Griffin Gammell, an All-American from Waukee Northwest, commits to Virginia wrestling team
Griffin Gammell's last year of wrestling included a state finals appearance, a Junior All-American finish and, now, a verbal pledge to a Division I wrestling program.
Gammell, a senior at Waukee Northwest, announced his commitment to Virginia on Thursday. He picked the Cavaliers over Iowa and Northern Illinois, among others, and projects at 184 pounds.
"It was the cultivation of everything," Gammell told The Register of his decision. "I liked a lot of the smaller things here and there and it all just added up. It wasn't just one thing that sold me.
"The overall family aspect of the program really sold me. It's just a great place to be and a great environment overall."
Gammell is the fourth wrestler from Iowa's 2022 senior class to commit to a Division I program. North Butler Clarksville heavyweight Chet Buss and Don Bosco lightweight Garrett Funk are both headed to Northern Iowa, while Carter Fousek, a three-time state champ from Crestwood, committed to Iowa State.
The addition of Gammell is a rare recruiting victory for Virginia in the state of Iowa. No Iowans have wrestled for the Cavaliers in the past decade, but two former in-state stars, Travis and Trent Paulson, are on the coaching staff. Both were All-American wrestlers at Iowa State after winning state titles with Lewis Central.
In Gammell, Virginia is getting one of Iowa's best overall wrestling talents, and one of the country's top rising prospects.
Gammell is considered the No. 100 overall prospect nationally in the 2022 recruiting class, according to MatScouts, and is currently ranked No. 18 in the country at 182 pounds. He is one of just four Iowa seniors that are considered top-100 recruits.
Entering his senior season, Gammell boasts a 109-23 overall record, according to stats kept on Trackwrestling. He is a three-time state qualifier and two-time medalist in Class 3A, finishing third in 2020 and reaching the finals in 2021, all at 182 pounds.
Gammell bolstered his national profile with sterling performances last summer. He was a crucial part of Iowa's championship team at the Junior men's freestyle national duals, then earned All-American status at the Junior men's freestyle national championships, where he won seven straight wrestleback matches and finished eighth at 182 pounds.
It was shortly after his performance at the Junior national championships that Gammell first heard from Virginia. He took a visit earlier this month, and had scheduled visits with Iowa and Northern Illinois as well, but his trip to Charlottesville sold him.
Specifically, he liked Virginia's McIntire School of Commerce, consistently tabbed as one of the best undergraduate business schools in the country. He also liked where he fit in Virginia's future — Michael Battista, a junior from Ashburn, Virginia, is expected to start a 184 the next two years, allowing Gammell to redshirt before stepping into the lineup.
"They take their academics really, really seriously, so that's a great opportunity for me as well," Gammell said. "I didn't just interact with the coaches and wrestlers. We had a family dinner, and you could tell it was like a family atmosphere."
Gammell is also a standout football player for Waukee Northwest. The Wolves are currently 1-3 after defeating Johnston, 31-0, last week for the first victory in school history. Entering Week 5, Gammell is second on the team with 22 total tackles.
Come the winter, Gammell will lead the Wolves in their first wrestling season. Waukee Northwest is expected to be a team to watch in 3A, as many of the same wrestlers that returned from Waukee's second-place finish at last year's state championships will be representing Waukee Northwest during the 2021-22 season.
"It's going to be an exciting year," Gammell said, "but I'm already looking forward to going to Virginia."
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.