By Jason Bryant
Moments after Lance Benick stepped off the mat in Fargo, North Dakota after falling in the 195-pound Junior freestyle finals, he was approached by an extremely interested college coach.
Standing next to the Benick was the wrestler who’d beaten him in the finals, Minnesota teammate Bobby Steveson. Benick was quick to point the coach in Steveson’s direction as well.
The coach responded, “No, I’m here to talk to you.”
On Friday, Benick announced via Twitter he committed to continue his education and wrestle collegiately at Arizona State University in Tempe, Arizona. Benick chose Arizona State over Minnesota, which was the only other school Benick seriously considered.
“(Arizona State) has a great coaching staff, and great partners for me,” said Benick shortly after his announcement “(They) have a very successful freestyle program with the Sunkist Kids and it was a very good fit and feel for me!”
A three-time state champion, Benick ended last season as the top-ranked 195-pounder in the nation. The Sunkist Kids program is also a plus for Benick, who has aspirations of someday wrestling in the Olympics.
Benick bolsters and already impressive class for newly-appointed head coach Zeke Jones. Along with Benick, who will start the year ranked third in the nation, Arizona State has already received verbal commitments from Zahid and Anthony Valencia from California and Josh Maruca from Pennsylvania. Anthony Valencia is ranked No. 1 at 170 pounds, while Zahid ended last season ranked No. 1 at 132 pounds but sprouted up to 182 pounds this summer. Maruca is ranked fifth at 145 pounds.
While Arizona State hasn’t won an NCAA title since 1988, Benick feels the new regime combined with an aggressive goal to win with Coach Jones’ staff was a big draw.
“Winning an individual championship is very important to me, but also so is winning a team championship,” said Benick. “The incoming class that we have is world-class and like no other. I’m excited to be with the Valencias and Maruca and the many others that will be coming soon.”
I'm excited to announce that I have verbally committed to wrestle and continue my education at Arizona State University #ForksUp
— DreamKiller1.0 (@LanceBenick) August 16, 2014