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College Wrestling Update for April 26: About coaches, transfers, conferences and signings



By Jason Bryant
jbryant@intermatwrestle.com

With the hiring of a coach at one college program, another school has found itself now joining the rat race to seek a replacement.

Tom Ryan was named the new Ohio State wrestling coach last Saturday after Russ Hellickson, who guided the Buckeyes for 20 years, retired at the end of the season. Ryan has built Hofstra from an also-ran in the East to one of the region's top programs.

The Pride finished 11th in the NCAA tournament and won another Colonial Athletic Association title, sending eight wrestlers to the NCAA tournament and coming back to Long Island with three All-Americans, two of which are returning.

The move fills one of the most sought-after positions in wrestling - rarely does a job in the Big Ten open up and already in 2005-06, we saw two Big Ten jobs open.

One was filled quickly - Iowa - while the Ohio State position took a tad longer to fill.

This leaves seven Division I programs with head coaching vacancies, but Hofstra is, at the moment, the highest profile job on the market.

Angelo Borzio announced his resignation from East Stroudsburg, a PSAC school nestled in the Pocono Mountains, back in December and according to a published report in the Easton Express-Times, the search is still on going.

The top candidates, according to Mike Weilamann's story, are Pitt assistant Jason Peters and 2000 Olympian Charles Burton.

Clarion's search has been narrowed to four candidates, according to a reputable source. Clarion, like East Stroudsburg, is a Division II school that fields a Division I wrestling program. Unlike ESU, however, Clarion competes in the EWL whereas ESU competes in the increasingly tough EIWA.

Air Force, Utah Valley State and Portland State are still open out west, while Princeton's position opened up last week after Mike New resigned his post.

Drama

With the scuttlebutt surrounding the status of five Virginia Tech wrestlers that have sought releases, the Athletic Department in Hokietown issued a statement on Wednesday.

"The Virginia Tech Athletics Department has chosen not to release for the 2006-07 academic year any National Letter of Intent (NLI) signee or those wrestlers receiving athletics financial aid to any Division-I institution," announced the university on Wednesday.
The release cited three bylaws, 13.1.1.3 and 13.1.1.3.1 in regards to permission to contact, leaving those wishing to transfer unable to speak with coaches from any other program, not just Iowa.

Also cited were the release bylaws, 14.5.5.1 and 14.5.5.2.10-(d).

The release went on to state: "The Virginia Tech Athletics Department has informed these athletes that it will provide transfer releases following the 2006-07 academic year if a student-athlete still wishes to transfer out of Virginia Tech.

Virginia Tech announces its position, aware that its decision is subject, per NCAA rules, to an appeal hearing conducted by a committee of Virginia Tech faculty and staff that reside outside of the athletics department."

The five wrestlers, Jay Borschel, Joey Slaton, Daniel LeClere, Brent Metcalf and T.H. Leet, asked the administration for releases for a hopeful transfer to the University of Iowa, where former Virginia Tech coach Tom Brands was hired to replace Jim Zalesky after Zalesky's contract was bought out one year before it was to expire.

Borschel, Slaton and LeClere are Iowa natives had Slaton, LeClere and Leet made their intentions clear after Brands bolted from Blacksburg for an opportunity to coach at his alma mater.

The debate has turned into a series of heated, often vindictive debates on themat.com's message boards as well as the site boards at Virginia Tech and Iowa.

Kevin Dresser, the new Virginia Tech coach and a 1986 NCAA champion at Iowa, has been scurrying around trying to stop the bleeding and pick talented athletes from what's left over after the signing period started.

His staff should be announced by the end of the week.

Ironically, Iowa Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby announced he was leaving the school to attend a similar post at Stanford.

New name, new faces

The West Region now ceases to exist.

With the addition of Northern Colorado, North Dakota State and South Dakota State, the region has bloomed into and eight-team wrestling conference called the Western Wrestling Conference.

Air Force Academy Associate Athletic Director Col. Billy Walker will assume the duties of the conference commissioner, according to the Greeley (Colo.) Tribune.

