Northern Iowa secures entry for Greco-Roman national champion

The northern Iowa wrestling program appears to have made solid strides in recruiting in the south of the country, as another top wrestler announced his commitment to the Panthers over the weekend.

RJ Weston, a junior at Lassiter High School in Marietta, Ga., Announced his commitment to northern Iowa on his personal Instagram account on Saturday. He’s the Panthers’ second commitment in 2021, joining prominent Kansas Jared Simma, and projecting at 157/165 pounds.

“I am very happy to announce my verbal engagement at the University of Northern Iowa,” Weston wrote in the announcement. “It wouldn’t be possible without all the support from my mom and dad who literally do everything for me and my coaches.

“So thanks to Donavan Panone and the rest of my next level family !! I can’t forget my partners, I wouldn’t be where I am today without you guys, I love you like brothers !! ”

Weston, who has also visited the state of North Carolina and UT-Chattanooga, is the latest example of northern Iowa’s recruiting success in the south.

The 2020 Panthers signing class includes Ethan Basile of Florida and Julian Farber of Georgia, two of the top 150 rookies. Already in the room are four-time Georgia State Champion Kyle Gollhofer, Texas native Jack Skudlarczyk, Panthers starter at 133, and Taylor Lujan, a three-time NCAA qualifier from Georgia who is currently ranked No. ° 4 nationally at 184 pounds.

► RELATED: Breaking Down the 2020 Iowa, ISU, and UNI Wrestling Signing Classes

Weston brings another versatile skill and a successful resume to Cedar Falls. The junior is a two-time Georgia State medalist. He was fourth in freshman at 132 pounds, then won a title last year at 138. His career record this season is 101-8, according to Trackwrestling.

Last summer, Weston jumped on the national radar with a double All-American performance at the 16U and Greco National Freestyle Championships. He finished third in freestyle and won a title in greco. He had a 15-1 combined between the two styles – and in fact beat Simma in the Greco final. He is considered the No. 147 Global Hope in the 2021 class, according to MatScout.

MatScout’s current 2021 Big Board also lists 10 other wrestlers from Georgia, Florida and Texas who are among the top 150 in the class. Based on their recent recruiting history, Northern Iowa might try to go after some of these guys as well.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.

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Robert J. King