Landers wins third consecutive national championship at ?AAU Winter Nationals, Wittenburg brothers take 3rd, 4th
By Justin Scott

Gavin Landers, son of Trace and Heather Landers of Denver, Iowa, earned his third consecutive National Championship in dominating fashion at the 2023 AAU Winter Nationals wrestling tournament in Omaha, Nebraska. The two-day event was held at Ralston Arena January 7-8.

The prestigious annual youth wrestling event, nicknamed the "Challenge for the Chain," is considered the first National Championship of the year for youth wrestlers. An estimated 900 wrestlers from 15 states came out this year to take their best shot at becoming a National Champion and earning the highly sought after National Champion Chain.

Landers, a Denver 8th grader who wrestles with Immortal Athletics Wrestling Club in Cedar Falls, put on a wrestling clinic in a loaded 32-wrestler "Schoolboy" division at 100 lbs. He recorded pins in his first three matches, then shifted gears by logging a 13-0 major victory in the semifinals and secured the title with a 16-0 2nd period technical fall over Joey Cahill of Urbandale, Iowa.

Landers used a takedown and three-point near fall to lead 5-0 at the end of the 1st period and then completely took over the match with a reversal, and three consecutive three-point near-falls to finish things.

Cahill was a familiar opponent for Landers as Cahill finished runner-up to Landers in both the 2022 Iowa/USA State Freestyle Championship and in the 2022 Iowa/USA State Greco-Roman Championship in Pleasant Hill, Iowa in May of 2022. In both of the championship matches with Cahill, Landers dominated with 10-0 and 10-2 tech falls.

Landers finished the tournament ranked 11th in his age division and in the top-100 (#77) out of all wrestlers present for the number of pins (3) and the least amount of time on the mat (5:17 minutes total). His 54 total match points was 10th best in his age group and his 50-second pin in his second match ranked as one of the fastest 50 pins in the tournament in his age group.

Fellow Immortal teammates and Denver classmates, brothers Breckin (7th grade) and Axton Wittenburg (6th grade), also took part in the event for the first time in both of their wrestling careers, bringing home 4th and 3rd Place finishes respectively. They are the sons of Matt and Darcy Wittenburg of Denver, Iowa.

Axton claimed third place in a six man bracket that featured three wrestlers from Iowa. He recorded two pins in the consolation side of his 60 lb Novice Boys bracket after dropping a 5-1 decision to eventual bracket runner-up Kameron Cushman of Marion, Iowa, in his first match. Axton had won the previous four matches he had against Cushman.

Breckin battled through eight matches total at the tournament--seven in the consolation side of the bracket--to secure a hard-fought fourth place in a very competitive field of 31 wrestlers. His two losses at the tournament were to Dalton Perkins of Mustang, OK., who beat him in a thrilling but heartbreaking opening match of the tournament. Perkins scored a reversal with :05 left to squeak out a close 4-2 win. Perkins then earned a 3-0 decision over Breckin in the third place match. In between his matches with Perkins however, Breckin was unstoppable, posting four pins and two victories by decision.
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