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Mason City's Rhodes turns his 'dream' into reality with pledge to Iowa wrestling

Mason City boys wrestling vs Fort Dodge - Rhodes

Mason City junior Jace Rhodes wrestles against Fort Dodge's Damarion Ross at a match at Mohawk Gym last season. Rhodes, now a senior, verbally committed to wrestle at Iowa on Tuesday.

Jace Rhodes has been an Iowa Hawkeyes fan his entire life. Growing up, he's watched a bountiful of wrestling duals and tournaments on TV.

"It has been a dream of mine," the Mason City senior said about one day becoming a Hawkeye.

Rhodes made his dream reality on Tuesday afternoon.

Rhodes announced on his Instagram his verbal commitment to the Iowa wrestling program, becoming the sixth member of its 2022 class and all of them have been in-state products.

He projects as a 133-pounder at the collegiate level.

"Walking around campus, I just felt comfortable there," Rhodes said. "It is a real close community and obviously they're one of the best programs in the country. It is something I want to be a part of."

Along with several other talented homegrown wrestlers, Rhodes went on his visit to the Iowa City campus on Saturday during the Hawkeyes' 23-20 win over Penn State at Kinnick Stadium.

He was blown away by the atmosphere.

"It was crazy, it was one of the best weekends we could've had down there," he said.

Not only did Rhodes feel the pledge to Iowa make sense for him athletically, it also lined up well academically. He plans on studying pre-med.

"They're known for that," Rhodes said.

Mohawk head wrestling coach and Jace's father, Dusty Rhodes, felt like from his perspective that the decision to make a choice was harder than it looked.

"Monday evening when I got home from school and he got home from school, we talked about some loose ends," coach Rhodes said. "He was looking at three different options.

"He basically said 'Well, I'm going to Iowa.'"

Jace got an offer from Grand View, an NAIA program, and had great relationships with the coaches at Division III Coe College.

Still, that didn't trump going to Iowa.

"I thought about it for awhile," he said. "I just think Iowa is the place that would be best for me. I had to commit to it. I feel like I can have success at any level."

Tom Brands, head coach of the Hawkeyes, communicated to Rhodes on his visit over the weekend how much he loved his style of wrestling and that he wanted Rhodes to be a part of the program.

"That meant a lot to me coming from a guy who's been around so many great athletes," Rhodes said.

Rhodes is the third Mason City wrestler in as many years to become a Hawkeye, as he joined twin brothers Colby and Cullan Schriever. Cullan is still in the current wrestling room.

Having plenty of wrestlers Rhodes knows through club wrestling and the high school circuit didn't aid him in this direction, but it didn't hurt either.

"We didn't talk about it with each other specifically," Rhodes said. "It was best for us individually."

Coach Rhodes wanted to make sure his son was in the best situation possible. He feels like Iowa is that spot for him.

"I was impressed with the visit just in terms of the professionalism of the coaching staff," he said. "We knew it would be. It gave Jace and us a chance to watch the coaches interact with their athletes at a practice."

The 133-pound spot for the Hawkeyes is expected to be wide open by the time Rhodes enrolls in classes. Current starter Austin DeSanto is entering his final year. Cullan and Jesse Ybarra are the other two wrestlers listed at that weight.

It is an environment Rhodes is ready to step in to.

"I couldn't be more excited for an opportunity like that," Rhodes said. "I know it's going to be tough to earn a spot, but the goal is to go in there and be the best wrestler I can be."

After two straight seasons of finishing in fifth place at the Class 3A state tournament, Rhodes is aiming for his first career state title. He has not appeared in a state final since his freshman year.

He is coming off a junior freestyle state championship in the spring, a 4-2 record at Fargo, won two matches at Night of Conflict in Sioux City and coach Rhodes said he'll compete at Super 32, one of the top preseason tournaments, next week.

"He's battle tested," coach Rhodes said.

The plan is to stick at 132-pounds this winter. It won't be an easy weight, but Rhodes wouldn't want it any other way.

"I'm really exciting just to show that I'm at that level," he said. "I'm looking forward to winning a state title. That's my big goal."

Zach Martin is a sports reporter for the Globe Gazette. Reach him via email at and follow him on Twitter @zach_martin95.


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