An undefeated three-time state champion wrestler from Fort Dodge, Brody Teske is the top college prospect from Iowa in the 2018 class. Zach Boyden-Holmes/The Register
CLARION, Ia. — There are two safe havens Brody Teske goes every day where recruiters can’t reach him.
The first is the dinner table at his family’s home south of Fort Dodge.
The second, and more obvious spot, is a wrestling mat.
Teske loves the sport and the opportunities that have come with it. But the attention can be overwhelming for the undefeated three-time Iowa state champion, who has seen his 2018 recruiting stock soar since the nation's No. 2 prospect Gavin Teasdale flipped from Iowa to Penn State last month.
“I answer one call and they say how much they want me,” Teske said after a weeknight workout with Team Valley Wrestling Club. “I hang up and the next call is like, ‘You’re the greatest thing ever.’ No, I’m not.
“So, I come to practice and get humbled. I get a workout, get tired and sweaty, and I know I’m not ready yet.”
April is technically part of Teske’s offseason, although his schedule doesn’t show it.
The Fort Dodge junior cycles through top training sessions and partners: Iowa Central Community College on Monday; the revamped Cyclone Regional Training Center in Ames on Tuesday and Thursday; his club mentor Carl Valley and friends at Team Valley on Wednesday. Weekends are for whatever campus visit he wants to cross off. Running and weightlifting get worked in around class and homework.
And that’s when he’s not taking calls or typing messages to coaches who want — or, more recently, need — the 17-year-old’s wrestling abilities.
“I know he’s not the only kid dealing with it, but they have to grow up faster than they probably should,” said Brody’s father, Dan. “He’s taking a lot of phone calls from people he’s got a lot of respect for and building relationships. He’s a kid. It’s kind of weird.
“For a young kid to tell adults things they might not want to hear, it’s hard. They have to grow up quick.”
FloWrestling and InterMat both rate Teske third in the nation at 120 pounds. He currently sits 30th overall on Flo’s 2018 big board. Combine a 135-0 prep record with a rising reputation in freestyle, however, and experts believe he could finish inside the top 15 or 20 in an exceptionally deep class.
Pressure is mounting to pick a powerhouse school and to carry himself like a tiny legend. But there’s work to do — another year of high school to finish, bigger wrestling dreams to chase.
Brody Teske can’t stop now.
“The process isn’t wearing him down so much as weighing on him,” Valley said. “He’s wired to work, work, work. And he just wants to find his place.”
‘I have a top seven’
Teske’s place as a coveted prospect is complicated by the game of lightweight musical chairs taking place in recruiting.
He’s not a three-time world champion like Iowa signee Spencer Lee or a consistent Cadet world team member like Teasdale, who had committed to Iowa alongside Lee but switched in-state to the reigning national champions. But coaches love his relentless offense, focus and physical upside.
Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa and a handful of high-profile teams Teske would prefer not to name sit on his list.
“I have a top seven,” he said. “I’m putting it off to the side right now, though, focusing on training for the next eight weeks. If all goes well, I’ll pick the process back up. Signing Day is so far off in the future.
“The ones that want me enough, they’ll stay around.”
Each in-state program has essential reasons to recruit the only Dodger to win three state titles.
UNI and head coach Doug Schwab were in early on Teske and are proud of filling the program with hard-working, small-town Iowa kids.
Iowa State offered under old coach Kevin Jackson’s staff. The mood is completely different since coach Kevin Dresser’s transition, but Teske had interest from that staff while they were still at Virginia Tech, too. Now, active assistants Mike Zadick, Derek St. John and Brent Metcalf are just over an hour away and get plenty of face time with NCAA-approved RTC workouts.
And Iowa, a lightweight factory under Tom and Terry Brands, would love to add another attack-minded talent to its lineup. Teske has already tangled with All-American senior Thomas Gilman and knows what Lee and the other Hawkeyes already in the practice room can do.
“Luckily, the offers that have been made to him, the coaches have said to take all the time we need,” Dan Teske said. “They’re not going to pull an offer until we hear from you.
“If we were faced with needing to know in the next couple weeks, I think there would be more to it.”
As a prospect, Teske projects at 125 pounds, but a little more physical maturation could make him available up to 133. Those weight classes are about what his parents expected when he began wrestling at 35 pounds before elementary school.
“Just look at us,” Brody’s mother, Wendy, says with a laugh while sitting with Dan. “We weren’t going to make big kids. He’s about topped out.”
He’s added size to his chest and core, but the slender son of petite parents still hovers between 130 and 135 pounds day-to-day.
Takedown Wrestling and IAWrestle.com owner Tony Hager thinks Teske could stand to add muscle mass before heading to a college room next summer.
“I view him as a guy that can step in at 125 pounds for a lot of Division I programs,” Hager said. “The ability is there. I just think the size is important. He needs to get a little bit bigger, and that’s what he’s been focusing on.”
