Waverly-Shell Rock state champ Aiden Riggins commits to the Iowa Hawkeye wrestling program
Tom Brands and the Hawkeye wrestling program are cashing in on the state of Iowa’s resurgence in elite-level high school wrestling talent.
Already, Brands has secured commitments from Southeast Polk’s Nate Jesuroga and Iowa City High’s Ben Kueter, two premier in-state 2023 prospects who are also considered top-10 national recruits. That’s after Fort Dodge’s Drake Ayala and Ankeny’s Caleb Rathjen joined the program as part of the 2021 recruiting class.
And on Saturday night, another high-profile in-state competitor, Waverly-Shell Rock senior Aiden Riggins, informed Hawk Central that he has also committed to the Iowa wrestling program.
"It has been a long-drawn-out process through decisions, covid-19, and visits," Riggins later wrote in an Instagram post, formally announcing his decision. "To the coaches who reached out and invested your time and effort into me, I thank you very much. None of this would be possible without every coach, friend, family member, and fan.
"Iowa City, see you soon. Go-Hawks!!"
Riggins is Iowa’s first 2022 commitment. He picked the Hawkeyes over Iowa State, Michigan, Purdue and South Dakota State, and projects at 165/174 pounds. He is considered the No. 34 overall prospect nationally, according to MatScouts, and is currently ranked third in the country at 160 pounds.
He is the fifth wrestler from Iowa's 2022 senior class to commit to a Division I program. Three are also staying in state: North Butler's Chet Buss and Don Bosco's Garrett Funk are headed to Northern Iowa, and Crestwood's Carter Fousek is headed to Iowa State. The other: Waukee Northwest's Griffin Gammell, who is headed to Virginia.
Riggins’ stock has soared over the past year. He went 36-0 and won a Class 3A state title in February. He reached the finals of the Cadet men’s freestyle world team trials in April. He was a crucial part of Team Iowa’s first-place finish at the Junior national duals in June, then took second at the Junior men’s freestyle national championships in July.
All of it reinforced the idea that Riggins has long been one of the nation's brightest young wrestling talents.
He took second at the 2019 Cadet folkstyle national championships, then made the finals at the 15U men’s freestyle world team trials that summer. He's a three-time 3A state medalist and is 122-5 overall entering his senior year. He has helped the Go-Hawks win the 3A state team championship each of the past three seasons.
The Hawkeyes built a national championship program thanks largely to talented out-of-state wrestlers who came to Iowa City. Those recruiting and development efforts paid off this season when Iowa won the NCAA Championships, the 24th in program history but their first since 2010.
With talented in-state wrestlers now joining the program, it’s clear Brands has designs on building his next national title team around homegrown talent, with Kueter, Jesuroga and now Riggins all committed — and many other in-state stars still available, too.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.