Alex Meyer stepped off the awards podium at the state wrestling meet in February with a fifth-place medal and a feeling of uncertainty about which colleges would be calling in the months ahead.
The Southeast Polk senior will step on the mat next month when the high school season begins as a Junior Nationals All-American, one of the fastest-rising prospects in the country, and he’ll wear one more label — Iowa recruit.
Meyer committed to the Hawkeyes on Wednesday, selecting Iowa over Missouri, Northwestern, Old Dominion and Northern Iowa.
“I feel I fit in really well there and I think I can do really well in that environment and there are so many opportunities,” he said. “I think I fit the Iowa style, and as far as academics, there are lots of good programs I can get involved in and go as far as I want to.”
Meyer’s 4.0 grade point average and ACT score of 30 opened doors to prestigious academic schools across the country. His performance on the mat during the spring and summer expanded his options as a wrestler.
Meyer compiled a 28-15 record as a freshman for the Rams, falling one victory short of qualifying for the state tournament. He placed sixth as a sophomore at 152 pounds and fifth last year at 160.
“I knew I could go Division I,” he said. “But I really had no idea where.”
Then he began a meteoric rise up the national rankings, winning Folkstyle Nationals in April, claiming a freestyle title in May at the Northern Plains Regional before finishing second in Greco-Roman and third in freestyle in July at Junior Nationals. Meyer jumped to No. 54 overall in InterMat’s rankings of the top prospects in the 2012 class.
“Everybody thinks that he just blew up, but he didn’t,” Southeast Polk assistant Jessman Smith said. “All of this that’s gone on with Alex, none of it’s been a surprise to us. The kid earned his way into the position he’s in now and it’s not like a switch flipped or anything. He’s always wrestled this hard, he’s always been really aggressive. He’s fine-tuned a very unique style that’s really playing out well for him.”
Meyer is the sixth wrestler to commit to Iowa’s 2012 class. He joins a group that features four of the top 20 prospects on InterMat’s recruiting list, including Southeast Polk teammate Cory Clark.
“(Iowa coach Tom Brands) called me at 8 a.m. on July 1, the first day (college coaches) could call,” Meyer said. “They were at my house the next day. It meant a lot because they’re the best program in the country. … I could tell Brands has a lot of faith in what I can do, especially under him and in their program.”
Meyer is projected to wrestle at 174 or 184 pounds in college. Smith, a two-time All-American for the Hawkeyes, said Meyer’s endurance and pace will be an asset at the college level.
“In a seven-minute match with a first period that’s three minutes – and because his engine is what it is – that seven minutes is going to feel like a half hour to anybody he wrestles,” Smith said. “His pace, with the way he makes people suffer every step of the way whether they’re in on his legs or he’s in on theirs, he’s going to work every position all the time. His gas tank is going to be a huge benefit at the next level.”