Pictured: Gabe Arnold and Rocco Welsh competing at the 2021 WNO in Dallas, Texas, in September 2021. Photo by Sam Janicki/ @SJanickiPhoto.
We may be just two days into 2022, but we have already seen two monster college wrestling commitments from juniors, Gabe Arnold (heading to Iowa) and Josh Barr (heading to Penn State).
Arnold, a Wyoming Seminary standout (originally from Georgia), picked the Hawkeyes over Virginia Tech, Missouri, and other blue-chip programs. At the next level, Arnold projects as a 174-pounder with the potential to reach 184 pounds by the end of his time in Iowa City.
Arnold made his announcement via Instagram on January 1, 2022.
“Since I’ve put my heart into this sport, I’ve known that I wanted to wrestle at the D1 level in college. There’s been many ups and a lot of downs, but I wouldn’t trade any of it for the position that I am in today. I’m thankful for the opportunities this sport has given me and will continue to be!
With that being said, after much thought and consideration of my dreams and aspirations, I would like to announce my commitment to the University of Iowa to continue my academic and athletic career. Thank you to all of my coaches, supporters, partners, and haters for getting me to this point. I cannot wait to embark upon this journey and become a HAWKEYE🐤⚫️🟡#SKOHAWKS.”
Over his career, Arnold has two National Prep titles while competing for Wyoming Seminary.
Additionally, Arnold won Fargo’s 16U freestyle tournament over the summer, arguably the biggest accolade of his career thus far.
Gabe also racked up two impressive victories at the last Who’s Number One in Dallas, Texas, in September 2021. He bested Brayden Thompson (Illinois), 3-2, and then Rocco Welsh (Pennsylvania), 2-1, to earn the nation’s top spot at 170 pounds heading into the start of his junior campaign for the Blue Knights.
Through the 2021-22 season, the future Hawkeye has placed at both Ironman and Powerade tournaments.
Arnold is the latest in a star-studded group to pledge to Tom and Terry Brands. Others from the Class of 2023 who plan to suit up for the Black and Gold include a trio of native Iowans: Nate Jesuroga, Ben Kueter, and Ryder Block.
According to Cody Goodwin of the Des Moines Register, Iowa is currently the only school with four top-100 commitments for its 2023 class.
Less than a day later, Josh Barr, another top-10 caliber recruit in the Class of 2023 (Davison, Michigan), announced his intentions to wrestle for fellow Big Ten power Pennsylvania State University following his high school tenure.
His announcement came via Instagram on January 2, 2022. Barr picked the Nittany Lions over Ohio State, Iowa, Virginia Tech, and in-state Michigan. He will likely be 165/174 pounds in college.
“Extremely excited and blessed to announce that I will be furthering my athletic and academic career at Penn State University. I’d like to thank everyone who has supported me and helped me get to the point I’m at right now in life. I’d also like to thank every college that recruited me and spent their time on me. It is greatly appreciated. I am honored to be joining the legacy at Penn State and to be given the opportunity to help carry on that legacy. We just getting started. We are…#blessed🦁
Like Arnold, Barr is also a recent 2021 Fargo champ (160 pounds), who also earned a spot in the most recent Who’s Number One event.
Unfortunately, Barr fell 4-1 to Pennsylvania senior Levi Haines (Biglerville, Pennsylvania) at the FloWrestling preseason event. Barr and Haines will be college teammates at PSU in the future.
Still, Barr is already a two-time Michigan state champion for Davison High School, where he was prep teammates with current PSU wrestler Alex Facundo. Barr is also the second Michigan native in as many weeks to give a verbal to Cael Sanderson and company. Braeden Davis (Dundee, Michigan), another top-40 junior recruit, will be another pillar in the PSU Class of 2023 recruiting cycle alongside fellow Michigander Barr.
The recent commits of both Arnold and Barr are further proof that this longstanding rivalry between the Penn State Nittany Lions and the Iowa Hawkeyes isn’t going anywhere. As years go by and various superstar athletes are lost to graduation, both institutions reload.
Who knows, we may even see Arnold and Barr battling head-to-head for All-American honors or even a national at the next level?
Congratulations to both wrestlers, coaching staffs, and programs on starting 2022 with tremendous commitments.