Dan Thompson COTY

(Logan) -- The best season in a decade for one of KMAland's most accomplished programs has earned Logan-Magnolia Coach Dan Thompson the 2021 KMAland Wrestling Coach of the Year honor. 

The Panthers flexed their muscle most of the season, winning a third consecutive Western Iowa Conference title, posting a 22-1 dual record and qualifying for state duals for the third year in a row and 17th time in school history. 

The Panthers then parlayed their regular-season success into the state tournament where they posted a third-place finish in the Class 1A dual and individual tournaments -- their best finish since 2011.

"Anytime you bring home a trophy, it's obviously been a special year," Thompson said. "To be in the top three of both tournaments really shows the versatility of our team, how talented they are and how much work they put in."

Lo-Ma was busy in Des Moines with seven state qualifiers, five of which medaled, including three finalists. The Panthers' success this season is Exhibit A that iron sharpens iron. 

"We have a lot of solid kids up and down our lineup," Thompson said. "We finished the year with 35 guys. There are a whole bunch of guys pushing and working. Having that in the room makes a huge difference. You see the growth and the guys working and pushing each other."

One of those state medalists for Coach Thompson's team was also a state champion -- sophomore Wyatt Reisz. 

The mild-mannered sophomore quietly went about his business en route to the crown at 138 pounds. 

"He's just really solid," Thompson said. "Nothing really fazes him. He doesn't get too high or low. He had the right demeanor. He was incredibly poised."

Wyatt's brother -- Briar -- shared this year's KMAland Wrestler of the Year honor with his younger sibling thanks to another state runner-up performance, the fourth of his career. 

"He came a long way from the little freshmen at 113 pounds," Thompson said. "You've seen him grow every year. He grew as a person and wrestler year after year. He rewrote most of the records. There's a lot to be proud of." 

Rex Johnsen caught fire late in the season and ultimately reached the finals at 285 pounds. Hagen Heistand (132) took third and Gavin Maguire (160) placed eighth. 

The pieces were certainly there for the Panthers to put together this type of season. That shouldn't surprise anybody, but they still had to maneuver through a wrestling season in the midst of a global pandemic. 

"I think there's always high expectations with this wrestling program," Thompson said. "I think you feel that coming in (to the season). Our younger kids look up to the kids that are paving the way right now. You hope that continues year after year." 

Six of the Panthers' seven state medalists are underclassmen. Add that to a deep roster, talented freshman class and incoming junior-high students, and everything is intact for another stellar year for the Panthers next year. 

"I think this season helps build it," Thompson said. "A lot of our younger kids got to watch our duals and got to see those kids on TV. It gets a lot of excitement around the program. Our high numbers show the strength of the program. If we continue to get 30 to 40 kids out every year, we are going to continue to be successful."

Thompson joins Keefer Jensen (Missouri Valley), Tim Duff (Atlantic-CAM) and Tiegen Podliska (Red Oak) as KMAland Wrestling Coaches of the Year. 

Click below to hear the full interview with Coach Thompson. 

KMALAND WRESTLING COACH OF THE YEAR

2018: Keefer Jensen (Missouri Valley)

2019: Tim Duff (Atlantic-CAM) 

2020: Tiegen Podliska (Red Oak)

2021: Dan Thompson (Logan-Magnolia) 

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