LARAMIE, Wyo. - The University of Wyoming wrestling team will receive an infusion of young talent as head coach Mark Branch announced Friday the addition of five prep student-athletes to next year's lineup.
Doyle Trout, Drake Foster, Cameron Loving, Cody Vigoren and Danny Gordon will begin their UW academic and athletic careers in the fall of 2015-16. These five hail from a wide geographical swath, including Nebraska, Idaho, Oklahoma, Washington and New Mexico.
"The main focus on this year's class was not only looking at great wrestlers but great students in the classroom," Branch said. "When we are recruiting, we are looking at students who have academics as a priority. Paying special attention to the character of kid we're bringing into the program was important, as well. I couldn't be happier with these five individuals. They possess all the qualities that it takes to be successful at the Division I level and they have a wealth of experience and success on the national level."
Doyle Trout | Utica, Neb. (Centennial HS) | 125-133 pounds
Trout projects to be a 125-/133-pound competitor for the Pokes. A three-time Nebraska class C state champion, he's gunning for No. 4 in his final season. If he wins a state title next year, he'll become just the 25th wrestler in Nebraska to win four state titles and only the second in Class C. He has three District C championships to his credit, along with an overall career record of 126-5. Trout has continued his folkstyle success on the national level as well adding a national championship at the 2013 USA Wrestling Preseason Nationals, runner-up at the 2013 USAW/Cliff Keen Folkstyle Nationals and first place at the 2014 Cliff Keen USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals. Trout has also excelled on the freestyle scene, with medals at Fargo in the Cadet and Junior national championships as well as at the FILA Junior and Cadet national levels. He currently is ranked No. 12 at 120 pounds in InterMat high school rankings.
"Doyle grew up in Nebraska and grew up a (University of Nebraska) Cornhusker fan," Branch said. "I feel like that was a big pickup for us. We had to pull him away from a school that he grew up following. It's nice to go into `enemy territory' and pluck who I feel like is the best kid coming out that state."
Drake Foster | Post Falls, Idaho (Post Falls HS) | 125-133 pounds
Foster will add strength to the lower weights for the Pokes as a 125-/133-pounder. A two-time Idaho state champion, he is seeking his third title as a senior this season. As a junior, he was the state runner-up at 126 pounds and finished with a mark of 45-2. Foster went 42-3 and captured the Idaho state 5A championship at 106 pounds as a freshman and won state as a sophomore. He also placed in the 2012 Cadet Nationals in Fargo, N.D., where he took sixth in freestyle and second in Greco Roman. He followed that up with a third-place finish in freestyle and was fifth in Greco-Roman at the 2013 Cadet nationals.
"Drake had a tough decision between us, Army and Boise State," Branch said. "He has built some strong relationships with the staff at Boise. It was a tough recruiting battle but I think Drake will be a great fit here. He is an excellent athlete and he will solidify our lower weights. I'm excited to have him here as a Cowboy."
Cameron Loving | Altus, Okla. (Altus HS) | 165-174 pounds
Entering his senior season at Altus HS, Loving is a two-time Oklahoma Class 5A state champion who finished last season with a 41-4 record. He has a stellar junior campaign, finishing with runner-up placings in the Mid-American tournament and Geary Invitational. Both are considered to be some of the toughest regular-season events in the state of Oklahoma. He was the runner-up at 160 in the USA Wrestling Preseason Nationals in October. He projects to be anywhere from a 165- to 184-pound competitor for the Pokes, standing at 6-foot-2. He currently is ranked No. 11 at 160 pounds in InterMat high school rankings.
"Cameron is a great kid and I've known his family for quite a while," Branch said of Loving. "He had come to our wrestling camps twice so we had built a relationship with him prior to recruiting him and he got comfortable with our staff and the University of Wyoming. He's just now starting to come into his own. He proved that at Preseason Nationals by beating highly ranked kids. He's going to be a great wrestler when it's said and done and I could see him competing anywhere from 165-184 because of his frame."
Cody Vigoren | Lake Stevens, Wash. (Lake Stevens HS) | 197 pounds
Vigoren won the Washington Class 4A state title earlier this year with a pin in the finals after finishing fourth in 2013. He posted a dominant junior season, winning the prestigious Doc Buchanan tournament in California and losing only once on the year to the 12th-ranked competitor in the country at his weight. He helped Lake Stevens with the state team title last season. He placed sixth at FloNationals in April 2014.
"We got to know Cody, and one thing that stuck out was that he is an amazing student," Branch said. "He comes from a supportive family and he's going to bring leadership skills to the program. He's a very athletic and solid 197-pounder. Once he's exposed to our coaching staff and workout partners, I believe we will see him reach his potential, which has a very high ceiling."
Danny Gordon | Belen, N.M. (Belen HS) | 285 pounds
Gordon was a New Mexico state champion at heavyweight as a junior, pinning all four opponents on his way to the title and a record of 46-3. His pin in the finals pushed Belen to a second-place finish in the team race. Gordon is a three-time high school state placer.
"He's a big kid who moves well," Branch said. "He's a very bright kid. His interest in UW was not only in wrestling, but academics as well. He plans to study petroleum engineering. I love to have those kids who are motivated in wrestling and their education."
Branch and the Cowboy coaching staff will continue to keep an eye on more student-athletes to sign in the busy prep wrestling season in the spring.
"We'll continue to recruit in the spring as there are some more needs that we'll be trying to address," he said. "But when the dust settles, this signing class will be one of the best in the history of the program."