Nov. 18, 2011
LARAMIE, Wyo. - The Wyoming wrestling program already has built a solid program over the last three seasons, and announced Friday that it had added more talented pieces to that foundation.
Wyoming coach Mark Branch and his staff announced the signing of five student-athletes for the fall of 2012.
The signees include Dylan Schumacher, Brent Havlik, Ben Stroh, Jordan Hanson and Drew Templeman. The five were recruited because of their skill on the wrestling mat and their dedication to academics.
"All these guys are strong academically. That's what we were looking for when we were recruiting them - kids who can come here and succeed in the classroom," Branch said. "But the things they've done on the mat (are exceptional.) ... I think with what we add in the spring, we're going to be looking at the best recruiting class we've ever had here."
Here's a breakdown of the five signees, with their hometown, high school and projected college weight class:
Dylan Schumacher, Hays, Kan. (Thomas More Prep-Marian) - 133 pounds
Schumacher carries a 4.0 grade-point average as a student, and has just three losses in entire prep career. He is a three-time Kansas state champion, seeking a fourth-straight title. Schumacher also was a National High School Coaches Association All-America honoree. He is a multi-sport athlete, also.
"Schumacher is one of those hidden-gem kids, from a small Kansas school," Branch said. "He was a multi-sport athlete, so he didn't get that national (wrestling) exposure, but he's tough as nails. He was a real find for us just because when you play other sports, you don't get the exposure at the national level. He's dominated the Kansas state high school championships the last three years."
Brent Havlik, Kimball, S.D. (Mitchell HS) - 165/174 pounds
Havlik is a two-time South Dakota state champion, an NHSCA All-American and a Disney Dual Silver medalist.
"He's a really strong wrestler, a powerful wrestler with great positioning and he's got a good foundation," Branch said. "He's shown that he can compete with some of the best kids in the nation."
Ben Stroh, Chinook, Mont. (Chinook HS) - 184/197 pounds
Stroh is a three-time Montana state champion and a Junior National All-America honoree. He received interest from wrestling powers like Iowa, Nebraska and Michigan.
"Not a lot of people knew about him (early on)," Branch said of Stroh. "We knew about him and tried to keep it quiet, but he went up to Fargo (at Junior Nationals) this summer and beat some of the best kids in the country, and all of a sudden, everyone started recruiting him."
Stroh's older brother, Robert, currently is a redshirt freshman for the Cowboys.
"The family felt comfortable with the coaching staff and with the campus," Branch said. "(Getting the commitment) wasn't easy, because he's definitely a highly sought after kid. That was a big pickup for us."
Jordan Hanson, Lander, Wyo. (Lander HS) - 285 pounds
Hanson was a Wyoming state champion at heavyweight in 2011, cruising through the state tournament, winning all four matches at state by fall. He also was fourth at the state tournament in 2010 as a sophomore. Hanson didn't start wrestling until he was in high school, and stands at 6-foot-3 and weighs in at 275 pounds.
"He's a big heavyweight, which is what we're looking for," Branch said. "He's a Wyoming kid who got a late start and just dominated his junior year. He went across the county and wrestled at (four-time Olympic medalist's) Bruce Baumgartner's heavyweight camp, which is the best heavyweight camp in the world, so his commitment is to wrestling. The fact he's got just a few years under his belt and he's already having so much success made him really attractive to go out and make sure he stayed in state."
Drew Templeman, Orting, Wash. (Orting HS) - 125 pounds
Templeman is a three-time state champion as well as a three-time NHSCA All-American. He has a reputation as a tireless worker and is quite adept in the classroom, as well.
"He's a kid we wanted to keep out in the West," Branch said. "We feel very fortunate because all we've heard is the guy is a hammer in the wrestling room and he's a hard worker. He's also a kid who's very strong academically."
Branch believes this class could vault his program into the upper echelon of NCAA wrestling, which has been his goal since he was hired.
"It's an outstanding class. We've got three of these kids who will try to win their fourth straight state championship, which is pretty awesome," Branch said. "They've competed at the national level and have been very successful. They're nationally ranked kids.
"When it's all said and done, I think we're looking at the future of Wyoming. These kids are really going to get us to that next level. We've had to go head-to-head against some of these bigger schools (in recruiting) and win, which is a positive thing. We're getting these kids away from a Big 12 or Big Ten school. It's a good class for us, and we're looking for big things. What we sold them on is we've come a long way in three years, but they're the next step to get us into the top five. That's where the future of this program is headed. They've got some big shoes to fill with our outgoing seniors."