Wrestling: Union state champ Adam Ahrendsen commits to Northern Iowa

Cody Goodwin
Des Moines Register

The Northern Iowa wrestling program's run of recruiting success continued Saturday — only this time, the Panthers added to their 2021 class.

Adam Ahrendsen, a rising-senior at Union in LaPorte City, announced his commitment to Northern Iowa. He picked the Panthers over Wisconsin and South Dakota State, and projects at 165/174 pounds.

"I am excited to announce that I will be continuing my academic and athletics career at the University of Northern Iowa," he wrote in a tweet, announcing his decision. "Go Panthers."

Ahrendsen is the Panthers' third known 2021 commitment. The other two: RJ Weston, a Greco-Roman national champ from Marietta, Ga., and Jared Simma, another All-American from Shawnee, Kan.

All three are considered top-160 national prospects by MatScouts — Weston at No. 137 overall in the 2021 class, Simma at No. 150 and now Ahrendsen at No. 159. It is a strong start to a recruiting encore after the Panthers' top-notch 2020 recruiting haul.

Union's Adam Ahrendsen wins the 160 pound Class 2A championship match against Independence's Matthew Doyle during the Iowa high school state wrestling tournament on Saturday, Feb. 22, 2020, at Wells Fargo Arena, in Des Moines.

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In Ahrendsen, Northern Iowa is getting another talented, hard-working, in-state wrestler. He won a Class 2A state title at 160 pounds last February after reaching the finals a year ago. He's produced a 120-18 overall record entering his senior season, including a 91-3 mark with 63 pins over the last two years.

What's more, Ahrendsen has blossomed on the national stage, too. Last year, he took second at the 16U folkstyle national championships. Then he reached the finals of the 16U greco national championships last summer. He was also just one win shy of becoming a freestyle All-American, too.

Ahrendsen followed that up with a fifth-place finish at USA Wrestling's preseason national tournament last October. After losing in the first round to the eventual champ, he rattled off seven-straight wins in the wrestlebacks to end up on the podium.

The Panthers have had plenty of success with other former Union wrestlers. Max Thomsen, a four-time state champ for the Knights from 2012-15, was an All-American in 2017 and won 100 career matches for Northern Iowa. Jacob Holschlag, a two-time champ for Union in 2014-15, was an All-American in 2018.

Ahrendsen is next in line. He is Northern Iowa's third recruiting win over the last month. In late April, Wisconsin native Dajun Johnson, a Junior All-American, committed after Old Dominion axed their wrestling program. This past week, Waverly-Shell Rock state champ Evan Yant also committed. Both are part of the Panthers' 2020 class.

He is also the fourth in-state 2021 prospect to go Division I. Both Fort Dodge's Drake Ayala and Ankeny's Caleb Rathjen are going to Iowa, and Waverly-Shell Rock's Bailey Roybal is headed to South Dakota State.

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

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