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Hawkeye Wrestling: Impact of Ben Kueter’s Commitment to Iowa

The football star wants to wrestle or does the wrestling star want to football?

Iowa’s Ben Kueter holds up two fingers for two sports. He loves the Black & Gold twice as much as anyone else.

JP dropped a commitment bombshell yesterday, but this monster-sized news needs a wrestling write up as well. So here I am, dragging myself out of a dark and dreary workhole to dream about our bright, Bright, BRIGHT future at heavyweight.

Iowa City High’s Ben Kueter isn’t only good enough to play football at the D1 level, he’s good enough to wrestle for the best program in the country. Futhermorey, he’s good enough to be damn successful at both.

According to Flowrestling, Mr. Kueter is #4 at 220lbs and the #16 overall recruit for the class of 2023. By the time he graduates we very well could be eyeing a top 10 p4p prospect and at a weight we rarely don’t score that high on: heavyweight. This creates even more excitement surrounding his commitment.

Kueter enters into his junior year as a 2x class 3A state champ with an overall record of 35-0. He won a Junior folkstyle national championship in March and recently was the runner-up at the Junior Freestyle Nationals this summer. In June he helped team Iowa to a gold medal at the Junior National duals by paving the road to a 5-0 record with one fall and four techfalls. Needless to say, the sky is the limit for this talented youngster as he continues to grow, fill out, and improve his already impressive skillset.

But here’s the wild thing, we’re going to share him with the football team. By committing himself as a two-sport athlete he now finds himself in rare company. As you can imagine, it’s challenging enough being successful in one sport, but he’s going to compound it by making a run at two. Captain Kirk Ferentz has long been vocal about finding wrestlers for his team and that’s something he truly relishes, but this is the 1st time I can recall him and Tom Brands openly sharing an athlete.

We’ve had a few football players, such as former All-Iowa Male High School Athlete of the Year, Sam Cook, head off the gridiron and return matside, but it’s been nearly 35 years since a Hawkeye has done it with legit success. The last being, Mark Sindlinger, who started at center under Hayden Fry and wrestled for Dan Gable in the mid 80’s. He won two Big Ten Titles and earned two All-American honors at heavyweight. More recently, Josh Hokit (Fresno State) scored nine TD’s and was an All-American in 2019, finishing 5th. FYI- he now plays for the 49ers.

I can only imagine that Kueter is drawing inspiration from the rare exploits laid out before him.

But now that the background goodies are out of the way, what exactly does this mean for our 2021 National Champs? Well, it means that we already found our heir apparent to All-American Tony Cassioppi. Big Cass is entering into his (second) sophomore season as the 3rd ranked heavy in the country. The addition of Kueter and a timely redshirt lines up perfectly for him to take over the reigns from Cass, who in his own right, could end up being one of the best heavy’s in program history. Those are big shoes to fill, certainly, but these are expectations we’re now expecting and eagerly anticipating.

This also marks the first time Iowa has invested in the smaller (more athletic) heavyweight trend that seems to be taking over the NCAA landscape. Kueter is going 220lbs as a junior this winter. He’ll likely beef up even more before entering his senior year and beyond, but that still puts him well under the likes of Cassioppi and a few of the other gargantuan heavies at the next level. It’s likely Ferentz and Brands (and their respective strength and conditioning coaches) will put Kueter on a full feed and strength regimen to find that perfect balance between raw athleticism and the necessary weight to compete with the big boys. It’ll be fascinating to see how his body develops over the next few years

What’s more is Kueter will be under scholarship via the football team… yes, let that marinate. We’re getting a blue chip recruit that doesn’t count against our measly 9.9 scholarships. Instead, Ferentz is willingly offering one of his 85 to a top-flight mega wrestler, all because he loves wrestling!

This is a huge momentum swing that could pay dividends to the Brands’ brothers. This allows them to make a deep run at another blue chipper to further flesh out the roster that will graduate half our starting roster at year’s end.

Despites the net positives, we must ask ourselves: Will Kueter stick with both sports or will one overtake the other in the coming years? I truly hope he’s able to balance both demands, but the diehard wrestling fan in me prays to the grappling gods that he sticks with the mat, through whatever he encounters. Not to diminish football and the high demands it entails, but wrestling is one of the few sports that requires 100% certainty and focus. Even the slightest hesitation or narrowest layoffs can have devastating effects on one’s progress. If Kueter is able to successfully navigate these waters we will witness something we haven’t seen in nearly 40 years. Let’s hope he can pull this off!

As the recruiting continues to pick up steam, this could be the domino that gets all the others falling. Stay tuned, it’s going to be a fun fall.

And above all, welcome to the Iowa Hawkeyes Ben!!!