Fredy Stroker whittled his list of college possibilities from 15 down to five in recent weeks, as some of the nation’s top wrestling programs made their pitch to land the state’s most coveted prospect.
In the end, Bettendorf’s two-time state champion made a business decision.
Stroker announced Tuesday that he will continue his career at Minnesota after picking the Gophers over Penn State, Missouri, Cornell and Lehigh. He said Minnesota’s prestigious Carlson School of Management and the population of Twin Cities-based Fortune 500 companies were factors that pointed him toward the Gophers.
“You can’t wrestle your whole life, unless you’re Jordan Burroughs or someone like that who’s going to make a living off wrestling,” he said. “I’d love to be like that and I’ll pursue an international career, but at the end of the day you’re probably going to have to get a job. They have a really good management school and a lot of majors that interested me.
“Being in the big city and coach J (Robinson) has a lot of connections and I’ll make a lot of connections as well that can get me set with a job after college.”
Stroker, who projects as a 149- or 157-pounder in college and is ranked by InterMat as the nation’s No. 15 overall prospect in the 2015 class, has big wrestling goals he wants to accomplish first, though. He wants to win NCAA individual and team titles and chase Olympic glory before he hangs up his wrestling shoes.
He’ll take a 144-3 career record into his senior season at Bettendorf, where he hasn’t lost since midway through his sophomore year.
Stroker is believed to be the third multi-time Iowa state high school champ to pick the Gophers in the last 15 years, joining Don Bosco of Gilbertville brothers Mack and Bart Reiter and Woodbury Central’s Jordan Bremer, a sophomore at Minnesota.
The son of retired Army Lt. Col. Fred Stroker said he’s joining a program that has an at-home feel with Robinson, a Vietnam veteran, in charge.
“J Rob is a really cool guy,” Stroker said. “He’s almost like a grandpa with all the stories he has and he’s so experienced. There’s definitely a level of respect I have for him. With him and his military background, it’s almost like I’m talking to an older version of my dad when I’m talking to him. They say a lot of the same things and preach a lot of the same things. He’s a great guy and I’m happy to wrestle for him.”