Nate Jesuroga reminded the rest of the wrestling world how good he was on Saturday night.
Jesuroga, a junior at Southeast Polk, defeated California star Joey Cruz, 6-1, at the FloWrestling “Who’s Number One” event in Dallas, TX. In doing so, he secured the No. 1 domestic ranking at 120 pounds to start the high school wrestling season 21-22.
After a goalless first period, Jesuroga hooked up on takedowns in the second and third periods, and added points for a breakout and driving time, to win. Cruz entered Saturday night’s game as the number one 120-pound MatScouts.
This place now belongs to Jesuroga. It’s a place he knows well, especially after his formidable sophomore campaign.
Jesuroga has gone through all the competitions during the 20-21 season. He won a Class 3A state title at 113 pounds, helping the Rams to finish third in the team. He was part of the cadet men’s freestyle world team and then won a bronze medal at the cadet world championships. He also helped Iowa win the national junior freestyle duels in July.
He finished the season 20-21 as the country’s best 113-pounder and will now sit in the same spot at 120, where he plans to compete in the coming season.
“Who’s Number One” was designed as a preseason kickoff event to decide the # 1 ranked high school wrestlers at every weight nationwide. It was Jesuroga’s first game since the Cadet World Championships in July, a 60-day gap between competitions.
Even with all that free time, Jesuroga didn’t miss a beat, further cementing his place as the best in Iowa, the country and one of the best wrestlers in the world.
Hunter Garvin of Iowa City West drops barn burner at 145
Jesuroga was one of two high school students from Iowa to compete on Saturday night. Hunter Garvin of Iowa City West was the other, but he lost to Jackson Arrington of Pennsylvania, 4-3, at 145 pounds.
Garvin came in second nationally on the night but never led against Arrington, who finished fourth at the men’s national freestyle championships in July. Arrington took a 3-0 lead after a pullout in the first period and a breakout in the second.
But Garvin scored a late strike to make it 3-2 going into the third, then tied it 3-3 after a few stall calls against Arrington in the final frame. But Arrington added the deciding point thanks to driving time after holding Garvin through the entire third period.
Future Cyclone wrestler upsets ‘Who’s Number One’
Jesuroga and Garvin were the only two Iowa natives to compete in FloWrestling’s first secondary event, but a few future Cyclones were also invited to compete on Saturday night.
Casey Swiderski, a senior in Dundee, Mich., Beat Indiana star Jesse Mendez, 7-6, in a thrilling game at 138 pounds. Swiderski turned a 4-4 tie to a 7-4 lead in the third period and withstood a final sprint from Mendez in the final 30 seconds to win.
Swiderski enlisted in Iowa state in November. He was the first wrestler to sign up for the 2022 Cyclones class. He placed second at the National Junior Men’s Freestyle Championships in July and is now the number one wrestler in the country.
His victory over Mendez was one of the surprises of the evening. Mendez was part of the World Junior Men’s Freestyle team this summer and also made it to the U23 Men’s Freestyle World Team Trials final before injury forced him to retire. He is rated as the # 1 hope in the 2022 class by MatScouts (Swiderski is # 27).
None of this mattered to Swiderski. He opened the scoring with one out in the first half. Mendez escaped and eventually tied the game 3-3 after an entertaining first period. Mendez was leading 4-3 after a breakaway early in the second period, then Swiderski tied 4-4 after Mendez was hit by his third warning before the start of the third.
Swiderski then scored a breakaway to lead 5-4, then a strikeout to lead 7-4. Mendez escaped and tacked on another point for stalling to make it 7-6, and was on a shot at the end of time, but the timing was up to Swiderski.
Another Iowa State commitment drops to 170
Manny Rojas, another Michigan native and engaged in Iowa State, also competed on Saturday – in the night’s opener, in fact – but abandoned a 6-4 decision over Rocco Welsh, a junior. All-American from Pennsylvania, at 170 pounds.
Welsh led 2-1 after scoring a first period out, then extended that lead to 6-1 in the second with a breakout, a second stall call on Rojas, then another out all in 15 seconds in the second. period.
This streak won the Welsh game, as Rojas added only points for two breakouts and another for dropping out. The Welshman then lost to Gabe Arnold, 2-1, in the final match at 170 pounds, which was the only weight in the event which featured a 4-player bracket style competition.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.