Kaleb Young is having a great year at 157 lbs. I have had high expectations for Young since he arrived and believe he has the potential to be a successful wrestler at Iowa. When I started to look back on his career, I realized how far Kaleb Young has come in a short period of time.
Let’s go back a few years. Young was a member the Young Guns Wrestling Club in the Pittsburgh area run by former Iowa Hawkeye 2-time All American Jody Strittmatter. Names like Spencer Lee, Jason Nolf, Vincenzo Joseph, Nico Megaludis, and Michael Kemerer were garnering a lot of attention from college recruiters around the country. Young Guns was loaded with world champions, state champions, and eventual Division 1 wrestling stars. Kaleb Young was younger than the big name stars around his weight and was paying his dues in a room of elite wrestlers.
Just entering his junior year in Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania, Young gave a verbal commitment to the Hawks. At the time, Young was not on any of the All American rankings and had placed fifth in the state as a sophomore.
Later that season, Young placed fourth in the state. It was his senior season that really set Young apart. Young won the Super 32, the toughest high school folkstyle tournament in the country, in impressive fashion in the fall before his senior season. That of course caught the attention of college recruiters who made their pitch. But Young stayed true to Iowa and signed his National Letter of Intent in November and was a member of the Iowa Wrestling Recruiting Class of 2016. Young would go on to win his only state title.
It was Caleb Yong that got things started with the Young Guns in Pittsburgh to Iowa Wrestling connection. Shortly after Young gave a verbal commitment to Iowa, the Hawks got a commitment from Youngs Guns teammate Michael Kemerer and the following year from Spencer Lee and eventually Max Murin.
I asked Iowa Wrestling Assistant Coach Ryan Morningstar why he recruited Kaleb Young. Young caught Morningstar’s eye with his work ethic and attitude. It was actually how Young responded to competing against better and older wrestlers in the practice room that made the difference. Young would respond and come back and compete hard and not take a back seat. Morningstar liked that type of attitude and work ethic and was sure that Young’s best wrestling was ahead of him. This may be Ryan Morningstar’s best recruiting to date, and that’s saying a lot.
As a true freshman at Iowa Young was a redshirt with a 22-6 record and placed second at two tournaments. Last season Young competed at 165 and 174 for the Hawks and had a 9-7 record overall. In varsity action Young was 3-4 and 0-4 in the Big Ten.
This season Young is back to his best weight of 157 and has had a productive season with a 13-1 record with three pins, three tech falls, and one major decision. The top match of the year would have been a fall over #14 Griffin Parriott (now rated #8) in the Purdue dual meet. Young was ranked #15 at the time. That match caught the attention of the college wrestling world.
If that match didn’t get everyone’s attention, the move of the year to date in college wrestling against Minnesota certainly did. In a 1-1 match with less than :10 to go, Young hit a counter throw off of a bear hug that was amazing. The throw scored Young 6 points and a 7-1 decision over #9 Steve Bleise. That move went viral and I am sure thousands of people saw it in a matter of hours. That move will be shown at Carver-Hawkeye Arena for many years and one that Iowa fans will never forget.
Young is now ranked #5 in the country and his schedule of opponents in the Big Ten is about to go up a real big notch. Young will face #12 Eric Barone of Illinois on Friday night. On Sunday, Young will have a rematch with #3 Ryan Deakin at Northwestern. Deakin gave Young his only defeat of the season with a 6-2 decision in the Midlands finals. The following week Young will again be on the road to face #2 Tyler Berger of Nebraska.
As with most weights, the Big Ten is loaded at 157. In addition to the highly rated wrestlers I have already mentioned, two-time defending NCAA champion Jason Nolf of Penn State is #1 in the country and Ke-Shawn Hayes of Ohio State is #7. At 157 in the Flo rankings, that gives the Big Ten: #1, #2, #3, #5, #7, #8, #10, #11,#12 and #15. That almost seems impossible for one conference to have that type of competition at one weight. That is impressive even for the Big Ten. That means the Big Ten Tournament is going to be amazing at 157 even in the early rounds.
Kaleb Young is what we have become accustomed to seeing from Iowa wrestling. On the mat Kaleb Young is an intense wrestler that is aggressive and well conditioned. This guy does not have a bad workout in practice and is always working real hard. Every day. Off the mat, Young was in the National Honor Society in high school and was named Academic All Big Ten last year as a Human Physiology major.
The stakes will go way up for Young for the rest of the season. Kaleb Young has paid his dues in the past with consistency, grind and work ethic in the practice room that has served him well in competition. I have to believe that consistency, grind and work ethic will pay off for Kaleb Young once again.
Remaining regular season matches vs ranked opponents:
#12 Eric Barone (Illinois) Jan 25
#3 Ryan Deakin (Northwestern) Jan 27
#2 Tyler Berger (Nebraska) Feb 3
Wyatt Gerl (CSU Bakersfield) W – MD 13-4
Richard Jackson (Kent St) W – Pin 4:04
Quincy Monday (Princeton) W – D 7-4
#14 Griffin Parriott (Purdue) W – Pin 3:37
Chase Straw (Iowa State) W – D 8-3
#15 Josh Humphreys (Lehigh) W – D 4-1
Elijah Davis (Purdue) W – TF 17-0
Tracy Hubbard (Cen Michigan) W – TF 16-0
Isaiah Hokit (Fresno St) W – Pin 4:13
#16 Luke Weiland (Army) W – TF 15-0
Zach Hartman (Bucknell) W – D 9-2
#2 Ryan Deakin (Northwstrn) L – D 6-2
#9 Steve Bleise (Minnesota) W – D 7-1
#14 Jon Van Brill (Rutgers) W – D 5-2
It is great to be an Iowa wrestling fan.