Wisconsin tabbed No. 1 in WIN’s Early-Season Recruiting Ranks

Updated: December 7, 2010

By Rob Sherrill

The game of musical chairs that BCS football conferences played in the past off-season will have a trickle-down effect to wrestling.

Five-time Minnesota state champ Destin McCauley (left) is heading East to Wisconsin

By standing pat, the Big Ten strengthened its stranglehold as the nation’s pre-eminent wrestling conference. With perennial national contender Nebraska jumping ship from the Big 12 next year, the Big Ten’s gain will be the Big 12’s loss, with the Big 12 dropping to just four teams with wrestling programs.

Factor in the results of the early signing period just concluded, and another conference — the Atlantic Coast Conference — is placing itself in position to challenge the Big 12 as the primary contender to the Big Ten for national honors.

Big Ten teams Wisconsin and Ohio State grabbed the 1-2 spots in WIN’s analysis of the top early signing classes, and four of the conference’s 11 incumbents made the top eight. But the ACC was almost as good, landing four of the top 11 recruiting classes.

Virginia Tech and Virginia are no strangers to the recruiting wars. Tech coach Kevin Dresser and Cavaliers coach Steve Garland have landed multiple top-10 classes in the recent past and their recruiting successes have been well documented here. This fall, they were joined by North Carolina — C.D. Mock landed the conference’s best class, checking in at No. 5 — and by North Carolina State, which sits at No. 11 as Carter Jordan got a head start on what might be his best class to date.

There’s plenty of new blood elsewhere in the top 25. Give Utah Valley University coach Greg Williams a hand for getting the Wolverines (No. 17) off to a head start on a fine class. And Stanford coach Jason Borrelli became the second member of his family to make the list as his team checks in at No. 18 … joining father Tom, who hauled in the No. 13 class back east at Central Michigan.

While many schools helped themselves considerably last month, the Road to No. 1 remains wide open. It’s hard to recall as much parity between the top classes…even Wisconsin’s No. 1 haul, while impressive, doesn’t put the Badgers head and shoulders above the rest of the field. In fact, one could make as strong a case for Cornell’s No. 12 class. And that’s the case up and down the top 25.

Some schools that didn’t make the final cut, such as Brown, Bucknell, Cal-State Bakersfield, Chattanooga and Navy, are every bit as strong as some that did. That’s how close things are this year.

By our count, 220 seniors — about the same number as last year — took themselves off the board by making early commitments to Division 1 schools. By school, five members of top-ranked Apple Valley (Minn.) High’s vaunted senior class — Brandon Kingsley (125, Minnesota), Jake Kelliher (133-141, Wisconsin), Destin McCauley (157, Wisconsin), Steven Keogh (165, Minnesota) and Jake Waste (174, Buffalo) — signed Division 1 scholarship offers. Here are some highlights of the big winners in the early recruiting process.

