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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    InterMat's 2022 Recruiting Class Rankings: Part One (#13-25)

    Wyoming head coach Mark Branch (right) and assistant coach Teyon Ware (photos courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.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. Fast forward a year to the 2022 class and the top spot was relatively easy to figure out. One team stood head and shoulders above the other signing classes. After that, there was plenty of chaos! We ranked out to the top-25; however, you could make the case for ten to twelve other programs belonging in the rankings.

    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 2022, 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. At this time, we don't know whether everyone will actually use that extra year of eligibility. Compared to years past, this category doesn't factor in, as much, unless it's very evident that a team has a glaring logjam at a particular weight or weight range.

    - 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 Little Rock or Wyoming sign the same prospect and he has the same career, it will have a much more significant impact on those two programs. Both Little Rock and Wyoming may have benefitted from this criteria in 2022.

    So, with that out of the way, enjoy InterMat's 2022 Team Recruiting Rankings.

    13) Wyoming

    2022 Class: #63 Jore Volk: 125/133 lbs (Lakeville North, MN), #73 Garrison Dendy: 149 lbs (Baylor School, TN), #74 Logan Ours: 157 lbs (Beaver Local, OH), #78 Kevin Zimmer: 285 lbs (Carl Sandburg, IL), #93 David Harper: 197 lbs (Baylor School, TN)

    Key Transfers: Tyce Raddon: 184 lbs (Western Wyoming), Garrett Ricks: 125 lbs (Western Wyoming)

    This group is easily the best recruiting class for Wyoming in at least a decade. For a program that typically develops overlooked gems, the Cowboy staff has a lot to work with. Not only is their incoming class more highly ranked than usual, but Mark Branch and crew have ventured out to some uncharted territory for Wyoming recruiting. Garrison Dendy and David Harper are the first big-time recruits from the southeast to venture out the Laramie. Ohio and Illinois haven't been frequent stops either. Five-time Fargo placer, Jore Volk heads up the class. He'll contribute at one of the first two weights. Ohio's Logan Ours was a big riser this year, whose stock went up after an appearance in the Ironman finals. The duo of Dendy and Harper have both placed in Fargo too. Add in the transfers, both of whom come at weighs of need and could see action right away. This group could spell trouble for the rest of the Big 12.

    2021 Ranking: NR

    14) Wisconsin

    2022 Class: #31 Nicolar Rivera: 125/133 lbs (Stoughton, WI), #32 James Rowley: 174 lbs (Crescent Valley, OR), #72 Brock Bobzien: 133 lbs (Poway, CA), #166 Mikey Tal-Shahar: 197 lbs (American Heritage, FL), #233 Felix Lettini: 149 lbs (St. Peter's, NJ), NR Ismael Ayoub: 149 lbs (Dublin Coffman, OH)

    Chris Bono's team comes in right where they landed in 2021 in 14th. The Badgers continue to stockpile talent each year during the current coaching staff's tenure. The 2022 class is led by the top in-state recruit, Nicolar Rivera. Rivera happens to be one of the most exciting wrestlers to watch in this senior class. He'll get to learn from a connoisseur of big moves in two-time All-American Eric Barnett. Cadet World silver medalist James Rowley is probably the most “college-ready” of the group and could be thrust into action immediately. The Oregon native is one of two top-100 recruits from the west coast coming aboard, joining California state third-place finisher Brock Bobzien. Brock joined Rowley on the Cadet World team, as he competed in Greco. Mikey Tal-Shahar and Felix Lettini both broke into the top eight at the Super 32 in 2021. Overall, this is another solid class for Bono and company.

    2021 Ranking: #14

    15) Pittsburgh

    2022 Class: #37 Mac Stout: 197 lbs (Mt. Lebanon, PA), #40 Dayton Pitzer: 285 lbs (Mount Pleasant, PA), #94 Jared Keslar: 157 lbs (Connellsville, PA), #137 Codie Cuerbo: 125 lbs (Aurora, OH), #150 Briar Priest: 149 lbs (Hempfield, PA), #231 Kelin Laffey: 174 lbs (Pine-Richland, PA)

    Key Transfers: Dazjon Casto: 157 lbs (The Citadel), Holden Heller: 165 lbs (Hofstra), Reece Heller: 174 lbs (Hofstra)

