As an Osage High School graduate, veteran Upper Iowa University wrestling coach Heath Grimm has more than a passing knowledge about the wrestling talent in North Iowa.
Recently, Grimm has relied on that talent to help propel the Peacock program into national prominence at the NCAA Division II level.
Upper Iowa has had top-20 finishes in the team standings at the national tournament in each of the past two seasons, and boasted a 2019 roster that included more than a half-dozen names familiar to area wrestling fans, including Mac Spotts of Mason City, Ryan Schmalen of Clear Lake, Jake Niichel and Aaron Maloy from Charles City, Dalton Nelson from North Butler and Chance Throndson from Riceville.
When recruiting for the new season, Grimm returned to the area well and landed a class that has been rated as high as fourth nationally in Division II by The Open Mat.
Grimm was named the NWCA Division II National Tournament Coach of the Year in March 10 after the Peacock wrestling team claimed fourth place at the NCAA Division II National Championships.
The trophy for fourth place was the third NCAA Division II trophy that the team has held high since moving up from NCAA Division III.
“We’ve worked hard at recruiting the most talented athletes in the area,” Grimm said. “We are extremely excited about what is to come.”
What is coming for this season is an impressive list including a pair of state title winners.
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Eric Faught rolled undefeated through his senior season at Clear Lake and finished with a state title in Class 2A at 132 pounds.
Zach Ryg from Central Springs went 47-0 as a senior and finished with a Class 1A state title at 195 pounds.
Troy Monahan finished fourth in Class 3A for Mason City and had an overall record of 35-7.
This influx of talent complements a 2018 recruiting haul that was similarly highly-regarded and included five state champions, including Throndson.
“As the only Div. II wrestling program in the state, we are committed to Iowa High School wrestling, first and foremost,” Grimm said. “It’s very rewarding to build your program’s foundation with homegrown talent.”
While the opener at Rochester Community and Technical College is not until Nov. 2, competition for rosters spots is already intense for a Peacock team that Grimm expects to again finish highly in the national tournament.
The Peacocks are slated to make an area appearance on Jan. 4 at NIACC.