Iowa wrestling lands commitment from Gabe Arnold, a national champion from Wyoming Seminary

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

The Iowa wrestling program kicked off the new year with a massive recruiting victory.

Gabe Arnold, a high-powered junior prospect from Pennsylvania’s Wyoming Seminary, has committed to the Hawkeyes. He chose Iowa over Missouri and Virginia Tech, among others, and projects at 165/174 pounds.

“It was a combination of things for me,” Arnold told Hawk Central. “Being around the team and that culture and hearing (Iowa coaches Tom and Terry Brands) speak, it all drew me in.

“I completely bought into the program the moment my visit began. It just felt right.”

Arnold, originally from Kennesaw, Georgia, is one of the top overall talents in the 2023 recruiting class, and his addition bolsters an Iowa recruiting haul that is going to be considered one of the nation’s best.

Gabe Arnold, a standout wrestler from Georgia who competes for Wyoming Seminary in Pennsylvania, announced his commitment to Iowa on Saturday. Arnold won a 16U men's freestyle national title in July.

He is currently ranked No. 1 nationally at 170 pounds by MatScouts. He is a two-time national prep champion for Wyoming Seminary, recently won FloWrestling’s Who’s Number One, and won a 16U men’s freestyle national title this past summer, where he went 7-0 and outscored his opponents 67-3.

Arnold is also considered the No. 6 overall junior prospect, per MatScouts. He is now the fourth member of Iowa’s 2023 recruiting class, joining Southeast Polk’s Nate Jesuroga, Iowa City High’s Ben Kueter and Waverly-Shell Rock’s Ryder Block.

All four are considered elite-level recruits in the 2023 class — Jesuroga at No. 4 overall, Kueter at No. 13, Block at No. 54. Iowa is currently the only school with four top-100 commitments for its 2023 class. (Arnold is also the second Wyoming Seminary wrestler to commit to the program: Kolby Franklin signed as part of Iowa’s 2022 class.)

“Hopefully this Wyoming Seminary-to-Iowa pipeline continues,” Arnold said. “The coaches have told me they’ve been talking to (Meyer Shapiro, another Wyoming Seminary wrestler who’s considered the No. 2 overall 2023 recruit).

“I would be super excited to have him there with me, too.”

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After winning Who’s Number One in September, Arnold took official visits to Missouri, Maryland, North Carolina, Iowa, and Virginia Tech, plus an unofficial to Penn State, but his decision really came down to Iowa and Missouri — and the Tigers had a lot to offer.

For one, Arnold’s dad, Phil, wrestled at Missouri and is originally from Columbia, Missouri. Phil Arnold was a two-time state champ for Hickman, which sits two-and-a-half miles from Missouri’s campus. He is also J’den Cox’s uncle — yes, the same J’den Cox who won three NCAA titles for the Tigers and is now a five-time world and Olympic medalist.

So there was ample reason for Arnold to pick Missouri. When he took his official visit in October, he referred to Columbia as his “home away from home.”

“I grew up around the Missouri program and 'Tiger style,'” Arnold said. “It was really hard to tell (Missouri coach Brian Smith) no. But I’ve always wanted to set my own path and do things my own way. At the end of the day, this is nobody’s story but mine.”

Arnold officially visited Iowa in early October, the same weekend as the Iowa-Penn State football game at Kinnick Stadium. He watched practice inside the Dan Gable Wrestling Complex that morning. He was on the field during Iowa's thrilling 23-20 comeback win over Penn State that afternoon.

The rowdy gameday atmosphere added to the visit, Arnold said, but what really stood out to him was seeing how much outward support the wrestling program had even during a huge football game.

“I mean, it was a big football game, so the tailgaters were out,” Arnold continued. “My host was Jacob Warner, and we were walking around, people walked up to Warner, Aaron Costello, all those guys, and they were so excited to see and talk to these guys.

“It was so cool to see the fan base support them like that. I wanted to be part of that. I was damn near ready to commit on my visit. That was my first time in Iowa City and it did not miss.”

Gabe Arnold, a standout wrestler from Georgia who competes for Wyoming Seminary in Pennsylvania, announced his commitment to Iowa on Saturday. Arnold won a 16U men's freestyle national title in July.

Ultimately, the Iowa wrestling program hosted as many as 18 recruits on that visit, and the Hawkeyes have now received commitments from 13 of them. In addition to Jesuroga, Block and Franklin, there’s been:

And now Arnold, who’s always been intrigued by the Iowa program. He remembers watching Dan Dennis make the U.S. men’s freestyle Olympic team in 2016. He later met Dennis, who then roomed with Cox in Rio that summer.

Dennis is now the head coach of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, and Arnold is excited to work with him in addition to the Brands brothers. He has big goals — Big Ten and NCAA titles, for sure, but also world and Olympic gold.

He believes Iowa can help him get there.

“Committing to a school, for me, it’s not just a four-year commitment, it’s a lifelong commitment,” Arnold said. “I’m committing to the school, the community. It’s a lifelong commitment to continue to chase my goals and aspirations.

“I want to be an Olympic champ, and I wanted to pick out the school that was going to help me thrive as a person and as a wrestler.”

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