By Rob Sherrill
(Editor’s Note: The weight classes are the weight each wrestler competed at last year and may eventually change and alter these rankings. The number in parenthesis is where that school finished in the 2011-12 rankings. Updated rankings will be released through WIN’s free weekly eNews. Sign up on-line.)
WIN’s Top 25 High Schools of 2012-13
1. Blairstown Township, N.J. Blair Academy (1)
Gone is Jeff Buxton, the most decorated coach in American high school history. He was responsible for 29 of the Bucs’ national-best 32 consecutive National Prep Championships team titles. He left former assistant Charles Danhof with a full cupboard: a national-best seven returning champions.
Six are National Prep champions — Jordan Kutler (106), Russell Parsons (152), Patrick Coover (160) and Frank Mattiace (195) and two-time champions Joey McKenna (120) and Brooks Black (Hwt) — and a seventh is Ohio state champion Matthew Kolodzik (106), one of two transfers.
The shoulder injury McKenna sustained at the Cadet Worlds, though, could keep him on the shelf for much of the season. The other is Cadet National champion Mason Manville (152), a Minnesota state place-winner at Apple Valley. Charles Tucker (113) and Dylan Milonas (145) are National Prep runners-up.
2. Harrisburg, Pa. Central Dauphin (15)
A 28-25 loss to Canonsburg Canon-McMillan in the Class 3A state semifinals — the Rams’ first loss in more than five seasons — ended a five-year double state title run. The individual state runner-up returns 10 starters, eight with 20 or more wins, and four more Rams posted double-figure win totals.
Junior Garrett Peppelman (152) became the third member of his family — joining older brothers Walter and Marshall, who are now wrestling at Harvard and Cornell, respectively — to win a state title. Also back are three-time state place-winner Tyson Dippery (126) and state qualifiers Zach Elvin (106), Nick Varndell (138), Austin Rose (145) and Colton Peppelman (160).
3. Canonsburg, Pa. Canon-McMillan (7)
The Big Macs went 26-0 and breezed to the Class 3A double championship last year, ending Harrisburg Central Dauphin’s five-year title run, and return plenty of front-line strength: two-time state champion Cody Wiercioch (170), 2010 state champion Conner Schram (120) and state place-winners Dalton Macri (113), Solomon Chishko (138) and Alex Campbell (220). In all, nine starters return.
4. Lakewood, Ohio St. Edward (2)
The bad news: the Eagles graduated seven of nine starters from 138 pounds and up — all state qualifiers, six placers and two champions.
The good news: they are still St. Edward. The two-time defending Division 1 champions still have three-time state champion Dean Heil (126) and two-time champion Domenic Abounader (182), state runners-up Edgar Bright (138) and Markus Scheidel (145), state place-winner Colin Heffernan (120) and state qualifier L.J. Bentley (106) … and that’s enough to keep them atop the pack in the Buckeye State.
5. Clovis, Calif. (4)
The Cougars set state tournament scoring records with 256.5 points and 10 state place-winners. Five return, led by seniors Jonas Gaytan (113) and Adrian Salas (160) and junior Nick Nevills (Hwt), a state champ as a freshman. All are two-time placers. Junior Julian Gaytan (106) and senior Jason Ladd (138) also placed at state, junior Matt Weiss (220) was a state qualifier and Dominic Kincaid (145) won over 40 matches as a freshman.
6. Brandon, Fla. (5)
In winning their 12th straight state title a year ago, the Eagles became the first school to crown a pair of five-time state champions and led the nation with seven multi-time champions. Four-time state champion Kevin Norstrem (132), three-time champion James Flint (113) and two-time champions Dylan Lucas (106) and Jacob Haydock (170) return. Norstrem’s freshman brother, Kyle, a Class 1A champion at cross-town Tampa Bay Christian School last year, transferred in. State place-winners Devan Berrian (120) and Travis Berridge (152) and sophomore state qualifiers Troy Joyce (145) and Robert Enmon (195) also return.
7. St. Johns, Mich. (6)
Life in the post-Taylor Massa era will be an adjustment, but the Redwings have a front seven which could match many football teams, led by three-time state champion Ben Whitford (140). Junior Zac Hall (112) and senior Jacob Schmitt (125) are two-time state champions and senior Brant Schafer (135) also won last year. Sophomore Logan Massa (119) and junior Payne Hayden (215), a Cadet National place-winner, were state runners-up and senior Josh Pennell (145) is a three-time state place-winner.
8. Christiansburg, Va. (8)
The Blue Demons will attempt to become the third school in as many years to crown at least three four-time state champions in one season, joining Monroeville (Ohio) in 2011 and Brandon (Fla.) last year. Attempting to accomplish the feat: J.R. Wert (120), Joey Dance (132) and Matt Epperly (160). Coy Ozias (106) could join their ranks next year and Dallas Smith (138) is a fifth returning state champion. Gabe Lumpp (126) and Austin Eva (195) also placed in state, and twins Dorian (145) and David Giantonio (152) were state qualifiers. Christiansburg should win its 12th straight Group AA title.
