True freshman Drake Rhodes makes collegiate debut in the Iowa men’s wresting team’s 2022-23 season-opener

Rhodes defeated Lancer sophomore Zach Rowe via 13-4 major decision at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday.


Jerod Ringwald

Iowa’s 174-pound Drake Rhodes grapples with Cal Baptist’s Zachary Rowe during a wrestling meet between Iowa and Cal Baptist at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. Rhodes defeated Rowe by major decision, 13-4. The Hawkeyes defeated the Lancers, 42-3.

Matt McGowan, Sports Reporter

In the Iowa men’s wrestling team’s 42-3 win over Cal Baptist on Sunday at Carver-Hawkeye Arena, true freshman Drake Rhodes made his collegiate debut.

The 174-pounder from Billings, Montana, beat Lancer sophomore Zach Rowe via 13-4 major decision. Rhodes earned a takedown with three seconds left in the third period to clinch bonus points for the Hawkeyes.

In a post-dual press conference, Rhodes said Iowa’s coaching staff told him he’d be starting against Cal Baptist about a week ago.

“It was obviously nice to get that first takedown, calmed me down a little bit,” Rhodes said of his first college match. “I was a little nervous. Felt more confident, and knew I could take him down.” 

Rhodes’ bout with Rowe wasn’t smooth for three periods. During the second frame,  Rhodes appeared to suffer an injury to his left hand.

A medic checks Iowa’s 174-pound Drake Rhodes finger during a wrestling meet between Iowa and Cal Baptist at Carver-Hawkeye Arena on Sunday, Nov. 13, 2022. The Hawkeyes defeated the Lancers, 42-3. (Jerod ringwald)

“Rhodes’ finger was pointed 90 degrees the wrong way,” Iowa head coach Tom Brands said. “But he’s tough, and to handle it the way he did, awesome. But that’s what you’re supposed to do. When you get an opportunity, you make the most of it. That’s not his weight class, but he made the most of everything.” 

Intermat and FloWrestling projected senior Nelson Brands to start at 174 for Iowa this season. He was not listed in the projected lineup the Hawkeyes released on Nov. 8. Brands only wrestled in six matches in 2021-22.

Rhodes is a 157 or 165-pounder, according to Iowa’s roster. During his junior and senior seasons at Billings West High School, Rhodes wrestled at 152 and 160 pounds, respectively. 

It is unclear if he’ll have a chance to work his way in the Hawkeyes’ starting lineup on a more permanent basis this season.

“I feel like my wrestling all around got better,” Rhodes said of the progress he’s made since he arrived at Iowa. “But I feel like, mentally, getting ready and believing in myself, I always like to get a good warm up in and just, I like to reassure myself that I belong here and can wrestle with anyone.” 

Though he was not a projected starter during the preseason, Rhodes has quietly established himself at Iowa and found ways to fit in with the Hawkeyes.

“He doesn’t say much, and that’s a great characteristic,” Brands said. “Seen and not heard. What that means though is, ‘It’s whatever you need, coach, and I’ll do it.’ There’s just no question, and we love that.”