In 2018, 34 Iowa high school wrestlers earned All-American honors at the Cadet and Junior Freestyle and Greco-Roman National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota.
The future of Iowa wrestling has begun to take shape after a slew of recruiting successes over the last few months. On Saturday, the Hawkeyes added yet another elite-level wrestler to a future recruiting haul.
Ryan Sokol, a sophomore at Simley Senior High School in Minnesota, announced his commitment to the Iowa wrestling program Saturday. Sokol, one of the nation’s brightest young wrestling talents, is the first commitment for the Hawkeyes’ 2021 recruiting class.
“When I went down there for some camps, I really loved the atmosphere and loved the coaches,” Sokol told HawkCentral. “I thought about waiting longer, just to see how things played out, but at the end of the day, I felt so at home there that I felt like I would’ve ended up there anyway.
“I’ve always loved Iowa. I’ve loved Iowa since I was a little kid, when I started wrestling at four years old.”
Sokol is considered one of the nation’s best for his age. Flowrestling considers him the No. 9 pound-for-pound wrestler in the 2021 class. In Minnesota, he placed fifth at state as a seventh-grader at 106 pounds and third as an eighth-grader at 113. He won a Cadet freestyle national title in 2017, outscoring his seven opponents by a combined 78-19 en route to first place at 120 pounds.
Since then, Sokol has dealt with numerous health issues that cut his freshman season at Simley short. He wrestled just nine matches that year before injuries to his lower back, a torn meniscus in his knee and a herniated disc in his neck kept him off the mat for the better part of half a year.
“It’s been a long year,” Sokol said, “but I’m excited to get sophomore year started and get back to what I love doing.”
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Sokol said he plans on wrestling at 132 pounds this coming season, and sees himself going anywhere from 141 to 157 once he arrives in Iowa City — which won’t be until the fall of 2021 — depending on how much he grows.
Sokol is the latest Minnesota prep wrestler to commit to Iowa. Before him, Aaron Cashman was a late addition to the Hawkeyes’ 2018 recruiting class, Zach Glazier bolstered the 2019 haul and Patrick Kennedy became the first 2020 commitment. On the roster already are other Minnesota products, most notably Sam Stoll, a 2018 All-American at heavyweight.
“I’m good friends with Kennedy,” Sokol said. “I know the other guys pretty well, but I hang out with Kennedy every once in a while. He convinced me to come down for a camp (over the summer). That’s when I really fell in love with everything, more so than I was before.
“I want to be an Iowa Hawkeye, so I figured I would just make it happen.”
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.