The Gopher wrestling program is pleased to announce the addition of five new commits in the 2024 graduating class. Sam Skillings, Brady Spaeth, Isaiah Salazar, Aaron Nagao, and Ben Lunn are all officially now Maroon and Gold grapplers.
Collectively, the new class represents four different states and has won multiple combined state titles.
”We are very excited to welcome these five athletes into the Gopher Wrestling family,” head coach Brandon Eggum said. “This class has four wrestlers ranked in the Top-200 of Flo’s overall rankings. All five young men are great people, quality students, and tough wrestlers. We feel this class resembles some of the Gopher classes in the past that have come in and done great things on and off the mat.”
Isaiah Salazar (Greeley, CO)
A three-time state champion in three attempts, Salazar is leaving a Colorado High School powerhouse for a Midwestern powerhouse.
The Colorado native is 106-6 through three seasons after going 43-0 last season en route to a 182-pounds title. He had previously won the 170-pound title in 2018 and the 152-pound title in 2017.
Per the FloWrestling Big Board, Salazar is a Top-75 prospect overall a top-ten at his weight class.
Salazar will mark the first Colorado native on the Gophers roster since Cody Yohn in the 2012-13 season.
Coach Eggum on Isaiah: “Isaiah is coming to Minnesota from Greeley, Colorado. He is a top-ranked big man who has excelled in four sports in high school. He has been a star on the football field, on the baseball diamond, in track, and on the wrestling mat. He will be looking for his fourth state title this year. Isaiah is a big strong wrestler who attacks well on his feet and can get turns on top. Isaiah will be a staple in our line up during his time here.”
Aaron Nagao (Esperanza, CA)
One of the top lightweight recruits in his class, Nagao comes to the Midwest from Orange County. Nagao joins a growing list of California natives wearing the Maroon and Gold singlet.
The three-time California placer and a two-time finalist, Nagao became state champion after winning the 126-pound title last season and enters his senior season ranked No.9 in the nation by FloWrestling. Through his first three seasons, Nagao has a 130-8 record including an undefeated junior campaign.
A passionate Jiu-Jitsu enthusiast, Nagao has international success in the sport. With all that on his resume, Nagao has been praised as one of the best lightweight prospects in the nation by numerous wrestling recruiting outlets.
Coach Eggum on Aaron: “Aaron is a California State Champion from the Orange County area. Aaron is an extremely exciting wrestler who will put up big points for our team. He is great on top and can scramble with the best of them. He will be a nightmare for opponents to wrestle against in college. Aaron is coached by former Gopher Wrestler Josh Holiday and his brothers.”
Ben Lunn (Shakopee, MN)
Staying in his home state of Minnesota, Lunn has been a key member of the recent Shakopee High School wrestling dynasty in recent years.
Lunn is a two-time state finalist, first at 113-pounds and then 120-pounds this past season. Plus, he’s also accomplished in the classroom and has two been named to the Academic All-State Team.
Lunn joins fellow Shakopee natives Brent Jones and Owen Webster on the Gophers roster.
Coach Eggum on Ben: “Ben is a local wrestler coming to us from Shakopee. Ben wrestles at a hard pace and is very difficult to score on. He is a technical wrestler that as he continues to put size and strength on will be a very strong asset to the program. Ben is a great kid and will be a leader for our squad because of the way he handles his business.”
Brady Spaeth (Cadott, WI)
Spaeth, a Cadott High School product, joins the Gophers after a season in Wisconsin where he is coming off of a 2019 state title at 160-pounds.
After winning that state title, Spaeth earned a spot in the FloWrestling Top 200 Big Board.
Coach Eggum on Brady: “Brady is from Cadott, Wisconsin. He is the most high-flying wrestler of the group. He is very athletic, powerful and not afraid to attack. He is a state champion and national finalist. His work ethic is strong and the desire to be great is there. We feel like the sky’s the limit for him here at Minnesota.”
Sam Skillings (Menominee, WI)
Skillings hops across the border from Eastern Wisconsin to start his Gophers career in the Twin Cities. Skillings, who has trained with the Menomonie Wrestling Club in addition to his high school team, is an accomplished upper weight when it comes to folkstyle as well as any freestyle matches.
Coach Eggum on Sam: “Along with Brady, Sam is also from the Western Wisconsin area coming to Minneapolis from Menomonie. Sam is a strong wrestler who has excelled in both folkstyle and freestyle. His leg attacks are very good and hard to defend. He’s been a Fargo finalist, a state finalist and we feel like the best is yet to come for him.”