From left Alex Facundo, Drake Ayala, Paddy Gallagher, Richie Figueroa (Photo/Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
The 2021 recruiting class rankings were as difficult as any I've ever done. No one team jumped out from the pack and solidified themselves as the no-brainer pick. Conversely, there were four or five programs that could make a legitimate claim for the top spot. To take a peek behind the curtain, these rankings were modified after the news broke regarding Max Dean's transfer to Penn State, Monday evening.
Recruiting rankings mark the end of the respective class and put a bow on the hard work of coaching staffs around the nation. The question you ask is, how are these rankings tabulated? First, we have used the big board rankings courtesy of our sister-site Matscouts. Willie Saylor has taken the arduous task of projecting the top-300 wrestlers in the Class of 2021, making calculating these rankings slightly easier.
Some of the factors that are taken into account when putting these rankings together include:
- Numbers: Where were the signees ranked? How many top-ten, top-50, top-100, top-250, etc., does a school have?
- Fit: After years of following these programs and their coaching staffs, does a particular recruit fit the "type" of kid that has success at their respective team. Or maybe a style of wrestling.
- Filling a need: In years past, I have weighed this very heavily. Signing two highly ranked 184 lb prospects doesn't appear to fit a need when you have a stud junior returning at the same weight. However, after coming off a "free year" in 2021, that throws a loop into everything. Many coaches got commitments from the Class of 2021 before the "free year" was announced. There will be plenty of hard decisions for coaches in 2022-23 and beyond due to this "free year." Because of this, the "filling a need" criteria were not judged very harshly, except in a few instances.
- Impact on a program: This is subjective, but tends to favor teams that aren't consistent NCAA trophy contenders. If Iowa or Penn State sign the #80 overall recruit and he turns out to AA twice, taking seventh and eighth for them, it has a particular impact. But if Maryland or North Dakota State sign the same prospect and he has the same career, it will have a much more significant impact on those two programs. Both Maryland and North Dakota State may have benefitted from this criteria in 2021.
So, with that out of the way, enjoy InterMat's 2021 Team Recruiting Rankings.
1) Penn State
#2 Alex Facundo - Davison, MI (174/184); #5 Shayne Van Ness - Blair Academy, NJ (141/149); #55 Gary Steen - Reynolds, PA (125); #76 Lucas Cochran - Box Elder, UT (184); Jack Kelly - Rumson-Fair Haven, NJ (197)
Transfer: Max Dean - Cornell (184/197)
Getting two of the best five wrestlers in this class is almost enough to propel Cael Sanderson's team all the way to the number one spot. Two-time Cadet World bronze medalist, Alex Facundo, is arguably the top senior in the nation and should thrive in a room that includes Carter Starocci and Aaron Brooks, along with the staff and RTC members. While Facundo's projected weights aren't exactly a pressing need, the Nittany Lion staff will find a way to get Starocci/Brooks/Facundo into the lineup in some form or fashion. On the other hand, Shayne Van Ness fills a void at either 141 or 149, as NCAA champion Nick Lee only has a year of eligibility remaining. Gary Steen initially committed to Pittsburgh, but has since flipped to Penn State. The two-time state champion will chip in at a weight that has been difficult to fill for PSU. While Robbie Howard did well, as a true freshman, he may move up to 133 at some point. Both Lucas Cochran and Jack Kelly are relatively unheralded upperweights that could jump levels once in the Penn State room.
Late addition, Max Dean helps nudge the Nittany Lions past Arizona State. It remains to be seen how Dean will fit into Penn State's lineup. It's hard to picture Dean unseating the undefeated national champion Brooks at 184. Freshman All-American Michael Beard is also in the picture at 197 lbs. Dean's older brother Gabe stated that 197 may be where Max goes.
2) Arizona State
#3 Richard Figueroa - Selma, CA (125); #13 Cael Valencia - St. John Bosco, CA (174/184); #60 Mykey Ramos - Gilbert, AZ (141/149); #88 Carter Dibert - Franklin Regional, PA (133); #146 Max Wilner - Fountain Valley, CA (174/184); Caleb O'Hara - East Anchorage, AK (125); Jaren Powell - Liberty Christian, TX (141/149)
Transfer: Kyle Parco - Fresno State (141/149)
Arizona State gets second place after signing two of the top 15 recruits in the nation and reeling in an All-American transfer. Richard Figueroa is the top lightweight in the class and could be the elusive career 125 lber. The cancelation of the 2021 CIF State Tournament denied Figueroa the opportunity to become a four-time state champion. Also from California is Cael Valencia, the younger brother of Sun Devil All-Americans, Anthony and Zahid. The younger Valencia has looked like perhaps the best wrestler in this class when he's at his best. He was a Super 32 champion before his junior year. Mykey Ramos was an important in-state pickup. Ramos made the 16U Fargo freestyle finals in 2019 and was sixth at the Super 32 last fall. The boost that really made things interesting for the top spot was the signing of Kyle Parco, the NCAA sixth-place finisher at 149 lbs in March. Parco will have four more years of eligibility and will bolster the middleweights for Zeke Jones. Carter Dibert and Max Wilner are both multiple-time placers from power states.
