College Wrestling News

Ten Recruiting Classes That Missed the Top 25, Yet Will be Very Useful

Lanham, Glen

photo courtesy of Duke Athletics

Last week, TOM released our recruiting rankings for the DI Class of 2019. These are very subjective and you can always make the argument that the “right” recruits for an unheralded program could positively impact them more so than a traditional power like Penn State or Iowa getting a similar level of production from one of their recruits. Today, we have looked beyond the top 25 and identified ten recruiting classes that, while they missed our rankings, have been meticulously assembled and should prove to be instrumental in the growth of their respective programs. Simply put, just because you don’t have a top-25 recruiting class, it doesn’t mean you don’t have an excellent group of incoming freshmen.

Air Force

Recruits: Noah Blake (Del Oro, CA)  165; Brenden Chaowanapibool (Bonney Lake, WA)  125; Wyatt Hendrickson (Newton, KS) 197; Anthony Hinson (Spring Grove, PA)  174; Zak Kohler (Wasatch, UT) 149; Nick Krug (Camden Co., GA) 133; Quinn Melofchik (Belvidere, NJ)  125; Justin Pacheco (Pomona, CO) 125; Calvin Sund (Prior Lake, MN) 184; Will VomBaur (Windsor, CO) 125; Colton Woods (Darlington, GA)  141

Over the past few years, the Air Force recruiting has really been ramped up. The fruits of the Falcons coaching staff labor should start to be seen, as they have signed another talented group of recruits. In each of the past two years, they have only had one NCAA qualifier per year, but that number seems likely to increase. The headliner of this class is Wyatt Hendrickson of Kansas. Within the past year, Hendrickson has won NHSCA Senior Nationals, made the finals at the Super 32, and was third in Junior National freestyle. Air Force has also started to churn out Greco prospects, as evidenced by Alex Mossing’s win at the World Team Trials, and Brenden Chaowanapibool was a Cadet World team member last summer. Noah Blake was ranked for the majority of the season and placed in the top four in California’s single class tournament three different times.


Recruits: Michael Baker (LaSalle, OH)  197; David Berkovich (Poly Prep, NY) 149; Garrett Bilgrav (Robbinsville, NJ)  165; Gunnar Fuss (Harry Truman, PA) 133; Andrew Garr (Aurora, OH) 157; Kyle Mosher (South Side, NY)  157; Angelo Rini (St. Edward, OH) 125; Trent Svingala (Maple Hill, NY) 125; Lenox Wolak (Dublin Coffman, OH)  184

Under head coach Zach Tanelli, Columbia has done an excellent job recruiting his home state of New Jersey. While this class certainly has some a bit of Jersey to it, there are also some top recruits from New York and Ohio. The most notable is Kyle Mosher, a state champion as a senior and a third-place finisher at the Ironman. Mosher started the year unranked and finished it ranked ninth in the nation at 160 lbs. Michael Baker, Andrew Garr, Angelo Rini, and Lenox Wolak all placed in the top three in Ohio as seniors. The Columbia team started the 2018-19 season with freshman manning the first four weights. They all happened to be quality recruits, as well so between this class and last year’s, the Lions should be set at the lightweights for the foreseeable future. With the NYC RTC based out of Columbia, expect to see a higher caliber of recruits signing, as well as the rapid progression of their current wrestlers.


Recruits: Dalton Blankenship (Darlington, GA)  133; Noah Burstein (Northfield Mount Hermon, MA)  133; Cian Fischer (Weyauwega, WI) 125; Gavin Henry (Union City, PA)  184; Alex LaVeck (McDonogh, MD) 157; David Loniewski (South Plainfield, NJ)  141; Steven Newell (Dallas, PA) 174; Aedan Somers (Cape Henry Collegiate, VA)  149

Davidson has not had an NCAA qualifier since the 2015 season, and they are rarely mentioned when it comes to recruiting. This year’s class has to be one of the best in recent memory though for head coach Andy Lausier. Both Dalton Blankenship and Cian Fischer are state champions, while Gavin Henry was a third-place finisher in Pennsylvania. David Loniewski and Steven Newell are both state qualifiers from some of the best states in the country. The Wildcats have been more high profile since the addition of two-time Virginia Tech All-American Joey Dance. It appears they are not done upgrading their coaching staff as it was announced earlier this week that Rider’s two-time All-American Chad Walsh will be coming aboard, too. With the staff in place and a higher quality of incoming freshman, expect to see more Davidson wrestlers at the NCAA Championships in the near future.