If not for a 2004 NCAA ruling allowing the three former Division II schools to pick two sports to be eligible in two years, the three programs would have mired as independents for the next two seasons.

The ruling, which was handed down in September of 2004, gave the provisional Division I programs two sports (one men's, one women's) that could be eligible for championship event contention. The standard wait period is four years for all sports when schools reclassify to Division I.

Utah Valley State is expected to become the conference's ninth member, but the Wolverines will not be able to do so until the 2009-10 season, since USVC isn't reclassifying from Division II, they're moving from the NJCAA to Division I - a move that's very rare.

Recruiting fever

This week, InterMat reported over 160 college commitments. Some came from local newspapers, parental contacts and of course, sports information releases.

In Division I, Army, Nebraska and Old Dominion picked up the largest groups of signees this week, with the Black Knights announcing 14 new wrestlers into the program. A handful are coming from the U.S. Military Academy Prep School. Matt Kyler, a USA Wrestling national champion on several age-group levels is the top pickup, while Chuck Barbee's got two diamonds in the rough. Steven Gilbert and Richard Starks might not be known names nationally, but Gilbert, from New Mexico, and Starks, from Kentucky, will likely play key roles in the Black Knights' lineup in the future.

Nebraska picked up seven more wrestlers to go along with an already reported six, highlighted by New Jersey's Bobby Laraway and in-state product Casey Gubbles. Coach Mark Manning's class is pretty solid and should sit in the Top 15 nationally when InterMat releases its annual recruiting class rankings in June.

Old Dominion added eight wrestlers, including two from Iowa. State champion James Nicholson from Des Moines and Iowa Central's Matt Collum, a JUCO national champion at 157 pounds. Add in state champion Billy Chamberlain from Pennsylvania and Kyle Hutter from Illinois, coach Steve Martin is carving out back-to-back recruiting classes that could rank in the Top 10 nationally.

Rider also picked up a pair of quality wrestlers from Pennsylvania, state champion Brian Polashuk from Spring Grove and state runner-up Fred Rodgers from Boyertown.

Other Top Division I commitments include: Idaho's Josh Strait (Boise State), West Virginia's Abbie Rush (Boston University), Virginia's David Wise (Campbell), Utah's Nathaniel and Michael Holt (Central Michigan), Illinois' Chris Barnhizer (Cleveland State), New Hampshire's Eric Morrill (Edinboro), West Virginia's Chad Porter (Liberty), Virginia's Walker Faison (Michigan State), New Jersey's Pat Hogan (Liberty), New York's Dave Ingram (Navy), Oklahoma's Carl Hines and Landon Harris (Oklahoma State) and Texas' Ace Adamson (Oklahoma State).

Other Divisions have also stayed busy, especially Division II.

Traditional power Augustana (S.D.) added seven more wrestlers, bringing its incoming class to ten, highlighted by South Dakota's Josh Montgomery and Minnesota's Jarred McCarthy.

Belmont Abbey, a second-year program in the Charlotte area of North Carolina added seven, while Newberry College in South Carolina added 11 new athletes.

Limestone, another new program in South Carolina, also added 11 and Shippensburg, fresh off its third-place finish at the D-II nationals added seven, highlighted by Pennsylvania state runner-up Steve Fittery of Cocalico and Chris Barrick of Big Spring.

Division III Bridgewater State College added 12 new wrestlers, the biggest being NHSCA All-American Frank Cammisa from Danbury, Conn.

Seton Hill, a new NAIA program in Western Pennsylvania inked its first wrestler, Quade Miller from Leonardtown, Md., and new JUCO program, Pratt Community College had its first signing report - James Fox of Doulgass, Kansas.

There's been a few transfers, but Liberty coach Jesse Castro is ready to be competitive in the East Region right away next season, adding former NCAA qualifier Tim Harner to its program. Harner was an NCAA qualifier at Rider as a true freshman at 133 and redshirted this past season.
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