2019 16U national champion Mykey Ramos (Photo courtesy of John Sachs; Tech-Fall.com)
We are less than a week away from the first whistle blowing at the FargoDome as the Junior/16U National Championships will occur for the first time since 2019. Because of the cancelation of the 2020 tournament, the wrestlers have decided to show up in full force at Fargo. Early entries indicate that it will be the deepest in 10-15 years.
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. Now we've moved on to the Pac-12! This conference features a traditional recruiting power in Arizona State and one that has recently developed in Oregon State. Notable by the omission is Stanford, which wasn't able to get any recruits because their program was on the chopping block for most of the last year. The remaining schools are all very creative in their own right when it comes to recruiting. With a renewed vote of confidence from the Pac-12, combined with each of these teams continuing to progress, the Pac-12 could be on the upswing. Here are some of the key recruits that could be a part of this resurgence and in action at the FargoDome.
Michael Kilic (Georgia) - Class of 2022: 152 lbs
Kaleb Larkin (Arizona) - Class of 2022: 145 lbs
Mykey Ramos (Arizona) - Class of 2021: 138 lbs
Arizona State came away with an NCAA team trophy in 2021 and isn't slowing down soon, based on a #2 overall recruiting class. One of the key components of that group is Mykey Ramos. The last time in Fargo, Ramos was in the 16U finals in both tournaments. He would earn top honors in the Greco tournament. Could he do it again in 2021 at the Junior level? The 138 lb bracket has plenty of title threats, yet none that stands head and shoulders above the competition. Fellow Arizona native Kaleb Larkin was fourth in 16U Greco two summers ago. He is one of the many wrestlers capable of a top-eight run at 145 lbs. Up a weight is one of the stars of a great crop of Georgia seniors, Michael Kilic. Michael was also a 16U Greco-Roman national champion in 2019 and also was fourth in freestyle. He probably has another deep run in him in 2021.
Joey Cape (Illinois) - Class of 2021: 138 lbs
Abraham Hinrichsen (Illinois) - Class of 2021: 126 lbs
Luka Wick (California) - Class of 2021: 152 lbs
The Cal Poly staff went out of their normal recruiting radius and picked up a couple of studs from Illinois in Joey Cape and Abraham Hinrichsen. Both will be on display next week. Cape is particularly good in Greco. He was a Cadet finalist in 2018 and third in 2019. Even after jumping a few weight classes and aging into Juniors, Cape should be a Greco contender. Hinrichsen's best results have leaned towards Greco, but is accomplished in both. He was fourth in both styles as a Cadet in 2018, then took eighth in Greco in 2019. Like Cape, Hinrichsen's best results came at significantly lower weights, but the skills are there. The final piece for the Mustangs is Luka Wick. Way back in 2017, Wick was a Cadet freestyle All-American. Since then, he's placed at the Super 32 and won the Doc Buchanan. He's capable of a high placement in freestyle.
Cade Lucio (California) - Class of 2021: 145 lbs
CSU Bakersfield typically recruits their local area well and has continued that trend by signing Bakersfield High School's Cade Lucio. Lucio was a 16U Greco-Roman national finalist in 2019. During the high school season, Lucio qualified for the state tournament on three occasions. Provided Lucio has been able to prepare appropriately, he should log another high finish in Greco and notch some wins on the freestyle side, as well.
Matthew Bianchi (Wisconsin) - Class of 2021: 145 lbs
Warren Hoyt (Arkansas) - Class of 2021: 182 lbs
Reid Nelson (Minnesota) - Class of 2021: 120 lbs
During the 2021 season, Paul Bianchi made history for Little Rock by becoming the school's first national qualifier. Now, younger brother Matthew is ready to join the team and make it three Bianchi's with the Trojan program. Matthew is already the most accomplished of the bunch in high school competition, winning four Wisconsin state titles and placing in both styles in 2019. Bianchi was third in freestyle and fifth in Greco. While replicating such high finishes may be difficult, don't be surprised to see Bianchi on the podium in both. Getting back to the top-eight is something Reid Nelson is looking forward to doing. Nelson was fourth in Cadet freestyle in 2018 at 94 lbs. He'll have to contend with a boat-load of young talent at 120 in order to achieve AA status again. Keep an eye out for Arkansas product Warren Hoyt. Warren was seventh at NHSCA Freshman Nationals in 2018 and can hang with the best in the nation. He may be a dark horse at 182 lbs.
Jacob Barnes (Oregon) - Class of 2021: 285 lbs
Chase DeBlaere (Minnesota) - Class of 2022: 138 lbs
Hunter Eveland (Oregon) - Class of 2021: 138 lbs
Graham Gambrall (Iowa) - Class of 2021: 160 lbs
Asher Ruchti (Oregon) - Class of 2021: 182 lbs
Gabe Whisenhunt (Oregon) - Class of 2022: 126 lbs
The second-year staff at Oregon State has hit the recruiting trail hard over the last year-plus and the results have been evident with the number of signees by Chris Pendleton and staff. It's fitting that they lead the conference in the number of recruits competing in Fargo. Half of their recruits, Jacob Barnes, Gabe Whisenhunt, and Chase DeBlaere have also placed at Fargo before. Barnes was a 16U Greco national champion in 2019 and a fifth-place finisher in freestyle. It wouldn't be shocking to see similar results from him this year. Whisenhunt was top-five in both styles at the 16U level in 2019, also. His highwater mark was a runner-up finish in freestyle. DeBlaere was sixth at the Cadet World Team Trials in freestyle and has found the Fargo podium in Greco. Expect Whisenhunt and DeBlaere both to go deep into the tournament with a possible AA finish as a result.
Iowa native Graham Gambrall was a four-time state placer and 2020 champion for Iowa City West High School. He doesn't have national-level credentials in either of the international styles, but could benefit from the rising level of in-state competition. Both Hunter Eveland and Asher Ruchti are Oregon kids that may have been overlooked by the rest of the nation. Ruchti finished the year on the senior Big Board, while Eveland was an honorable mention. Expect both to log some respectable wins at deep weights.