#26 Brett Ungar - Notre Dame-Green Pond, PA (125); #46 Ryan Sokol - Simley, MN (157); #50 Vince Cornella - Monarch, CO (133), #61 Cooper Kropman - Penfield, NY (165); #82 Nico Provo - Green Farms Academy, CT (125); #147 Justin Mayes - Bellevue, OH (174/184); #167 Christian Hansen - Cold Spring Harbor, NY (174); #199 Luke Duthie - Wyoming Seminary, PA (197); #275 Evan Canoyer - Waverly, NE (184); #294 Ethan Fernandez - Westwood, NJ (141); Peyton Craft - Blair Academy, NJ (197)
Our first two teams signed relatively modest classes, in terms of numbers, but no one in the country can compete with the sheer numbers that Cornell can boast with the Class of 2021. The Big Red is the only program with ten big boarder's coming in and that doesn't include a post-graduate that was highly ranked for most of his career. The headliner is Brett Ungar, whose stock has risen sharply as a senior. Ungar emerged victorious in a stacked Pennsylvania AA state bracket, then went on to upend Richard Figueroa at the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic. Aside from Ungar, Nico Provo and Vince Cornella will come into a Cornell room that's already full of talented lightweights. Ryan Sokol is a former Cadet World team member who has been highly regarded throughout the high school career. The top-50 recruit leads the large group of potential middleweight signees. Blair Academy's Peyton Craft is the biggest name among the upperweights. Craft was a postgrad and unable to compete at National Preps for Blair in 2021, but he has been top-three at the Beast of the East and Walsh Ironman. Ultimately, with Rob Koll's history of excellent recruiting and this giant class, there will be plenty of wrestlers that miss from this class. However, it's large enough and talented enough where there should be a handful that have highly productive DI competitors.
#4 Drake Ayala - Fort Dodge, IA (125); #16 Wyatt Henson - Waynesburg, PA (141/149); #49 Caleb Rathjen - Ankeny, IA (149/157); Will Carano - Putnam Valley, NY (157); Cam Lucero - Pagosa Springs, CO (165); Sebastian Robles - Sunnyside, AZ (157)
Transfer: Brennan Swafford - Graceland (174)
While 90% of Iowa's NCAA Championship-winning lineup at the 2021 tournament consisted of out-of-state wrestlers, Tom Brands' team still was able to nab the biggest in-state get in a decade with Drake Ayala. Drake's skillset and makeup seem to be a perfect match for the Hawkeyes. The two-time Fargo freestyle champ stayed up a weight in the postseason to avenge his only loss of the year. In addition, Iowa also got four-time Iowa state finalist and top-50 recruit Caleb Rathjen. The other big catch for the Hawkeyes was the signing of two-time Pennsylvania champion Wyatt Henson. Throughout his high school career, Henson has been competitive in older age groups. Recently he was seventh at the US Open with a win over 2021 All-American Chris Cannon. With only a year of eligibility remaining for NCAA runner-up Michael Kemerer, Graceland transfer Brennan Swafford could end up being his replacement. Swafford was a two-time NAIA champion and is an intriguing prospect.
5) NC State
#23 Joey Milano - Spring-Ford, PA (184); #30 Stevo Poulin - Shenendehowa, NY (125); #32 Derek Fields - Brunswick, OH (165); #42 Jake Null - Dolgeville, NY (184); #99 Skylar Smith - Liberty Christian Academy, TX (141); #134 Brock DelSignore - South Glens Falls, NY (184); #291 Brant Whitaker - Father Tolton, MO (165); #297 James Joplin - NW Guilford, NC (125/133); Holden Cypher - Millbrook, NC (197/285)
This large recruiting class appeared to be essential as the Wolfpack had five redshirt seniors starting in 2020-21. With the free year in 2021 and four of those starters set to return, this class probably will not be pressed into duty. Once again, Pat Popolizio's staff ventured into his home state and returned with three top-150 recruits. Most notably is Stevo Poulin, who could take over for 2020 ACC champion Jakob Camacho, whenever he moves up. Poulin has titles from the Beast, the Reno Tournament of Champions and the Super 32 to his name. Jake Null and Brock DelSignore are the other two New Yorkers and both can assist at the upperweights. The highest-ranked of the bunch, Joey Milano, was a big riser over the past year. Milano was fourth in Pennsylvania as a sophomore and junior, before finishing his career on top. #32 Derek Fields recently was fifth at UWW Junior's and defeated a handful of credible collegiate wrestlers along the way. He's always held a proclivity towards freestyle as he was a Cadet WTT's runner-up in 2019.