Recruits: John Antonelli (Marlboro, IL)  165; Vincent Baker (Blessed Trinity Catholic, GA)  184; Kai Blake (Cherry Creek, CO) 174; Drake Doolittle (Webster City, IA)  125; Brandon LaRue (High Point, NJ) 125; Bryson Neace (Union Grove, GA) 141; Jonah Niesenbaum (Salisbury, PA)  285; Wyatt Pfau (Brush, CO) 157; Wade Unger (Bergen Catholic, NJ) 149

Year in and year out Duke’s head coach Glen Lanham does an incredible coaching job. Duke has no athletic scholarships and little support from the athletic department, yet you don’t hear excuses from Lanham and his staff, just production. Typically, Duke has not been able to sign a class with the type of credentials that this group can boast. Drake Doolittle won an Iowa state title this year and has been a two-time finalist in his career. Wade Unger is a two-time New Jersey placewinner, as well as a placer at the Beast of the East and Doc Buchanan. Brandon LaRue placed in New Jersey, too. Vincent Baker was a three-time Georgia state champ and a Fargo All-American in Greco. For good measure, Kai Blake is from the same high school in Colorado as the Finesilver Four. It will be fun to see how the Duke staff can work with a group as talented as the Class of 2019.

George Mason

Recruits: Alec English (Kane, PA)  165; Colin Fegley (Mahanoy, PA) 184; Josh Jones (Saucon Valley, PA)  133; Shawn Nonaka (Hylton, VA) 141; Tristan Plant (Oscar Smith, VA) 141); Lorenzo Rajaonarivelo (Wakefield, VA)  165; Anthony Robinson (Williamsport, PA) 157; Jeremy Seymour (West Scranton, PA) 184; Jake Slinger (Upper St. Clair, PA)  285; Lukasz Walendzak (Cathedral, IN) 125

This is the first full recruiting class for second-year head coach Frank Beasley and it is one that should help set the foundation for the program going forward. The Patriot coaching staff has obviously targeted Pennsylvania as a point of emphasis while recruiting, and why wouldn’t you? Three Pennsylvania state finalists (Josh Jones-1st, Alec English-2nd, and Jake Slinger-2nd) have signed with GMU, as of mid-May. That alone is a significant upgrade in talent for the team. Colin Fegley was also third in PA and Jeremy Seymour was seventh, which make them talented pickup in their own right. Pennsylvania college coaches will need to be diligent, as there is a new program that will be attempting to cherry pick their talent on a regular basis. Finally, look out for Virginia state champion Lorenzo Rajaonarivelo who is a bit of an under the radar signee, as his high school did not wrestle a national-level schedule.

Little Rock

Recruits: Drake Barbee (Stilwell, OK)  197; Joey Bianchi (Two Rivers, WI) 149; Tyler Brennan (Frisco, TX)  125; Aidan Campbell (Maize, KS) 133; Marcus Castillo (Mountain View, AZ)  149; Trent Dooley (Allen, TX) 141; Will Edgar (Christian Brothers, MO) 165; Steven Elwell (Knob Noster, MO)  197; Justin Grant (York, FL) 157; Matthew Muller (Fayetteville, AR) 197; Kyle Prewitt (Christian Brothers, MO)  149; Korbin Riedel (Tonganoxie, KS) 149; Seth Seago (Claremore, OK) 285; Tristan Tadeo (Martin, TX) 174; Jake Turner (Rogers, AR)  149

Transfers: Paul Bianchi (North Dakota State); Dylan Johnson (Cowley County CC); Gunner Cash (Iowa Central CC); Noah Aziere (Cloud County CC); Jose Champagne (Minnesota); Hasan Krigger (Iowa Lakes CC); Cash Jones (Campbell)

