Iowa wrestling world champ Ben Kueter puts football on ice — for now

ben kueter iowa

After competing in both wrestling and football in his first year at Iowa, Ben Kueter announced Monday he will stick with wrestling only for the 2024-25 season.

“I will be transitioning to just wrestling for the next 10 months in order to win a world title, NCAA title and an NCAA team title,” Kueter wrote on X. “To meet these goals will require my full attention for the next 10 months, but this is not the end of my football career. I will start back in spring ball.”

Kueter, an Iowa City native, was a four-star linebacker and one of the nation’s top wrestling recruits in the 2023 class. During breaks in football training camp, Kueter would head to wrestling workouts. He stuck with football all season, then shifted to the wrestling mat in January.

He finished his inaugural season 3-1 as a heavyweight and will be a redshirt freshman this year.

Considered perhaps the greatest high school wrestler in Iowa history, Kueter was one of seven wrestlers in the state to finish a high school career unbeaten with four titles. He went 111-0 with 105 matches ending in either a fall or a technical fall.

Between his junior and senior seasons in high school, Kueter competed for Team USA at 97 kilograms and won the world championship in Turkey. Last week, Kueter won the 125-kilogram gold in the U20 world team trials.

In his final two high school football seasons, Kueter finished with 199 tackles, including 64 for loss, and 18.5 sacks. He redshirted last year.

What this means for Kueter’s future

Kueter has a decent shot at becoming an Olympian for the 2028 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles. The only way he can do that is to become a full-time wrestler in the short term. As a heavyweight coming off football season last year, Kueter was outweighed by 40 or more pounds when he tried to get into wrestling shape.

Should Kueter attempt a football comeback in spring 2025 or later, it likely will come at a different position, such as defensive end. It’s difficult at best to win an NCAA heavyweight title in the 245-pound range. Anything heavier than that would make playing linebacker just as challenging.

As for Iowa’s football roster, the depth chart remains intact with three senior starters (Jay Higgins, Nick Jackson and Kyler Fisher) returning at linebacker. With three highly ranked incoming recruits at that position (Cam Buffington, Derek Weisskopf and Preston Ries), the future also is bright.

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(Photo: Joseph Cress / For the Register / USA Today)

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