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As the premier high school event in the country, Who's #1 is often one of the few times college wrestling fans dip their toes in the water to watch the future stars of our sport. To get them up to speed, we prepared a handy little guide of who you should be watching.
Sat. Oct. 5 | 6 PM Eastern
This article is broken down very simply: those who have already committed to a school, and those who are still free agents. We'll start with the guys who have announced their verbal so far. The athletes are listed in match order.
- Ryan Jack: NC State
- Dom Serrano: Nebraska
- Jesse Ybarra: Iowa
- Jakason Burks: Oklahoma State
- Richard Figueroa II: Arizona State
- Josh Saunders: Cornell
- Anthony Ecehmedia: Iowa State
- Sonny Santiago: Arizona State
- Keegan O’Toole: Missouri
- Robbie Howard: Penn State
- Trevor Mastrogiovanni: Oklahoma State
- Beau Bartlett: Penn State
- Patrick Kennedy: Iowa
Over half the lineup has already given their verbal, and in the case of graduate Echemendia, he has already signed on with the Cyclones. Also from the Big 12, the Cowboys have a couple lightweights going in Burks and Mastrogiovanni.
Two Big Ten schools are represented twice here with Ybarra and Kennedy committed to be Hawkeyes and Bartlett and Howard looking like the lightweight future of the Nittany Lions. Rounding out those with two committed is the Sun Devils, which makes sense given that Figueroa and Santiago come from the same club in the Sunkist Kids/Monster Garage.
There’s a hodgepodge of other school and conferences represented. Jack will be heading to NC State along with a few other of his Empire Wrestling Academy teammates, Serrano will be competing in the Big Ten for Nebraska, Saunders is going Ivy League to Cornell after he spends this year at the OPTC, and Keegan O’Toole will be going to Missouri, just like his coach Ben Askren.
On to the guys still yet to announce their commitment. These lists should be considered unofficial unless the athletes themselves have announced them publicly, and is based upon a mix of information and reading the tea leaves.
- Jesse Mendez: Indiana, Penn State, Ohio State, Michigan, Cornell, Iowa
- Shayne Van Ness: Rutgers, Iowa State, Penn State
- Stevo Poulin: Penn State, NC State
- Victor Voinovich: Oklahoma State, Cornell, Ohio State
- Jesse Vasquez: Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan, Cornell, Arizona State
- Travis Mastrogiovanni: Oklahoma State, Ohio State, Lehigh, NC State, Penn State, Iowa State
- Paddy Gallagher: Iowa, Ohio State, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois
- Ryan Sokol: Ohio State, Minnesota, Iowa
- Alex Facundo: Iowa State, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Penn State, Michigan
Now here’s where it gets juicy. As none of these guys have verballed yet, take all of these completely unofficial school lists with a grain of salt, in particular the youngest guy on the card: Jesse Mendez. An Indiana native, he is coached by the same guys who brought up Jason Tsirtsis, and in fact Jason’s brother Alex will be coaching Mendez at WNO. Between Jason being on the IU staff and Angel Escobedo being a legend in the state, it’s not out of the realm of possibility he ends up in Bloomington. A trio of other Big Ten schools are surely in play, as is Cornell. However, he cannot even take unofficial visits yet and the family is moreso in the process of feeling out what they want from a school than the actual narrowing down of colleges. Again, he's a sophomore (#3 on the 2022 Big Board), so don't expect a decision anytime soon.
Van Ness is only a junior, so his decision may still be a long ways off. His father Rodney was a legend at Rutgers, and his face is one of many displayed on the doors outside the RAC. Iowa State has also visited and Penn State is looking at him, though that probably depends on how big they get since PSU already has Howard and Bartlett.
Stevo’s only a junior, with plenty of time to make a decision, and is very tight lipped about where he’s leaning. The Cadet world teamer has a bunch of options, and as a potential career 125, will have several high level suitors. There’s an obvious connection with NC State, as his coach is Frank Popolizio, the brother of Wolfpack head coach Pat Popolizio. Our own Willie Saylor believes Penn State should be in consideration as well, given the location and need for a 125 in Happy Valley. Ultimately though, we probably won’t know where Stevo ends up, or even where he’s looking, for a few months.
Victor Voinovich is one of a couple studs from the Buckeye state on the card, and tOSU is of course after him. The question I have is, are Oklahoma State and Cornell pulling away or is Voinovich still considering staying in-state? Both the Cowboys and Big Red have excellent 2020 classes, but getting the Brecksville product would ensure that momentum keeps up for their junior class.
The last major chip in the 2020 class, Vasquez has been very public about his recruitment, posting edits on instagram for all of his major offers. He'll face Voinovich in one of the few matchups where both guys are uncommitted. The three-time California state champ has just over a month until signing day, so if Iowa fans want him, tonight is the time to show it.
Travis Mastrogiovanni is still uncommitted, as are most juniors, but his brother will be heading to Stillwater. However, that does not mean he’s a lock for the Cowboys, especially considering they are after Voinovich. A ton of suitors are in play for the younger but heavier Mastro, who will probably take his time with his decision and go on all five of his official visits before making a choice.
Let’s get to the other Ohio boy, Paddy Gallagher. He revealed his school list in an interview the other day, and it echoed what he told us earlier this summer: that it’s Big Ten or bust for him. He’s already visited Michigan, and Wisconsin’s on a heater right now. Given his weight, he’d be a great fit with Poeta at Illinois. It seems like damn near half the card is being targeted by Ohio State. But the clubhouse leader might just be the Hawkeyes, where he’ll coincidentally be wrestling in front of the hometown crowd tonight.
Ryan Sokol originally committed to the Hawkeyes, but has since re-opened his commitment. It came right after a visit to Ohio State, so the Buckeyes appear near the top the of the list. Sokol goes to Simley high school, and his former teammate Gerg Kerkvliet would probably love to see him in Columbus. It also makes sense for the Gophers to try to keep him in state. He may still be taking an official visit to Iowa later this month, meaning the Hawkeyes are still in play.
And now we close with the big one, the #1 recruit in the junior class. Two-time Cadet world medalist Alex Facundo is making his second straight appearance at WNO, and there is no one whose recruitment is being followed more closely. I believe the Davison ties are crucial, which is why Iowa State, Wisconsin, and Nebraska are at the top. But Michigan, where he frequently trains at their RTC, and Penn State, because titles, are also going to make a heavy push. He's the main event here for a reason, and his commitment will be the top news story of the day whenever it comes.