Wrestling: Ankeny Centennial state finalist Ben Monroe commits to Iowa State
When Ben Monroe was young, he remembers making the 30-minute drive with his dad to watch the Iowa State wrestling team. He loved watching intense duals inside Hilton Coliseum, and thought it’d be cool to don the cardinal and gold someday.
Earlier this week, Monroe decided he would make that dream a reality.
Monroe, a junior at Ankeny Centennial, announced his commitment to Iowa State. He picked the Cyclones over Wisconsin and Northern Illinois. He projects at 149 pounds.
“I really like the coaches there,” Monroe told the Des Moines Register. “They will do what’s best for me to reach my goals, on and off the mat. They’re good guys. I know everything up there is going well and they’re on the come-up.
“It’s close to home, and I’ve always been an Iowa State fan, so it’s going to be super cool.”
In Monroe, the Cyclones are getting one of Iowa’s most talented wrestlers. He’s a three-time Class 3A state finalist — at 106 pounds as a freshman, 120 as a sophomore, and 132 this past season. He boasts a 122-12 overall record. He also won a Cadet freestyle state title last spring.
Monroe is Iowa State’s third 2020 commitment, joining Woodward-Granger state champion Cody Fisher and Pennsylvania standout Cameron Robinson. He is also the second Ankeny Centennial wrestler to recently commit to the Cyclones, as senior Eric Owens did so last week. A fourth came later on Thursday afternoon, when Minnesota prep Drew Woodley also announced his commitment to Iowa State.
By adding Monroe, the Cyclones continued their trend of adding in-state wrestlers under head coach Kevin Dresser. Iowa State’s 2018 recruiting class featured 10 in-state kids; its current 2019 haul has five (so far): Owens, Albia’s Aden Reeves, Assumption’s Julien Broderson, and the ADM duo of Andrew Flora and Nolan Harsh.
Dresser’s emphasis on recruiting in-state kids since taking the job caught his attention.
“There’s a bunch of Iowans going there, and I think it’s awesome,” Monroe said. “There’s not a better kid that a coach can recruit than hardworking Iowa boys. I think coach Dresser knows that if he recruits us, we can help build a strong culture in that room.
“That’s another reason why I want to go there. The culture there is strong and they all want to be at the top. There’s no place like it.”
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Monroe becomes the sixth 2020 in-state wrestler with a known Division I future. In addition to him and Fisher, Southeast Polk’s Gabe Christenson and Mason City’s Cullan and Colby Schriever have all committed to Iowa. Lisbon’s Cael Happel, a three-time 1A state champ, picked Northern Iowa in February.
But Monroe is the first to pick the Cyclones, who are coming off a stellar season. Iowa State went 10-4 in duals, finished second at the Big 12 Championships, and took 16th at the NCAA Championships behind two All-Americans.
The combination of an up-and-coming wrestling program, a wide range of academic options, and proximity to home made Monroe want to chase a childhood dream.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.