The Story

An original, feature length documentary, WRESTLING WITH IOWA looks at the lives of two young men as they work through their senior year of high school and fight their way back to the Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament for their one-and-only chance to join the elite 4-Time Champions List.  The film visits with former champions to discover what it takes to maintain the focus to be the best and how the lessons learned carried into their adult lives.  Follow the story as each wrestler finds their individual path to success at the highest level of high school competition.


The Project

What began as a photography book examining the relationship between the sport of wrestling and the State of Iowa became a full-blown film documentary project during my final year as a graduate student at the School of Film at Ohio University.  Two high school juniors, one in Creston, IA and the other in Denver, IA, were on the verge of claiming their third championships in the Spring of 2012 with the opportunity to join Iowa’s elite wrestlers if they succeeded.  The timing was right and I was encouraged to pack up the car and head to Iowa for the 2012-2013 Wrestling Season. The production included six months of shooting and 18,000 miles of crisscrossing Iowa to cover practices & matches, filming the everyday lives of two dynamic teenagers and conducting interviews with family, coaches and fans. The production also traveled to NYC, Chicago, Minneapolis and Phoenix to talk to some of the previous champions to get the unique stories of their wrestling experiences.



After the State Championships, the post-production phase of the project took up residence in a basement office at the School of Film in Athens, Ohio.  Working with over 65 hours and 17,000 video clips lead to many late nights in the editing room.  First came the infamous seven hour cut of the film (seen only by the director in one session), followed by numerous other cuts and edits to trim the film down to the 81 minute film.

Original music from blues guitarist Tony Furtado was recorded and added in August.  The band The Last Ride contributed two tracks soon after to round out the soundtrack.