2020 Who's #1

Future Hawkeyes Ayala & Henson Leave Who's #1 With Plenty Of Lessons

Future Hawkeyes Ayala & Henson Leave Who's #1 With Plenty Of Lessons

Draka Ayala won a big match, Wyatt Henson lost a big match, but both future Hawkeyes took away plenty from 2020 Who's #1.

Oct 9, 2020 by Anna Kayser
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Win or lose, the number of lessons learned from national wrestling tournaments are immeasurable for high school athletes gearing up for collegiate careers. At FloWrestling’s Who’s #1 last weekend, two Iowa recruits experienced that firsthand. 

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Win or lose, the number of lessons learned from national wrestling tournaments are immeasurable for high school athletes gearing up for collegiate careers. At FloWrestling’s Who’s #1 last weekend, two Iowa recruits experienced that firsthand. 

Drake Ayala of Fort Dodge, Iowa, and Wyatt Henson of Waynesburg, Pennsylvania, were the two future faces of Iowa wrestling to compete in the tournament at 120 and 145 pounds, respectively. They are both members of the 2021 recruiting class. 

Henson took the mat first, and dropped a decision, 8-5, to Cody Chittum out of Tennessee. Ayala’s was the second-to-last match of the day and provided one of the standout moments of the weekend. 

In sudden victory, Ayala finished off No. 1-ranked Richie Figueroa with a takedown for the upset. 

“I felt good, it was a good match,” Ayala said. “Just got to keep my composure — that was huge. Then just my pace, wearing on him was huge also.”

Watch Ayala’s upset here: 

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Ayala is a big believer in learning from his mistakes and taking from the losses, but this win is a good stepping stone towards the goals he wants to accomplish before stepping foot as an official Iowa wrestler in 2021. 

The same goes for Henson, who walked away from his loss with a mindset that he beat himself in the match. 

“It most definitely helped me, it helped me realize what I need to work on and what I’m doing is small,” Henson said. “I’m going to be able to fix it and I’m going to be able to dominate people.”

Watch Henson’s match vs Chittum here:

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His biggest thing is to keep moving and to not get caught up in ties. Keeping pressure on his opponent and taking advantage of his to positions moving forward are key in Henson’s mind to getting back in the win column. 

In intense tournaments like WNO, lessons learned on the mat don’t necessarily just come from the action. COVID-19 and the limited attendance in all 2020 sporting events has put less of an emphasis on the atmosphere, but in a normal year that’s huge. 

And for athletes that are about to walk into Carver-Hawkeye Arena surrounded by sometimes a sold-out crowd of wrestling fans, preparing themselves for the atmosphere is huge. 

“The fans for national tournaments, I think it’s a big factor,” Henson said. “I wrestle a lot better when I have fans. But also, when we don’t have fans like at Who’s #1, prepares me for this COVID stuff that’s going on. I have to be prepared always.”

Going forward, Henson is taking his focus to the practice room to try and get better on the little things he needs to work on. 

As for Ayala, he is on the docket for Super 32 from Oct. 24-25, something that his WNO match has given him a boost for. 

“This gave me some confidence going into Super 32 but obviously not too much either,” Ayala said. “It was just one match. I’m excited to compete in three weeks and then I’ve still got to work hard for the season.”


Anna attended the University of Iowa, where she covered multiple sports from volleyball to football to wrestling. She went to Pittsburgh in March 2019 for the NCAA DI Wrestling Championships and did live coverage of the entire event and Spencer Lee’s second-straight NCAA title. Follow her on Twitter.