Iowa wrestling is ramping up for the NCAA Tournament next weekend, but recruiting never sleeps, even in March, the busiest time of the wrestling calendar. That was good news for Iowa this week, though, as they added a verbal commitment from Gabe Christenson, a junior from Southeast Polk.
Christenson is fresh off a 35-1 season that ended with the 195 lb championship at the Iowa High School State Wrestling Tournament last month. Christenson dominated his way to a title, picking up bonus points in all four wins. He might be most famous for his celebration after the title win, which is sure to feel familiar to Iowa fans:
Christenson threw his coach in homage to Cory Clark, who did the same to Terry Brands after winning a national championship in 2017:
When you win a national title, why WOULDN'T you toss your coach in celebration? pic.twitter.com/gezJ8C41CR— Go Iowa Awesome (@IowaAwesome) March 19, 2017
Clark, like Christenson, was also a prep at Southeast Polk, which has been the most dominant big-school program in the state in recent years. Several SEP wrestlers have suited up for Iowa in recent years, including Clark, Alex Meyer, and current team members Aaron Meyer and Keegan Shaw.
This year's state championship was Christenson's first, but he's been a three-time placewinner during his career so far and a rising recruit on the national scene; he earned All-America honors in Cadet freestyle and Cadet Greco-Roman at the UWW national championships last summer. He ranks among the Top 20 at 195 lbs with several national services and is one of the highest-ranked juniors.
Christenson is the fifth member of Iowa's 2020 recruiting class and the third wrestler from Iowa, joining twin lightweight prospects Cullan and Colby Schriever from Mason City. He also joins highly-ranked upper weight prospect Patrick Kennedy from Minnesota and Arizona lightweight prospect Jesse Ybarra.
In terms of the future, Christenson projects at 197 lbs in college and the timing could work out pretty well for Iowa in that regard. Iowa has a young and highly promising wrestler at that weight now in Jacob Warner, a redshirt freshman, but he'll be a redshirt junior in 2020-21, which would be Christenson's first year on campus. Christenson will no doubt redshirt as a true freshman and likely spend another year as a backup to Warner, but he'd still have three years to serve as a potential starter, beginning in 2022-23.
Christenson's decision came down to Iowa and Iowa State, but as he told Hawk Central's Cody Goodwin, the opportunity to wrestle for Iowa -- and fulfill a boyhood dream -- was too tempting to pass up:
“I was torn for a little while,” Christenson said. “I would just lay in bed and think about it — where do I want to spend the next five years? I wanted to go where these guys would fight for me and I would fight for them. I wanted to be proud to walk out and wrestle hard.
“I want to walk out in Carver-Hawkeye Arena and captivate 15,000 people. That’s the dream.”
“I just knew that this was something I wanted to do since I was a little kid,” Christenson said. “It’s the University of Iowa. If you want to win gold medals and win titles, you go to the University of Iowa. That’s what you do.”
Here's to hoping Christenson is able to turn those dreams into a reality at Iowa. Welcome to Iowa, Mr. Christenson.