Lee and Teasdale 'game changers' for Iowa wrestling

Andy Hamilton
Iowa head coach Tom Brands watches as Cory Clark pins Chattanooga's Nick Soto at 133 pounds during their EAS/NWCA National Duals quarterfinal matchup at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015. Clark pinned Soto in 4:16.     David Scrivner / Iowa City Press-Citizen

A few quick thoughts on the Iowa wrestling recruiting bombshell…

The term “game changer” gets tossed around a lot these days. Probably too much. But it’s hard to come up with a better descriptor for the news that broke Wednesday on the Iowa wrestling beat.

The Hawkeyes have won some major recruiting battles in the last couple decades. They landed the undisputed No. 1 prospect in the country 15 years ago when heavyweight Steve Mocco picked Iowa over Oklahoma State. They pulled off an even bigger stunner a year later when Mark Perry, the nation’s top-ranked senior, turned down a chance for to wrestle for his uncle, John Smith, and picked the Hawkeyes over Oklahoma State.

They brought in a huge collection of talent 10 years ago when Brent Metcalf, Jay Borschel, Joe Slaton, Dan LeClere and T.H. Leet announced they were planning to follow coach Tom Brands from Virginia Tech.

Those were game changers for the Hawkeyes. Mocco won an NCAA title at Iowa and helped the Hawkeyes land Perry, his prep teammate at Blair Academy.

Perry won two titles of his own at Iowa and teamed up with Metcalf and company to help the Hawkeyes begin a three-year team championship run under Brands.

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The Hawkeyes have been one or two studs short in their title quest during the last six years. They’ve had to watch Penn State hoist the NCAA title trophy five times since 2011, and Cael Sanderson has constructed a roster that’s flush with young talent.

That’s why Spencer Lee was a must-get for Iowa wrestling. The two-time World champion is the type of high-end talent the Hawkeyes have watched fall into Sanderson’s hands time and again in recent years. Gavin Teasdale is certainly no throw-in on the deal, either.

Lee is the consensus No. 1 recruit in the 2017 class. Teasdale is considered the No. 3 overall prospect in 2018. They’re both multi-time Pennsylvania state champs with spotless prep records.

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They both blew through their bracket at the state meet this season. Lee registered three first-period pins and a second-period technical fall. Teasdale shattered the tournament scoring record by racking up 96 points in four technical-fall victories.

Wednesday’s news could be viewed as a recruiting philosophy shift for the Hawkeyes. Brands signed top-ranked recruiting classes in 2010 and 2012, but those groups were constructed more on depth than the type of mega-talented prospects Sanderson built championship teams around.

In November, the Hawkeyes signed Alex Marinelli, a four-time Ohio state champion who’s ranked by Flowrestling and InterMat as the No. 3 prospect in the 2016 class. Marinelli had been the most decorated prospect to commit to Iowa during the Brands era until Wednesday.

It’s going to be interesting to see how the pieces fit together for the Hawkeyes. Lee projects at 125 pounds. Teasdale will probably grow into 133 or 141. Iowa has five recruits committed to its 2017 and 2018 classes now and four — Lee, Teasdale, three-time California state champ Justin Mejia and Illinois champ Jason Renteria — project at the three lightest weight classes.