6) Oklahoma State
#14 Victor Voinovich - Brecksville, OH (149/157); #21 Travis Mastrogiovanni - Blair Academy, NJ (157); #37 Kyle Haas - Maize, KS (197/285); #142 Teague Travis - Stillwater, OK (141/149); #186 Cooper Birdwell - Fergus, MT (133); #210 Talmadge Carman - Herriman, UT (197); #214 Luke Mechler - Stoughton, WI (157/165); Cade Nicholas - Perry, OK (133); Blake Skidgel - Pawnee, OK (165)
Last year's recruiting champions, Oklahoma State, come in at a very respectable sixth place this year. Two of their notable recruits, Travis Mastrogiovanni and Kyle Haas, did not compete at the high school level, which certainly could have hindered their overall rankings. Both have family connections in the program. Mastrogiovanni's older brother Trevor was a national qualifier, as a true freshman, in 2021. Haas is the younger brother of Cowboy recruiting coordinator, Tyler Caldwell. He was a winner in both styles at the 2019 Cadet World Team Trials. If Haas can put on some more size, he may be the long-term answer for OSU at 285 lbs. Caldwell's top-ranked signee from the Class of 2021 is Ohio's, Victor Voinovich. Victor was a Fargo finalist in freestyle as both a Cadet and Junior. Missouri native Teague Travis committed early to OSU and moved to Stillwater for his senior year. He captured three titles in Missouri before adding a fourth in Oklahoma. Strong recruiting over the past couple of years has Oklahoma State in a position where they are not in desperate need of fixes, anywhere in the lineup. The remainder of the class should be given time to develop and a few could emerge as starters.
#22 Bennett Tabor - Simley, MN (285); #47 Tagen Jamison - Plano West, TX (149); #65 Blaine Brenner - Stanley Boyd, WI (133); #67 Drew Roberts - Coeur d'Alene, ID (157); #92 Vance Vombaur - Windsor, CO (141); #117 Jager Eisch - Kaukauna, WI (141); #153 Gabe Nagel - Little Falls, MN (174); #229 Mason Gehloff - Waseca, MN (125)
Transfer: Jared Krattiger - Wisconsin (174)
One of the hallmarks of Minnesota recruiting has long been the ability to keep their best at home. That tradition continues as the top state's top senior, Bennett Tabor, inked with the home team. Tabor appears to be a suitable replacement for Gable Steveson, whenever that day comes. He was a Super 32 champion last fall and was fourth in 2019. While no one can duplicate the feats of the 2021 Hodge Trophy winner, Tabor has proven to be quite a pinner. Most of the recruiting efforts in the Class of 2021 have been directed at bolstering the Gopher's first three weights. Minnesota's starter at 133, Boo Dryden, will be a senior next year, so a long-term answer will be needed. Wisconsin champions Blaine Brenner and Jager Eisch could eventually take over. One of Minnesota's overlooked signees, Tagen Jamison, was fifth at UWW Junior's with a win over past Junior World Team member Joshua Saunders. Two-time Fargo placer Drew Roberts is the son of former Gopher assistant Kevin Roberts. He, along with Jamison, will add depth to the middleweights. Finally, though he did not qualify for the NCAA Championships, Wisconsin transfer Jared Krattiger does own a win over Minnesota's incumbent at 174 lbs, Jake Allar.
#36 Jaxon Smith - Woodland Cartersville, GA (197); #43 Ethen Miller - Park Hill, MO (149); #53 Adrien Cramer - Grayslake Central, IL (184); #70 Braxton Brown - Allen, TX (125/133); #269 Gaven Bell - Cold Spring Harbor, NY (184); Sam O'Brian - Damascus, MD (285); Kevin Schork - St. Christopher's, VA (165); Nasir Wilkinson - Bullis School, MD (125); Clement Woods - Mt. St. Joseph, MD (141)
The teams that own the 1-7 rankings are among the usual suspects in recruiting rankings. #8 Maryland has not been one of the annual recruiting superpowers. Third-year head coach Alex Clemsen will be well-served by this bunch as he looks to get his program more competitive against the national bluebloods. Top recruit, Jaxon Smith, is fresh off a fourth-place showing at UWW Juniors while competing at 86 kg. Smith was a three-time champion in Georgia and is a past fourth-place finisher at the Super 32. The Terps were the beneficiary as Ethen Miller flipped from his home state, Missouri, to Maryland. In 2019, Miller was a finalist at NHSCA Sophomores, Junior Freestyle, and the Ironman. Four-time Texas champion Braxton Brown could come in immediately and make an impact at 125. While Maryland isn't overflowing with talent at the high school level, Clemson's staff did a commendable job identifying and signing some of the best in-state products.
