By Rob Sherrill, WIN High School Editor
The “Bedlam Series” encapsulates the rivalry between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in a variety of sports. Over the years, wrestling has been at or near the top of that list.
Under the leadership of coach John Smith, the Cowboys have ruled the wrestling aspect of the Bedlam Series in recent years. But, with the arrival of coach Mark Cody two years ago, the Sooners have begun to catch up.
The most active early-signing period ever finds the two schools neck-and-neck with each other in the race for recruiting supremacy, with the second deep recruiting class in as many years there for the taking.
And they’ve got plenty of company.
Unlike last year, when Michigan ran away and hid from the rest of the nation by signing four top-three recruits, the field is much more tightly bunched this year. The Okies are just two of five schools to sign five recruits ranked in WIN’s Top 20 at their respective weights.
In addition to Oklahoma State and Oklahoma, Cornell, Indiana and Nebraska also loaded up with recruiting classes that included five ranked wrestlers. It’s a far cry from last year, when the Wolverines were the only school to exit the early signing period with five ranked recruits. Four other schools landed four ranked recruits, compared to three last year, while 13 other schools landed three – also one more than 2012.
Then, there’s Northwestern. Competing in the land of the giants, the Big Ten, coach Drew Pariano stole the show by landing, as LeBron James would say, not one, not two, but three No. 1 recruits, giving the Wildcats the lead at the quarter-pole in The Race for No. 1.
But Northwestern has plenty of challengers, both on the rail and charging hard from the outside. Cornell‘s haul included four recruits ranked in WIN’s top seven in the pre-season. Nebraska had four recruits ranked in the top eight, while Oklahoma State’s class includes four in the top nine.
And the Pokes’ class has as much superstar talent as any, though four of their six recruits could end up at 165 pounds – and now run the gamut between 157 and 174. It might be difficult to get all of those wrestlers into the lineup at once. Virtually every school in the top 10 already has signed a class that could be considered a No. 1-caliber crop in most years. This is a race that could change significantly in the spring, based on the performances of these recruits throughout the season.
Twelve of the Big Ten’s 14 schools made the list. Those dozen include the newest two schools, Rutgers and Maryland, which have already benefited from the conference switch, based on the makeup of their recruiting classes. Rutgers is not new to this list, but the Terps, thanks to the efforts of coach Kerry McCoy, are.
Many schools that don’t appear on this list still had great classes, including service academies Army and Navy. Columbia and Princeton joined Cornell in another solid recruiting year in the Ivy League. On the West Coast, Stanford and Cal Poly got a solid start on strong classes as well.
By our count, a record 246 seniors — fully 25 percent more than in our report last year — took themselves off the board by making early commitments to Division 1 schools. By high school, six members of the Kingston (Pa.) Wyoming Seminary senior class – Tyler Ponte (141-149), Tyrel White (165-174) and Matt Doggett (197) to Columbia, Will Crisco (141) and Nicky Hall (184) to North Carolina State and Ryan McMullan (174) to Pittsburgh – made early commitments to lead all schools.
Blairstown Township (N.J.) Blair Academy and Edmond (Okla.) North were next with four. Three other schools, Canonsburg (Pa.) Canon-McMillan, Lowell (Mich.) and Novi (Mich.) Detroit Catholic Central, each had three signees, with 21 other schools claiming two each. Here are some highlights of the big winners in the early recruiting process.
1. Northwestern: The little school that could did it again. Pariano’s historic No. 1 haul: Stevan Micic (125-133) of Cedar Lake (Ind.) Hanover Central, Bryce Brill (157) of Chicago Mount Carmel and Johnny Sebastian (184) of Oradell (N.J.) Bergen Catholic. All are two-time state champions. Ohio champion Sammy Gross (133-141) of Beachwood also signed.
2. Nebraska: With three of his six recruits on track to become four-time state champions — future 141-pounders Hayden Tuma of Boise (Idaho) Centennial and Colton Adams of Scottsbluff and Tyler Berger (157) of Prineville (Ore.) Crook County — coach Mark Manning helped himself throughout the lower and middle weights. Two-time Kansas champion Dustin Williams (165) of Gardner-Edgerton and Oklahoma champion Derek White (197), the other member of the Edmond North Gang of Four, help in the middle and upper weights. North Dakota runner-up Sean Murphy (133) of Grand Forks Red River also signed. The Cornhuskers get the nod for now, but the race for No. 1 is far from over. It will be lots of fun when we revisit this list in April.
