Little Rock adds 5 wrestlers to inaugural roster

Jose Champagne battles Alec Pantaleo of Michigan in Las Vegas (Photo/Tony Rotundo,

LITTLE ROCK -- Head wrestling coach Neil Erisman has announced five additions to the Trojans' inaugural wrestling roster, set to begin competing this November. Jose Champagne, Justin Grant, Cash Jones, Hasan Krigger and Blake Mateu are all enrolled in classes and are on campus, beginning to build Little Rock's wrestling program.

Along with freshman Conner Ward, who has been on campus and training since the start of the Fall 2018 semester, the six comprise the initial six signees for the Trojan wrestling program, laying the ground work for the NCAA's newest Division I program.

"These six young men embody what it means to be Rocked Up," Erisman said. "They have all bought in to what we are building, our beliefs and who we are going to be on and off the mat. I wouldn't want to start a program with any other student-athletes and I can't wait to see them competing in the maroon singlet next season."

Jose Champagne
5-8 | 157 | Sophomore
Griffith, Indiana (Marian Catholic H.S./Minnesota)

Prior to Little Rock: Spent two seasons at the University of Minnesota, utilizing his redshirt season in 2016-17 … Posted a 7-7 overall record as a redshirt freshman with three pins and a pair of major decisions … State champion in 2016 at Marian Catholic High School … Posted a high school record of 103-3 … Four-time all-conference and all-state honoree … 11-time cadet and junior All-American … Three-time folkstyle national champion and one-time freestyle national champion … A and B honor roll.

Personal: Son of Tim and Rebecca Champagne … Has a brother, Carlos, who wrestled at Wabash College … Plans to be a Spanish teacher.

Erisman on Champagne: "Having Jose here has been incredible. He comes from a historic program at the University of Minnesota and has been a life long winner and successful at all levels. He is a seasoned wrestler that has brought a strong positive attitude and a new level to our program. In his short time here he has already taken the responsibility upon himself to mentor the younger athletes"

Justin Grant
5-10 | 165 | R-Freshman
Tallahassee, Fla. (Lincoln H.S.)

Prior to Little Rock: Three-time All-state selection at Lincoln High School … Placed third at the Florida state championships in 2017 and 2018 after finishing fourth in 2016 … Four-time first team All-Big Bend selection … Four-time district champion and three-time regional champion … 2018 North West Florida Class 2A Wrestler of the Year … Posted an overall high school record of 172-16 … Two-time All-Star Division All-American in 2017 and 2018 … Placed first at the 2017 Florida AAU Spring States tournament … Finished with six high school letters after lettering once in football and twice in track and field.

Personal: Son of James and Nancy Grant … Originally committed to North Carolina State before signing with Little Rock … Older brother Jamie plays baseball at Florida A&M … Plans to major in education with the goal to be a high school coach.

Erisman on Grant: "Justin came to us via North Carolina State, one of the nation,s premier programs. I'm very excited about Justin's size and athleticism. He's big, strong, fast and has a great attitude, and Justin should be fan favorite to watch wrestle at the Jack."

Cash Jones
6-0 | 174 | R-Freshman
Bentonville, Ark. (Bentonville H.S.)

Prior to Little Rock: Three-time Arkansas state champion at Bentonville High School … Helped lead the Tigers to back-to-back Class 6A/7A state titles in 2017 and 2018 … Posted a career high school record of 227-11, including a mark of 62-1 as a senior … Represented Arkansas at the Junior Freestyle and Greco-Roman nationals in Fargo … Placed first in the 2016 Arkansas Greco/Freestyle tournament and second in 2017 … 2017 Big West Conference champion … Recorded 15 individual tournament championships during his high school career … Four year honor roll student.

Personal: Son of David and Sheila Jones … Originally committed to Campbell before signing with Little Rock … Plans to major in communications.

Erisman on Jones: "I'm really excited about having Cash as part of our program. Being our first Arkansas student-athlete is incredible and I expect him to set the bar high for future in-state Trojans. Cash has great size and athletic ability and we will be looking for him to be a dominant force in the upper weights."

Hasan Krigger
5-4 | 125 | Sophomore
Atlanta, Ga. (Central Gwinnett H.S./Iowa Lakes C.C)

Prior to Little Rock: Spent two seasons at Iowa Lakes Community College, utilizing his redshirt season … Posted a pair of wins for the Lakers in his freshman season … Three year letterwinner at Central Gwinnett High School … 2016 Georgia state champion … Posted an overall high school record of 95-20, including going 23-1 as a senior … Two-time All-American after finishing first in cadet nationals in Fargo … Captured 13 individual tournament titles during his prep career.

Personal: Son of Musa Krigger and Shamimara Siddique … Plans to major in psychology.

Erisman on Krigger: "Hasan comes to us from Iowa Lakes Community College and brings us experience. Hasan has competed and won at the highest level. He is a great person and he really displays the drive and determination we are looking for. I'm very excited about having him here at the Rock."

Blake Mateu
5-6 | 125 | Freshman
Metairie, Louisiana (Archbishop Rummel H.S.)

Prior to Little Rock: Three-time Louisiana state champion at Archbishop Rummel High School … Three-time first team all-state selection … Posted a 157-5 record during high school, including a perfect 25-0 season as a senior and a 44-0 season as a sophomore … Named the 2018 Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award winner for the state of Louisiana … Placed second at the 2017 Junior Cadets Freestyle national meet … Captured 25 individual tournament titles during his high school career.

Personal: Son of Luis and Jodie Mateu … Plans to major in business.

Erisman on Mateu: "Blake comes to us from Louisiana and has been winner, not just in his home state, but on the national scene as well. I am excited to see his progress as the next year unfolds. He knows how to wrestle and how to win."

Season tickets for the inaugural Trojan wrestling season are now on sale through the Trojan ticket office by calling (501) 569-3393. Coach Erisman is in the process of putting together Little Rock's 2019-20 schedule, which will begin in November.


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