Say hello to the Iowa wrestling's newest addition.
Recruiting news has been scarce around these parts since a flurry of verbal commitments to the football team in late June. But that also shouldn't come as a huge surprise: both the wrestling and basketball teams signed large classes last year and figured to sign much smaller classes this year, while the football team already had verbal commitments for most of its available scholarships. So there didn't really figure to be much to discuss in the way of recruiting this fall. But Tom and Terry Brands hadn't added any new verbal commitments to the Hawkeye fold yet for 2013 and we also knew that wasn't going to last, either... and now it hasn't.
Per Amateur Wrestling News/The Open Mat, Minnesota native Broc Berge has verbaled to Iowa. Berge's commitment is huge for Iowa for two reasons. One, he's a blue-chip recruit -- per AWN/TOM, he's a 5* talent and the 11th best prospect overall in the nation. Intermat slots him at 25th overall ($) and d1collegewrestling has him 38th overall. As always, recruiting rankings aren't everything... but they don't hurt, either. Two, Berge is a huge get for Iowa because he projects at 197 lbs.
Longtime followers of Iowa wrestling now that that particular weight has been a bugaboo for the Hawkeyes for several years; Iowa's gotten decent results out of that weight now and then, but nowhere near what they've gotten from several other weights on the roster. Luke Lofthouse ultimately produced some very solid results, but it took several years of development (and weight gain) to get to that point; the possibility of having an elite talent whose natural weight is 197... well, the mind reels. Brands & Co. have recruited (and developed talent) well at the lower and middle weights -- if they can do the same at the upper weights, Iowa will be well-positioned to regain its perch atop the college wrestling world in the coming years.
As for Berge... he's an accomplished prep wrestler, no doubt. He's a two-time state champion and he went 48-0 last year (a tally which included 28 pins). He also finished second at the 2012 USA Wrestling Junior Freestyle Nationals in Fargo this past summer, losing to current Iowa true freshman Sam Brooks in the finals. (You can see that match here.) As you can see in the highlight clip up top, Berge appears to have a great blend of strength and quickness -- he has good takedowns and is able to get control quickly when things go to the mat. Berge looks like a very exciting addition to Iowa's upper weight options. Iowa added three wrestlers in the 174-197 range last year -- Alex Meyer, Sam Brooks, and Nathan Burak -- and that's who Berge will likely be competing with for a roster spot in a few years. Burak is his most likely challenger, depending on whether Brooks leans 184 or 197. Either way, there should be some very good competition at the upper weights as well as something Iowa has been sorely lacking there in recent years -- depth. Welcome aboard, Mr. Berge.