ST. CHARLES – Justin Benjamin has a bold prediction for his next adventure.
"My prediction of the [Northwestern] Wildcat team is: I think we can be a top-five team in Division I," said Benjamin, a St. Charles East senior.
Benjamin, who won the Class 3A 138-pound state championship this season, announced his commitment to Northwestern on Wednesday.
Benjamin will join Marmion standout and two-time state champion, Trevor Chumbley, in Evanston. Already at Northwestern is Jack Jessen, who won 51 matches and a state championship at 182 pounds for Willowbrook in 2018.
Suffice to say, the Wildcats will be flexing plenty of star power to an already decorated program.
"[Jessen] was like 'I can't wait to have you on the team,'" Benjamin said.
Heading into the IHSA state tournament, Benjamin was only being seriously pursued by Arizona State. Upon winning a state title, his phone kept ringing. Wisconsin, Indiana and Northwestern came out strongly.
Northwestern formally offered Benjamin a week ago.
Benjamin has kept busy since winning his first state title in February. He represented Team Illinois against Team USA at the Dream Team Classic earlier this month.
Benjamin wrestled Connor McGonagle, a three-time New England Tournament champion and Lehigh commit. Despite losing a 5-0 decision, Benjamin kept a positive outlook.
"When you're wrestling the top kids in the country, you've just got to be ready to fight just like every other match," Benjamin said. "I realized that I can beat every kid in the country; I can beat that kid. It's really exciting to see how close I can come. I'm really motivated for this summer."