As I mentioned in the true freshmen recap last year seems to be a sneaky good recruiting class as they only really had a couple of big name recruits, and some under the radar guys like Dante Rodriguez have come on strong to show that even the less heralded guys are going to compete. This class has some interesting parallels down to brining in one big name lightweight and one big name upperweight. This class will probably finish at least in the top 20 (the 11-20 range can be very similar in terms of talent vs quantity), which mirrors last year’s top 15 class.
Poached goods –
Kevin Jackson did something big when he went down south and brought back with him a top 100 recruit from Oklahoma. That’s right, that’s Cowboy and Sooner territory and Jackson still managed to bring in Markus Simmons, who appears to have a bright future in the Cyclone lightweights. Simmons won an Oklahoma state title at 126, so the biggest question is will Simmons threaten to start at 125 or 133?
Currently the Cyclones have a pair of wrestlers in Nathan Boston and Kyle Larson who are expected to each battle for 133 next season (though Earl Hall, who has an impressive freestyle background and is ranked 10th in the USA at 61 kg, does have an Olympic redshirt option to allow both wrestlers to start) so it appears that Simmons will be redshirting this upcoming season. Assuming Hall doesn’t redshirt, Simmons should come into his redshirt freshman year looking to battle with one of Larson or Boston for a starting spot. A lot will depend on which wrestler goes to which weight, and if Simmons will still be able to make 125 two years from now.
“Show-Me” the money –
Simmons wasn’t the only thing Jackson will be importing from the south, as Colston DiBlasi from the Show-Me state – Missouri – will be another top 100 recruiting addition to the class. DiBlasi has been committed to ISU since he was a junior and has been a fairly consistent top 20 ranked wrestler at his weight class. This year he bumped two weight classes to 170 where he won a Missouri state title, and looks to be the heir at 174 for the Cyclones.
The initial bump to 170 showed DiBlasi struggled putting on the weight while wrestling top competition at the Super 32 tournament, but eventually the Park Hill native figured it out and has made the necessary adjustments. As a true freshman he would be behind Tanner Weatherman, who should be concluding his Cyclone season at 174. The following year after a DiBlasi redshirt is when things could get a little interesting. With rumors still swirling that Lelund Weatherspoon, despite being a top 20 184, could consider dropping back to 174 once Weatherman graduates. Weatherspoon spent time at 174 as a freshman battling for the 174 spot, before losing the battle to Weatherman and bumping. Either way it appears that 174 is going to be in good shape for the Cyclone for the foreseeable future.
Osage can you see –
The Cyclones landed a talented Iowa product in Brady Jennings out of Osage high school, which has produced some remarkable talent including 2008 Olympian Doug Schwab. Jennings capped his career with a 2A 138 state title and will project to compete at the 141 weight class.
The 141 weight class does look fairly interesting for the Cyclones for the future, as it spent the current year manned by John Meeks, a former top 10 recruit, and freshman sensation Dante Rodriguez. Meeks would only be a senior by time Jennings would be ready to compete for a spot, and it doesn’t seem out of the realm of possibility that Rodriguez could eventually occupy the 149 weight class once Gabe Moreno moves on. Former Bettendorf standout Bubba Hernandez will also be a player at this weight class when you look two years down the road.
Spinning Straw into gold –
Chase Straw is an excellent addition to the Cyclone recruiting class, and as a former top 20 at his weight class, he may actually be a bit under the radar, which has been something that Jackson has thrived on as of late. Straw informed us that he intends to go for the 157 spot. Straw won a state title for Independence at 152 and has been one of his weight’s top ranked wrestlers the past few seasons.
The 157 weight class is one that could see some good battles over the coming years. Currently Colin Strickland (Southeast Polk alum), Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer, Logan Breitenbach, and Blayne Briceno are all listed at 157. Briceno and Rodriguez-Spencer have spent time at 149 and could challenge there, but both are expected to challenge at 157 with the graduation of senior Luke Goettl. Senior Mike Moreno’s departure from the 165 weight class should see Breitenbach and Strickland challenge there as well. So, there is a chance that some of these wrestlers may decide to move to other weights, but right now Jackson has a good amount of talent collected around the middleweights.
A couple heavy hitters –
The Cyclones also picked up some heavyweight depth with Andrew Stowe out of Nebraska. Stowe had a rough finish to his high school career taking 4th at the Nebraska state championships, but when you consider he will be going into a program with talented upperweight coaches and workout partners like Jackson, Deron Winn, Jarod Trice, Evan Brown, and Matt Gibson he will have plenty of opportunities to be molded and developed.
The Cyclones have also added Iowa native Alex Silberstein of Ballard high school. The 2A state champion went through a tough bracket that included Gabe Rangel, and Mario Pena (wrestled for Team Iowa at Dream Team) who Sliberstien defeated 3-1 to claim his state title.
Stowe and Silberstein will have some contention right out of the gate between Joe Scanlan and Quean Smith, who will both be seniors after both come off of their redshirt season. Personally I am a fan of letting heavyweights get acclimated as much as possible to DI wrestling, so if they need another year of development in the room they are in a great situation, as it appears they won’t have a need day one unless one emerges as the the clear favorite.
Family Tradition –
Hank Swalla continues a family tradition of wrestling for the Cyclones and will join a team that includes his brother Luke, who will be senior next season at 149 pounds. Hank comes to the team a bit bigger than his older brother as he competed at 182 pounds for Ames high school before an injury ended his season before the state tournament. Prior to that injury Swalla was ranked in the top three at his weight class by IA Wrestle.
Coming in at 182, Swalla is expected to challenge for the 184 pound spot in the lineup, which means he could sit behind Lelund Weatherspoon.
Joe Somebody –
The Cyclones got another nice addition and they got him rather recently. Algona state champion Joe Teague will join the Cyclones in the upcoming season. Iowa State did a good job of dipping into instate talent, especially in the 2A division where they landed four of the class’s state champions. Teague had to go through both the #2 and #3 ranked wrestlers to win his title, including a fall over #2 ranked Brent Lammers in the finals. Teague’s performance at the tournament earned him Second-Team on the All-State team, only falling behind Evan Hansen who has flirted in the top 20 rankings.
Teague won his state title at 182 pounds and is expected to compete at 184 pounds. That means just like Swalla, Teague will be expected to compete against Lelund Weatherspoon to try and find a spot in the lineup.
Too Early to Tell –
Recently ISU picked up commitments from Luke Entzel (MT) and Joesph Dominguez (CA), but more time will be needed to breakdown the new wrestlers being added to the squad and will be addressed in the future. For now know that Entzel won a Montana state title at 170 pounds and is expected to compete at either 174 or 184, and Dominguez wrestled his senior year at 145 out in California, and did not place.
Looking ahead –
Carter Happel will remain the mystery until he announces. Much like I discussed in the UNI preview, it is still an unknown on what Happel would like to do with his future, but he could also make for a good addition to the Iowa State wrestling team as well. Anytime you can land a top talent such as Happel you have to be thrilled and Happel appears to have the tools to be successful.
State champions out of Clarion-Goldfield Justin and Josh Portillo will also be interesting additions if they do intend to wrestle in state. Both are fringe top 20 wrestlers at their weight, but they have already been pretty competitive against some of the state’s other top prospects. Justin wrestled 106 as a junior, but Josh wrestled 126, so it’s very conceivable that they could man 125 and 133 and you wouldn’t have to worry about the twins trying to wrestle the same weight. I have no insight on the Portillos’ intentions nor Iowa State’s, but on paper it looks like good potential matchup.