100 win wrestlers


PV Wrestling

Seniors Rusty VanWetzinga, Jack Miller and Caden McDermott have earned 100 wins each during their careers at PVHS.

Gretchen Highberger, copy editor

Achieving 100 wins has been a benchmark of excellence in high school wrestling for decades. Having one wrestler accomplish this feat is worthy of recognition, but having three teammates accomplish this feat within a month is extraordinary. 

So far this wrestling season, seniors Jack Miller, Caden McDermott and Rusty VanWetzinga have each reached 100 career wins, a finite indicator of years of dedication. All three competed for various club teams before joining PV’s program freshman year, and all three have grown into some of the state’s top wrestlers in their weight classes. 

Jack Miller

The accolades started with Jack Miller on Dec. 1 when he pinned Dayton Truesdale of Muscatine in an early season meet. He was presented with a banner from his coaches featuring photos from his high school career in addition to photos from his time as a youth wrestler. 

Miller began wrestling when he was four years old as a member of the Pleasant Valley Wrestling Club. “It all started in a small wrestling room at PV,” he said. Tucked away in a narrow hallway next to a custodial room, PV’s old wrestling room was a humble beginning for Miller, who won the Greco-Roman style of USA Wrestling’s Junior Nationals this past summer. Out of all of his wins, both club and school-related, he credits his national title as the most meaningful. 

“Winning nationals showed me that anyone can win if you have the right mindset,” he said. Going into a match thinking you are going to lose is not the right idea. You want to go into a tournament with a positive mindset to have a positive result.”

In addition to the importance of a positive mindset, wrestling has also taught Miller to have patience. “Time is key in the sport of wrestling because you can’t just step onto the mat as a first year wrestler and be good,” he said. “You need to put in the work to become the best. The harder you work and the more dedication you have to the sport, the better you will become.” 

Thanks to his dedication, Miller has consistently been improving his performance as a PV wrestler over the last four years. He made his first individual state appearance his sophomore season but lost in the first round. In his junior season, he again qualified for state by winning districts at 138 pounds and made it to the quarterfinals before he was eliminated. He looks to continue this upward trend in his senior season before joining the wrestling program at UW-Platteville in college. 

Caden McDermott

Caden McDermott earned his 100th career win at the Western Dubuque Duals on Dec. 10, a little over a week after Miller earned his. McDermott started wrestling at the age of five, mainly attending Young Guns wrestling club and the Assumption wrestling club. 

In wrestling, beginners typically do not pick up many wins. This was not the case for McDermott, who earned his first win during his first tournament, held at West High School. After three matches, McDermott picked up his first overall tournament win and his first trophy. 

Last season, McDermott hovered near the bottom of ranked wrestlers. He qualified for state and entered the tournament seeded ninth. 

Ninth was an underestimation. 

After defeating the number-two seed in the quarterfinals, McDermott went on to win his semifinal match as well, earning a coveted spot in the finals. Although he lost in the finals, his semi-final win was a turning point in his wrestling career, setting the stage for his success in the current season as well as fulfilling a childhood dream.  

McDermott reflected on what the win meant to him. “It is a huge deal to even place at state but to make the finals and wrestle in front of 10,000 people was always a dream of mine and it happened,” he said. “My family has a ton of wrestlers in it and I am the only one to make the finals.” 

McDermott is not only a standout wrestler, but also a standout football and baseball player as well, earning first team All-State and second team All-State honors, respectively. He plans to continue his football career in college, so his last wrestling season is especially bittersweet. “Advice I would give my younger self is to have fun while it lasts,” he said. “It may not be fun at times but you only get to do it for so long.” 

Rusty VanWetzinga

The final senior, Rusty VanWetzinga, earned career win 100 during the midst of the prestigious Battle of Waterloo tournament on Dec. 17. 

Although his 100th win was a milestone, VanWetzinga also points to his Dec. 3 tournament win at Independence as a critical moment in his season. 

VanWetzinga won the early-season tournament, knocking out top-ranked athletes along the way. “It definitely changed my mentality for the rest of the season because it gave me the self confidence I needed to show that I can compete with anyone if I really want to,” he said.  

VanWetzinga brings a new mentality to this season, not only with his confidence, but also with his perspective on the nature of sport. “Some advice that I would have loved to have taken in when I was younger was to not let things get to your head too easily,” he said. “It took me until I was a senior in high school to come to peace and terms that a loss is a loss and you can’t erase the fact that you lost, you can only learn from it and prepare yourself better for the next go around.” 

In addition to qualifying for the state wrestling tournament twice, VanWetzinga excels on the football field as well, earning first team All-State honors the past two seasons. Like McDermott, he plans to continue his football career, rather than wrestling, in college. Still, wrestling has played a large role in VanWetzinga’s development and success as an athlete.  

A true Spartan, VanWetzinga started wrestling for the Pleasant Valley Wrestling Club around kindergarten. His experiences both on and off the mat as a youth wrestler left an impression on him. “I will always remember winning youth tournaments and celebrating them by going out with my family for dinner to meet my grandparents to end the day,” he said. 

In addition to these memories, VanWetzinga also learned life lessons that apply to other sports, but wrestling is uniquely suited to teach. “Wrestling has definitely taught me how to handle adversity and have self discipline,” he said. “I definitely learned self discipline my sophomore year when I had to cut weight and watch my diet because I ended up cutting from 225lbs to 182lbs in almost a month and a half.” 


The trio will continue their regular season before the postseason starts with dual team regional meets on Jan. 31. Once the dual state tournament concludes on Feb. 4, individual regional competition begins on Feb. 11 followed by the state tournament the following week.