9) Ohio State
#1 Paddy Gallagher - St. Edward, OH (157); #40 Andre Gonzales - Poway, CA (125); #218 Bryer Hall - East Central, IN (165/174); #247 Chase Liardi - Massapequa, NY (125)
Transfer: Will Betancourt - Lock Haven (133)
It can be challenging to place the team that signs the top recruit in a particular class, especially when that team has a small group like Ohio State. The Buckeyes break into the top-ten primarily based on the back of Paddy Gallagher. Paddy is a big, physical 157 lber that should step into the OSU lineup in year one and be competitive with the brutal Big Ten schedule and nationally. Gallagher was Junior National freestyle champion in 2019, prior to his junior year. The Buckeyes also have a pair of lightweights set to take over for 125 lber Malik Heinselman in California state champ Andre Gonzales and New York finalist Chase Liardi. Provided Gallagher and Carson Kharchla stay at 157/165, there is no long-term solution at 174 on the roster. Late pickup, Bryer Hall, an Indiana state champion, could fill that void. Speaking of filling in, Lock Haven transfer Will Bentancourt could be asked to step in at 133 right away. The 2020 Pennsylvania state champion did not compete last season for Lock Haven.
#11 Carter Young - Stillwater, OK (133/141); #12 Joel Vandervere - Warren, IL (149); #200 Evan Bates - Chesterton, IN (285); Sammy Hayes - Carl Sandburg, IL (125)
It's another extremely small, but talented class rounding out the top ten as Northwestern gets the nod mainly on the strength of the #11 and #12 overall recruits. Carter Young's stock rose significantly during his senior season, culminating in a runner-up finish at UWW Junior's. Young was a three-time Oklahoma champion who made the Cadet finals in Fargo in both styles back in 2017. Joel Vandervere ascended to the top spot in the national rankings after coming out on top in a brutal Super 32 weight class in 2019. He participated in a three-man bracket at Who's #1 last fall and fell in sudden victory. Retaining the Illinois-native Vandervere was huge for the Wildcats and head coach Matt Storniolo. Indiana state champ Evan Bates could develop into a fixture at 285 for Northwestern. Bates was a surprise 16U national finalist in 2019 and was ranked highly for the bulk for the last two years.
#9 Alejandro Herrera Rondon - Seneca Valley, PA (157); #19 Tate Picklo - Mustang, OK (197); #118 Jared Hill - Broken Arrow, OK (149/157); #219 Ryder Wiese - Blanchard, OK (285); Cole Ferguson - Waukee, IA (141)
Transfer: Joey Prata - Virginia Tech (125)
A pair of top-20 recruits bolster the Sooners and their #11 overall ranking. Alejandro Herrera-Rondon is a three-time Pennsylvania state champ that earned a win over Oklahoma State recruit Victor Voinovich at the Pittsburgh Wrestling Classic. Herrera-Rondon is already an elite wrestler from the top position and should help him find early success at the collegiate level. Tate Picklo entered the Oklahoma state tournament as the top-ranked 195 lber in the nation. He could not claim his third state crown due to a knee injury that forced him to default. With All-American Jake Woodley returning, Picklo will get sufficient time to heal and step in when needed. Two-time state runner-up Jared Hill will lend depth to the middleweights that are currently inhabited by upperclassmen. Speaking of veterans, the Sooners are set to land one from Virginia Tech in Joey Prata. Prata was a 2020 national qualifier squeezed out of the lineup after the emergence of freshman All-American Sam Latona. He won all five of his 2021 matches, including one over national qualifier Zurich Storm (Campbell).
