The following are WIN’s Top 25 High School teams presented by RecruitAWrestler.com. (The number in parenthesis indicates where the team fell in WIN’s final rankings of 2010-11.)
1 Lakewood, Ohio St. Edward (3rd)
Upper weights are the key for coach Greg Urbas, and with state champions, senior Mark Martin (160), junior Domenic Abounader (170) along with seniors James Suvak (195), Ty Walz (220) and heavyweight Greg Kuhar, the Eagles have the best of any Top 25 team. With two-time champion James Heil, a senior at 126, and Cadet National champion Edgar Bright, a junior at 132, anchoring the lower weights, this is St. Edward’s best shot at a national crown in a half-decade.
2 Blairstown, N.J. Blair Academy (2nd)
Led WIN’s Summer RPI with 6 selections, Jeff Buxton’s Bucs have great individual power with National Prep champions in sophomore Joey McKenna (113), senior Mark Grey (132), senior Todd Preston (138) and junior heavyweight Brooks Black. We’ll know early by the close of the Ironman (Dec. 10) how they stack up with St. Edward (the teams also meet at the St. Ed Super Quad on Feb. 5). Sophomore Dylan Milonas (152) appears ready to be a big contributor and they’re looking for help from senior Hvolbek (120), junior Addison Knepshield (170) and junior Frank Mattiace (195) as well.
3 Brandon, Fla. (5th)
Coach Russ Cozart’s legendary program in the Tampa area should breeze to its 12th straight Florida state title. The Eagles may be the best tournament team in America with national-best seven state champions returning. Sophomore James Flint (113), senior Rossi Bruno (138), junior Kevin Norstrem (132), senior Clark Glass (160) and senior Kyle Koziel (182) won in Brandon uniforms last year and have combined for 14 state crowns. Brandon will miss four-time state champion Tyler Liberatore, but freshman Dylan Lucas (106) and Oklahoma state champion Jacob Haydock help pick up the slack.
4 St. Johns, Mich. (25th)
Taylor Massa returns for his senior year ranked No. 1 at 170 pounds. Also returning are state champions sophomore Zac Hall (113) and senior Jordan Wohlfert (160) and five other top-three place-winners; all Fargo-tested. Meanwhile two-time Illinois state champion Ben Whitford, originally a native of Michigan, joins them this year. If St. Johns get any production from their upper weights, they’re a serious challenger for the No. 1 spot.
5 St. Paris, Ohio Graham (4th)
Coach Jeff Jordan’s team has a scary parallel to Brandon and the Falcons are also shooting for 12 straight Division 2 state titles with state champions, sophomore Micah Jordan, junior Bo Jordan (152) and senior Isaac Jordan (160), along with two-time champion Ryan Taylor; two other finalists and California transfer Blake Kastl. But they’ll miss the stability of graduated state champions Nick Brascetta and Matt Stephens.
6 Clovis, Calif. (8th)
The Cougars qualified all 14 for the California state tournament last year and needed all of them to hold off Bakersfield for state title. With nine returning qualifiers and six place-winners, led by state champions Daniel Gaytan and Nick Nevills and third-place Zach Nevills, they have the numbers to repeat. Coach Steve Tirapelle’s troops have been impressive every time they’ve come East to wrestle and this year will be no different.
7 Canonsburg, Pa. Canon-McMillan (NR)
The defending 3A individual state champions will roll to a repeat despite not having a defending state champion in the line-up, but Connor Schram won the previous year. Add in Dalton Macri at the bottom, Solomon Chishko in the middle and Cody Klempay at the top and they have nice line-up balance. But do they have the balance to finish better than top five in the duals this year?
8 Orland Park, Ill. Carl Sandburg (13th)
The Eagles lost 28-25 to Carol Stream Glenbard North in state semifinal thriller last year, but Cadet Nationals champion Colin Holler leads three state qualifiers. With state champion Sebastion Pique, Cadet Nationals champion Ricky Robertson transferred in, nine returnees have 23 wins or more and seven 33 or more. Balance a question for coach Eric Siebert with just one returning starter above 152 pounds.
9 Christiansburg, Va. (20th)
With 10 straight AA team titles, the Blue Demon squad is one of four ranked teams with a current double-digit title streak. Only Brandon exceeds coach Daryl Weber’s six returning state champions, including Junior National champion Joey Dance, J.R. Wert and Zach Epperly, all two-time champions. With transfer Coy Ozias, whose brother, Lex, is a freshman at nearby Virginia Tech, Christiansburg has Top 5 potential with eight place-winners back.
10 Allen, Texas (NR)`
The two-time defending state champions are loaded, with state champions Jarrod Trotter, Oliver Pierce and Nick Cobb and runner-up Bo Nickal all having been impressive at Fargo. Coach Jerry Best returns six placewinners — all in top four — and nine state qualifiers. There could be a possible late start considering the football team, a recent winner on ESPN2, is ranked No. 4 nationally by the NHSCA.
11 Novi, Mich. Detroit Catholic Central (NR)
Gave St. Johns a run last year and return three straight lightweight state champions: Kevin Bade, Logan Marcicki and three-time champion Alec Mooradian. State finalists Andrew Garcia and Kevin Beazley were also impressed at Fargo and anchor the upper weights. Coach Mitch Hancock returns seven place-winners and 10 starters, but also needs upper-weight contributions.