For some of the programs we’ve discussed previously, it was said that this recruiting class would “set the foundation” for the coming years. Well with this being the first full recruiting class for Neil Erisman’s first-year program, this truly is setting the stage for the initial year of competition for Little Rock, as well as the future. Erisman had the tough task of trying to address needs at every weight class, rather than focusing on a few specific areas. It appears that he not only filled out a lineup, he has some talented prospects in the mix, also. Trent Dooley had a tremendous 2018-19 season winning the Reno Tournament of Champions, placing fourth at the Ironman, and collecting his second Texas state title. Upperweight Steven Elwell won his second Missouri state title and spent most of his senior season in the national rankings after winning six matches in Fargo at the Junior level. The Trojan staff also picked up a pair of wrestlers from Christian Brothers College in Missouri, which has been one of the top high schools in the state over the past few years. It’s always a good idea to get an “in” with a powerhouse like that. Not only were a lot of high schoolers signed, but Little Rock will also get help from several transfers. Though he had a rough 2018-19 season, Paul Bianchi has been an NCAA qualifier for North Dakota State and will probably be one of their leaders. 157 lber Jose Champagne has put up a 22-11 record while wrestling for three years at Minnesota. Both Gunner Cash and Noah Aziere were NJCAA All-American’s during the 2018-19 season and should fit into the Trojan lineup nicely.

North Dakota State

Recruits: Corey Gamet (Western, MI)  125; Riley Habisch (Buffalo, MN) 174; Tyler Jones (Shakopee, MN)  125; Ty Jones (Perham, MN) 197; Michael Nelson (Dover-Eyota, MN) 184; Ryan Ripplinger (Bismarck, ND)  133; Michael Weber (Forsyth, MT) 157; Gary Wokojance (Barberton, OH) 184

If you’ve paid attention to North Dakota State and their recruiting patterns over the years, you would notice that the bulk of their roster is comprised of talent from Minnesota and the Dakota’s. Minnesota is always a state that is deep at the high school level and you have to keep the best in your region at home, too. That didn’t change with this recruiting class; however, the Bison staff was able to extend their reach into Michigan and Ohio and pick out two possible gems. Michigan’s Gamet was a Cadet freestyle champion in Fargo and then was fifth as a Junior last summer. Though Wokojance was not able to win an Ohio state title, he fell in the semis to nationally ranked Trey Sizemore, Gary did was NHSCA Junior National in the spring of 2018. Late signee, Michael Weber also has won an NHSCA grade-level tournament, as a sophomore then was second as a junior, and became Montana’s 35th four-time state champ. The top recruit from Minnesota was Riley Habish, who was a state champ as a senior and has placed in Fargo as a Cadet. Head coach Roger Kish’s staff was able to keep on of North Dakota’s best at home in Ryan Ripplinger. Ryan was also a four-time state champion that has placed in both styles at the Cadet level in his future home of Fargo. The Bison program has been on a steady rise during Kish’s tenure and a class like this will help them continue to grow and perhaps crown their first All-American since the 2015 season.

Sacred Heart

Recruits: Jordan Carlucci (Franklin, MA) 133; Hunter Chin (New Fairfield, CT)  125; Brandon Dick (Clearview Regional, NJ) 174; Michael Esposito (DePaul Catholic, NJ)  133; Sean Faraon (Paramus Catholic, NJ) 125; Mike Filieri (Garfield, NJ) 285; Daniel Franco (Bishop Guertin, NH)  174; Dylan Giankos (Patchogue-Medford, NY) 285; Aladeen Hussein (Garfield, NJ) 157; Scott Jarosz (Roxbury, NJ) 149; Matt Laurie (Wethersfield, CT)  125; Janny Lopez-Valle (Randolph, NJ) 157; Alex Marciniak (Pittsfield, NY) 165; Vincent Mattaliano (Watchung Hills, NJ) 174; Chris Naegele (Sterling, NJ)  133; Joe Sacco (South Plainfield, NJ) 149; Tyler Tache (Center Moriches, NY) 184; Antonio Vaquiz (Newfield, NY) 157

Transfers: Joe Accousti (Appalachian State); Raf Lievano (Buffalo); Nick Palumbo (Buffalo)

Like Davidson, we rarely discuss Sacred Heart when it comes to their recruiting. The Pioneers are seeking their first NCAA qualifier since 2007, when Payam Zarrinpour became the first All-American in school history. Head coach John Clark has just finished his second full season at the helm for Sacred Heart and if you’ve been paying attention, you’ll see a noticeable uptick in the team’s recruiting. The signee with the most credential is Mike Filieri, a New Jersey state runner-up. It doesn’t matter the weight class, if you’re getting state finalists from New Jersey consistently, good things should happen. Joe Sacco also placed top-six in the state. There are also a couple of notable transfers that have been brought in as well, with the biggest being Joe Accousti, who returns home to Connecticut after spending two years at Appalachian State. Accousti, a two-time New York state champ, was 18-9 as a sophomore in 2018-19 for the Mountaineers. Another New York champion Nick Palumbo is headed to Fairfield. Palumbo went 13-21 as a true freshman for Buffalo and was their entry at 149 lbs at the MAC Tournament in 2017-18.  Michael Esposito, Sean Faraon, Scott Jarosz, Janny Lopez-Valle, and Vincent Mattaliano were all New Jersey state qualifiers that should prove to be useful for Clark as he attempts to build Sacred Heart from the ground up.