12) South Dakota State
#14 Alek Martin - Graham, OH (149); #59 Derrick Cardinal - Forest Lake, MN (141); #71 Cael Swensen - Wayzata, MN (157); #97 Roman Rogotzke - Stillwater, MN (197); #224 Isaac Klinkhammer - Brandon Valley, SD (174); #265 Connor Gaynor - Mt. Carmel, IL (149); Sam Kruger - Winner, SD (174); Kalen Meyer - Rock Rapids, IA (184); Ethan Richner - Bellefonte, PA (165); Bailey Roybal - Waverly-Shell Rock, IA (125)
Transfer: AJ Nevills - Fresno State (285)
What a performance on the recruiting trail by the Jackrabbit coaching staff. The SDSU staff dipped back into the Graham program in Ohio to sign top-recruit Alek Martin. Before winning his second Ohio state title, Martin was victorious at the 2020 Super 32. He previously was third in 2019. As has been the case recently, SDSU has been successful recruiting in Minnesota. They nabbed three top-100 recruits from their neighbors to the east. The trio of Derrick Cardinal, Cael Swensen, and Roman Rogotzke combined to win eight state titles. Swensen and Rogotzke were both placers at the most recent Super 32. SDSU has also made a habit out of heading into Iowa to recruit. They continued this trend by signing 2020 state champion, Bailey Roybal. After all of the out-of-state signees, Damion Hahn's staff retained South Dakota's top senior in Isaac Klinkhammer. Isaac was a state champion as a freshman and a runner-up in each of the following three seasons.
#7 Lenny Pinto - Stroudsburg, PA (174/184); #17 Jagger Condomitti - Northampton, PA (157/165); #138 Adam Thebeau - Belleville East, IL (149); Quinton Chavez - Gering, NE (125); Josh Licking - Norfolk, NE (165); Scott Robertson - Millard South, NE (157)
Nebraska's class is another that is heavily reliant on their blue-chip signees. The Cornhuskers only have three members of the big board, but they do have two of the top 17 seniors in the nation. Both happen to hail from Pennsylvania's fabled District XI, an area that produced Huskers associate head coach Bryan Snyder and current All-American Mikey Labriola. At some point, Lenny Pinto may be the successor to Labriola. Pinto was victorious over Blair Academy's Rylan Rogers at Who's #1, but also injured himself and could not compete as a senior. Last season, Pinto came out on top of a brutal 170 lb AAA weight class in Pennsylvania. Jagger Condomitti was a two-time state finalist and a champion as a senior. He also appeared in Who's #1 in 2020. The remaining big boarder is Adam Thebeau, who was fifth in Illinois in 2020. Thebeau and Scott Robertson could help contribute, down the road, in a crowded 149/157 for the Huskers.
#6 Dean Hamiti - Joliet Catholic, IL (165); #52 Brooks Empey - Stoughton, WI (285); #56 Hayden Copass - Westville, IL (285); Cale Anderson - Viroqua, WI (157); Cole Carroll - Don Bosco Prep, NJ (149); Jack Severin - Kewaunee, WI (133/141)
Transfer: Andrew McNally - Kent State (174)
Not only does Wisconsin get one of the top wrestlers in this class, with Dean Hamiti, but he also fills a pressing need at 165. With Evan Wick in the transfer portal, Hamiti may be called on to start from day one for Chris Bono's crew. That works out well, as Hamiti is one of the most college-ready wrestlers in the entire class. He was on a different playing field from most of his competition at the Super 32. After Hamiti, the Badgers have a pair of top-75 heavyweights that are strong prospects. With 197 not being an option for either, you'll only get the impact from one of either Brooks Empey and Hayden Copass. Empey was a two-time Wisconsin champion, while Copass has shined in the international styles. He has a pair of 16U freestyle national titles on his resume, along with a runner-up finish in Greco. The signing of Hamiti and Copass is significant because both are from Illinois, a consistent producer of high-end talent. If Bono's team can continue to import blue-chippers from the state, they will continue to shine on the recruiting trail. The rest of the class was used to bolster the middleweights, which was needed. Wisconsin did not have a national qualifier between 141-174 last year. Graduate transfer, Andrew McNally, the sixth seed in 2021 and a Round of 12 finisher, will help at 174 for a year.
15) North Dakota State
#57 Carlos Negrete - Buchanan, CA (133); #68 Alex Ramirez - Rowland, CA (149); #73 Mike Caliendo - Batavia, IL (165/174); #77 DJ Parker - Moline, IL (174/184); #86 Juan Mora - Turlock, CA (197/285); #104 Dominik Vacura - Badger-GB-MR, MN (197/285); #231 Spencer Mooberry - Osage, IA (184); #241 Cole Gripka - Maysville, MO (285); Bryce Dagel - Eden Prairie, MN (157), Lathan Duda - Broken Bow, NE (197); Beau Klingensmith - Woodbury Central, IA (133); Kobe Lyons - York, NE (174); Mannix Morgan - Mounds View, MN (184); Clay Radenz - Century, ND (141)
What a showing by Roger Kish and his staff! North Dakota State has rarely been mentioned as a top-15-type recruiting school, but they have put together a fantastic class that includes eight of the top 300 prospects in the nation. The only knock is that with Carlos Negrete being the highest-ranked at 57, they don't have a surefire superstar. That isn't to say that he or anyone else couldn't emerge to be one, once in Fargo. Negrete is a two-time California runner-up and Alex Ramirez was a champion in 2020. Neither could add to their collection since their state tournament was canceled in 2021. The Bison also inked a pair of fast-rising prospects from Illinois with Mike Caliendo and DJ Parker. Caliendo started to show flashes on the summer dual meet scene, before grabbing sixth at the Super 32. Parker was third in Illinois' largest classification as a junior, which was his first time earning a state medal. Another California native in the mix is Juan Mora, a state fifth-place finisher in 2020, who was a runner-up at the Grappler Fall Classic. In addition to securing one of the top in-state wrestlers, two-time champion Clay Radenz, the Bison staff also signed multiple prospects from Iowa, Minnesota, and Nebraska. All in all, this should be an incredibly useful class for North Dakota State.
