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Wrestling: Iowa Central’s Boone McDermott, a 2020 national champion, commits to Rutgers

Cody Goodwin
Des Moines Register

Iowa Central’s latest wrestling superstar is headed to Division I.

Boone McDermott, a junior-college national champion this past season, announced his commitment to Rutgers Wednesday morning. The heavyweight will have three years of eligibility remaining with the Scarlet Knights starting with the 2020-21 season.

“I love the coaches, the team, the atmosphere overall,” McDermott told the Des Moines Register. “Wrestling is big for that school, and they get a lot of support.

“I’m so excited, dude. I’m pumped.”

McDermott can add his name to the list of Iowa Central wrestlers who have made the Division I jump. Among them: Todd Small, a 2020 NCAA qualifier for Iowa State; Pat Downey, a 2016 All-American for the Cyclones; Edwin Cooper, who spent time at Iowa; and Richie Lewis, a U23 men’s freestyle world champ who also went to Rutgers.

The Dubuque Wahlert product also ensures another Iowa native will be part of an out-of-state Big Ten program. Alex Thomsen, a four-time state champ from Underwood, is at Nebraska, and Max Lyon, a two-time state champ from Western Dubuque, is at Purdue. Both qualified for the 2020 NCAA Championships.

McDermott’s journey to Division I took a quick detour through Fort Dodge after a successful senior campaign. He pinned his way to a Class 2A state title at 220 pounds in 2018, wherein he also led Wahlert to the first team championship in school history. He finished 45-1 and was a first-team All-Iowa Elite pick by the Register.

That same year, McDermott was a Junior All-American in all three wrestling disciplines, placing third in folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman at 220 pounds. At the time, he was considered among the country's best. Intermat ranked him as high as 11th nationally.

Boone McDermott, right, was a two-time state medalist and a 2018 state champ for Dubuque Wahlert. This past season, he won a national title for Iowa Central. On Wednesday, he announced his commitment to Rutgers.

Grades kept Division I teams at bay, so McDermott opted for Iowa Central. It was frustrating at first, he admitted, but the two-year stay allowed him to reorganize his priorities.

“I just learned how to be tough, mentally and physically,” he said. “It was tough at first. I was pretty bummed that I couldn’t go Division I right away because I knew I was ready for it, in a wrestling aspect of things.

“Back then, my head wasn’t where it needed to be with school. I’m super thankful for the opportunity with Iowa Central. It helped me get my grades on track and refocus my priorities when it came to my future, both in wrestling and school.”

McDermott redshirted in 2018-19, then went 36-1 with 21 pins this past year. He collectively outscored his opponents 244-43. His only loss came to Northern Iowa’s Carter Isley. At the national tournament in March, he opened with four-straight first-period pins, then beat Ellsworth’s Darrell Mason, 4-0, in the finals.

As such, schools began calling. McDermott said he heard from Northern Iowa, Purdue, Northern Illinois, Fresno State, Oregon State and, of course, Rutgers. He took a visit to Piscataway in late February, and loved what head coach Scott Goodale had to offer.

“It’s a wrestling environment, and I love that,” McDermott said. “I was fortunate enough to take a visit out there before March hit. I’m very thankful for that because there were some other schools that I didn’t get to visit.”

Boone McDermott, left, will wrestle for Rutgers starting in 2020-21.

Rutgers returns just one heavyweight for the 2020-21 season, rising junior Alex Esposito. After taking over for the injured Christian Collucci, he went 18-14 and recorded a team high eight pins. Kyle Lightner and Matthew Correnti, both listed at 197, also got some run at 285 throughout the year.

McDermott plans on competing for the starting job as soon as he steps on campus, and he hopes to be the latest junior-college product to make Division I waves.

“I know that I’m capable and good enough,” McDermott said. “I’m going to walk in there and everybody in the country is going to know my name.”

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

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