Wyatt Wriedt still can vividly remember some of the drubbings he took in the North Scott wrestling room as a freshman.
Knocking heads with state place winners Mitch Bowman, Colin Kreiter and Cordell Eaton on a daily basis, Wriedt often was overwhelmed.
“There were some days I’d go over and sit on the side and just be like, ‘Why am I doing this? What is the point?’” Wriedt recalled.
The frustration was plenty, but it also stoked a fire. Or as he refers to it, it required him to “man up.”
After spending his freshman season on junior varsity, Wriedt blossomed into a third-place state finisher as a sophomore, became the school’s first two-time state champion on the mat this winter and finished ranked among the top 10 in the country at his 220-pound class.
Also a two-time all-state selection in football, Wriedt is the Quad-City Times’ 2017 Male Athlete of the Year. The Nebraska wrestling signee is the third boy from North Scott to earn the honor since it began in 1982, joining Shaun Logan in 2004 and Kreiter in 2015.
“Wyatt never has been a young man afraid of the moment,” North Scott football coach Kevin Tippet said. “Never. He doesn’t care who you are, he wants to go out and compete and give it his best shot.
“He likes the moment.”
That was never more accurate than his junior wrestling season.
Wriedt overcame three setbacks during the year to West Des Moines Valley’s Rocky Lombardi to beat him 9-2 in the state semifinals.
A night later, Wriedt shocked the state with a 12-10 win over two-time defending champion and top-10 nationally ranked Ethan Andresen of Southeast Polk in the finals.
“I don’t think anybody outside of our room thought that was going to happen,” North Scott wrestling coach Drew Kelly said. “He had his mind right, had a great game plan and just wrestled a great match.”
Coming off a fourth-place finish at the Cadet freestyle nationals in Fargo, North Dakota, the previous summer, it solidified he was now a name on the national radar.
“It just showed I can compete and win against the best wrestlers in the nation,” Wriedt said.
Love for football
Before Wriedt exploded on the wrestling scene, football was his passion. His father, Dale, serves as North Scott's offensive line coach.
Wriedt was elevated to the varsity squad a few games into his sophomore season. He was in the trenches, meaning he was coached by his father.
"Some people might look at it as a disadvantage, but I thought it was a positive," Wriedt said. "We'd go home and work on stuff. It made me better.
"He was always positive and encouraging."
"During the Bettendorf game my sophomore year, my first big game, I made a mistake and there was a big loss on the play," Wriedt recalled. "I came to the sideline and he yelled very loud. I remember the crowd laughing."
Wriedt became a two-way starter his junior year. He earned second team all-state accolades by the Iowa Newspaper Association.
"He's got a good motor, plays fast, plays hard," Tippet said. "He relishes being the underdog sometimes and proving people wrong. He's a hard worker with a good work ethic and that served him well."
Wriedt, listed at 5 feet, 11 1/2 inches, admits if he was a couple inches taller and had received interest from high-level programs, he might have considered football at the next level.
He relished the Friday night atmosphere, the camaraderie with his linemen, the community support and sharing it all with his father.
"I'm going to miss it, but what made me enjoy it so much was my dad," he said. "He's been my coach since I could start walking in any sport."
Overcoming a 'stupid choice'
Wriedt spent the first two weeks of his senior football season on the sideline watching his teammates.
Due to what he called a "stupid choice" a couple months before the season, Wriedt was required to sit for a violation of the student code of conduct.
"That'd be the one thing I would want to go back and change," he said. "I know how big of an impact it had on my team, my parents and everybody in the community.
"I had to own up to it."
North Scott lost its first two games to Davenport Assumption and Clinton.
"It was really hard to watch because I knew I let down the whole team and coaching staff," he said. "It was very embarrassing."
Once he returned, Wriedt was a force on both sides of the ball. He occupied left tackle on offense and clogged up the middle on defense.
His highlight-reel play came in Week 7 at Pleasant Valley.
With less than 3 minutes left and PV clinging to a 28-25 lead, North Scott’s playoff hopes were in dire straits.
The Spartans faced a fourth and short inside the Lancers’ 30-yard line. Wriedt came off a double team, strung the play out and made the tackle near the sideline to prevent the first down.
North Scott marched down the field and won the game in the final 10 seconds, 32-28. It went on to win the next two weeks and reach the playoffs.
“We needed Wyatt to be a dominant player,” Tippet said. “A lot of people gave credit to (quarterback) Sam Stonskas and he was very good, but if Wyatt doesn’t make that stop on fourth down, we’re not in that situation.
