan to charge for another title, returning 12 starters, 11 state qualifiers, 9 state place winners, 4 state finalists, and 1 state champion. Until then, its Freestyle / Greco season!
2013 - EVERYTHING CHAMPS
No one expected that the encore to the 2011-2012 wrestling season would surpass everyone's wildest dreams. As the State Championship shirts say, the 2012-2013 Rams were simply "Everything Champs".
The Rams dominated every competition they entered with a rare balance of super stars power and total team effort. The Rams won the Blazers Invitational in Gardner Edgerton HS, Kansas, the prestigious Cheesehead Tournament in Kaukana, Wisconsin, set records at the Winger Classic in Urbandale, Iowa, and CIML Conference Tournament. The Rams qualified 13 of 14 guys at the District Tournament before winning the SEP High School's first Men's State Title, in its 50-year history, by dominating the State Dual Tournament.
The Rams topped that performance just days later in scoring 180.5 points, the 3rd highest in 3A history, with individual State Champions in Tim Miklus (160 lbs.), Dylan Blackford (170 lbs.), and Bryce Fisher (220 lbs.). The Rams placed 11 of 13 qualifiers including Nolan Hellickson (3rd - 106 lbs. (soph.), Aaron Meyer (8th - 120 lbs. (soph.), Keegan Shaw (5th - 126 lbs. (soph.), Briar Dittmer (4th - 132 lbs. (soph.), Colin Strickland (4th - 145 lbs. (senior), Luke Sargent (4th - 182 lbs. (senior), Ethan Andersen (6th - 195 lbs. (frosh.), and Jake Scanlan (4th - HWT (Junior). The Rams finished the season with a National Ranking of #12.
The Rams will lose 7 Seniors from their starting line-up next year, but the boys are hungry to turn a good run into a repeat performance .
Blackford, - Fisher - Miklus Claim Individual State titles
Dylan Blackford (170 lbs.), Bryce Fisher (220 lbs.), and Tim Miklus (160 lbs.) celebrate following their State Title victories. The Ram seniors went 3-for-3 in the Finals, capping off the SEP State Traditional Title that was locked up during the morning's placing rounds. Welcome Dylan, Bryce, and Tim to the SEP Athletics Hall of Fame.
With a clinched victory over Bettendorf coming by pin from Sam Jones (152 lbs.), the SEP Wrestling Rams win the 1st Boys' State Championship in the 50-year history of Southeast Polk High School. The Drought is over. The Curse is broken. Free at last.
2011 - 2012 Season
The completion of the Rams' 2011-2012 season marked the most successful single season in the history of the program. Coached by Jason Christenson, the Rams had an undefeated regular dual season, 11 State Qualifiers, 7 State Place Winners, 5 State finalists (including Bud Smith and Dylan Blackford), and 3 State Champions (pictured) in Willie Miklus (4 x Finalist, 2 x Champion), Alex Meyer, and Cory Clark (4 x Champion). The team finished in 2nd place with 156.5 points (9th highest point total of all time) in a season remembered for gaudy takedown and pin statistics, as well as the controversial decision to withhold all State Qualifiers from competing in the State Dual Tournament, the day before the Traditional Tournament, to allow individual wrestlers to focus on their individual goals. Southeast Polk finished the season ranked #13 in the National polls.