TheClash_Riggins vs STMA-2

Waverly-Shell Rock’s Aiden Riggins tries to flip over Albertville, Minnesota, St. Michael’s Jed Wester en route to a 5-1 decision Saturday at The Clash XIX in La Crosse, Wisconsin. Riggins is ranked No. 1 in the country at 160 pounds and 19th pound-for-pound by MatScouts.

Every two weeks here in Iowa, IAWrestle, and before them The Predicament, releases who, in the opinion of their writers based on results, the top wrestlers in the state are.

Waverly-Shell Rock is listed as the No. 2 team in Class 3A behind Southeast Polk in the latest rankings as of Jan. 4, but the Go-Hawks have the most individually rated wrestlers with 12 out of the 14 weight classes represented.

Included on this superteam, which also features four No. 1-ranked wrestlers, Aiden Riggins tops the 160-pound class. He joins Ryder Block (138), McCrae Hagarty (195) and Jake Walker (285).

Not only does Riggins, who won the 152-pound state championship last season and a three-time placewinner, lead here in the Hawkeye State, but he is ranked the best 160-pounder in the country and among the 20 best wrestlers in all weight classes.

In the most recent ratings available from MatScouts, which is on the same network as IAWrestle, Riggins is 19th in the “pound-for-pound” rankings, according to a screenshot on his mother Amanda’s Facebook page. Waverly Newspapers does not have an subscription to that site.

Riggins in an email to Waverly Newspapers said he didn’t pay attention to wrestling stats until he was in eighth grade.

“Then when I started watching and paying attention to ranking, I have always wanted to be No. 1 in the state,” Riggins wrote. “Then as I grew and developed, that turned into No. 1 in the nation I was striving for. Finally achieving that goal is a huge accomplishment and something I can be proud of.

“The W-SR program has been a huge part of the reason where I’m at today, and it is evident because it is showing off for the whole team. Being ranked top 20 in the nation is huge and I know we are only getting better as the season goes on.”

Go-Hawk head wrestling coach Eric Whitcome said Riggins’ success goes against conventional wisdom that youth and high school athletes need to take up additional sports to be a well-rounded athlete.

“Right, wrong or indifferent, Aiden chose the pathway to be a great wrestler,” Whitcome said. “Aiden wrestles year-round. Even from a young age, he went out and competed at the highest level. He wanted to be exposed. He wanted to wrestle the best guys and know where he had to get better at.

“He’s never backed away from that. He kept plugging away. That’s why he’s in the place where he is, because he’s made a huge investment into the sport, him and his family made a huge investment into it.”

Riggins said he might have been a late bloomer, but it was his dream to be where he is now.

“Even though I may not have been an all-star when I was 7 years old, I just kept listening to my coaches and went down the path of hard work,” he wrote. “I am not too worried about keeping my No. 1 ranking, but just enjoying these moments and having fun with my teammates and the sport is most important to me. Having fun with it is what will keep me at the top and always striving to be better every day.”

He has already committed to wrestle for Tom Brands at the University of Iowa, and he is also one of four Go-Hawks to be nominated for the Dan Gable Ms. and Mr. Wrestler of the Year award, sponsored by Fareway Stores along with IAWrestle and the Iowa Wrestling Coaches and Officials Association. He joins Ryder Block and McCrae Hagarty in the Class 3A Mr. Wrestler nods, while Eva Diaz is on the Ms. Wrestler list.

“I have seen other wrestlers growing up be in the spot to win this award and have always thought it would be cool to achieve,” Riggins said. “So being nominated was pretty cool to see the hard work is paying off.”

Among Riggins’ other career accomplishments in the sport are a first-place finish at a championship in the Charles City Freestyle tournament in the Junior Men’s Division on April 10, a runner-up at the 2019 Northern Plains Regional Freestyle tournament in the 16U 126-pound class and a championship at the 2019 West Delaware Freestyle tournament.

Whitcome said that Riggins has shown he can do what he must to be the best.

“An individual who wants to be great, we all know to truly be great will take a sacrifice that most won’t make,” Whitcome said. “(Riggins has) made that.

“I think (the Hawkeyes) will get a lot of different things when you have a guy like Aiden Riggins. You have a teammate who is willing to help others. You have a teammate who is willing to give back to the program. He will be one of the first ones to be willing to help a kid that wants help — a high-school kid or a youth kid or anything. He’s a kid that is extremely resilient and committed to what he wants. And he’s a really great person.”