3 Cornell: Priority One was the upper weights, and coach Rob Koll scored big with state champions Dillon Artigliere of Succasunna (N.J.) Roxbury and Andrew Garcia of Detroit Catholic Central — both future 174-pounders — Jeremy Sweany (197) of Vacaville (Calif.) and five-time Alabama champion Brandon Womack (165) of Scottsboro. Koll also recruited Pennsylvania champion Joseph Galasso (149) of Philadelphia Father Judge and three-time place-winner Dalton Macri (125) of Canon-McMillan. Not a lot of sexy names, but a lot of solid wrestlers.
4. Oklahoma State: Smith’s six-recruit class, which concentrated on the middle weights, could eventually contain four-time state champions from four different states: Gary Wayne Harding (141) of Collinsville (Okla.), Chance Marsteller (165) of Fawn Grove (Pa.) Kennard Dale, Ryan Blees (165) of Bismarck (N.D.) and Chandler Rogers (165-174) of Spokane (Wash.) Mead. It could be a challenge getting all of them in the lineup at once, though. State champion Mike Magaldo (133-141) of Watchung Hills (N.J.) and state runner-up Jacobe Smith (157-165) of Muskogee complete the class.
5. Ohio State: Concentrating on the middle and upper weights, coach Tom Ryan got not one, but both of the nation’s top 220-pounders. One is arguably the nation’s top prospect, Kyle Snyder (197-Hwt), spending his senior season at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and the wrestler ranked No. 2, Thomas Haines (Hwt) of Quarryville (Pa.) Solanco, is the future heavyweight. Three-time state champion Micah Jordan (157-165) of St. Paris Graham is the third big star headed to Columbus. Ryan also signed state champion Ryan Harris (165-174) of Beachwood and place-winners Cody Burcher (133-141) of Uhrichsville Claymont, J.P. Newton (149-157) of Perrysburg and Seth Williams (174-184) of Tiffin Columbian.
6. Oklahoma: Cody’s class is headlined, at least locally, by the Dixon triplets, Andrew, Joel and Lance, who will fit in at 174 and 184. They were 125-1 at Edmond North last season and won Oklahoma state titles. A pair of standout 133-pounders, two-time Georgia champion Ryan Millhof of Suwanee Collins Hill and Texas champion Jacob Rubio of Amarillo Canyon Randall, also signed. Oklahoma champions Michael Hamilton (149-157) of Bartlesville and Nathan Marek (174) of Moore Southmoore complete the class.
7. Penn State: Coach Cael Sanderson headed west to land a pair of second-ranked upper-weight gems, Bo Nickal (174-184) of Allen (Texas) and Nick Nevills (Hwt) of Clovis (Calif.). One of Pennsylvania’s best-kept secrets, two-time state champion Jason Nolf (141-149) of Kittanning, won’t be a secret much longer.
8. Illinois: It’s hard to pick a No. 1 wrestler in Illinois, but if you selected Jered Cortez (125-133) of Carol Stream Glenbard North, you’d get little argument. He’s one of three top-five wrestlers headed to Champaign. Coaches Jim Heffernan and Mark Perry also signed a second Junior National freestyle champion, Michael Pixley (184-197) of Blue Springs (Mo.), and four-time Kentucky champion Brock Ervin (133-141) is the latest member of the Morganfield (Ky.) Union County pipeline to find his way to Illinois.
9. Indiana: Five of coach Duane Goldman’s seven recruits are ranked, led by Ohioan Jacob Danishek (149-157) and a pair of Michigan standouts, three-time state champion Cole Weaver (133-141) of Hudson and Logan Marcicki (165-174) of Novi Detroit Catholic Central. In the upper weights, Bryce Martin (174-184) of Bakersfield (Calif.) heads east, with Fletcher Miller (Hwt) of Kokomo the top in-state recruit. Also signing were David Conte (125) of Concord (Calif.) DeLaSalle and Dakota Thacker (184-197) of hometown Bloomington South.
