POSTVILLE – If there was an important wrestling event taking place – and Iowans were competing – you could count on him being there.
From the youth levels all the way up to the Olympic athletes, G. Wyatt Schultz covered it all.
He was an outstanding photographer who owned and operated The Predicament, the long-time popular magazine and website that covers all levels of wrestling in the state of Iowa.
But Wyatt was more than that. Much more. He was an ambassador, a friend, a confidant and someone who would always greet you with a warm smile and handshake.
He loved the people in the sport of wrestling and the people loved him right back. We lost Wyatt just over a week ago when he lost his battle with COVID after a lengthy hospital stay in Cedar Rapids.
Wyatt Schultz was 68 years old, but he still had so much energy and enthusiasm before he became ill. And he had so much more to give. It is upsetting and heartbreaking to see him taken away from us during a time where he was really enjoying life.
Many people in the wrestling community had just seen Wyatt last month at the Junior and Cadet Nationals in Fargo, North Dakota. It is regarded as the biggest wrestling tournament in the world and Wyatt had many great photos from the event published in WIN magazine.
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He had actually sent me a couple of photos from Fargo for a project that I’m working on. He had planned on being at my book signing earlier this month in Cedar Falls. He had taken a number of photos for my book, Home Sweet Dome, that I co-authored with former Waterloo-Cedar Falls Courier sports editor Doug Newhoff. It was a book on the history of Iowa high school football and he had dozens of photos that appeared in the book
A few days before the book signing, he had texted me from the hospital. He wanted to let me know that he would be unable to make it to our signing, but that he wished everything went well at our event.
That was Wyatt. One of the most selfless, giving, generous and down-to-earth people that I’ve ever met.
There were photos of six people on the book cover and Wyatt took two of them. He didn’t shoot a great deal of football, but did excellent work when he did.
His visitation was held Friday afternoon in his hometown of Postville, about a 90-minute drive northeast from Waterloo. I drove up there Friday and colleague Jim Nelson of the Courier rode with me. Nelley was another one of Wyatt’s many good friends.
We arrived early, hoping to make an appearance and pay our respects before we had to head back to cover the opening night of high school football in Waterloo.
We got there about 10 minutes before the start of the visitation that was scheduled for 4 p.m. When we arrived at the church, the parking lot was already filled with cars. As we walked inside, there was a long line of about 50 people in front of us. During the 30 minutes we were there, another 100-plus people entered the church.
Included in that group were Hall of Fame former Wartburg wrestling coach Jim Miller, Northern Iowa coach Doug Schwab and his staff, Wartburg coach Eric Keller, Upper Iowa coach Heath Grimm and long-time wrestling writer/historian Kyle Klingman.
We expected a big turnout, but nothing like this. It was an emotional day. I worked closely with Wyatt during the decade I spent as communications manager at USA Wrestling and more recently when Wyatt asked me to write articles for him for the Predicament. We had so many fun times joking around at events. We always had a story or joke to share when we saw each other.
Every morning at Junior and Cadet Nationals in Fargo, Wyatt, photographer John Sachs and I would take turns buying a round of coffee we consumed at the start of each session. It was always funny because this usually happened before the 9 a.m. start to the session and Wyatt had already been up for hours.
Anyone who knew Wyatt was well aware he woke up at 3:30 a.m. each day. He was an early riser who always arrived well over an hour before an event started. He was dedicated, driven and hugely passionate about wrestling and the people involved in it.
Wyatt was a great friend of the Courier, contributing numerous wrestling and football photos to this publication and website over the years. He donated a great deal of his time to this endeavor.
He and his wife, Kirsten, lived in Cedar Rapids but they also owned a home in Waterloo. Wyatt would stay at their house in Waterloo during parts of wrestling season whenever he covered events in this part of the state.
During his visitation on Friday afternoon, there were Predicament pens sitting on the table that included numerous photos of Wyatt along with many of his photos that graced the covers of magazines and newspapers.
Wyatt was known for always handing out pens at events, and I still have many of them. Of course, I had to grab another pen on Friday. His motto of “Let’s keep wrestling on the move” won’t be forgotten.
What also impressed me about Wyatt was the enormous amount of time he devoted to the sport. For years, he worked full-time as a truck driver and he had just recently retired. When he was still working, he used most of his vacation time to cover wrestling events. I know he didn’t make a huge profit from wrestling, using much of his money from subscriptions to cover his expenses so he could travel to events. He didn’t do it for the money, he did it for his love for the sport.
It was pretty incredible to see how many people came to pay their respects Friday to one of the best people I’ve ever known. That’s a tribute to what an amazing man that Wyatt was. It still doesn’t seem real to me that he’s gone.
My thoughts and prayers go out to Wyatt’s wonderful wife, Kirsten, and their entire family. And to Wyatt’s large extended family that included hundreds of people in the wrestling community.
I will miss his friendship and I will miss seeing him matside snapping photos at events. I know it’s going to be really difficult this February not seeing him at the state tournament in Des Moines. I’m sure he will be honored and recognized in some way, and deservedly so.
It was a very emotional and challenging day for many of us on Friday. It still seems surreal and it is definitely difficult to think that he’s gone. I certainly wasn’t ready to say goodbye to my close friend.
I do know that I will always cherish the lasting memories we enjoyed together. So many of us were truly blessed to be associated with Grant Wyatt Schultz.
Rest in peace, brother. I will never forget you.
Craig Sesker is a sports reporter for the Courier. Follow him on Twitter at @Craigsesker. You can reach him via email at Craig.Sesker@WCFCourier.com or via phone at 319-575-2891.