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Lehigh's Wessell signs WWE developmental deal

Max Wessell battles Michael Kroells for seventh place at the NCAAs (Photo/Mark Beshey, The Guillotine)

Max Wessell has wrestled his last match at Lehigh University, but it may not be the last time college wrestling fans see of the former Mountain Hawk heavyweight, as the 2016 NCAA All-American and EIWA (Eastern Intercollegiate Wrestling Association) champ has reportedly signed a development deal with WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment).

WWE reportedly signed Wessell and MMA fighter Alvin Abitz to developmental contracts. Both will report to the WWE Performance Center in October, 411mania.com reported Monday.

WWE has not made any official announcement. However, WWE talent scout Gerald Brisco -- an Oklahoma State wrestler in the 1960s -- retweeted the report on Wessell's signing. A number of friends have posted congratulatory messages on Wessell's Facebook page, though the 2016 Lehigh graduate has yet to post any message of his own as of Tuesday evening.

A native of Boulder, Colo., Wessell concluded his collegiate mat career with his best season ever for Lehigh, winning the 2016 EIWA heavyweight title, then a couple weeks later, earning All-American honors by placing eighth in the 285-pound bracket at the 2016 NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships in Madison Square Garden. In addition, Wessell was named Outstanding Athlete at Lewis Wrestling Dinner at Lehigh, and earned a place on the NWCA (National Wrestling Coaches Association) All-Academic Team this year. He compiled an overall record of 52-21 during his career at Lehigh.

Prior to coming to Lehigh, Wessell won a Colorado high school state title at 189 pounds as a senior. He also was a top-ranked participant in judo.

Over the years, a number of top college wrestlers have launched pro wrestling careers, including NCAA champs Earl McCready and LeRoy McGuirk in the 1930s ... Dick Hutton, Verne Gagne, Joe Scarpello and Dan Hodge in the 1950s ... Jack Brisco in the 1960s ... and Kurt Angle in the 1990s.

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