  • 1. Wisconsin: Let’s start with the two headliners: Wisconsin’s best all-around wrestler, three-time state champion Jesse Thielke (125) of Germantown High, and four-time Minnesota champion McCauley, the Outstanding Wrestler in the Junior National freestyle tourney. Coach Barry Davis’ other three recruits are two-time state champions: Kelliher, Cody Caldwell (157) of Waverly (Iowa) W.-Shell Rock High and Connor Medbery (HWT) of Loveland (Colo.) High. That’s a total of 13 state titles already for this elite gang of five.
  • 2. Ohio State: After signing Logan Stieber last year, coach Tom Ryan went right back to in-state Monroeville High and added brother Hunter Stieber (133-141) and Cam Tessari (141-149), both three-time state champions. Two-time champion Johnni DiJulius (133) of Cuyahoga Falls Walsh Jesuit High is his third Ohio recruit. He also lured away one of Pennsylvania’s best, two-time state champion Kenny Courts (184) of Harrisburg Central Dauphin High, and headed west for heavyweight Orry Elor of Pleasant Hill College Park High (CA).
  • 3. Oklahoma State: A pair of Junior National champions, Austin Ormsbee (133) of Blairstown Township (N.J.) Blair Academy and Alex Dieringer (149) of Port Washington (Wis.) High, put coach John Smith in the hunt for November. In the upper weights, he added two-time Oklahoma champion Zach Skates (174) of Broken Arrow High and Illinois champion Austin Marsden (197-HWT) of Crystal Lake Central High.
  • 4. Penn State: Coach Cael Sanderson headed west and came away with the best recruit in a loaded California senior class: two-time champion Morgan McIntosh (184-197) of Santa Ana Calvary Chapel High. He signed five recruits, including a pair of Pennsylvania lightweights: two-time champion Nico Megaludis (125-134) of Murrysville Franklin Regional High and state champion Luke Frey (133-141) of Montoursville High. Rounding out the class are a pair of 4A champions from North Carolina: Michael Waters (125) of Mocksville Davie County High and Collin Campbell (HWT) of Roxboro Person High.
  • 5. North Carolina: The recent addition of Cary Kolat to the Tar Heels coaching staff gave Mock added marketability as he signed eight recruits. Five are from Pennsylvania: National Prep champion Evan Henderson (141) and his twin brother, Robert, both of Saltsburg Kiski School, and state place-winners Cameron Throckmorton (125-133) of Hanover South Western High, Nick Catalano (149) of Canonsburg Canon-McMillan High and John Michael Staudenmayer (165) of Plymouth Meeting Plymouth-Whitemarsh High. Also headed to Chapel Hill are New Jersey place-winner John Guzzo (157-165) of Sussex High Point High, two-time Ohio runner-up Alex Utley (174-184) of Cuyahoga Falls Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy and Frank Abbondanza (184) of Mount Sinai (N.Y.) High.
  • 6. Virginia Tech: Concentrating mainly on the middle weights, Dresser picked up a pair of highly-regarded recruits from two schools: Ohio champions Nick Brascetta (141-149) and Matt Stephens (165-174) of national powerhouse St. Paris Graham High, and Lex Ozias (141-149) and Bubba Scheffel (174), who already have combined for five Maryland state titles at Oakland Southern Garrett High. Dresser also signed two-time Colorado champion Austin Gabel (184-197) of Parker Ponderosa High and three-time independent state champion Christian Funder of Lewisville (N.C.) Forsyth Country Day School.
  • 7. Nebraska: One of the nation’s top heavyweights, Minnesota champion Donny Longendyke of White Bear Lake High, heads west to Lincoln. Coach Mark Manning’s five recruits are from five different states and he added middle-weight depth with the rest of this class. One of Nebraska’s best, two-time champion Austin Wilson (157-165) of Hastings St. Cecilia High, will be joined by New Jersey runner-up James Green (149-157) of Willingboro High, Jake Sueflohn (141-149) of Hartland (Wis.) Arrowhead High and Ian Ousley (149-157) of Saginaw (Mich.) Heritage High.
  • 8. Minnesota: Coach J Robinson kept a pair of Apple Valley standouts at home with commitments from Kingsley and state champion Keogh. The headline recruit is five-time South Dakota champion Logan Storley (174) of Webster High. Heading west to the Twin Cities is two-time Wisconsin champion Brad Dolezal (157-165) of Marshfield High.
