Let the Games Begin

Let The Games Begin by tomoxnamAnd may the odds, be ever in your team’s favor..

Yeah, its a corny reference to the highly successful franchise of the Hunger Games, but that’s kind of what it feels like right? If you didn’t know, or maybe missed it the other day, July 1st is the first official day that coaches can contact seniors from the 2015 graduating class about their recruitment. Iowa features a particularly strong class in state (eight ranked seniors) and while the big instate schools will also be examining choices out of state to fill their roster, I thought we could go ahead and take a look at what our great state has produced for the upcoming season.

The belle of the ball in Iowa right now has to be none other than Fredy Stroker, the Bettendorf star, who is currently ranked by Flowrestling as one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in all of high school (not just this senior class). Mentioned in that piece from the other day Stroker said he is still considering schools in the Big Ten, Arizona State, and some Ivy League schools. While that rules out practically no one, he did mention that he would like to make his decision before he takes his official visits. I wouldn’t be surprised if Fredy decides in time for the early recruit signing in November. So where does Fredy project into a college lineup? Well, that is a little difficult to completely nail down. He is currently the #1 ranked 138 pounder in the nation, but I think you would be dreaming if you think he will be able to be a 141. If you watch the video of Stroker and Metcalf practicing live go’s from the team camp, I think it’s fairly obvious that Stroker looks like a 149, with potential to be 157 when comparing his size to Metcalf’s.

So, what kind of options does that leave Fredy in the state of Iowa? All of them. Currently there isn’t a wrestler on Iowa State or UNI’s roster at 149 or 157 that I don’t think Stroker couldn’t at least be competitive with (we’re talking two more years down the road, and that’s two more years for Stroker to get better than he already is). As for Iowa, they do have a very talented Brandon Sorensen, but I don’t see how if they were on the same roster, they wouldn’t be able to figure out a way for both to be in the lineup. There is also the teammate connection at Iowa as former Bettendorf Bulldogs Connor and Logan Ryan currently wrestle for Iowa.

Just because Fredy gets most of the love from recruiting sites, doesn’t mean there aren’t some other very talented lightweights. Nolan Hellickson of Southeast Polk is one of those guys. Currently the #12 ranked wrestler at 120, Hellickson is most likely looking at being a 125 guy for his college career. What’s the in-state situation like? Well UNI has Dylan Peters, the 6th place finisher at NCAAs this past march. Peters was just a freshman and is most likely a career 125 wrestler for Doug Schwab, which means the first season Hellickson would be eligible to wrestle, he would be sitting behind a senior Peters. Not everyone is a four year stater in college and I could really see Nolan being one of those lightweights who thrives under Schwab.

Iowa State has potential as their 125 from last year was also an All-American, but he is currently a sophomore. However, Earl Hall may be looking to bump up to 133 for the upcoming season to make room for sophomore Kyle Larson which would put him in the same position as it would with UNI, having to beat a senior to claim a spot. Iowa has ridiculous depth at 125, as one of Thomas Gilman (a Junior World Team member at 125.5) and Cory Clark will be a senior Hellickson’s freshman year, and Phil Laux will be just a junior. There are a lot of things that can change in two years, and it’s not necessarily the only thing a recruit looks at (in the room competition) when making his committment, but it’s worth looking at. One thing is for certain is that where ever Hellickson lands he will be a great addition.

Another lightweight joining Stroker in the 138 ranks is #6 Max Thomsen of Union. Thomsen get’s a little overlooked having someone as highly touted as Stroker in his weight class, but make no mistake he is still a good recruit in his own right. Thomsen was out in Virginia competing at Nationals this past March and he actually won a national title in the junior bracket. It’s worth noting that in the finals he beat a real good Paul Lugo 3-1 (Lugo defeated Logan Ryan in Greco-Roman this past weekend). Thomsen is also aiming to become the 24th Iowan to capture four state titles. While Thomsen is the same weight as Stroker, it may be a safer bet to think he has a legitimate shot to stay at 141 in college. He will probably spend time at either 141 or 149, depending on where a spot is in the lineup on whatever team he chooses. Some may consider Iowa to be on the inside track to land Thomsen as his brother Logan is currently on the Hawkeye squad, but Max picking a team like UNI really shouldn’t be a surprise either. Iowa has been very successful at producing college lightweights over the years, and Thomsen certainly fits that mold.

The final wrestler we will be addressing today is Waverly-Shell Rock’s Bryce Steiert. The #19 ranked 145 wrestler, Steiert projects to be a 149/157 wrestler for his college career. Steiert doesn’t have all of the accolades that Stroker or Thomsen have, so he will be considered more of a “project” wrestler where he may not necessarily start as a freshman, but could be a guy who thrives down the road. We’ve talked about Steiert in the past here, like his Cadet Nationals finish where he didn’t place, but he was also one of the few wrestlers who didn’t get destroyed by Mason Manville. No one likes to brag about losses, but realistically that is about as good as a loss can get. Steiert was also competing on that Blue team that competed in the Junior Duals in Oklahoma and finished 6th. Steiert wrestled all the way up at 160 for Iowa and he was an impressive 6-1. Steiert is one of those guys you get in your room and his hard work pays off and he ends up being a real solid contributor on your team a few years down the road.

Also, a note that is a bit off topic, but I feel like it should be mentioned is that Matt McDonough was named Flowrestling’s wrestler of the week after his performance in Arizona. You may recall McDonough notched two victories over Nahshon Garrett to claim the 57 KG University Nationals spot.