“We needed him to be that kind of guy. He filled a role. When a player like him commands double teams, it makes your defense a whole lot better.”
PV coach Rusty VanWetzinga understood his impact.
“Just a tough, tough kid,” he said. “He did a good job of blowing that play up. If we get a first down there, we probably go on and win the football game.”
Wriedt was named the Class 4A District 6 defensive player of the year and first team all-state by the INA at offensive line. He played defensive tackle for the first portion of the season before seeing more time at rush end toward the conclusion of the season.
He finished the fall with six tackles for loss, four of them sacks.
Wriedt's approach to defense was simplistic.
“Find the kid with the ball and hit him,” he said. “Be mean.”
Backing up a title
Wriedt came into his senior wrestling season with added expectations. He was no longer chasing a championship. He was trying to defend one.
Despite just one loss during the season, a setback to Lombardi at the Ed Winger Classic in Urbandale, Wriedt said it was challenging at points in the season training and competing with the same fervor.
Still, he found it late in the season.
Wriedt compiled 47 wins, 27 of those pins, along with a second Mississippi Athletic Conference and district championship. He was named the conference's most outstanding wrestler.
At the state tournament, he upended four wrestlers in the state's top six.
"When he's going and has his mind right, it doesn't matter who he is facing," Kelly said.
The most dramatic win was the rematch with Lombardi in the final — a matchup of wrestlers ranked in the nation's top 10. It also pitted an offensive lineman against a 6-4 all-state quarterback headed to Michigan State.
Wriedt trailed 3-2 in the final seconds. On a whistle restart, Wriedt dove in and Lombardi sprawled. Already warned for stalling, the official dinged Lombardi again. It gave Wriedt a point to even the bout and force overtime.
Then less than 20 seconds into extra time, Wriedt sprawled and went around Lombardi for the winning takedown, 5-3.
"Everybody is going to say (the stalling) was a bad call, but I just went out and continued to wrestle," he said. "Everybody gets mad at me for it, but I had no control over the call."
Regardless, it showed again that Wriedt performs well under the bright lights.
"He likes that stage," Kelly said. "He might not be the flashiest guy, but he's going to wrestle full matches and attack. He's got a really big heart."
That's what attracted Nebraska to him.
"Just his competitive nature," Nebraska coach Mark Manning said. "He just competes with a tenacity. We really like his demeanor and we see him maturing into a tremendous competitor. He fits into our plans."
The Huskers were the first big school Wriedt visited. He attended a wrestling camp there last summer and fell in love with the campus, facilities and coaches.
"Going to Nebraska showed me what I could really do," he said. "I would have never thought I would have been wrestling at Nebraska when I was little."
Moving up in class
Just like four years ago, Wriedt will walk into a wrestling room this fall and be a freshman again.
There will be losses, moments of frustration again.
“You’ve got to keep your mind straight, stay positive and look at the long run of it,” Wriedt said. “Most freshmen don’t go in and start right away unless you’re really, really good.
“It takes a while. Hopefully when I’m a sophomore, junior and senior, I can do the same thing to those freshmen and just build them up.”
Manning said the plan is for Wriedt to wrestle heavyweight.
Listed at approximately 235 pounds, Wriedt will need to pack on weight yet maintain his quickness.
“Wyatt is a pretty mobile kid and has a great motor,” Manning said. “He can use that to this advantage, especially against bigger guys.
“Strength can cover up a lot of sins. Once he gets 12 to 18 months in the weight room on a consistent basis, and he’s not playing football and doing other stuff, it is going to benefit him.”
Wriedt moves to Lincoln in early June. He’ll take classes for the first half of the summer, return home for about six weeks and then head back for the start of the fall semester.
As far as his expectations for his initial season, Wriedt wants to gain experience and grasp how to wrestle heavyweight at the collegiate level.
Nebraska, which had four All-Americans this past winter, graduated its heavyweight in Collin Jensen.
It has three returnees in the mix, including two redshirt sophomores-to-be in Patrick Grayson and David Jensen.
“It is another growing up chapter for me,” Wriedt said. “You’ve got to grow up in college, make smart choices and handle yourself.”
It also has shown him how far he’s come since those defeats to Bowman, Kreiter and Eaton in North Scott’s wrestling room.
That’s part of the advice he offers North Scott's next wave of student-athletes.
“Anything is possible,” he said. “Don’t stop until the end. Even if you’re losing or not having a good game, you’ve got to finish and be positive.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to be a good teammate, leader and make smart choices.”