Brooks goes for Iowa
Bringing in Sam Brooks over the weekend of Oct. 15-16 turned into a wise decision for Iowa coaches.
The senior from Oak Park-River Forest said he was quite impressed when between 200-300 fans showed up to watch the first preseason practice that Saturday at the Iowa City campus for the college wrestling powerhouse.
“It was a crazy atmosphere,” Brooks said.
The trip to Iowa was Brooks’ last of five official visits he is allowed to make by the NCAA.
When Brooks arrived home, he took less than 24 hours to make a verbal commitment Oct. 17 to attend Iowa.
OPRF’s Class 3A state runner-up in 2011 and state champion in 2010 could not turn down Iowa tradition and chose the Hawkeyes over Minnesota, Illinois, Oklahoma and Missouri.
Brooks said the decision came down to Iowa and Minnesota. Two of his former OPRF teammates, Chris and Nick Dardanes, currently compete for the Gophers.
Brooks, who is 106-19 in his career, would become the third Chicago area wrestler with the Hawkeyes next season, following sophomore Tony Ramos from Glenbard North and red-shirt freshman Jeremy Fahler from Deerfield. According to the Des Moines Register, Brooks is the third member of the Class of 2012 to commit to Iowa after pair of in-state recruits: Cory Clark from Southeast Polk and Topher Carton from Davenport Assumption.
“The guys on the team were all really nice,” Brooks said. “They all have the mindset to do other things in life than accomplish goals in wrestling.”
Brooks is among 10 OPRF wrestlers scheduled to compete in a preseason tournament Oct. 29-30 at the NUWAY Southwest Kickoff Classic in Las Vegas, Nev.
Brooks’ older brother, Ben, wrestled one season at North Carolina, but has since returned home to the Chicago area and will make a visit to Northern Illinois for wrestling. Ben Brooks is attending Triton Junior College this fall.
Brooks is familiar with legendary Iowa coach Dan Gable, who led the Hawkeyes to 15 NCAA championships. Gable retired in the 1990s.
“I think any wrestler should know who Dan Gable is. It’s an incredible story,” Brooks said. “It is those types of things I look at when I look at places.”
A statue honoring Gable will be unveiled outside Iowa’s Carver-Hawkeye Arena before the school hosts the USA Olympic Trials April 21-22, 2012.
Iowa finished third in last season’s NCAA Championships after winning the NCAA title in 2010.
Brooks became the eighth OPRF wrestler to win a state championship and could join Terry Isaacson (1959, 1960), Tim Obrochta (1983, 1984) and Nick Dardanes (2009, 2010) as the only Huskies to win two state titles during their career. Brooks was a member of the 2009 Class 3A state championship team.
Brooks (36-6) beat Hinsdale Central’s Joe Strocchia 5-3 to win the 2010 title at 160 pounds. Brooks (28-4) lost to Willowbrook’s Steve Congenie 15-8 in the 2011 final at 171 pounds.