Teske can keep his out-of-state college options quiet because he’s a fairly quiet kid, anyway. There are no plans to play public recruiting games or tease an offer on social media. The campus visit entourage consists of Brody and Dan, with Wendy or a grandparent occasionally joining in.
That’s how he wants to ultimately make his decision. The early signing period for Class of 2018 wrestlers begins Nov. 8, and the regular period begins in April 2018.
“I want to be loyal and I want to stick to my word,” Teske said. “I don’t want to say, ‘Yeah, everybody, I’m going here,’ then later on, ‘Sorry, Coach, I’m not going to be coming.’ I don’t want to do that. I’ll wait it out and make one decision.”
Channeling Dan Gable
Teske tries to cool down quickly inside Team Valley’s bright, nondescript industrial building. His face quickly gets red again when February’s workout highlight video is brought up.
One day after winning his third state title — via 20-5 technical fall — he and Fort Dodge coach Bobby Thompson went to Dodger Stadium for a training session, and a clip of the drills was shared across Twitter.
“There’s a video of Dan Gable getting back from the Olympics and going for a run the next day,” Brody said. “That just fires me up. I wanted to start incorporating things like that, because that’s the stuff no one else is doing.”
“Everybody saw that video,” Dan said, “but sometimes after he’s won state, he’s gone for a run and workout that same night. We stayed an extra night in Des Moines.”
That work ethic has fueled Teske’s growing ambition. Minutes after walking off the mat at Wells Fargo Arena to cap a junior season that included bonus points in all 49 wins, he discussed junior world team qualifying and the poster on his bedroom wall of a high school wrestler ranked ahead of him. If he duplicates that run as a senior, he'd be the seventh athlete in state history to complete his career unbeaten.
Iowa’s top prospect in the 2018 class is still arguable — InterMat ranks fellow undefeated three-time champ Alex Thomsen of Underwood higher — but Teske is motivated to work beyond state borders.
“He could sign a lot of places right now, but he knows he’s not the best kid in the country,” Hager said. “And he wants to be the best kid in the country.”
Larger than life
Teske’s affection for Fort Dodge is reciprocated, even if his hometown doesn’t always know the small, unassuming star’s accomplishments.
“People love the school and our wrestling program,” Dan Teske said. “But there have been numerous times we’ve been sitting in a restaurant and people will come up and talk wrestling because they recognize me. They’ll talk about Brody and how great he is and not even know he’s sitting next to me.
“I’ll go, ‘Well, this is him, right here.’ One guy looked over and said, ‘That’s him? He’s little.’”
Dan went to Fort Dodge Senior High. Wendy did, too. As did Brody’s older sister Mckinna and the parents of almost all his teammates.
He has been friends with wrestlers such as Drew Bennett and Triston and Cayd Lara for years, but the program has brought the community even closer together with its recent success and the development of a new wrestling room. State championships and national acclaim have taken Teske to another level of local fame.
“We say ‘homegrown’ a lot, but it’s true in Fort Dodge,” Teske said. “The guys I played baseball with as a 6-year-old are the guys I’m still wrestling with, and we all have goals and the future ahead of us. I don’t think some other big schools can say that.”
Last year’s runner-up finish at the USA Wrestling Cadet freestyle nationals helped launch Teske into another national recruiting tier. He’ll go back to Fargo, N.D., if June’s world team qualifying doesn’t work out like he wants, but his plan is to prove he belongs internationally.
“I didn’t really agree with why people put so much emphasis on Fargo, but college coaches say it shows which kids can stay focused in the offseason against top competition,” Dan Teske said. “We’ve never told Brody he can’t accomplish something. So, these are just his next set of goals.”
Teske takes plenty of pictures with grade-school wrestlers nervous to stand next to the state champ, but he’s attempting to offer more. His third-grade teacher from St. Paul Lutheran Church and School in Fort Dodge, where his family attends, recently asked him to offer guidance to a pair of at-risk brothers. He decided to help them where he knew best.
“I just pick them up and take them to a mat, and we just wrestle for a little bit,” Teske said. “They don’t know very much, but they love it. They’re in third and fourth grade and they just throw down.”
Setting that example and enjoying the sport are more important to Teske than the college decision people are pestering him about. He understands the interest that comes with being a top Hawkeye target or a blue-chip prospect that can boost Iowa State or UNI.
But he still has another year to go in Fort Dodge.
“People ask what it’s like living with a three-time state champ and college recruit,” Dan Teske said. “I’m a wrestling fan, so I love these campus trips, but he’s still got to come home, respect his mom and clean his room. He’s no different than any other kid.”
HIGH SCHOOL HAMMER
Brody Teske’s high school record with wins, losses, decisions, major decisions, technical falls, pins and forfeits or defaults, according to TrackWrestling and the Fort Dodge Messenger-News.
Season W L Dec. MD TF Pin For.
2014-15 43 0 6 8 1 27 1
2015-16 43 0 6 5 9 20 3
2016-17 49 0 0 4 15 24 6
Totals 135 0 12 17 25 71 10