Riley Banach: a country music wrestler

The Ames High wrestling team is witnessing its finest season in more than a decade. Senior wrestler Riley Banach has been among the bright spots on the mat this year. Holding a personal record of 29-4 after dual meets, Banach also took first in the 171 lbs. CIML conference championship two weeks ago. “We have had a breakout season this year,” Banach said. “Seniors have stepped up big for us and the commitment has been there from the start.” One reason for this team commitment has been the presence of the new varsity coach Drew Kelley. “He is all business at practice,” Banach said, “He brought technique back to the team which we haven’t had in awhile.” After an eye-opening 6th place finish at the state tournament last year, Banach hasn’t been thinking about the past one bit. “I don’t worry about my ranking or past results. I just try to become the best wrestler I can be day in and day out,” Banach said. Banach does a lot of preparing in between meets. Practices consist of a ten-minute warm-up jog, stretching, a variety of moves including shots, single and double double legs. Then on to live wrestling, technique and finishing up with conditioning. On match days there are no distractions that cross Banach’s mind. “I sit down and get focused for my match. Listening to Carrie Underwood and Taylor Swift really pumps me up,” Banach said. It was in the 7th grade when Banach started wrestling. “I was just a little fat kid in middle school, and I won a combined four matches in my career,” Banach said. Much has changed since then as Banach has won a combined 52 matches in his high school career. Much of Banach’s success is due to help from his father. Ed Banach was a gold medal winner at the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics and a standout wrestler at the University of Iowa. “He has taught me everything that he did to win,” Banach said. “There were three things he preached to me: Set up your shots, get out from the bottom, kick butt and take names.” Banach’s father tells him before every match is to stay focused, be smart, wrestle hard, and have fun with it. Banach is unsure of his plans after high school at the moment. “My future ultimately depends on how I finish out the season,” Banach said. Banach recently qualified for the state wrestling tournament held at the Wells Fargo Arena in Des Moines, which began on Wednesday.