10. Wisconsin: All five of coach Barry Davis’s recruits are or have been ranked. Three are Wisconsin state champions: Jens Lantz (133-141 at Ellsworth and unbeatens Jared Scharenbrock (157-165) of Sun Prairie and Tyler Schmidt (Hwt) of Merrill. Johnny Jimenez (125-133 of Aurora Marmion Academy could be headed for four Illinois state titles. Ryan Christensen (184) of Woodinville (Wash.) is a highly-regarded upper weight.
11. Michigan: A year after signing the nation’s No. 1 class, coach Joe McFarland was at it again, signing six more recruits. They include three-time state champion Zac Hall (133), the last holdover from the St. Johns dynasty, and a pair of top Illinois middleweights, state champion Garrett Sutton of Richmond-Burton and Devonte Mahomes of Oak Park-Park River Forest, will share 165 and 174 down the road. McFarland also fortified his middle-weight depth with three more Michigan state champions: Zehlin Storr (141) of Leslie, Malik Amine (149-157) of Novi Detroit Catholic Central and Alec Pantaleo (157) of Canton.
12. Iowa: The state of Minnesota produced the two standouts of coach Tom Brands’ newest class: Seth Gross (133-141) of Apple Valley and top-ranked heavyweight Sam Stoll of Kasson-Mantorville. Burke Paddock (165-174) of Warsaw (N.Y.) and Logan Ryan (149) of Bettendorf, the lone in-state signee, also are ranked. Tagen Lambotte (149) of Rossville could become a four-time Kansas state champion.
13. Iowa State: Coach Kevin Jackson got his best class in some time, landing four ranked recruits from four different states. Two-time state champion Nathan Boston (125-133) of Versailles (Ky.) Woodford County and Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (141) of Cheektowaga (N.Y.), whose stock has risen as much in the past year as anyone, are key lower-weight additions. National Prep place-winner Logan Breitenbach (149-157) of Severna Archbishop Spalding is another member of the strongest Maryland senior class ever. State champion Marcus Harrington (197) of Waterloo West is the lone in-state addition.
14. Arizona State: Coach Shawn Charles gets the quality class award with his two blue-chip recruits, both California state champions. Two-time champion Nikko Villarreal (149) of Gilroy and Derrick Jones (Hwt) of Bloomington are two of the Golden State’s best.
15. Virginia Tech: A typical Kevin Dresser class contains lots of underappreciated big names. This year’s class, to date, is focused more on quality than quantity, as he landed a pair of Pittsburgh-area stars. Solomon Chishko (149-157) of Canonsburg Canon-McMillan is one of WIN’s 14 No. 1’s, and Zack Zavatsky (184) of Greater Latrobe had a monster off-season. Mike Ciavarro (157-165) of Annandale (N.J.) North Huntrdon also signed.
16. Minnesota: Coach J Robinson stayed local for his top two recruits. Tommy Thorn (125-133) of St. Michael-Albertville and Nathan Rose (197) of Arlington Sibley East already have five state titles between them. He also went east for highly rated lightweight Ethan Lizak (125) of Allentown (Pa.) Parkland and two-time runner-up Jack Bass (157) of Fairfax (Va.) Robinson. Will Balow (184-197) of Lake City and Colin Carr (184) of Washington (Ill.) add upper-weight depth.
17. North Carolina State: Coach Pat Popolizio worked his Northeastern roots hard and came away with two New England champions, Kevin Jack (133-141) of Danbury (Conn.) and Will Crisco (141), one of two recruits from Wyoming Seminary. The other is National Prep champion Nicky Hall (184). Junior National freestyle place-winner Sean Fausz of Alexandria (Ky.) Campbell County and three-time Wyoming champion Bryce Meredith of Cheyenne Central are the future at 133 or 141. Two-time Georgia champion Chandler Pyke (149-157) of College Park Woodward Academy follows brother Chad, a 2012 recruit, to Raleigh.
