photo courtesy of Casper Star-Tribune
In our last update, we mentioned how North Carolina had a strong start to their Class of 2021, after finishing third in the 2020 recruiting class rankings. Well, coaches Coleman Scott and Tony Ramos aren’t quite done with that highly-touted 2020 group just yet. Yesterday the Tar Heel received a commitment from four-time Wyoming state champion Jace Palmer (Kelly Walsh, WY). This season, Palmer was an eighth-place finisher at California’s Doc Buchanan Invitational, one of the top-five regular-season tournaments in the country. Jace was also recently named the Dave Schultz winner for the state of Wyoming. In our Rocky Mountain Regional Rankings, Palmer was seventh at the 132 lb weight class. Other coaches in that area should beware as Palmer is the second recruit in the Rocky Mountain region to commit to UNC in the last week. He’ll join a lightweight group that is suddenly very loaded. National qualifier Jaime Hernandez returns at 133, as does Junior World Team member Gabe Tagg, who redshirted in 2019-20. 125 has Joey Melendez as the incumbent at 125 and two-time Junior National freestyle champion Wil Guida as an incoming freshman.
Another school that is putting the finishing touches on the 2020 recruiting class is Rider. The Broncs have recently signed three-time NJ state placer and 2020 finalist McKenzie Bell (Kingsway, NJ) to help out at 133 lbs. Bell made the state finals in one of New Jersey’s most stacked weight classes (126) this year. In the semi’s, Bell knocked off the defending state champion Eddie Ventresca (Pope John XXIII), a Virginia Tech signee, 5-4 in tiebreakers. He would end up falling 12-7 to Robert Howard (Bergen Catholic, NJ), one of the top overall wrestlers in the Class of 2020. Bell was fourth as a junior and seventh his sophomore season. Also, this season, McKenzie was seventh at the Beast of the East. After his junior year of high school, Bell took sixth at NHSCA Junior Nationals. Bell finished the year ranked ninth in the Mid-Atlantic region.
Northern Illinois also improved upon its Class of 2020 with a strong in-state prospect, Mike Kaminsky (Lockport, IL). Mike was an Illinois 3A state runner-up as a senior at 126 lbs. Kaminski won a 5-3 match in sudden victory over Jake Penzato (St. Charles) to earn his place in the finals. During his senior year, Kaminsky took third place at both the Dvorak and the Cheesehead Invitational. This was the second year that Mike qualified for the Illinois state tournament. Kaminsky will join a Northern Illinois squad with five national qualifiers returning for coach Ryan Ludwig in 2020-21.
Beyond the DI level, we added a handful of recruits for DII Fairmont State in Fairmont, West Virginia. The Falcons returned to the mat in 2019-20 after a 30-year hiatus for head coach Chris Freije. This year they’ll be boosted by the transfer of Luke Martin, a starter for West Virginia in the 2018-19 season at 141 lbs. Martin went 9-12 as a true freshman for the Mountaineers. He didn’t see action last season. In high school, Luke was a three-time West Virginia state champion and an eighth-place finisher at FloNationals in 2017.
For all of these recruits and much more, see TOM’s College Commitment Page.