    Before Keith Gavin's arrival, the question surrounding Pitt was “How good could they be if they keep local kids home.” Those efforts have increased under the leadership of the Panthers most recent national champion and this class features three top-100 recruits from Western Pennsylvania. Though he wasn't able to capture a PA title, Mac Stout heads up this impressive group based on a 16U freestyle finals appearance in Fargo, along with a Powerade title this year. The other two top-100 recruits, Dayton Pitzer and Jared Keslar, were state champs in 2022. Keslar finally ascended to the top step, while Pitzer grabbed his third state crown. Ohio's Codie Cuerbo is a two-time Fargo All-American, while Briar Priest made a pair of PA state finals (winning as a junior). Finally, Kelin Laffey came on strong as a senior, finishing sixth at the state tournament and third at the Powerade. He could be a prospect with a lot of upside.

    The Panthers will get some immediate help from the transfer portal as they could solidify 157-174 with transfers. Dazjon Casto was one of the stories of Thursday from the NCAA Tournament as he stunned returning national champion, Austin O'Connor, in the first round. Holden Heller was a 2021 EIWA champion, who redshirted last season. His brother, Reece, redshirted as well and put up a 12-4 record.

    2021 Ranking: NR

    16) North Carolina

    2022 Class: #41 Danny Nini: 141 lbs (Lake Highland Prep, FL), #49 Jayden Scott: 157 lbs (Rush-Henrietta, NY), #52 Cole Hunt: 125 lbs (Dalton, GA), #65 Noah Pettigrew: 197 lbs (Valdosta, GA), #165 Nick Fea: 165 lbs (Bergen Catholic, NJ), NR Max Martin: 125 lbs (Great Bridge, VA), NR Cade Tenold: 174/184 lbs (Don Bosco, IA), NR Carson Tenold: 165/174 lbs (Don Bosco, IA)

    You've got to love the recruiting strategy from the UNC staff. They have been “in” on the burgeoning Georgia wrestling scene for a while and continue to get top-100 talent with Cole Hunt and Noah Pettigrew. Hunter, along with Max Martin, lends depth at a weight class North Carolina hasn't qualified for nationals since 2014 and only twice since 2006. Hunt and Pettigrew were both Junior Freestyle AA's last summer in Fargo. The Tar Heels also hit up a couple of consistent power programs in Lake Highland Prep and Bergen Catholic, for Danny Nini and Nick Fea. Nini was third at the Super 32 and Ironman, while Fea made the state finals during his only year wrestling in New Jersey. Top-50 prospect Jayden Scott was a three-time New York state finalist and a champion as a senior. He may get overlooked, a bit, but has placed at the Super 32 in 2020. Finally, the UNC coaches broke through in Iowa and signed the Tenold twins, Cade and Carson. Each was a state champion in 2022 and combined they appeared in five Iowa 1A state title bouts. Their commitment could lead to more Iowa kids in the future.

    2021 Ranking: #21

    17) Lehigh

    2022 Class: #20 Ryan Crookham: 133/141 lbs (Saucon Valley, PA), #68 Caden Rogers: 197 lbs (Malvern Prep, PA), #103 Kimo Leia: 149 lbs (Selma, CA), #133 Kelvin Griffin: 149 lbs (The Hill School, PA), NR Remy Brancato: 285 lbs (Bergen Catholic, NJ), NR Enzo Morlacci: 174 lbs (Kiski Area, PA), NR Owen Quinn: 165/174 lbs (Malvern Prep, PA), NR Owen Reinsel: 133/141 lbs (Brookville, PA)

    Key Transfer: Michael Beard: 197 lbs (Penn State)

    Lehigh won big with the signing of local star Ryan Crookham. Once regarded as possibly the best wrestler in the Class of 2022, Crookham battled through some injuries during the second half of his high school career. He's still managed to win three Pennsylvania state titles, though he doesn't have much in the way of recent national credentials. As an eighth-grader, in 2017, Crookham was the first middle schooler to win the high school division at the Super 32. Depending on health/weight of some Lehigh returners, Crookham could go right away. The other top-100 recruit for Lehigh is three-time National Prep top-three finisher Caden Rogers. Rogers was top-five in both styles at the Junior division last year in Fargo. We'll see where he fits in as 2021 All-American Michael Beard is transferring in from Penn State. Beard has three years of eligibility remaining and will be a national title threat immediately. Remember the rest of the names from Lehigh's class as the staff has done a remarkable job at developing under-the-radar talent. There's a good likelihood that one of two of them could emerge to outwrestle their pre-collegiate ranking.

