Last year's championship night was notable for three things: 1) the absence of native son wrestling legend Dan Gable, who missed the evening for only the fourth time since he was in junior high (his daughter Molly was swimming in a meet for Iowa); 2) the presence of Cael Sanderson, who surpassed Gable's accomplishments, if not his legend, at Iowa State by going 159-0 in his four years as a Cyclone and 3) the crowning of two four-time champions on the same night for the first time.
Those four-time champs, C.J. Ettelson, who won the 1A 135-pound class for Hudson High, and Mack Reiter, who won the 1A 125-pound class for Don Bosco, looked perfectly calm after they received standing ovations on the medal stand. It was the adults around them who seemed shattered by the magnitude of the high schoolers' accomplishments. As Reiter's dad, Doug, one of seven wrestling brothers, cried in a corner, his son's coach, Ray Fox, sat slumped on the bleachers, his hands trembling. "I feel like I did when I won it, in 1977," said Fox. "Your feet don't even touch the ground. I don't think most professional athletes ever feel this. I won't sleep. Mack won't either. But that's O.K. because tomorrow he gets the day off."