Head Coach Heath Grimm and Assistant Coach Nate Skaar released five commitments for the Upper Iowa wrestling program. All five of the future freshman are getting on the mats for their final season this winter and all five hail from Iowa. The group includes a pair of state champions and four placewinners. UIU's early signing class includes Jordan Baumler of West Union (far left above), Chance Throndson of Riceville (far right), Ryan Steffen of Cresco (right of center), Dakota Henry of Belle Plaine (left of center) and Philip Ihde of Decorah (center).
Baumler will take a short 10-mile trip to Fayette next fall to begin classes after graduating from North Fayette Valley High School in West Union, Iowa this spring. Baumler won the Iowa State Championship at 215 pounds in 2016 and qualified for the state tournament twice. A four-sport athlete, Baumler has earned all-district honors in football and all-conference honors in baseball and track and field. He is the son of Jordan Baumler.
"Jordan belongs here," said Grimm. "He's from right down the road in West Union, he won an Iowa High School State Championship as a junior, his coach, Jacob Pedersen, is a former Upper Iowa wrestler and his brother, Nick, is on our team."
Throndson is beginning his final season with the Wildcats of Riceville High School in Riceville, Iowa. As a junior, the future 133/141-pounder captured the Iowa State Tournament Championship at 132 pounds. Throndson posted a 45-1 record which included a perfect run at 132 pounds; his lone loss on the year came at 138 pounds. Earlier this month, Throndson won the 140-pound title in the high school division at the Trackwrestling Preseason Championships in La Crosse, Wis.
"Chance is from a proud and successful wrestling community," said Grimm. "He is a difficult match up for anyone standing tall at 6-2 and competing around 140 pounds. Good luck trying to get away from him."
Steffen is another local wrestling product who will graduate from Crestwood High School in Creco, Iowa this spring. The future 149/157-pound grappler is a three-time placewinner at the Iowa State Tournament. Steffen finished 5th in 2015, 4th in 2016 and 5th in 2017. He enters his senior campaign with over 100 wins through his first three years. Steffen has qualified for the Fargo Junior Nationals twice during the summer months and placed 7th at the Postseason Nationals in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He is the son of Jerry and Karen Steffen and is deciding between a few majors before declaring.
"Never count this guy out! He has found his way to the Iowa State tournament semifinals three times in his career already," said Grimm. "Ryan is from a traditionally strong wrestling program at Crestwood coached by Keith Slifka. I've known the Steffen family for many years; Ryan's dad (Jerry) and I wrestled on the same team at Osage High School."
Henry will come to UIU from Belle Plaine, Iowa after graduating from Belle Plaine High School this spring. He placed 7th at the Iowa State Tournament as a sophomore and qualified for both the NWCA Nationals in Virginia and the freshman/sophomore team that competed in the Iowa duals. The 125-pounder is the son of Jason and Jess Henry and will major in Ag Business at Upper Iowa.
"Dakota is a great kid from a great wrestling town down there in Belle Plaine," said Skaar. "He is also coached by a former Upper Iowa wrestler, Brandon Heying. We are excited to see Dakota continue his career up here in Fayette."
Ihde is beginning his final season with the Vikings of Decorah High School in Decorah, Iowa this winter. The future 125/133-pounder is a two-time state qualifier and has lettered three times. He is the son of Karin and Todd Ihde and will major in Conservation Management at Upper Iowa.
"Philip is a welcomed addition to this early class," said Grimm. "He's a great fit for our program and has a lot of upside. Philip is from northeast Iowa, and he is a future lightweight with several wins over quality opponents. We're excited to get Philip into our room."
Upper Iowa is currently ranked No. 9 in the NCAA Division II Wrestling Coaches Association Top 25 and has five individuals ranked nationally. The Peacocks will head to Storm Lake, Iowa this Saturday to compete in the BVU Open hosted by Buena Vista University.