  • 9. Virginia: Garland signed a national-best nine recruits and while many don’t have the gaudy resumes of the top-eight classes, all are likely future contributors. Joseph Martinez (133) of Greeley (Colo.) West High is a two-time state champion and Patrick Gillen (197-HWT) of Shelton (Conn.) High and Ethan Hayes (HWT) of New Lebanon (Ohio) Dixie High are state champions. But they may actually take a back seat to National Prep runner-up David Wesley (157-165) of Richmond St. Christopher’s School and state runners-up Vince Waldhauser (165) of El Dorado Hills (Calif.) Oak Ridge High and Zachary Nye (197) of Enola (Pa.) East Pennsboro High. Place-winners Mason Popham (141) of Kennett Square (Pa.) Unionville High, Blaise Butler (141-149) of Rockford (Ill.) Boylan High and Nick Kidd (184-197) of Northfield (Mass.) N.-Mount Hermon School also have lots of upside.
  • 10. Old Dominion: As is his custom, coach Steve Martin went far and wide to sign five recruits — from five different states — who will provide lower-weight depth. Three are state champions: Robert Deutsch (125-133) of Voorhees (N.J.) Eastern High, Taylor Moeder (149) of Lenexa (Kan.) St. James Academy and Pete Baldwin (149-157) of Kissimmee (Fla.) Osceola High. Two-time California place-winner Chris Mecate (141) of Redlands East Valley High and Pennsylvania place-winner Brandon Choate (133-141) of Schuylkill Haven Blue Mountain High also signed.
  • 11. North Carolina State: Jordan lured away the fourth Monroeville (Ohio) High ace, three-time Ohio champion Chris Phillips (174). He also signed Henry Carlson (157) of Virginia Beach (Va.) Frank W. Cox High, a three-time Alabama champion, as well as one of his state’s best, two-time champion Harrison Honeycutt (197) of Mooresville Lake Norman High. He also landed Pennsylvania runner-up Coltin Fought (125-133) of Benton High.
  • 12. Cornell: Looks like the kind of solid, if not spectacular, class that will keep the Big Red in the title hunt for the foreseeable future. Coach Rob Koll got six commitments, three in the lower weights: Missouri champion Bricker Dixon (125) of Kansas City Park Hill High, Caleb Richardson (125-133) of Blair Academy, a two-time Virginia champion, and two-time Michigan champion Joe Rendina (133-141) of Dundee High. Twin brothers Owen (174) and Craig Scott (194-197) of Palmyra-Macedon High, both state champions last year, will stay in state and Duke Pickett (157) of Woodberry Forest (Va.) School also committed.
  • 13. Central Michigan: Tom Borrelli landed his state’s top heavyweight, two-time champion Devin Pommerenke of Rogers City High and a pair of other blue-chippers: three-time Pennsylvania runner-up Zach Horan (125-133) of Nazareth (Pa.) High and two-time Illinois champion Joey Kielbasa (149-157) of Crystal Lake Central High. Also becoming a Chippewa is Ohio place-winner Ty Davis (141) of West Chester Lakota West High.
  • 14. Lehigh: All five members of coach Pat Santoro’s class are Pennsylvanians, led by AA state champions Mason Beckman (125-133) of Greenville H.A. Reynolds High and Nathaniel Brown (174-184) of Lewisburg High. They’ll be going against National Prep place-winner Chris Dinnien (125-133) of Fort Washington Germantown Academy and John Bolich (174-184) of Willow Grove Upper Moreland High who come in at the same weights. Matt Tadich (141) of Irwin Norwin High also signed.
  • 15. Pennsylvania: Coach Rob Eiter is on his way to his best recruiting class yet, with four solid recruits from four different states. Steve Robertson (157) of Lombard (Ill.) Montini High is a two-time state champion and Louisiana champion Mark Pinero (141-149) of Metairie Archbishop Rummel High was a double Junior National place-winner. State runner-up Lorenzo Thomas (157-165) of Pittsburgh Central Catholic High and Ian Korb (174-184) of Cincinnati Elder High also are highly regarded.