16) Iowa State
#31 Nate Schon - Selinsgrove, PA (285); #46 Paniro Johnson - Cathedral Prep, PA (157); #51 Conor Knopick - Millard South, NE (125/133); #132 Gabe Greenlee - Ames, IA (285); #230 Jack Gaukel - Sergeant Bluff, IA (157/165); #267 Sam Hrabovsky - Fulton, MO (133/141); Ashton Barker - Iowa City West, IA (184); Caleb Helgeson - Johnston, IA (174); Damon Huston - Midland, IA (125); Bryce Shelton - Marian, IL (141)
Under the direction of head coach Kevin Dresser, Iowa State has returned to its place as a major player in the recruiting game. The Cyclones were able to secure a pair of top-250 prospects from their home state, along with a few others that just missed. Pennsylvania has been a frequent stop for the ISU staff on the recruiting trail in years past, along with 2021, as they signed a pair of top-50 recruits from the Keystone State. Iowa State is expected to be without the services of All-American Gannon Gremmel in 2021-22, so getting three-time PA finalist and two-time champion Nate Schon and local product Gabe Greenlee was vital. Two-time third-place finisher, Paniro Johnson, comes from one of the state's top program's and was a victim of some deep weights in PA. I like the signing of Conor Knopick. The Cadet Greco-Roman World Team member is a part of a club and high school that continues to improve. The Omaha, Nebraska area could be a place for Dresser's staff to continue to mine in the future.
#24 Kyonte Hamilton - Georgetown Prep, MD (285); #54 Joey Olivieri - Hanover Park, NJ (141); #69 Anthony White - South Plainfield, NJ (149); #190 Dylan Weaver - Lyndhurst, NJ (157); #245 Michael Cetta - St. Joseph's Regional, NJ (149); #266 John O'Donnell - Toms River, NJ (285); Robert Damerjian - Moorestown, NJ (197)
Transfer: Greg Bulsak - Clarion (197)
This recruiting class has a very "Rutgers" feel to it. Scott Goodale's team has done well at keeping many of the Garden State's best at home, while adding a high-profile out-of-state kid or two, as needed. That import is Kyonte Hamilton, one of the top big men in the class. Hamilton was a winner at the Beast as a junior and the Super 32 this fall. He has the potential to develop into a title contender at 285. Unfortunately, the wrestling program will have to share him with the Scarlet Knight football team, so it's hard to forecast his actual impact and if he can grow on the mat as quickly as most typical, wrestling-only prospects may progress. Rutgers was able to keep one of the top seniors in-state with three-time champion Joey Olivieri. With Sebastian Rivera and Mike Van Brill heading into their senior seasons, he could jump in a 141/149 after a redshirt. Anthony White was the other state champ in the bunch. Goodale's staff also has a contingency plan at heavyweight in case they're unable to get Hamilton's full impact, as they have signed state runner-up, John O'Donnell, as well. Graduate transfer, Greg Bulsak, will come in and compete for a spot at 197 lbs. Bulsak, a three-time qualifier and 2020 MAC champ, has been seeded 14th and 10th at his most recent NCAA Tournaments.
