2021 16U freestyle runner-up and Stanford commit Aden Valencia (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
We are just a few days away from the first whistle blowing at the FargoDome as the Junior/16U National Championships will occur. The event returned in 2021, after it was canceled in 2020, and had an incredibly deep field. This year's group looks even better.
Over the next couple of days, we'll go conference-by-conference to preview recruits from each school and their chances for success. We have only included recruits that have been tabbed to participate in one of the tournaments. We're starting out west with the Pac-12! This conference features a traditional recruiting power in Arizona State and one that has recently developed in Oregon State. Stanford missed out on most of the 2021 recruiting cycle during the year of uncertainty surrounding the program. The second-year staff has made up for it with an incredible group for 2022 and some great verbals from 2023 and even 2024. Here are the Pac-12 recruits to watch out for in the FargoDome.
Kaleb Larkin, Arizona (145)
Jacob Meissner, Minnesota (195)
Nicco Ruiz, California (160) - Class of 2023
Emilio Ysaguirre, Arizona (138)
The Sun Devils have an experienced group of recruits that have generally tasted success in Fargo already. Emilio Ysaguirre was always well thought of before the 2021 tournament, but used a runner-up finish at last year's Junior freestyle tournament as a breakout. Fellow incoming freshman, Kaleb Larkin, is battle tested with the Valiant Prep program; however, he's seeking his first Junior freestyle placement. He was fourth in 16U Greco-Roman in 2019. Top-ranked Nicco Ruiz was fifth in Junior freestyle before his junior year of high school. Jacob Meissner is a Super 32 fifth-place finisher that could make a dent here.
Lucas Condon, California (170) - Class of 2023
Nathan Glass, Nevada (220)
Cash Stewart, Wisconsin (160)
Wesley Wilson, California (195)
Typically Cal Poly's recruiting classes are heavily composed of in-state natives and that's generally the case this year, as well. However, a couple of out-of-state recruits will be in action in Fargo. Nevada's Nathan Glass was an NHSCA Senior National AA (7th) at 285 lbs, while Cash Stewart was a two-time Wisconsin state finalist and a champion as a sophomore. From the Class of 2022, Wesley Wilson was a match shy of placing at the CIF tournament, but was third at this year's Doc Buchanan. The Class of 2023 is off to a good start with Lucas Condon, who was third at the state tournament last season.
Ryan Arrington, California (220)
Wanderlei Whittington, California (145) - Class of 2023
CSU Bakersfield tends to be creative on the recruiting trail and seeks out gems before the rest of the country discovers them. Ryan Arrington was a fourth-place finisher in a really solid California state weight class. He also was sixth at NHSCA SR's. Wanderlei Whittington went 1-2 at the state tournament in a loaded weight with a pair of tough losses to quality opponents.
Brendon Abdon, Florida (152)
Kodiak Cannedy, Tennessee (170)
Chance Davis, Oklahoma (160)
Kyle Dutton, Missouri (145)
Cael Keck, Missouri (132)
Stephen Little, Kentucky (195)
Brennan Van Hoecke, Florida (138)
Head Coach Neil Erisman has a large chunk of his 19th-ranked recruiting class locked in and ready to go for Fargo. This entire group is graduated seniors who look to finish their respective high school career's on a high note. Cael Keck is the only one that has placed twice in Fargo, as he was a double Junior AA at 100 lbs in 2019. Brennan Van Hoecke took third in 16U freestyle that same year. Kyle Dutton was also sixth in 16U Greco-Roman in 2019. The remainder of the class have strong national-level credentials, but haven't tasted the podium in the FargoDome. Brendon Abdon had an excellent senior campaign with top-eight finishes at the Super 32 and Ironman, before capping it off with a finals appearance at NHSCA's. Kentucky's Stephen Little was also an Ironman placer.
DJ Gillette, Oregon (138) - Class of 2023
CJ Hamblin, Washington (170)
Justin Rademacher, Oregon (182) - Class of 2023
Nash Singleton, Oregon (132)
Cade White, Idaho (152) - Class of 2023
Incredibly enough, all of these five recruits for OSU have at least one past All-American placement from Fargo on their respective resumes. Starting with incoming freshmen, CJ Hamblin used the 2019 tournament to break out with top-six finishes in both styles at the 16U level. Nash Singleton took fifth in Junior Greco last year and third in 16U freestyle in 2019. Looking ahead to the rising seniors, DJ Gillette has proven to be a standout in Greco with a third-place finish in 2019 at 94 lbs in the 16U division. Earlier this year, Gillette was seventh in UWW Cadet Greco. That's the same placement as Justin Rademacher, who was a couple weights higher at 80 kg. He was an impressive fourth in 16U freestyle in 2021. Cade White's best national finish was a sixth-place showing at 16U Greco last year. Don't be surprised to see a few future Beavers come back with some hardware.
Jack Darrah, Missouri (195)
Zach Hanson, Minnesota (145) - Class of 2023;
Lorenzo Norman, New Jersey (170) - Class of 2023
Aden Valencia, California (126) - Class of 2024
Abe Wojcikiewicz, Illinois (182) - Class of 2023
Perhaps the most dangerous team in the league, from this tournament's standpoint and in the future, is Stanford. Incoming freshman Jack Darrah has had his best results in Greco. He was a 2019 Pan-American champion, as a Cadet, and placed top-three twice in Fargo in the 16U division. The 2023 Class boasts Zach Hanson, who was a double 16U national champion last year. In the spring, Hanson was top-four in both styles at UWW Cadet's 65 kg. He should be a favorite in both styles as he moves to the Junior division. Lorenzo Norman doesn't have a long list of credentials in international styles, but was a finalist at the Ironman and Powerade this year. Now looking waaay ahead to the Class of 2024, Aden Valencia has shined at various national-level tournaments and this one is no exception. He was a 16U runner-up in freestyle last year after making the finals in both styles at UWW Cadets. True to form, he also was a finalist at the Super 32, before taking third in California.