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Top-15 recruit Stroker commits to Minnesota

Andrew Hipps

8/19/2014
Andrew Hipps, InterMat Senior Editor
andrew@intermatwrestle.com, Twitter: @InterMat

Fredy Stroker recently watched a replay of the Minnesota-Penn State dual meet from Feb. 9 broadcast on the Big Ten Network. The Bettendorf (Iowa) High School senior saw Dylan Ness of Minnesota pin Dylan Alton and electrify the Gopher faithful in Minneapolis. The Gophers would go on to defeat the Nittany Lions, 18-17, in front of 5,600 fans at the Sports Pavilion.

"I'm hoping to have a moment like that in the future," said Stroker, a two-time state champion and three-time state finalist with a career record of 144-3.

Fredy Stroker after winning his second state title
That could soon become a reality.

On Tuesday, Stroker gave a verbal commitment to the University of Minnesota. He becomes the second top-15 recruit from the Class of 2015 to commit to the Gophers, joining Junior National freestyle champion Bobby Steveson (Apple Valley, Minn.), who committed last fall.

"Minnesota has everything I've wanted," said Stroker. "The Carlson School of Management is a really prestigious college within the university. I like Minneapolis and I feel like can go right from college to a job and transition pretty smoothly. The Minnesota wrestling program has been pretty consistent and been in the running for an NCAA title the past couple years. I feel like at Minnesota I have the best chance of winning an individual title and team title."

Stroker has developed relationships over the years with many of the current and future Gopher wrestlers, including Tommy Thorn, Bobby Steveson, Ethan Lizak and Jack Bass, among others.

"It's just going to be a really fun time with my friends," said Stroker, who finished his junior season with a perfect 52-0 record. "At Minnesota I felt like I fit in with the guys and I could see myself being around them for the next five years."

Fredy Stroker won Flowrestling's Who's Number One event last fall, which included victories over Seth Gross and Michael Kemerer (Photo/Rob Preston)
Stroker also cited wrestling in the Big Ten Conference as one of the determining factors in his college decision. The Big Ten is widely considered to be the elite wrestling conference in NCAA Division I wrestling. Of the 10 NCAA Division I champions in 2014, six came from Big Ten programs. Thirty-four of the 80 All-Americans were Big Ten wrestlers.

"The Big Ten Network does a great job of broadcasting the matches," said Stroker. "It's the toughest conference in the country. A lot of times the guys that win the Big Tens get the top seeds at NCAAs. It definitely gives you some great preparation wrestling the best guys in the country all season. It will definitely prepare you for March."

Stroker, a four-time Fargo All-American, was recruited by many of the top collegiate wrestling programs. His initial list of college choices included 15 different colleges. As the summer months wore on, he continued to narrow that list. Ultimately it came down to five schools: Minnesota, Missouri, Penn State, Cornell and Lehigh.

After returning home from a FILA Junior camp in Columbus, Ohio, Stroker sat down and wrote a pros and cons list for each of the colleges. He told his dad, "Minnesota just feels right." He then took one more trip to Minnesota, which confirmed those feelings.

Stroker said it was "tough" making the phone calls to college coaches informing them that he would not be wrestling in their program. The phone call to Missouri coach Brian Smith was especially difficult.

"You build relationships with these coaches," said Stroker. "Coach Smith is literally someone I've known since sixth grade. He is a really great guy. Missouri was probably my second choice behind Minnesota. I have a lot of respect for Coach Smith."

Fredy Stroker with his sisters Cecelia and Demaris on the campus of the University of Minnesota
Stroker said despite the tough phone calls and stressful times, the recruiting process was enjoyable.

"It was definitely a little bit stressful, but it was really fun experience," said Stroker. "It's not every day that you have Olympians in your living room. It was pretty fun just having coaches call me, but there is definitely a stress factor to it."

Stroker projects at 149 pounds and/or 157 pounds in college. He currently tips the scale at 155 pounds, but says he is still "skinny and immature."

"I definitely see myself as a 157-pounder once I grow and get stronger, maybe a true freshman 149-pounder when I redshirt."

Fredy Stroker finished fourth in the Junior National freestyle competition (Photo/Jeff Beshey, The Guillotine)
Last month Stroker finished fourth in the Junior National freestyle competition in Fargo at 145 pounds. He was initially planning on competing at 138 pounds, but shortly before the tournament he made the decision to wrestle at 145 pounds because he thought he would feel better at the higher weight class.

"There's definitely some room for improvement, which is always a good thing," Stroker said of his performance in Fargo. "If you peak too early and have no room for improvement that's probably not a good thing. But I'm excited because I still have one more year to go back and try to win it next year."

Stroker is an Army brat who was born in Panama and moved frequently as a child because of his father's military duties. He lived in Pennsylvania in junior high before moving to Iowa as a high school freshman. Stroker is looking forward to the opportunity to return to Iowa and compete against the Hawkeyes as a college wrestler.

"I literally have dreams of coming back to Carver-Hawkeye Arena in a maroon and gold singlet," said Stroker.

Stroker has been a state champion on a state championship team at Bettendorf. In college he's hoping to become an NCAA champion on an NCAA championship team at Minnesota.

"My ultimate goal is to win an NCAA title," said Stroker. "There aren't that many places where you have a chance to also win a team title. Minnesota is a pretty special place where I can win both."

So what can Gopher fans expect to see when Stroker steps on the mat?

"They're going to see a lot of points on the scoreboard and hopefully some pins too."

Comments

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vulture (1) about a month ago
Not surprised that Stroker didn't go to Iowa. Iowa doesn't get the top notch wrestlers anymore. Those days are over.
greff (1) about a month ago
with the economy being so bad wrestlers can't afford to get a degree from Iowa anymore Cornell looks much better on a resume. Brands and co. look like psycopaths anyway.