It was probably destiny.
When Creston High School senior Jake Marlin was born, longtime University of Iowa wrestling coach — and former Iowa State wrester — Dan Gable sent a letter.
His father, Randy, was a former state wrestling champion for Creston, and a fan of the Hawkeye program developed as a perennial power by Gable.
“Congratulations on your newborn son: Jacob Gable Marlin,” the letter said.
Well, Gable may have another congratulatory message ready, now that the three-time state champion from Creston has decided to wrestle for the Hawkeyes.
After Marlin and the state’s other current three-time champ, Brandon Sorensen of Denver-Tripoli, each made official visits to Iowa last weekend, Marlin decided to accept coach Tom Brand’s offer to wrestle there on scholarship. Sorensen is still weighing offers from Iowa, Iowa State and UNI.
“Throughout the whole recruiting process, I didn’t think I was going to go to Iowa at all,” Marlin said. “I heard a lot of things — they’re always working, they never have fun, kind of robots. Actually, after going up there on my visit last weekend, it’s not like that at all. They do work hard, but it’s not 24/7. They have a lot of good guys.”
As a Hawkeye, Marlin will follow in the footsteps of former Nodaway Valley standout Mario Galanakis, who has been an assistant coach for the Panthers after finishing his career at Iowa.
“When I got to high school, I had Mario to work out with every day, a lot of great guys in the room,” Marlin said. “I just decided I was not going to get beat by people.”
For his career, Marlin has a 148-5 record heading into his senior season. Last year, his closest match in Iowa was a 10-2 major decision in the 138-pound state finals in Class 2A, as he finished 53-1 overall with 40 pins.
His only defeat last season was 8-7 to Jack Bass of Allen, Texas, in the semifinals of the Kansas City Classic.
Last summer, Marlin was an All-American in Greco-Roman at 138 pounds at the Junior National Tournament, finishing fourth. He came up just short of placing in freestyle at 145 pounds. With very little practice in those disciplines, he has also placed fourth in freestyle after his freshman year and seventh in Greco-Roman.
Creston/O-M coach Darrell Frain said he’s excited about Marlin’s collegiate future.
“I’m extremely excited about the opportunity he’ll have,” Frain said. “I know they’ll push him to limits he’s never been.”
Nebraska — “the best facilities I’ve ever seen,” Marlin said — was the other school being highly considered by the Panther senior. Wisconsin had a good offer, too, and he also visited Iowa State and South Dakota State.
“He came to me and talked to me Monday and said everything they told him was about how bright the future would be for him there at Iowa and how he would fit in,” Frain said. “He said not one thing seemed bad about the situation.”
“I actually decided while sitting at the football game Saturday night,” Marlin said. “We had meetings Sunday morning and that’s when they made their offer. I told them I had decided.”
Marlin plans to sign a national letter-of-intent on Nov. 14. Interested in a career in construction management, he’ll likely end up with a business major geared toward that emphasis, he said.
Marlin is confident the Hawkeyes will unseat Penn State and return to the pinnacle of the sport during his career there, as it was when his father cheered for the perennial champs coached by Gable.
“They’ll be back,” Jake said. “They got some really good kids last year. It always comes back to Iowa.”