Indiana University wrestling coach Duane Goldman was hoping to land Graham Rooks when the Columbus East senior made his official visit Friday.
As it turned out, not only did Graham Rooks commit to the Hoosiers, his younger brother did, as well. East junior Cayden Rooks verbally committed to wrestle for IU beginning in the 2019-20 season.
“It’s real exciting — Big Ten, Divison I,” East coach Chris Cooper said. “Big Ten wrestling is the premier wrestling conference. Of the 14 teams, most of them are in the top 25 or top 30 in the country. It’s a lot of top-level kids in the Big 10.”
The Rooks brothers certainly have been top-level in their careers with the Olympians. Graham finished third in the state at 106 pounds as a freshman and fourth at 120 and 126 the past two years.
Story continues below gallery
Cayden was ranked No. 1 in the state at 106 as a freshman, but was upset in the ticket round at semistate. He bounced back from that setback to capture the 120-pound state title last season.
“I wanted to go (to IU) almost right away,” Cayden said. “I like the coaches. But Graham going there also helped me make the decision to go there, too.”
The Rooks brothers said they never had been to the IU campus before going to the Regional Training Center once a week this summer. The training center took place in the Hoosiers’ wrestling room in the basement of Assembly Hall.
IU currently is building an arena for wrestling and volleyball next to Assembly Hall, and that was a big draw for the Rooks brothers.
“We got to see a couple new buildings and the new wrestling arena,” Graham said. “By the time I get there, it should be done, which will be awesome.”
Graham also had visited Army before the trip to IU. He plans to major in engineering and was able to tour the school’s engineering building on Friday.
The Rooks brothers also liked the fact that they will be able to train with one of their role models, former four-time high school state champion and four-time NCAA All-American Angel Escobedo, who is an assistant coach for the Hoosiers.
“Besides the campus and the engineering program, it was the coaches,” Graham said. “Angel Escobedo was like me and my brother’s role model growing up. It would be awesome to train with him there. Angel said he liked how we practiced and how intense we are. We just have to push the pace every day in practice and get better every day.”
Cayden said Escobedo told him and Graham that when they got to IU, they could come in and train with him anytime they wanted.
“(The coaches) talked to us about the pros, and we committed there,” Cayden said. “We have our hearts set on winning a national title.”
Name: Graham Rooks
School: Columbus East
Career highlights: Finished third at state at 106 pounds as a freshman, fourth at 120 as a sophomore and fourth at 126 as a junior
Name: Cayden Rooks
School: Columbus East
Career highlights: Won state championship at 120 pounds as a sophomore