9. Kingston, Pa. Wyoming Seminary (10)
The perennial National Prep Championships runner-up has leadership in champion Eric Morris (170), runners-up Danny Boychuck (106) and Michael Johnson (Hwt) and place-winners Tyrel White (138) and Matt Doggett (195). Junior National place-winner Garrett Ryan (170), an Arizona Division 1 state champion at Scottsdale Horizon as a junior, transferred in. Graduation losses, however, were heavy. Eight National Prep place-winners have moved on.
10. Davison, Mich. (NR)
Roy Hall, who led the Cardinals to national prominence in the last decade and produced college greats like Iowa’s Brent Metcalf and Iowa State’s Jon Reader, leads a young squad this year which will contend in big-school Division 1.
Davison’s top nine returnees are underclassmen, including all four state champs. Two-time state titlist Justin Oliver (119) and Jordan Cooks (160) are juniors, Lincoln Olson (103) is a sophomore and two-time Minnesota champ Mark Hall (145), a transfer from Apple Valley, is entering his freshman year. State place-winners Jacob Madrigal (103), Dominic Russ (125), Matthew Miller (130) and Thomas Garty (140) are juniors and Cadet National place-winner Tyler Wildmo (152) is a sophomore.
11. Albertville, Minn. St. Michael-Albertville (NR)
Once a Class 2A powerhouse, winning four straight from 2004-07, the Knights have finished second to Apple Valley the past two seasons in 3A. But they dented the Eagles for 24 points last year and return all but one starter. Two-time state champion Tommy Thorn (113) is one of the nation’s top juniors, but as many as 11 seniors could start, including state placers Cole Sladek (120), Lincoln Mallinger (138), Ricky Briggs (182) and Mitchell Eull (195) and state qualifier Michael Kessler (Hwt). State runner-up Mark Voss (132) and state qualifier Aaron Dick (106) are juniors returning.
12. Lombard, Ill. Montini (23)
Outscoring their three state dual opponents 153-32 last year, the Broncos have won five consecutive state titles — including all four in middle-class Class 2A — and own two five-year streaks since 2000. State champion and two-time Junior National finalist Tommy Pawelski (106) has the longest resume, but just two starters graduated and 10 state qualifiers return, led by two-time state placewinners Jordan Laster (113) and Chris Garcia (132) and placewinners Michael Sepke (126), Michael Maduko (160), Jake Turk (182) and Edgar Ruano (220). Sophomore Cadet National champ Vince Turk (120) didn’t start last year.
13. South Plainfield, N.J. (NR)
Fresh off their second No. 1 Team in New Jersey award and their second Group 3 dual title in the past three years, the Tigers return plenty of individual firepower: three-time state champion Anthony Ashnault (126), state champion Scott DelVecchio (132), state runner-up Troy Heilmann (120) and state place-winner Corey Stasenko (145). They have depth as well, with 10 returning starters led by seniors Dylan Painton (152), Tory Russell (220) and Tyler Calderone (Hwt) and juniors Raymond Jazikoff (113) and Inan Sikel (160).
14. Chicago, Ill. Marist (NR)
The Redhawks stunned Carl Sandburg, 28-24, at The Clash National Duals last year, setting up a winner-take-all rematch in the individual regional tournament, which Carl Sandburg won. Just two starters graduated, and six state place-winners return: David Kasper (106), state runner-up Mark Duda (113), Peter Andreotti (152), Alex Benoit (170), Josh Pruitt (195) and Josh Hickey (Hwt). Mario Leveille (120) and Tom Howell (220) were state qualifiers and seniors Matt Sears (126) and Ethan Benoit (182) both posted 28 wins last year. Marist is looking for its first title since 1987.
15. Orland Park, Ill. Carl Sandburg (NR)
The defending Class 3A dual state champion returns seven wrestlers who won 40 or more matches last year, and two more who posted 35 wins. This is a veteran team with 10 seniors starting, led Cadet National champions Colin Holler (145) and Ricky Robertson (170), 2011 state champion Sebastian Pique (120), state place-winner Mitch Cook (138) and state qualifiers Jim Pellegrino (106) and Bill Gore (195). Junior John Pellegrino (126) also was a state qualifier and seniors C.J. Brucki (152) and Chris Pajak (160) posted 35 wins each last year.
16. Allen, Texas (NR)
The Eagles have dominated Texas wrestling the past three seasons, and they’ll do it again this year. Four state champions return to give Allen one of the most dominating upper-weight groups in the nation: junior Cadet National double champion Bo Nickal (145) and seniors Oliver Pierce (152), who amazingly hasn’t won states since his freshman year, Matt Meyer (170) and three-timer Nick Cobb (195).
State placers Mason Smout (113), A.J. Hinkle (132) and Stone Drulman (220) and state qualifier Gabe Torres (106) also return. Runner-up Jack Bass returned to his hometown school, Fairfax (Va.) Robinson.
