This weekend saw some pretty big news when the state’s top heavyweight recruit, and #48 overall recruit in the nation, Carter Isley gave his verbal to the UNI Panthers to continue his career. It is now early October, just a month until the early signing day, and only two of the state’s nationally ranked seniors have announced where they are going. Isley joined Ethan Andersen, who gave his verbal as a junior, as the only two to announce their verbal, so I thought it was worth a look at the remaining field.

Carter Happel – Lisbon

The state’s top prize is closing in on his college decision, announcing last month that he was down to two schools. Originally, Iowa fans (as in the state) were worried to see if they would lose back-to-back elite recruits to Minnesota, when Happel announced them on his initial list. After a radio interview with Takedown Wrestling, Happel announced he is down to both UNI and Iowa. Both schools could use the addition of a 141-pound wrestler in this class, and there is no doubting the talent that has Happel ranked #30 by InterMat.

As will be a recurring theme with recruiting fans, the question is when will he make his decision? Fans in-state will again be more anxious knowing he is down to two Iowa schools, so that adds a little more interest as far as decisions go, but Happel won’t be rushed into any decision. He knows he could be an asset at either school.

Brock Rathbun – Center Point

Rathbun is another interesting wrestler for in-state fans, as he two listed Iowa and UNI on his list, but also included out of state options Missouri and Virginia Tech. Ranked #86 in the 2016 class, Rathbun is another big time addition for most school looking to bolster their recruiting class and depth. Currently UNI is in the midst of adding several 125 recruits in the past few years, and Iowa has the obvious need of a lightweight addition.

Gannon Gremmel – Dubuque Hempstead

Gremmel is an interesting wrestler in that he really hasn’t explored his recruiting situation to the full extent, and like Isley, he is one of the top heavyweight recruits in the entire nation. He listed UNI, ISU, Cal Poly, Bucknell, Wisconsin, and Nebraska in an earlier interview with us, so it’s clear he has a lot of options in front of him and is keeping an open mind. The addition of Isley at UNI may take the Panthers out of the running for Gremmel cutting his list down to five schools. With so many options on the table, Gremmel is more than likely going to be a late commitment, with our estimate that he won’t be ready until the end of October at the earliest.

Jack Wagner – Bettendorf

Then there is Wagner, who might not be considered a top 100 recruit, but he spent the entire 2015 season ranked at 113 pounds, and will do the same in 2016. Wagner, like Rathbun is a lightweight recruit that has been looking at in-state options as well as some outside. Wagner also told Takedown Radio he has cut his list down a month ago to Iowa, Nebraska, and Minnesota. As mentioned with Rathbun, Iowa needs a lightweight to fill in after Gilman, but having high school teammate and friend Fredy Stroker in Minnesota has to have a pull as well.

Sam Cook – Fort Dodge

Another one of the state’s mysteries, what will Fort Dodge football/wrestling standout Sam Cook do with his college decision? Cook seems fairly focused on trying to earn a football scholarship, but given his lack of size he has yet to receive an offer to his liking. Meanwhile household name programs like Missouri, Oklahoma, and Purdue, have already come calling and Michigan State, Northern Illinois, and Cal Poly have shown interest too. The size that holds him back in football makes him attractive as a wrestling prospect for the 197-pound weight class, but will the state be lucky enough to have both of their stars who excel on both the mat and the grid iron both choose wrestling? Time will tell, and one thing is certain, Cook will take his time in reaching his decision.


Iowa is a state that has produced many top talents over the years and some of them have come from “unheralded” non-top 100 types. I didn’t want to throw out a list of top Iowans and not include these wrestlers among them. However, there are more guys that fit this category below, but these guys happen to have already been interviewed by us, so it makes them a little easier to discuss.

Josh and Justin Portillo – Clarion-Goldfield

Both Portillos have been as solid as they come lightweight wrestlers since they moved to Iowa from Ohio what will be three seasons ago. The Portillos listed North Dakota State, Nebraska-Kearney, and Minnesota-St. Cloud as their three options when we originally talked to them last month. Since then they have informed us that they are now also considering Duke, Grand Canyon, and in-state program Iowa State among the field. Their decision will be an interesting one.

Colton Clingenpeel – Thomas Jefferson

The last wrestler that we have some true information to lean on when it comes to recruiting info, in an earlier conversation with Clingenpeel, he told us that he was looking at both Iowa and Nebraska as his two options to continue his career. Roughly a month later what we are hearing is that Colton is still considering Iowa (he has yet to take his visit to Iowa City), but now UNI has entered the picture in his top two over Nebraska – thanks to a recent visit to Cedar Falls. Clingenpeel doesn’t have the national rankings, but he is a multi-Fargo All-American which makes him an excellent addition no matter where he goes.

By Ross Bartachek (@rossbchek)

Lead Editor of IA Wrestle