#81 Cael Crebs - Montoursville, PA (197); #83 Jacob Lucas - Cumberland Valley, PA (285); #106 Josh Koderhandt - Bellevue, IL (125/133); #121 Vince Santaniello - Brick Memorial, NJ (125); #128 Ryan Catka - Sun Valley, PA (197/285); #154 Brendan Ferretti - Macomb, MI (133); #166 Zach Espalin - Chandler, AZ (125/133); #279 George Ruiz - Buchanan, CA (157/165); #280 Malachi Duvall - Penns Valley, PA (165); Payne Carr - Union County, KY (157)
Cary Kolat's first full recruiting class with the Naval Academy is a sign of things to come for the EIWA and the rest of the nation. While Navy has been able to recruit on a national basis and will continue to do so, this group is heavy on wrestlers from Kolat's home state, Pennsylvania. Particularly at the upperweights, as they have three top-150 recruits coming in projected at 197 or 285. Cael Crebs and Jacob Lucas were both state champs in 2021, while Ryan Catka was third. On the other end of the lineup, the lightweights get help with Josh Koderhandt, Vince Santaniello, and Zach Espalin. Koderhandt was fifth at the Super 32 in October, Santaniello was a two-time Jersey finalist and one-time champ, while Espalin was a Fargo freestyle All-American at both age groups. With so much talent (nine top 300 recruits), there are a few that will hit big for the Midshipmen.
19) Northern Colorado
#25 Ben Alanis - Valiant Prep, AZ (141/149); #89 Xavier Doolin - Kansas City North, MO (197/285); #107 Branson Britten - Canyon Randall, TX (174/184); #202 Rudy Lopez - Erie, CO (141); #236 Franklin Cruz - Pomona, CO (197); #290 Kenny Sailas - Brighton, CO (125); Dyson Kunz - Central City, NE (133/141); Austin Long - Norman, OK (184/197); Moses Santiago - Volcano Vista, NM (125); Adam Schulz - Crowley County, CO (174/184)
Northern Colorado really put themselves on the recruiting map in 2019 as they kept local product Andrew Alirez home and signed an impressive class that appeared prominently among all recruiting rankings. That class was largely dependent on in-state talent. While Colorado natives sprinkled among this group, Troy Nickerson's staff has branched out and signed plenty of notable recruits from outside its borders. Most notable is Ben Alanis. Even though Alanis was fifth in the Super 32 last year, he was probably overlooked by some. That wasn't the case after handling then-nationally number one, Shayne Van Ness at the Ultimate Club Duals, then following it up with a sixth-place showing at UWW Juniors. The Bears also have two other top-150 recruits coming in from out-of-state in Xavier Doolin and Branson Britten. Doolin was sixth at the Super 32 and Britten was a double placer at the 16U division, twice, in Fargo. The three big boarder's from Colorado are Rudy Lopez, Franklin Cruz, and Kenny Sailas. Cruz hails from a power program and was one of the most active wrestlers in the offseason. His frequent competitions made him susceptible to some losses, but in the end, he's battle-tested. Classes like this will put the rest of the country on notice that Northern Colorado was no "one-hit" wonder in 2019.
#74 Stoney Buell - Dundee, MI (184); #90 Ben Vanadia - Brecksville, OH (197/285); #94 Dustin Norris - LaSalle, OH (125/133); Hayden Filipovich - Lutheran, IN (197); Tristan Ruhlman - Bloomington, IN (285)
Purdue is a team that has quietly moved up the recruiting ladder of late. This group should serve head coach Tony Ersland and staff well as the Boilermakers signed three of the top-100 recruits. As has been the recipe for the Boilermakers, they have signed some high-profile talent from neighboring Big Ten states and added in some under-the-radar recruits from their home state. Stoney Buell was a four-time Michigan state champion and a 16U freestyle national champion in 2019. Dustin Norris made the Ohio state finals every time he could compete at the meet and came away with his second crown in 2021. Fellow Ohio-native Ben Vanadia wasn't able to wrestle at the state tournament this year, but was a runner-up as a sophomore and finished top-five at the Beast and Ironman last season. A pair of Indiana state champions will strengthen the upperweights in Hayden Filipovich and Tristan Ruhlman. Filipovich was the first state champion in his school's history, while Ruhlman made a successful jump from 170 to 220 for his title.
21) North Carolina
#18 Caden McCrary - Woodland Cartersville, GA (133/141); #64 Spencer Moore - Walton-Verona, KY (125); #165 Isaias Estrada - Jefferson, CO (157/165); #232 Sincere Bailey - Thornton Fractional North, IL (157)
During the Coleman Scott-era, North Carolina has been a mainstay in recruiting rankings. While this class is not as sizable as Tar Heel wrestling classes of the recent past, it contains plenty of quality. Caden McCrary was a four-time Georgia state champ that won the Super 32 in the fall. Cadet World Team member Spencer Moore reclassified up from the Class of 2022, so he could be a redshirt candidate immediately. Ultimately, he could be a career 125 lber, which is a weight UNC has failed to consistently qualify for nationals of late. North Carolina hasn't ventured out west too frequently on the recruiting trail, so signing Estrada (along with Jace Palmer), could be a sign of things to come. On the other hand, Illinois has been very kind to UNC, with the help of associate head coach Tony Ramos. The Tar Heels were able to land Illinois champ, Sincere Bailey at a weight that looks to be a long-term need.
