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College Update for November 15: Tournament action, Bucknell's return and recruiting news



By Jason Bryant
jbryant@intermatwrestle.com

The season's upon us and with a few open tournaments adding to the chatter around the internet, the obvious talk is about Nick Simmons of Michigan State and his victory over returning NCAA champion Matt Valenti of Penn.

In Craig Sesker's interview with TheMat.com, Simmons didn't indicate one way or the other where he'd be wrestling this season, at 125, where he's a three-time All-American or at 133, where he just beat the top gun in the weight class.

Franklin Gomez took the title at 125 pounds, knocking off seventh-ranked Obe Blanc of Lock Haven in the process.

While the younger Simmons, Andy, defaulted in the finals at 141 to North Carolina's Vincent Ramirez, the story of that weight was the entry by InterMat's #2-ranked recruit Zack Kemmerer of Upper Perkiomen High School in Pennsylvania.

Last season, Kemmerer swept the PIAA AAA tournament, Ironman and Beast of the East, the Upper Perk senior fell to Simmons in the quarterfinals before battling back and beating future Penn teammate Cesar Grajales in the consolations before finishing fourth after a 3-1 loss to Old Dominion's Ryan Williams.

Gregor Gillespie tilted his way to a tournament title at 149 pounds, notching a first-period technical fall over Cleveland State's Ryan Hurley.

Matt Dragon, ranked fourth at 149 pounds, wrestled up at 157 pounds and had a tournament he'd like to forget. After an opening round win, Dragon found himself in a late scramble with Old Dominion redshirt freshman Chris Brown and ended up getting in a bad position and getting pinned in the quarterfinals. Dragon's woes continued, losing to teammate Gene Zannetti and North Carolina's Ben Fiacco for seventh place.

Also of note, Edinboro's Matt Hill upended Indiana All-American Brandon Becker in the semifinals in a match up of ranked foes. Hill beat Brown in the finals at 157.

After a slow start at the Avalon Duals, Deonte Penn bested North Carolina's Keegan Mueller by a point in the finals at 165. Mueller looked sharp, beating two Big Ten opponents (Rocky Cozart- Michigan State and Max Dean - Indiana) representing his new team. Mueller, a Texas native, transferred from Ohio State during the off-season.

Indiana's Marc Bennett was a pleasant surprise for the Hoosiers, beating top-seeded and third-ranked Alex Clemsen of Edinboro in the finals at 184.

Welcome back
It had been five years since the orange and blue of Bucknell had shown up on a Division I wrestling mat. Their appearance in Philadelphia was an unwelcomed one for the University of Maryland.

Upset victories by freshmen Andy Rendos, Eric Lapotsky and George Hingson led the Bison to a 27-14 victory over the Terps.

Lapotsky's proved to be sizeable, picking up a first-period fall over 11th-ranked Hudson Taylor at 197 pounds. With the dual in check, Hingson scored a fall over Jerry Afari at heavyweight for the proverbial "icing on the cake."

Bucknell went 2-1 on the day, dropping a match to host Drexel, while the Terps recovered, beating Drexel to finish the day.

The Bison started 10 true freshmen.

All Star Notes
An injury to Minnesota heavyweight Cole Konrad knocked him out of the NWCA All-Star Classic lineup just days a week before the event. Konrad, who would have participated in his third All-Star Classic, was replaced by Spencer Nadolsky of North Carolina. Nadolsky won the MSU Open at heavyweight and earned ACC Wrestler of the Week honors. He'll face one of several Ivy Leaguers in the November 20 match - second-ranked Bode Ogunwole of Harvard.

Konrad's teammate, Mack Reiter, initially accepted the invitation then had to pull out last month after suffering a potential season-ending knee injury in practice. There are still two Golden Gophers in the dual - 184-pounder Roger Kish and 149-pounder Dustin Schlatter.

Recruiting buzz
It's been a busy time for college coaches - but less and less about the preparation than it is about the recruiting. As of November 14, 190 high school seniors had either signed or verbally committed to wrestle in college before their final high school season started practice.

Last year, the spike hit during the actual early signing period, but with over 120 commitments before the first National Letter of Intent was returned, the Deal or No Deal game is being met with more "Deals" than deferments.

In 2005, 73 wrestlers committed between Nov. 1-14. In 2006, the numbers were slightly up, with 77 commitments.

The big hitters in the last two weeks have been Corey Jantzen of Shoreham-Wading River, N.Y. - InterMat's #5-ranked recruit. Jantzen follows older brother Jesse, who won the NCAA championship for the Crimson in 2005. Blair Academy's Kellen Russell was courted by Virginia Tech and Lehigh with nice offers, but ultimately, he chose Michigan.

Nebraska snatched up one of the top heavyweight recruits - Tucker Lane of Colorado, while coach Mark Manning's alma mater, Nebraska-Omaha, added Esai Dominguez to its program. Esai will be the third Dominguez to wrestle for Mike Denney's UNO program.

Ohio State snagged two of the nation's promising lower weights, Nikko Triggas of California and Bo Touris of Ohio.

Oklahoma State kept at it as well, signing a third Junior National champion to go along with the two that had already committed. Luke Ashmore of Texas joins Jamal Parks and Clayton Foster as Fargo champs heading to Stillwater.

Virginia Tech's recruiting scheme is very aggressive, picking up David Marone of Colorado, Nick Murray of New Jersey and Matt Cusick of Illinois.

Northern Illinois added freestyle All-American T.J. Wunnicke to go along with Illinois state placewinner Scott Penny.

Two of Ohio's top heavyweights committed - Ben Kuhar to Northwestern and Brendan Barlow to Kent State.

Hofstra added Californian Justin Danz and Long Island product P.J. Gillespie.

Division II also got into the fun, with Pitt-Johnstown, Newberry and UNC Pembroke picking up commitments in the last two weeks.
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