Jason Renteria was a first-year wrestler who might've tipped the scales at 60 pounds when one of the top high school wrestlers in Illinois approached him with some pointers.
He's grown quite a bit in the eight years since — both in size and wrestling stature — and so has his relationship with the older wrestler who continues to shape his wrestling career.
Renteria mimics Tony Ramos on the mat. He utilizes some of the same holds. He even stares his opponents down before matches like Ramos did at Iowa.
Thus, it's no surprise Renteria wants to follow in the footsteps of a wrestler he considers almost like a big brother. The unexpected part might be that the prep sophomore from Illinois made his future plans public this soon.
Renteria is the first sophomore to commit to the Hawkeyes under ninth-year head coach Tom Brands. The likely college 125-pounder is believed to be the youngest wrestler ever to declare intentions of wrestling at Iowa.
"What made me (commit) is just to get it over with because I really like Iowa," said Renteria, considered the No. 10 overall prospect in the 2017 class byFlowrestling and the 22nd-ranked sophomore by InterMat. "(Underclassmen are) starting to know where they want to go and the decisions they want to make for their future.
"That's what brought me to my choice. I was thinking about my future and I always wanted to be a Hawkeye."
The Hawkeyes can thank Ramos, a 2014 NCAA champion, for sparking that interest. Their relationship started when Renteriawas 7 and just learning the basics in the sport.
"I was wrestling and he started showing me some moves that I still use today," said Renteria, a state runner-up last year at Oak Park River Forest High School. "After practice, he told me, 'You're going to be a stud when you grow up.' "
Renteria watched Ramos win three Illinois state titles for Glenbard North and followed his career at Iowa. The future Hawkeye made two trips to Iowa City to see his idol in person and witnessed two of the moments that stamped Ramos as a fan favorite: His overtime win in 2012 against defending NCAA champion Jordan Oliver of Oklahoma State and his pin that fueled Iowa's 2013 victory against Penn State.
"I was really excited to see the way the crowd reacted for Tony," Renteria said. "I knew that was the place I wanted to be."