    2021 Ranking: NR

    18) Penn

    2021 Class: #26 Martin Cosgrove: 197 lbs (Camden Catholic, NJ), #61 Andrew Troczynski: 149/157 lbs (Delbarton, NJ), #120 Evan Mougalian: 125/133 lbs (Kinnelon, NJ), #146 Jackson Polo: 141 lbs (Cold Spring Harbor, NY), #192 Alex Almeyda: 141/149 lbs (St. Joseph's, NJ), #202 Brady Pruett: 125 lbs (Archbishop Spalding, MD), #218 Jude Swisher: 149/157 lbs (Bellefonte, PA), NR Andrew Connelly: 184 lbs (Malvern Prep, PA), NR Evan Bennett: 174 lbs (St. Edward, OH), NR Louis Colaiocco: 157/165 lbs (Blair Academy, NJ), NR Matthew Cruise: 285 lbs (Easton, PA), NR Adam Thompson: 157/165 lbs (Bishop Carroll, Alberta)

    The great classes continue to roll in for Roger Reina and the Penn staff. Like others in past few years, this group features a little bit of home state flavor (Swisher, Connelly, Cruise), combined with national power programs (Bennett, Colaiocco), and a lot of NJSIAA stars (Cosgrove, Troczynski, Mougalian, Almeyda). Cosgrove, Troczynski, and Mougalian were two-time state champions, while Almeyda placed four times (three times at fourth or above). Two of the fast risers in this group are Jackson Polo and Evan Bennett, both of whom finished their senior campaign's with a state title.

    With NCAA qualifiers returning at nine of the ten weights, it may be a year or two before some of these recruits make an impact collegiately for Penn. No matter how it shakes out, there will be plenty of great options for the Penn coaching staff in the near future, in large part because of the 2022 class.

    2021 Ranking: #23

    19) Little Rock

    2022 Class: #45 Kyle Dutton: 149 lbs (Liberty, MO), #54 Brennan Van Hoecke: 149 lbs (Palmetto Ridge, FL), #95 Brendon Abdon: 157 lbs (Lake Gibson, FL), #118 Keith Miley: 285 lbs (Whitfield, MO), #144 Kodiak Cannedy: 165 lbs (Greenville, TN), #161 Stephen Little: 184 lbs (Union County, KY), #222 Chance Davis: 174 lbs (Enid, OK), NR Cael Keck: 125 lbs (Park Hill, MO)

    Little Rock is still very much in the building phase as the 2022-23 season will be their fourth of actual DI competition. This large, talented class should continue to lay the foundation for future generations of Trojan wrestlers. With three top-100 recruits and six from the top-200, there are plenty of possible year-one starters for Neil Erisman's team, if that is in the plans. Little Rock's recruiting class left an impression on the latest Walsh Ironman tournament, as four future Trojans (Dutton, Van Hoecke, Abdon, Little) placed amongst the top eight at the national best regular-season event. Brennan Van Hoecke also finished his high school season with a title at NHSCA Senior Nationals. Big man Keith Miley placed at the Super 32 on three occasions, the most recent of which included a trip to the finals. The Little Rock staff has stuck to some of their hot spots with this class, going heavy on states like Missouri and Florida, while mixing in Oklahoma, too.

    2021 Ranking: NR

    20) Princeton

    2022 Class: #42 Ty Whalen: 149 lbs (Clearview Regional, NJ), #75 Rocco Camillaci: 149 lbs (Hilton, NY), #76 Kole Mulhauser: 184 lbs (Central Square, NY), #226 Chris Martino: 141 lbs (Bishop Kelley, ID)

    Compared to some others, Princeton's recruiting class may be small in numbers, but there's plenty of talent. The Tigers sweet spot for recruiting tends to be New Jersey/New York and they hit up that area and returned with three top-100 recruits. Two-time state finalist Ty Whalen has finished third at the Super 32, the Beast and Fargo Junior freestyle, within the last year. Rocco Camillaci won a state title after finishing third in two prior attempts. He also made the Junior freestyle podium in Fargo with a seventh-place showing. The second New York state champion on board is Kole Mulhauser, who has undergone a big growth spurt during high school. He started at 120 lbs, as a freshman, and finished at 182 lbs. His best national-level finish is a sixth-place mark at the Super 32 last fall. Speaking of recruits filling out, Chris Martino placed in both styles in Fargo at the 16U level at 88 and 94 lbs. This year Martino was sixth at the Ironman. Based on how they handle the first couple of months on campus, a few of these freshmen could see the lineup next year for Princeton as they seek Ivy and EIWA titles.

