In recent years, Iowa has tried a lot of possible solutions to fill the void in their lineup at 149. They've tried bringing in highly-regarded recruits (Jake Ballweg, Nate Skonieczny). They've tried bringing in lightly-regarded "under the radar" recruits (Connor Ryan, Patrick Rhoads, Brody Grothus). They've tried having a 157/165er cut down to 149 (Mike Kelly). They've tried bringing in a JUCO option (Edwin Cooper). None of these solutions has worked, sadly.
Iowa's latest approach? A little saturation bombing when it comes to that weight (and 141): just bring in a ton of guys that project to that weight in college, let 'em compete for spots, and see how everything shakes out. A year after adding Brandon Sorenson and Jake Marlin (and just a few weeks after adding Seth Gross, a well-regarded recruit who might wrestle at 141 in college), Iowa has added two more recruits who could help fill the voids at 141 and 149: Logan Ryan and Tagen Lambotte.
Cant wait to be a hawkeye next year! Thanks to all my coaches and teammates that have gotten me this… http://t.co/ni4BedaK6o— Logan Ryan (@imawrestler) October 29, 2013
Logan Ryan picked joining his brother, Connor, at Iowa over ISU and Minnesota.— Andy Hamilton (@Andy_Hamilton) October 29, 2013
Iowa also picked up a commitment from three-time Kansas state champion Tagen Lambotte, who projects as a 149-pounder in college.— Andy Hamilton (@Andy_Hamilton) October 29, 2013
Neither Ryan nor Lambotte is considered a blue-chip recruit. Ryan is ranked the 94th best recruit in InterMat's 2014 rankings and unranked by d1collegewrestling and flowrestling's weight-by-weight rankings. Lambotte is even less-celebrated: he's gone unranked by all of the recruiting services so far. Of course, recruiting hype is no guarantor of future success and Iowa has certainly had plenty of success with less-heralded wrestlers.
Logan Ryan hails from Bettendorf, IA, and will join his older brother, Connor Ryan, on the Iowa wrestling team. Connor is listed at 141/149 for the Hawkeyes so choosing to attend Iowa -- and compete with his brother for a starting spot -- was likely a tough decision for Logan. Logan was an Iowa state champion at 138 lbs last year and looking to repeat. With his commitment behind him Logan has big goals for his 2013-14 season:
"This year my goals would be: go undefeated, win state, and be a national champion."
This year Ryan plans to wrestle at 145 lbs for Bettendorf for part of the season before dropping down to 138 lbs for the state tournament. Logan plans to redshirt in 2014-15 in order to add more weight/muscle, before competing for the starting spot at 141 or 149 for Iowa.
While the Quad Cities are continuing to funnel even more athletes to the Iowa wrestling team, Iowa wasn't the only team on his radar. Ryan chose Iowa over offers from Minnesota and Iowa State. Why Iowa?
"I've been a Hawk fan my whole life, i feel at home there, it's one of the greatest college wrestling programs of all time, the coaching staff and wrestlers there are phenomenal at what they do, their style of wrestling fits mine well, and Carver Hawkeye Arena is full of the greatest college wrestling fans in the country.. you can't beat it," Ryan explained.
One of the interesting things about the Iowa wrestling program is that wrestlers don't come to Iowa for the fancy facilities -- they come for the overall program. "The coaches and the wrestlers were the biggest factor in my decision, and I know they will help me reach my goals in my near future," Ryan stated.
Asked if he could pick one wrestler on the Iowa team to drill with, he said he wanted to face the best: "I would say my brother Connor, but we usually end up in some type of fight, so I would have to go with Derek St John. He is a beast and I like the way he wrestles."
Finally, given recent events, we thought it might be useful to know if Ryan and Lambotte were avid hunters. "I hunt deer, turkey, and small game, but not rabbits..." said Ryan. Lambotte favored another fowl: "I prefer to hunt ducks." Perhaps Ethen Lofthouse played a role in his commitment.
Tagen Lambotte may not have the recruiting hype, but he seems like a quintessential Iowa recruit. InterMat describes him as a "training machine" ($) and praises his stamina and strong motor, while an article from The Topeka Capital-Journal contains plentiful praise for his love of hard work and tenacious approach to training. He sounds like a prototypical Iowa wrestler: a guy who works hard and wears down opponents with the relentlessness of his motor. From the sounds of things, Iowa is the place where Lambotte, a three-time Kansas state champion, has wanted to be for a long time:
Tagen Lambotte: "It’s been my dream (to wrestle at Iowa), my goal since I started wrestling as a little kid."— Andy Hamilton (@Andy_Hamilton) October 29, 2013
His profile on USA Wrestling suggests a wrestler with a deep affinity for Iowa wrestling, too. He calls Tom Brands his favorite wrestler (and the man who inspires him to wrestle) and names Brent Metcalf his favorite athlete. Lambotte seems like the sort of recruit whose stock could raise with another strong prep season, as well as a wrestler who could benefit enormously from being in the Iowa wrestling room and facing top competition on a regular basis. In any event: welcome aboard, Mr. Lambotte.
Lambotte was also gracious enough to answer a few of our questions.
BHGP: Did you and Logan Ryan plan on committing at the same time?
TL: No, I've never actually spoken to Logan.
BHGP: What weight are you planning on wrestling at Iowa?
BHGP: What was the main reason why you chose to attend Iowa?
TL: The style.
BHGP: If you could compare your style to any past Iowa greats, who would it be most similar to?
TL: No one particular, I try to pick stuff up from all of them.
BHGP: With this commitment out of the way, what are your goals for 2013-14 season?
TL: I want to win my 4th state title with an undefeated record and then win whatever national tournament I attend after state.
BHGP: Who had the biggest influence on your decision to come to Iowa?
TL: My brother and Coach Cody.
BHGP: If you had the chance to pick one wrestler on the Iowa team to drill with, who would you pick out and why?
TL: Even though he's an alum, I'd say Metcalf because he would have so much to teach me and he wouldn't let me out easy.
BHGP: What do people hunt down in Kansas?
TL: Everything and anything but I prefer ducks.
BHGP: What do you want the Iowa faithful to know about you that they might not already know?
TL: Kansan by birth, Iowan at heart.
BONUS! Here were a few other questions that Logan answered, but didn't quite fit in with the rest of the piece:
* Logan's advice to young wrestlers with the dream to wrestle at Iowa. "Always believe in yourself, work harder than your opponents, put in workouts when nobody else is, and get in the room in the off-season!"