18. North Carolina: In an unusually strong year in Maryland, other schools also benefited. The Tar Heels are a case in point. Coach C.D. Mock added a pair of Maryland recruits, Jack Clark (149-157) of Owings Mills McDonogh School and Cory Daniel (Hwt) of Clarksville River Hill. He’s one of two heavyweight recruits, the other being Georgia runner-up Matthew Moore of Winder Apalachee. The centerpiece of the class, though, is three-time Georgia champion Chip Ness (184-197) of Buford. Mock also shored up his lower-weight depth with two-time Illinois placewinner Anthony Bosco (125) of Aurora Marmion Academy and Alex Rinaldi (133) of Blairstown Township (N.J.) Blair Academy.
19. Lehigh: Coach Pat Santoro signed seven recruits, staying predominantly local. The heart of this class is a pair of Blairstown Township (N.J.) Blair Academy standouts, National Prep place-winners Dylan Milonas (157) and Patrick Coover (165-174) and Pennsylvania place-winners Scott Parker (125) of Perkasie Pennridge and Ryan Preisch (165-174) of Milton. Michigan runner-up Garett Stehley (184-197) of Lowell and Pennsylvania placewinner Ian Brown (141-149) of Hanover also committed.
20. Virginia: Concentrating on the upper weights, coach Steve Garland snagged top-rated Garrett Peppelman (165) of Harrisburg (Pa.) Central Dauphin and a Georgia standout the rest of the nation now knows, Chance McClure (197) of Commerce. Will Schany (184) of Blair (Neb.), a potential three-time state champion, had a solid off-season. Georgia champion Jake Henson (165-74) of Marietta Alan C. Pope and Florida runner-up Austin Underwood (Hwt) of Tampa Jesuit also signed.
21. Maryland: While he didn’t land Snyder, McCoy went 6-for-6 otherwise in his own state, with National Prep champion Alfred Bannister (141) of Forestville Bishop McNamara and two-time state champion Josh Llopez (165-174) of Leonardtown St. Mary’s Ryken hoping for an injury-free senior year. Toby Hague (149-157) of Owings Mills McDonogh School is another good middle-weight pickup. Also headed for College Park are state runner-up Anthony Genco (125) of Parkton Hereford and National Prep place-winners Adam Whitesell (125) of Olney Good Counsel and Matt Pente (141-149) of Severna Archbishop Spalding.
22. Rutgers: Two of coach Scott Goodale’s three recruits are from Indiana powerhouse Indianapolis Cathedral: Vinny Corsaro (157) and Wes Bernard (Hwt), both top 10 at their weight classes. Anthony Giraldo (133-141) of North Bergen came out on top in a loaded weight class in New Jersey last year.
23. Northern Iowa: Potential four-time Illinois champion Josh Alber (133) of Dakota is the cornerstone of coach Doug Schwab’s class and he added two solid upper weights as well. Illinois place-winner Adarios Jones (Hwt) of Moline is a multi-time Fargo place-winner and Iowa champion Adam Drain (184) of Mediapolis also signed.
24. Old Dominion: A typical Steve Martin class filled with hidden gems, his four recruits are from four different states. Three come from close to home: Pennsylvania runner-up T.C. Warner (165) of Mechanicsburg Cumberland Valley and place-winners Joey Balboni (174) of Kenilworth (N.J.) David Brearley and Trent Allen (197-Hwt) of Southport (N.C.) South Brunswick. Coming from the West Coast: Emilio Saavedra (133) of Modesto (Calif.).
25 (tie). Bucknell: Coach Dan Wirnsberger concentrated on the middle and upper weights and picked up three ranked wrestlers, National Prep placewinner Zach Kelly (149-157) of Saltsburg Kiski School, Pennsylvania placewinner Tom Sleigh (184-197) of DuBois and two-time Kansas champion Andrew Millsap (157) of Junction City. Best of the rest in this eight-man class: state champion Tyler Smith (141-149) of Murrysville Franklin Regional.
25 (tie). Central Michigan: Coach Tom Borrelli returns the Chippewas to the top 25 with three recruits, including a pair of 125-pounders, three-time Delaware champion of Smyrna and Illinois runner-up Miguel Silva of Plainfield South. Indiana champion Cody LeCount (141-149) of Indianapolis Perry Meridian also is headed north. n