Missouri state wrestling champ Wyatt Henson commits to Iowa

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

The Iowa wrestling program kicked off its 2021 recruiting class (again) with a big splash this weekend.

Wyatt Henson, a junior out of St. Louis, Missouri, announced his commitment to the Hawkeyes on Sunday. He announced his decision on Twitter and is Iowa's lone commitment for the 2021 class. He projects as a 141-pounder at the next level.

"I really like their style of wrestling and coaching styles," Henson said in a phone interview with the Des Moines Register. "The Brands brothers remind me of my dad, and I really like that."

His dad, of course, is Sammie Henson, a three-time world and Olympic medalist. He won a freestyle world title in Tehran in 1998, then an Olympic silver at the Sydney Games in 2000, then another world bronze in China in 2006. Before that, Sammie Henson won two NCAA titles at Clemson and was a three-time Missouri state champ.

Wyatt Henson is a ways out from achieving those heights, but he is among the country's best for his age.

Henson is ranked No. 7, nationally, at 132 pounds, and is considered the No. 22 overall prospect in the 2021 class, according to Flowrestling. He won a Missouri large-class state title at 138 last year for the nationally-known Christian Brothers College High School. As a freshman, he took fifth at 120 for Waynesburg Central in Pennsylvania. He carries a 72-16 overall record into his junior season.

Nationally, Henson is a known commodity. He's a two-time freestyle All-American, placing third as a Cadet at 126 pounds in 2018 and third again as a Junior at 126 this past summer. He reached the quarterfinals of the UWW Cadet world team trials in June, and recently took third at the Super 32 Challenge, the nation's toughest preseason high school tournament, at 132 pounds.

Even more, Henson placed sixth at the UWW Junior freestyle national championships last April, where he faced college-aged competition. Competing at 57 kilograms (125.5 pounds), he reached the quarterfinals and recorded wins over Rayvon Foley, an All-American for Michigan State, and Patrick McKee, a redshirt freshman at Minnesota.

Cael Happel, red, wrestles Wyatt Henson, blue, during their 132 pound match at the Agony in Ames High School Showcase on Saturday, Oct. 20, 2018, in Ames. Henson would go on to win 10-3.

In Iowa, Henson found the right mix of high program expectations and coaching philosophy. He also considered Iowa State, Michigan and Nebraska, among others, but the excitement currently surrounding the program helped, as the Hawkeyes are in line to truly contend for the NCAA team title this upcoming season.

Henson was on campus this weekend when the Hawkeyes hosted several top-tier wrestlers from the 2020 and 2021 classes. He said he pulled the trigger on his announcement so that he can now focus on his upcoming season (he will compete for Missouri's Francis Howell North this year).

"The pace in the room and the way the Brands brothers coach their guys, I really liked that," Henson said. "I like the fan base. It's huge. There's definitely high expectations here."

Henson is Iowa's lone 2021 commitment so far. Ryan Sokol was originally the Hawkeyes' first commitment for 2021, but he de-committed in August. He was also on campus this weekend.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.

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