  • 16. Purdue: Coach Scott Hinkel is well on his way to his best class yet. His three Indiana recruits all come from the southern part of the state: state champion Drake Stein (184) of Princeton High and twins Doug (149-157) and Chad Welch (157) of Newburgh Castle High, who posted identical 50-1 records last year. Rusty Maness (141) of St. Paris (Ohio) Graham High, a three-time West Virginia champion, and Illinois champion Danny Sabatello (125-133) of Lincolnshire Stevenson High also are headed to West Lafayette.
  • 17. Utah Valley: Twins Jade and Valyen Rauser of Townsend (Mont.) Broadwater County High, who already have combined for five state titles, should be the future at 125 and 133. Christopher Mayolo (149) of LaCenter (Wash.) High and two-time Arizona champion Logan Addis (157) of Cottonwood Mingus High showed what they’re capable of in gritty Fargo performances.
  • 18. Stanford: None of Jason Borrelli’s three recruits are from California, but three-time National Prep champion Evan Silver (125) of Blair Academy and Illinois champion Michael Sojka (197) of Winnebago High also are proven Fargo commodities. Also headed west is Florida place-winner Alex Paraschuk (141) of Fort Myers Riverdale High.
  • 19. Iowa State: Another top California senior, state champion Nick Pena (141-149) of Selma High, is headed east to Ames. Coach Kevin Jackson stayed local for his other three recruits. Two-time champion Tanner Weatherman (174-184) of Huxley Ballard High continues his family’s Cyclone connection and state champions Bo Schlosser (141-149) of Bettendorf High and Aaron Sorenson (157-165) of Forest City High also signed.
  • 20. Arizona State: Talk about consistency, each of coach Shawn Charles’ three recruits, who come from three different states, is a two-time state champion. Jake Gentzler (125-133) of Andover (Kan.) Central High and Codey Combs (157-165) of Georgetown (Del.) Sussex Central High are potential breakthrough recruits, and Preston McCalmon (157-165) of LaFayette High owns a pair of Georgia crowns.
  • 21. Indiana: Coach Duane Goldman focused on quality, keeping Crown Point High state champion Eric Roach (149) at home and also went west for another member of California’s loaded senior class, Junior National champion Lucas Sheridan (184) of Concord DeLaSalle High. Adding lower-weight depth: Bob Meyers (125) of Wayne (Pa.) Radnor High.
  • 22. Binghamton: New York champion Nick Gwiazdowski (197-HWT) of Delanson Duanesburg High is a statement recruit after his performance at Fargo. Coach Pat Popolizio also picked up three other local recruits, led by state champion Derek Heyman (141) of Tioga High. The rest of the class builds depth at 125 and 133: locals Colton Perry of Windsor High, a state place-winner, and Michael Sardo of Marcy Whitesboro High, and Derek Steeley (125) of Neosho Community College, a former Oklahoma state champion.
  • 23. Chattanooga: Coach Heath Eslinger kept one of the Chattanooga area’s biggest stars, state champion Marvin Lopez (133-141) of Cleveland High, at home. The Mocs’ five recruits include three state champions, Michael Kennedy (197) of Murfreesboro Blackman High and Florida champion Nick Soto (133) of Spring Hill Frank Springfield High. Also signing were Kennedy’s high school teammate, Eric Feuerbacher (125-133) and Austin Sams (141) of Fairfield (Ohio) High, both state place-winners.
  • 24. Cal Poly: The rising tide that is California’s senior class lifted many programs, which explains why co-head coaches Mark Perry and John Azevedo put the Mustangs on this list once again. He loaded up on the lower weights with state place-winners Cody Tow (125-133) of El Dorado Union Mine High, Shane Tate (133-141) of Oakdale High and Damien Arrendondo (149) of Clovis Buchanan High, along with upper-weight standout Justin Lozano (174-184) of Selma High, a two-time state placewinner. All are examples of the week-in, week-out grind that produces tough Golden State wrestlers. Chris Calcagno (133-141) of Clovis North High also signed.
  • 25. Northern Iowa: New coach Doug Schwab began his tenure by signing a pair of solid in-state recruits. Two-time champion Cody Krumwiede (HWT) of nearby Waverly-Shell Rock High will stay at home and state champion Tanner Hiatt (149-157) of Huxley Ballard High also signed.  n