South Dakota State

Recruits: Trayton Anderson (Farmington, MN)  133; Ethan Bowman (Jamestown, ND) 133; Cade DeVos (Southeast Polk, IA)  157; Caleb Gross (Coleman, WI) 125; Tanner Jordan (Graham, OH) 133; Daniel Kimball (Don Bosco, IA)  125; Cade King (Owatonna, MN) 184; Caden Lamer (Tri-Valley, SD) 141; Skyler Noftsger (Ballard, IA) 165; Caleb Orris (Clark, SD)  184; Jacob Schoon (Brookings, SD) 184; Spencer Trenary (Clarion-Goldfield-Dows, IA) 285

Transfers: Laken Cook (Appalachian State); Tanner Cook (Cornell); Danny Vega (Iowa State)

Just this weekend, South Dakota State made headlines by having one of their current wrestlers, Tanner Sloan, make the Junior World Team at 97 kg. Sloan was a bit of an under-the-radar signee from a smaller school in Iowa. Looking at the Jackrabbits 2019 class, they have more help coming from Iowa and these kids are more known commodities, rather than diamonds in the rough. Cade DeVos was a two-time state champion that took seventh at the Junior level in both styles in Fargo. Spencer Trenary was a state champion, as a senior, and placed in the top three in each of his last three years of high school. He was also a double national All-American at the Junior division in 2018. Skyler Noftsger was an Iowa state champ, while Daniel Kimball made the finals, during their senior seasons. One of SDSU’s top recruits was Cade King, who was a Minnesota state champion as a junior and a finalist, as a senior. Though he had an injury-filled senior season, Tanner Jordan of Ohio’s powerhouse Graham high school, was fourth in the Ironman as a junior. The 2018-19 season was rough on the mat for first-year head coach Damion Hahn, but with the accomplishments of Sloan as a redshirt and on the international level, coupled with a strong recruiting class, the future is bright in Brookings for Hahn and his staff.

West Virginia

Recruits: Rocco Bartolo (Reynolds, PA)  141; Jeffrey Boyd (McDowell, PA) 133; Anthony Carman (Marshall, WV)  184; Christian Fisher (Mifflin Co., PA) 125; Caleb Graber (Green, OH)  125; Walker Heard (Marysville, OH) 149; Scott Joll (Belle Vernon, PA) 174; Liam Lusher (Independence, WV)  149; River Shettler (Brighton, MI) 184; Michael Wolfgram (Central York, PA) 285

For years as the head coach of Edinboro, Tim Flynn had earned a reputation as one of the best in the nation and was able to do more with significantly fewer resources than his competition. Now at West Virginia, in the Big 12, Flynn will be able to show what he can do in a power conference. His first full recruiting class is not particularly flashy, but it should prove to be very good for the Mountaineers. West Virginia’s proximity to Pennsylvania makes recruiting that state a must for any coach in Morgantown and Flynn has used that to his advantage with most of these PA signees. Scott Joll and Michael Wolfgram were both third in the state and both placed top-five in PA, twice. Both Rocco Bartolo (third) and Jeffrey Boyd (first) had huge junior years before missing the state podium, as seniors. If they can regain their old form, they’ll both be huge for WVU. From the “outside of Pennsylvania” category, River Shettler was a one-time Michigan state champion that took fifth at the Super 32. This group has a very “Tim Flynn” feel to it, with some hard-nosed, maybe overlooked kids from Pennsylvania, and the surrounding states, a strategy that produced stars like AJ Schopp, Mitchell Port, David Habat, and Gregor Gillespie, among others. If the Mountaineer staff can continue to target and develop recruits like these and then mix in a blue-chipper or two, they will inevitably break through an earn a spot in future recruiting rankings.

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