    2021 Ranking: NR

    21) Navy

    2022 Class: #18 Danny Wask: 165/174 lbs (Blair Academy, NJ), #86 Jonathan Ley: 157 lbs (Lake Highland Prep, FL), #113 Evan Tallmadge: 125 lbs (Brick Memorial, NJ), #132 Brennen Cernus: 133 lbs (Pickerington, OH), #188 Jamier Ferere: 285 lbs (High Point, NC), #223 Nick Vafiadis: 157 lbs (New Kent, VA), #249 James Latona: 149 lbs (Thompson, AL), NR Matt Colajezzi: 165/174 lbs (Council Rock South, PA), NR Devon Deem: 157 lbs (Montgomery, PA), NR Brian Gordon: 174 lbs (South County, VA), NR Zyan Hall: 174 lbs (Wheeler, GA)

    The Naval Academy's recruiting efforts have continued to shine under the leadership of third-year head coach Cary Kolat. Though his reputation is legendary in Pennsylvania, Kolat has a household name, which is beneficial as the Academy recruits on a national basis. Their top prospect is one that has risen sharply up the recruiting rankings within the last year in Danny Wask. Even though Wask moved up a couple of weights last year, it didn't stop him from making the Fargo Junior finals in freestyle and taking seventh in Greco. Wask continued growing, going from 152 over the summer to the 170 range during the regular high school season. That didn't limit his effectiveness, as he was a Beast champion and a finalist at the Powerade. The second top-100 recruit in this class is Jonathan Ley. Also a Beast winner, Ley placed top-four at the Super 32 twice. The future teammates, Wask and Ley, met in the 2022 National Prep finals and it was Wask, who came out on top, 5-1.

    Outside of the top-100 recruits, there's plenty of potential for this class. Evan Tallmadge is a two-time New Jersey state champ, Brennen Cernus is a former Super 32 placer, Jamier Ferere made the finals of NHSCA Seniors, Nick Vafiadis was a Fargo Cadet finalist, and James Latona won NHSCA Seniors. 2022 marks back-to-back strong recruiting classes for Kolat and staff, which will only help Navy in an ever-improving EIWA.

    2021 Ranking: #18

    22) Oregon State

    2022 Class: #44 Gabe Whisenhunt: 133 lbs (Crescent Valley, OR), #88 CJ Hamblin: 174 lbs (Seton Catholic, WA), #101 Noah Tolentino: 149 lbs (Poway, CA), #105 Nash Singleton: 141 lbs (Roseburg, OR), #114 Isaiah Anderson: 197 lbs (Chiawana, WA), #151 Ayden Garver: 141 lbs (Newburg, OR), #173 Damion Elliott: 133 lbs (Del Oro, CA), #225 Chase DeBlaere: 141/149 lbs (Simley, MN), NR Austin Scott: 157 lbs (Mountain View, AZ)

    Key Transfer: Tristan Lara: 149 lbs (Northern Iowa)

    Oregon State is another program that has seen a sharp uptick in its recruiting results with a relatively new coaching staff. Chris Pendleton's team has made keeping Oregon's stud home a priority and the results are evident with three of the top 151 hailing from Oregon and choosing to stay in-state. Not only that, but the OSU staff has also staked their claim on the Pacific Northwest, with two big boarder's from Washington, along with making inroads at talent-rich California.

    Three-time Fargo All-American Gabe Whisenhunt leads the Oregon State Class of 2022. Not only was keeping Whisenhunt home important, but he attends powerful, local, Crescent Valley, a school the Beaver staff will need to hit up time and time again. Whisenhunt and Ayden Garver finished as four-time Oregon state champions, while Nash Singleton won three. The other top-100 recruit in the class was CJ Hamblin, a double 16U All-American in Fargo that initially verballed to Northern Colorado. The California contingent includes UWW Cadet freestyle AA Noah Tolentino and Damion Elliott, both top-six finishers at the state tournament this year.

    This class should continue the momentum established in Detroit as the Beavers left with four All-Americans.