22) Virginia Tech
#20 Cooper Flynn - McDonogh, MD (125/133); #44 Trey Kibe - Mifflin County, PA (184); Ty Finn - Simsbury, CT (165); Jackson Spires - General Spires, PA (165/174)
The Virginia Tech Hokies went with an extremely small class in 2021, but they did grab a pair of top-50 recruits in Cooper Flynn and Trey Kibe. Sam Latona surely won't stay at 125 lbs for his entire career, so having the Super 32 and National Prep champion Flynn in the fold is a smart decision. Recently, Flynn was fourth at UWW Juniors. Along the way, he defeated 2021 national qualifier Noah Surtin (Missouri) twice. Kibe was a Pennsylvania AAA state champion as a sophomore and a finalist in 2021. He was a part of some brutal in-state weight classes. Kibe joins a stable full of young Hokies ready to take over for Hunter Bolen.
#84 Nico Nardone - Delbarton, NJ (141); #85 Cole Spencer - Pine-Richland, PA (174/184); #96 Kyle Hauserman - Council Rock North, PA (149); #111 Kelly Dunnigan - Don Bosco Prep, NJ (141); #249 Hunter Gandy - Woodstown, NJ (149); Richard Delsanter - St. Edward, OH (141/149); Lance Urbas - State College, PA (174/184)
Since the return of Roger Reina, Penn has lit up the recruiting trail and continues to build. This group, along with prior classes, should help the Quakers close the gap between themselves and Ivy powers Cornell and Princeton. The Quaker staff went heavy on the 141/149-types, getting four of the top-250 kids in the nation, each of whom projects in those areas. Four-time New Jersey medalist, Nico Nardone, has the longest list of national credentials of the group and comes from a power program. Cole Spencer was a two-sport star for Pine-Richland, who could thrive while just focusing on wrestling. Spencer led his team to a state title as a quarterback and was a three-time state medalist, all at 152 lbs or higher. Since Penn did not compete in 2021, it's more difficult to figure where everyone fits right away. Suffice to say, there is plenty of talent that will impact their program today and down the road.
24) Army West Point
#101 Raymond Lopez - Buchanan, CA (125); #110 Isaiah Vance - Hempfield, PA (285); #119 Eddie Hummel - Southern, NJ (149); #183 Shane Percelay - Pope John XXIII, NJ (149); #197 Richard Treanor - Hough, NC (133); #246 Ryan Franco - Clovis North, CA (141); #248 Trae McDaniel - Cleveland, TN (133); #259 Bailey Flanagan - Lake Highland Prep, FL (174/184); #273 Ethan Berginc - Hempfield, PA (133); Dom Falcone - Easton, PA (197); Charlie Farmer - Moline, IL (125); Thomas Godbee - Vidalia, GA (197); Eli Pack - Culver Academy, IN (197); Daniel Uhorchuk - Signal Mountain, TN (125/133)
Similar to rival Navy, Army West Point has a huge recruiting class and has a potential fit at almost every weight. While Kevin Ward's team doesn't have any sure-fire blue-chippers, they have an incredible nine top-300 recruits. Since 2013, the Black Knights have only produced one national qualifier at 125 or 133 lbs. To remedy this, a whole slew of lightweights were brought in. Leading the charge is California runner-up Raymond Lopez. On the other end of the lineup is Isaiah Vance, who placed in the top-four three times at 285 lbs while competing in Pennsylvania's larger classification.
#79 Jack McGill - Spring-Ford, PA (165); #87 Aaron Ayzerov - Paramus, NJ (174); #103 Nick Fine - Bishop Hendricken, RI (174); #161 Jalen Stephens - Meyersdale, PA (285); #213 Javen Jovero - Rancho Bernardo, CA (184); #250 Zack Witmer - St. Joseph's, PA (141), Kenny Duschek - Freedom Area, PA; Matt Romanelli - Downington East, PA (174)
While we've praised Penn for moving up towards the top of the Ivy League, Columbia is right in the mix, as well. The Lions have been upped their recruiting efforts in the past few years and the results have shown, on the mat and with future classes. This group is heavy on Pennsylvania talent, which is typically a good sign. Jack McGill, Jalen Stephens, Zack Witmer, and Kenny Duschek, all have placed top-three in PA, at one point or another in high school. Two-time New Jersey finalist and state champion, Aaron Ayzerov, was fifth at the Super 32 and is battle-tested. A potentially under-the-radar pick was Nick Fine, a two-time Rhode Island champion that was a New England finalist as a junior. The last of the six big boarders is Javen Jovern, a two-time California medalist that was third in 2020.