Assumption's Julien Broderson, a two-time state champion and Junior All-American in Greco-Roman, is also a star pitcher for the Knights. Cody Goodwin, email@example.com
Last Friday afternoon, Julien Broderson stood on the floor of the FargoDome in Fargo, North Dakota, where he wrapped up a six-day stretch during which he wrestled 13 times.
On Tuesday morning, the Davenport Assumption senior-to-be was on the mound here at Principal Park, showing off the pitching skills that have made him a force on the Iowa high school baseball scene.
Such has been the summer for one of Iowa’s best prep wrestlers who also happens to be one of the state’s best pitchers. The past few months have been something of a balancing act for Broderson.
“I’d do wrestling practices in the morning, or later after baseball practice,” he said. “I focused a lot on getting the proper amount of rest so I could keep going and do both. I think I did pretty well.”
The Knights ultimately beat Bondurant-Farrar, 5-0, on Tuesday at the 2018 state baseball tournament. Assumption, now 32-10 this year and the defending Class 3A state champions, advanced to Friday’s semifinal round against Sioux City's Bishop Heelan.
Broderson was a large reason why Assumption toppled the Bluejays (17-16) in the quarterfinals for the second straight year. He tossed a complete game, striking out 11, walking one and allowing two hits on just 84 pitches.
“He really stuck with two pitches today,” Assumption coach Billy Argo said. “He has a third, but he didn’t use it. He just located his fastball on both sides of the plate, and added a breaking ball at times. He kept his pitch count low, too. It was exactly what we were looking for.”
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Broderson’s outing on Tuesday came after a weeklong stay in Fargo for the Junior freestyle and Greco-Roman national championships. A two-time state champion for Assumption, Broderson established himself as one of the best wrestlers in the country at his weight.
In freestyle, Broderson went 4-2 and failed to place, though both of his losses came to guys who finished on the podium. In Greco, he went 4-3 and finished seventh after reaching the quarterfinals. He is now a two-time All-American — he finished fourth nationally in Greco as a Cadet last summer.
“It was experience, for sure,” said Broderson when asked of the differences in the age levels. “Going into Greco as a Cadet, nobody knew what they were doing, really. When you get up to the Junior level, there are guys who train Greco all year around.
“One of the kids I lost to in Greco on the frontside, he wrestles Greco all year long and he’s going to a Greco-only college,” he continued, referencing Tennessee’s Tommy Brackett, one of the United State’s brightest up-and-coming Greco talents.
“You could tell he had that experience that not a lot of Cadets had.”
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During the tournament, Broderson took extra precaution between sessions to ensure his body healed properly so he could contribute to Assumption’s state baseball run. Prior to Tuesday’s performance, he amassed a 6-0 record with a 1.19 ERA, the seventh-best in Class 3A among those with at least 40 innings pitched. His 42 strikeouts sat third in the Knights’ pitching rotation.
“I took ice baths as much as I could,” Broderson said. “When I got back here, I wasn’t nearly as sore. I kept that routine up until today — even this morning. Now I have another couple of days to rest.
“I got back to Davenport on Saturday morning, at like 4 a.m., then had practice at 10. I got a quick nap in and went to practice. I had a day to rest before I got here, and that was needed. Coming back, I feel great.”
Against the Bondurant-Farrar, Broderson wasn’t flashy, but he was efficient. He threw no more than 17 pitches in any one inning, and retired 15 batters in a row at one point, and faced just 24 in the 85-minute contest. Only one Bluejay baserunner reached scoring position all afternoon. It was his first time pitching since July 2.
“I guess our guys didn’t understand that we had to swing the bats,” said Bondurant-Farrar’s Nyanti Gehrke, who accounted for one of his team’s hits. “He’d come out with a first-pitch fastball, then added a slider. Not a lot of guys picked up on that.”
More importantly, Broderson finished his job in 84 pitches. The pitch-count rules, implemented last year, say he only needs three days of rest before he can pitch again, making him available if Assumption reaches Saturday’s title game. Argo hinted that Broderson would likely get the nod, if that comes to pass.
Another stellar outing might shake up Broderson’s recruitment. On Tuesday, he mentioned a list of six colleges he’d like to visit and look into for wrestling at the next level: Iowa, Iowa State, Northern Iowa, Northern Colorado, Nebraska and South Dakota State. Arizona State has also made contact.
But Broderson didn’t rule out the possibility of maybe looking into college baseball, too.
“There hasn’t been a lot of time (to talk to coaches) since Fargo, but maybe in a week or two, there might be more,” he said. “Maybe even for baseball after this weekend.”
After Tuesday’s outing, Broderson’s ERA dropped to 1.01. Prior to the game, Flowrestling released its newest set of high school rankings, where Broderson checked in at No. 16 at 182 pounds.
After a busy, successful summer on the mound and the mat, the options appear to be endless.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.