    2021 Ranking: NR

    23) Army West Point

    2022 Class: #80 Austin Kohlhofer: 285 lbs (Delta, OH), #89 Braden Basile: 133/141 lbs (Tampa Jesuit, FL), #125 Dakota Morris: 165/174 lbs (Kingsway, NJ), #143 Gunner Filipowicz: 174 lbs (Woodward Academy, GA), #155 Evan Anderson: 285 lbs (Aurora, OH), #212 Ben Rogers: 149 lbs (Wantagh, NY), #213 Oscar Aranda: 157/165 lbs (St. John Bosco, CA), NR Gage Cook: 197/285 lbs (Granger, WA), NR Nick Corday: 125 lbs (Baylor School, TN), NR Cole Karpinski: 184/197 lbs (Greenville, PA), Tommy Link: 125 lbs (Malvern Prep, PA), NR Kent McCombs: 157 lbs (Clinton, MI), Jaime Rivera: 141 lbs (Sunnyside, AZ)

    Even after losing their primary recruiting specialist, Ned Shuck, to the Bellarmine head coaching position, Army West Point hasn't missed a beat on the recruiting trail. It helps that head coach Kevin Ward brought in Scott Green, who had previously led National Prep power Wyoming Seminary for the past decade.

    The top-ranked recruit for the Black Knights is two-time Ohio champion Austin Kohlhofer. Austin had a breakout year in 2021-22 and rose into the top-80 nationally. Right behind him is #89 Braden Basile, a third-place finisher at the Ironman, who was sixth in Junior freestyle last summer in Fargo.

    This group is likely to cover just about every weight class once they make their way to West Point. A large class such as this one isn't necessarily about “need-filling,” but rather just getting as much talent in the room and letting the cream rise to the top.

    2021 Ranking: #24

    24) Oklahoma

    2022 Class: #36 John Wiley: 165 lbs (Mustang, OK), #51 Joey Cruz: 125 lbs (Bullard, CA), #227 Christian Forbes: 125 lbs (Broken Arrow, OK)

    Key Transfers: Wyatt Henson: 133/141 lbs (Iowa), Gerrit Nijenhuis: 174 lbs (Purdue), Jack Wagner: 133 lbs (Northern Iowa)

    The Sooners Class of 2022 is quite small compared to some others, but is unique and will be helpful in its own way. Getting a top-50 in-state recruit like John Wiley is always a win for the Sooners. The 2019 double Fargo champion won two Oklahoma titles, but was a part of some incredibly brutal weight classes in 2021 and 2022. Wiley appears to fill a big long-term need for the Sooners at 165. With Joey Prata coming back for another year at 125, it gives his possible successors, Joey Cruz and Christian Forbes, an opportunity to adjust to DI wrestling. Cruz was a three-time top-three finisher in California and a state champion as a senior. In the fall, Cruz was selected to wrestle in the Who's #1 dual meet. Forbes placed in Fargo five times during his high school career.

    Oklahoma will also get a boost from transfers. Typically, you don't give transfers the same potential impact as incoming freshmen, since they may have limited eligibility. However, Wyatt Henson was the #16 overall recruit last year and has four years of eligibility after going 18-2 competing unattached for Iowa. Henson may be the answer at 133 or 141. Though he's already participated in two NCAA Championship events, Gerrit Nijenhuis has three years of eligibility remaining and fits in well at 174 lbs. Graduate transfer, Jack Wagner, had a winner year for Northern Iowa in 2021-22 and could be in the mix to start next season.

    2021 Ranking: #11

    25) Northern Iowa

    2021 Class: #29 Cory Land: 125 lbs (Moody, AL), #70 Wyatt Voelker: 197 lbs (West Delaware, IA), #119 Chet Buss: 285 lbs (North Butler-Clarksville, IA), NR Trever Anderson: 125/133 (Ankeny, IA), NR Ryder Downey: 149 lbs (Indianola, IA), NR Garrett Funk: 125/133 lbs (Don Bosco, IA)

    Since his arrival in Cedar Falls, Doug Schwab has made it a priority to retain Iowa high schoolers. He's continued the trend by getting a pair of top 150 recruits in Wyatt Voelker and Chet Buss. The two could develop into the anchors at the end of the Panthers lineup. Though those weights don't appear to be pressing needs, it's always good to have a pair of recruits of that caliber sign on. Both were two-time state champions.

    Schwab and his staff ventured outside to the state borders and Landed a huge signee in Cory Land. The 2021 Cadet Greco world silver medalist made the Super 32 finals on two occasions and placed top-three at the event three times. He also was dominant in his home state with four Alabama state titles.

    2021 Ranking: NR

    Next Five: Cal Poly, Columbia, North Dakota State, Minnesota, South Dakota State

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