17. Indianapolis, Ind. Perry Meridian (24)
The Falcons have won the last two state duals championships, outscoring their three opponents by a 135-52 margin last year. With the state duals series eliminated after a 17-year run, Perry Meridian should be in good shape as the individual state tournament determines the champion this year. Nine starters return, and state place-winners Brandon James (113) and Cody LeCount (126) and Junior National finalist Donte Winfield (Hwt) all are nationally ranked. State runner-up Jake Masengale (170) and state place-winners Jacob Cottey (106) and Nick Bova (138) also return for a team which breezed through the Disney Duals without a close match.
18. Massillon, Ohio Perry (17)
The Division 1 runner-up to St. Edward last year matched the Eagles with four individual champions. And, like the Eagles, the Panthers return two of them: junior David Bavery (106) and senior JoJo Tayse (195). State place-winner Isaac Bast (132), state qualifier Stefano Millin (220) and 29-match winner Tony Dailey (145), all juniors, and sophomore Austin Phillips (120) are the best of the rest as 10 starters return, just three of them seniors.
19. Apple Valley, Minn. (3)
Dalen Wasmund succeeds retiring coach Jim Jackson, who guided the Eagles to the last seven 3A dual state championships; Apple Valley has won 17 of the last 19. But a program which has historically benefitted from key transfers must deal with the loss of freshmen Mark Hall (145), who won two state titles and is now at Davison (Mich.) and Mason Manville (152), now at Blair Academy.
State champions Maolu Woiwor (106) and Seth Gross (120) lead seven returning starters. Shamar Williams (126) Dayton Racer (138) and Daniel Woiwor (182) were state place-winners and Brock Morgan (113) and Paul Cheney (195) were state qualifiers.
20. Inver Grove Heights, Minn. Simley (13)
The Spartans, winners of five straight 2A dual titles, suffered significant graduation losses, losing two state champions and three place-winners. However, they’re one of just a handful of schools to return four individual state champions: three-time champion Jake Short (145), two-time champions Kyle Gliva (113) and Nick Wanzek (152), and fellow senior Juan Torres (126). State place-winner Mack Short (138) and state qualifier Jackson Ryan (220) also are back, leading seven returning starters.
21. Cincinnati, Ohio Archbishop Moeller (18)
The Crusaders finished third in Division 1 last year with a 54-man roster which included 33 freshmen and sophomores. The eight returning starters reflect that youth. State placers Dakota Sizemore (152) and Chalmer Frueauf (220), state qualifiers Dean Meyer (145) and Quinton Rosser (182) and 39-match winner Jerry Thornberry (195) are juniors and state qualifier Connor Ziegler (106) is a sophomore. Seniors Andrew Mendel (120) and Wyatt Wilson (160) also won over 30 matches last year.
22. Kasson, Minn. Kasson-Mantorville (NR)
The Komets have never won a state title, but they’ve been close, finishing third in the Class 2A dual state tournament in 2011 and fourth last year. Outstanding individual power with state champions Brady Berge (106), Colton Laganiere (138) and Junior National finalist Broc Berge (195), with junior heavyweight Sam Stoll likely to join their ranks this year. They’ve got plenty of help, as the Komets return their entire line-up. State qualifiers Brandon Schorr (132) and Corben Hansen (152) also return as 12 returnees won 15 or more matches last year.
23. Clifton Park, N.Y. Shenendehowa (NR)
From Albany-area Section 2, the Plainsmen have won back-to-back state team titles and return 10 starters, including five state qualifiers. Seniors Nick Kelley (132), a Junior National place-winner, and David Almaviva (138) were state place-winners, and freshman Kevin Parker (99), sophomore Jesse Porter (113) and senior Zach Joseph (120) were state qualifiers. Senior Corey Ali (106) and junior Zach Ashley (182), the lone returning upper-weight returnee, both posted over 35 wins. Shen’s only loss last year came on criteria to Long Island powerhouse Wantagh, expected to be their primary Empire State challenger again.
24. Davenport, Iowa Assumption (NR)
The Class 2A double champion in 2011 and the dual state champion last year, the Knights, who lost only to 3A double champion Bettendorf last year, return 10 starters, led by senior state champion Nick Georgean (152).
Six more also have state experience. Tony DeVriese (120) and Kyle Springer (126) finished second in state, Brendan Gould (106), Eric Clarke (138) and Tony Parks (160) were state place-winners and Sean Easler (Hwt) was a state qualifier.
The Knights are clearly the class of 2A. Whether they shine under the glow of their first national spotlight is yet to be answered.
25. West Fargo, N.D. (NR)
Taking a step up in schedule, West Fargo was rewarded with its first Class A double state title last year. Just one starter is gone, and the Packers’ returnees include four multi-time state champs, 12 state place-winners, four 40-match winners and seven others who won 35 or more.
Sophomore Jordan Shearer (113) and junior Anjelo Shepard (138) are three-time state champions and seniors Trevor Kringlie (120) and Preston Lehmann (182) are two-time champions. Sophomore Weston Dobler (132), junior Kollin Kragnes (126) and senior Drew Johnson (195) were state runners-up. n