Earlier this week, when new Illinois wrestling head coach Mike Poeta appeared on the Bader Show, he intimated that the last couple weeks were hectic as he went through various interviews to secure his new gig.
Poeta also mentioned that he could get back to business with the hiring process behind him as he transitions to his new role on the Illinois coaching staff.
The first-time college head coach expressed that he will prioritize getting local, in-state recruits to stay home for their college careers. It appears that Poeta is well on his way to doing just that, less than a week into his new job.
Late Monday night, Kannon Webster (Washington, IL), a top Illinois prep on many Class of 2023 Big Boards, gave a verbal pledge via social media to Poeta and the Fighting Illini. Webster appears to be the first member of the Class of 2023 to pick a program.
I’m excited to announce that I would like continue my academic and athletic career at the University of Illinois. I want to thank all of my friends, family, coaches, practice partners, and mentors. There’s nowhere I’d rather be than staying at home. pic.twitter.com/28bZaiVnjp— Kannon Webster (@KannonWebster) April 27, 2021
On the mat, Webster, a Washington, Illinois, native was an Illinois Class-2A state champion in 2020 as a freshman.
Before his freshman year of high school, Webster saw success on the international circuit as well. He was a third-place finisher at the Cadet World Team Trials in freestyle and Greco-Roman. Later in the summer of 2019, Webster went on to take third in Fargo in both styles in the 16U division. Last weekend, Webster was fifth at the Cadet World Team Trials while competing at 55 kg.
Whether the commitment stays true by 2023 or not, this is precisely what Poeta had in mind for his vision of the program he is so passionate about, establishing a pipeline of local Illinois talent right to the State Farm Center in Champaign.