12 Apple Valley, Minn. (1st)
Perhaps no team was more dominant from 119-171 pounds than the Eagles the past two years. Destin McCauley and the heart of that Murderers Row have graduated for coach Jim Jackson, but with Gannon Volk, Gross, Dakota Trom, Brandon Kingsley and Daniel Woiwor still around to lead the way, the Eagles are still the best in Minnesota.
13 Inver Grove Heights, Minn. Simley (7th)
The Spartans are great in lower and middle weights with four state champions — Kyle Gliva, Pedro DeLao, Jake Short and Nick Wanzek — and finalist Micah Barnes, who beat the state champion in the dual-team state meet. The four-time defending AA champions return seven state qualifiers, but like most in this area of the rankings, depth is a question.
14 Wisconsin Rapids, Wis. Lincoln (10th)
Won 15th state title in 17 years last year, and few teams are better in the middle. Hard to believe Devin Peterson hasn’t yet won a state title, but Zachary Benitz has, and Keegan and Kasey Einerson, Ryan Lubeck and Ryan Cone are proven. But heavy graduation losses means they’ll be leaning on seven returning place-winners more than ever. In addition, coach Scott Benitz was suspended by the school and will not be allowed at the first four meets because of team “transgressions” last year.
15 Kingston, Pa. Wyoming Seminary (6th)
National Prep champions Dominic Malone, Evan Botwin, Eric Morris and A.J. Vizcarrondo are proven winners. But despite four Prep place-winners and seven who competed, more questions surround this team than in the past. Double Cadet National place-winner Michael Johnson, however, could make an immediate impact at heavyweight.
16 Bakersfield, Calif. (9th)
Tournament power almost helped the Drillers overcome Clovis High School’s balance in a state tournament for the ages last year, and Bakersfield must rely on the same formula again. State place-winners Natrelle Demison, Micah Cruz, Silas Nacita and Maxx Ramirez lead six state qualifiers. After an injury-plagued sophomore season and not placing at state, Coleman Hammond could be the shot in the arm.
17 Iowa City, Iowa West (11th)
Defending 3A dual-team state champions again have great lower weights, led by state champions Phillip Laux and Jack Hathaway and finalists Keegan Wakefield and Dakota Bauer; place-winner Justin Koethe leads the middle weights. Eight state qualifiers return. Two concerns for coach Mark Reiland: replacing graduated middle weights and upper-weight depth.
18 Minooka, Ill. (NR)
The Indians backed up a 2010 3A state title with a runner-up finish last year. Coach Bernie Ruettinger doesn’t have Carl Sandburg High’s pure tournament power, but state champion Kalvin Hill leads three state placewwinners, four state qualifiers on state’s most balanced team. Minooka returns 11 starters and 11 returnees had 17 wins or more.
19 Bethlehem, Pa. Catholic (15th)
After winning the AA dual state by average 42-17 score, the Golden Hawks led the individual state with six place-winners, five of whom return. The heart of the line-up remains the lower weights, led by Darian and Randy Cruz, along with Zeke Moisey; place-winners Ryan Todora and Elliot Riddick also return. Seven state qualifiers will make them competitive against another tough schedule.
20 Lombard, Ill. Montini (22nd)
Still great in the lower weights with state champion Kevon Powell, Cadet National finalist Thomas Pawelski and three state place-winners leading six 30-match winners at first six weights. Cadet National place-winner Xavier Montalvo is a key addition and Edgar Ruano leads upper weights. This is not the great Montini team of past years, but many thought that was the case last year, too.
21 Runnells, Iowa Southeast Polk (NR)
After years on the state’s 3A undercard behind Iowa City West, Waverly-Shell Rock and Bettendorf, the Rams — the next team in line in both state meets last year — get their chance with the latter two teams rebuilding. Three-time state champion Cory Clark, state champion Willie Miklus and state place-winner Alex Meyer, who shined at Fargo, are among four state place-winners and seven state qualifiers who return.
22 Owings Mills, Md. McDonogh School (NR)
McDonogh finished just second in independent state tournament and eighth in National Prep Championships, but is poised to make big move as Jack Clark had breakout off-season and Toby Hague and Kevin Marvel also are proven. Coach Pete Welch returns five National Prep place-winners and seven of 10 returning starters had 30 wins or more.
23 Indianapolis, Ind. Perry Meridian (NR)
PM finally won dual-team state title after three runner-up finishes and appearances in Elite Eight field since 2000. State champion Jared McKinley and state place-winner Kirk Johnson lead eight returning starters who averaged 43 wins; three were placewinners, four qualifiers. The Falcons have always focused on team over individuals as the won state duals with just five starters going 3-0.
24 Broken Arrow, Okla. (NR)
This is a team that always gets a boost from its Ironman appearance and breezed to double 6A state titles, winning the dual-team state by an average 44-17 margin. Broken Arrow is rated a slight edge over local rival Tulsa Union on edges of 6-5 in place-winners and 8-7 in state qualifiers. The Tigers return state champions Chase Ferman and Seth Calvert, but are on the lookout for upper weights as well.
25 Carol Stream, Ill. Glenbard North (13th)
Though this team is built on a Big Four: Cadet Nationals place-winner Jon Marmolejo, state place-winner Johnny Gosinski, AA state champion and transfer Jered Cortez and Junior National finalist Brian Murphy, the Panthers won their first-ever 3A state title last year with a team that wasn’t their greatest. By the end of the season, they’ll be in the mix again.