The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

Incoming Iowa men’s wrestler Gabe Arnold finds success through failure

After failing to make the Junior World Team in 2022, Arnold had to look inward. Now, he’s a Pan American Gold medalist at 79 kg.
Kelsey Kremer/The Register / USA TODAY NETWORK
Gabe Arnold, Iowa City, City High, wins the Class 3A 182-pound state wrestling championship, on Saturday, Feb. 18, 2023, at Wells Fargo Arena, in Des Moines. 0218 Wrestling 042 Arw

After failing to make the Junior World Team in 2022, incoming Iowa wrestler Gabe Arnold had to look inward.

He was falling out of love with the sport of wrestling and was physically and mentally drained.

Fast forward a year later, and he just took home a Pan American Gold medal at 79 kg while competing for Team USA in Santiago, Chile.

“Just being able to put on the USA singlet and represent my country in the way that I did, it was just a super exciting dream,” Arnold told *The Daily Iowan*. “I just went out there and put on a show for all the Americans, and not just my own country, but every other country that was there as well, like Canada, Venezuela, Puerto Rico, Peru. It was just really surreal being able to compete at such a high level and do what I do best.”.

This success, Arnold said, couldn’t have come without his failures and his faith in God, who he said called him to be a wrestler.

Arnold decided to move to Iowa City before his senior prep season and attend Iowa City High School. There, he went 41-0 and claimed a state title at 182 pounds.

Arnold felt that he found himself again, both on and off the mat.

But he hit another roadblock when he finished runner-up and was left off of the 2023 Junior World Team last month. But this time around, Arnold said he couldn’t be upset at himself for his performance.

“I didn’t reach my ultimate goal,” Arnold said. “I wasn’t a world champ this year, but I think I took so many steps this year into becoming the best wrestler and best person I can be.  I felt so much better about myself and the way I led up to the tournament. It was hard to really be down on myself when I knew that I did absolutely everything in my power that I could do to be a real champ this year.”

Arnold said he didn’t have time to dwell on the missed opportunity because he knew he had the Pan American Games in Chile to prepare for. So, he went right back to work, and it ended up paying off.

In Arnold’s first campaign competing for his home country, the Kennesaw, Georgia, native went 3-0 at the Pan Ams without allowing a point.

He posted back-to-back 11-0 technical falls in his first two matches over wrestlers from Venezuela and Puerto Rico and defeated Canada’s Connor Church, 11-0, in the title bout.

Arnold said his time in Chile was even more special because of the different culture. He said the first few days in Chile were all business and he spent most of his time working out and keeping his weight down, but the team had a day after the tournament to spend exploring.

Arnold said he tried different cuisine and bonded with his teammates as they walked around the city.

Now that he’s back in the U.S., he has some downtime before spending his days in the practice room with head coach Tom Brands and the rest of his Hawkeye teammates,  including fellow Iowa City High alum Ben Keuter.

Keuter ended his high school career, 111-0, and was Iowa’s 32nd four-time state wrestling champion. Keuter plans to wrestle and play football for the Hawkeyes.

Arnold said he fell in love with the coaching staff when he visited Iowa and couldn’t imagine anyone else fighting for him in his corner. He also said he is ready to take on any role that the coaching staff seems fit and believes they have his best interest in mind.

Arnold is projected to wrestle 174 pounds at Iowa. He isn’t sure if he is going to redshirt his freshman season, but he does know what he wants to make of his collegiate career.

“At the end of the day, “ Arnold said, “I know my goal is to be a four-time NCAA champ.”

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About the Contributor
Kenna Roering
Kenna Roering, Sports Editor
Kenna Roering is The Daily Iowan's sports editor. She is a junior at the University of Iowa majoring in journalism with a minor in sports and recreation management. Kenna previously worked as a sports reporter for men's wrestling and volleyball and was the summer sports editor in 2023. This is her second year with the DI.