photo courtesy of Richard Immel
Yesterday was a busy day on the recruiting front. Three top 100 recruits made their collegiate commitments known via social media, along with another that is ranked in the top ten of his high school weight class. That leaves only 18 of the top 50 incoming seniors uncommitted.
The highest ranked recruit out of the group is Gaige Garcia, a 2019 Pennsylvania state champion at 195 lbs, a three-time state placewinner, and #42 overall in the Class of 2020. Not only is Garcia a standout on the mat for Southern Columbia High School, but he is also a star on the football field. In fact, he is set to play both sports for the University of Michigan. On the gridiron, Garcia has run for over 6,000 yards and 100 touchdowns in his first three years of high school!!! Since Gaige will be attempting to juggle both sports, it’s unlikely that he will ever see anything lower than 197 lbs on the mat. Last week we outlined that particular weight class being one that Sean Bormet’s staff needed to address this recruiting season. Garcia doesn’t have a long list of national-level accolades, due to his football prowess, but he did win NHSCA Sophomore Nationals in 2018 and is a two-time finalist at Pennsylvania’s Escape the Rock and he won the event in 2019. Currently, Gaige sits at number six in the country at 195 lbs.
Another Big Ten school improved on Monday and that was Northwestern who received a verbal commitment from Frankie Tal-Shahar of American Heritage, Florida. Frankie is a three-time state finalist that got over the hump as a junior and earned his first 1A state title at 138 lbs. Tal-Shahar might be even better in freestyle than folk, as he was a Cadet World Team Trials finalist in 2018 and a semifinalist at the Junior WTT’s this spring. As a Cadet in Fargo in 2017, Frankie took fifth at 132 lbs. Now he has some nice folkstyle accolades, as well, making the finals of the Walsh Ironman in 2018 and taking third at NHSCA Sophomore Nationals. Tal-Shahar is probably a 141 lber at the next level, which would work out well for Northwestern who has not had a national qualifier at the weight since 2016. Frankie holds a number three ranking at 138 lbs nationally and is #63 overall in the Class of 2020.
The final top 100 (#91) recruit to commit on Monday was Minnesota state champ Paxton Creese of Shakopee High School. Creese will be staying in-state to compete for the two-time defending DII National Champion St. Cloud State Huskies. Last summer, in Fargo, Creese won a Junior National Greco-Roman championship at 113 lbs. The previous two years, as a Cadet, Paxton placed top-seven in both styles. Creese projects to be a 125 lber in college, which is helpful for Steve Costanzo’s crew as they have lost four-time All-American and 2016 national champion Brett Velasquez to graduation. The incoming freshman class does contain a few 125 lb recruits, though none have the track record that Creese possesses. The latest national rankings have Paxton holding down the 20th spot at 120 lbs.
Finally, Little Rock has their Class of 2020 started on a good note with the commitment of Kansas big man Gavin Carter. Gavin has placed in the top three in each of his first three years of high school, highlighted by a state title at 195 lbs as a sophomore. In 2017, Carter took eighth as a Cadet in Fargo in both styles. The following summer he improved to fifth in Greco and did not place in freestyle while competing at 195 lbs. He is currently ranked eighth in the nation at that weight. Since the 2019-20 season will be Little Rock’s first year, it’s difficult to grasp exactly how big of a need Carter will fit, but it’s safe to say he’ll be a big help to Neil Erisman’s upperweights. 197 is typically not an easy weight to find on the recruiting trail.