By Chris Megginson
Campbellsville Sports Information
CAMPBELLSVILLE, Ky. — Campbellsville University men’s wrestling coach Franky James announced the first wave of recruits for 2013-14 on Wednesday, adding nine names to a growing roster for the program’s 10th anniversary season.
James’ Tiger wrestlers will return three All Americans and should, according to the Tiger coach, begin the season as a preseason Top 10 team. That comes after the Tigers finished sixth in the NAIA Wrestling Championships in March and recording an 11-3 duals record.
“We would like to bring in about 10 to 12 really solid recruits, but the way it is going we may end up with 15 to 20 new recruits on campus in the fall,” said James. “We have been working on getting upper weights, because I feel good about the depth in our lower weight classes. We are very thin and un proven in the upper weight classes, so our new recruits will have a chance to come in and compete for a varsity spot right away”
James and the Tiger coaching staff announce seven freshmen and two transfers to go along with Christmas break transfer Cody Steiner.
The freshmen are Richard Cote (Colorado Springs, Colo.), Logan Hatfield (Seminole, Fla.), Lane Jones (Walton, Ky.), Justin McDaniel (Louisville, Ky.), Gabe McIlrath (Owingsville, Ky.), Brandon Pledger (Louisville, Ky.) and Chuck Sharon (Smithfield, Va.). The two transfers are Raleigh Abbot (Shorter College) and Kyle Sweedman (North Idaho College).
“We have a very good history of producing freshman All-Americans, so I’m hoping several of the incoming freshmen can adjust quickly and work to become All-Americans next year,” James said. “Our two transfers have done well on the college level previously and we expect them to step in and be difference makers for next year’s team.
“Three of our seniors, Josh Ashbrook, Allen Scruggs and Conor Young, will stay on as assistant coaches and have already joined assistant coaches Mitch Knapp and Tim Mitchem on the recruiting trail. We have all been working overtime to put together a great recruiting class, and I feel really good about how this class is coming together.”
Richard Cote of Colorado Springs, Colo., comes to CU from Coronado High School, where he wrestled for Coach Matt Brickle. Cote was a region champ and Colorado state qualifier in 2013.
Logan Hatfield of Seminole, Fla., comes to CU from Seminole High School, where he wrestled for Coach Matt Duton. A four-year member of the Seminole varsity squad, Hatfield was a captain for two years and was a regional qualifier in 2010-11. He was also on the Honor Roll. Hatfield will wrestle at 141 pounds in college.
Lane Jones comes to CU from Walton Verona High School in Walton, Ky. In 2013 he became the first Walton Verona wrestler to win a Kentucky state championship, doing so at 170 pounds. He was a two-time state finalist, finishing runner-up as a junior at 152 pounds.
Justin McDaniel of Louisville, Ky., comes to CU from Louisville Moore High School, where he wrestled for Coach Mike Thomas. He will be the first wrestler from Moore High School to ever wrestle at the collegiate level. McDaniel, a 6-foot-1, 197-pounder, placed sixth as a junior and seventh as a senior in the Kentucky State Tournament. He plans to major in exercise science.
Gabe McIlrath of Owingsville, Ky., comes to CU from Montgomery County High School. While at MCHS, he was a two-time state placer, finishing third as a junior and fifth as a senior in the state tournament. In addition to wrestling, he was a member of the BETA Club academic team. McIlrath is the son of Mike and Erin McIlrath.
Brandon Pledger comes to CU from Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Ky., where he was a four-year varsity wrestler. . He placed seventh in the state as a junior and was runner-up in the state in Kentucky at 182 pounds as a senior in 2013. Bumping up a weight to help his team out paid off as Saint Xavier was able to capture the 2013 Kentucky State Team Title. Pledger plans to major in business management and is the son of of Mary and Robert Pledger.
Chuck Sharon, a native of Smithfield, Va., was the Virginia Class AA state runner up at 195 pounds this season with a record of 39-1 and 33 pins. He also placed fourth in the state as a junior. His high school coach is Chris Wiatt, who also coached former Tiger All-American George Sheppard.
Raleigh Abbott of Powder Springs, Ga., comes to CU as a transfer from former Mid-South Conference member Shorter College. The native from Powder Springs, Ga., wrestled for Mcearchern High School alongside Campbellsville All-American Brandon Westerman. In high school Raleigh was a two-time state finalist and at Shorter he became the first wrestler in program history to receive a national ranking, climbing as high as No. 5 in the 2011-12 polls at 157 pounds. While at Shorter, Abbott was named Academic All-Mid-South Conference and a Daktronics NAIA Scholar-Athlete.
Kyle Sweedman of Libby, Mont., is a transfer from the NJCAA national champions North Idaho College, where former Tiger All-American Jamelle Jones served as an assistant coach in 2012-13. Sweedman was runner-up at 174 pounds at the 2011 NJCAA national finals after beating current Lindsey Wilson College wrestler and 2013 NAIA champ Jameel Bryant 9-2 in the first round. As a sophomore, Sweedman also had a 12-7 with a win over NAIA All-American Max Payne from Montana Northern. Sweedman will have two years of eligibility remaining.