Part two of two
The strength and depth of Penn's incoming recruiting class
immediately begs comparisons to that of three years ago, which produced standouts Yoshi Nakamura, Rick Springman and Justin Bravo.
But Penn coach Roger Reina is reluctant to anoint this class as better than the best one ever.
"I don't really want to compare classes so much -- there's different strengths to each," Reina said. "One of the things that's important to keep in mind is that it's not how they're rated coming in that matters -- it's how they're doing as seniors.
"Cornell has outranked us in the recruiting rankings I think every year except for Yoshi's and Springman's and we've beat them every year at every turn."
Next fall in the Pottruck Wrestling Room, one of the smallest wrestlers in the room may make the biggest impact on the team.
Mason Lenhard, who will compete at 125 pounds for Penn, arrives in West Philly with one of the most decorated high school resumes of the newest Quakers.
Lenhard won the Ohio state championship three times while attending St. Edwards, Nakamura's alma mater. He was one of five state champions at St. Edwards, propelling the school to a No. 1 prep ranking from Amateur Wrestling News.
Lenhard continued his success on a national level, winning the High School Senior National Championships and the Cadet National Freestyle Championship. Lenhard figures to bolster the lowest weight class, which was a sticky spot for Penn last season.
After Kevin Rucci injured his hand, Penn coach Roger Reina was forced to compete without a 125-pounder for much of the dual meet season, giving up an automatic six points in each match.
Reina said he figures Lenhard and heavyweight Mike Faust have the best shot at making an immediate impact. Faust could step right in at heavyweight for the departing All-American Bandele Adeniyi-Bada, while Lenhard could challenge for much of the time at 125.
"That will be determined in the room through wrestle-offs, through their work ethic and how they develop," Reina said. "It's a big, big step in wrestling from even being the very best in high school to competing successfully on the national level."
Greg Hallahan, Lenhard's St. Edwards teammate, adds depth to the 165-174 pound range. Hallahan took third in the Ohio state championships.
Reina nabbed two more Ohio wrestlers, Nick Thomas and Nathan Vickers. Thomas placed seventh and Vickers took third in the state tournament.
The Quakers incoming class includes two wrestlers from the heartland, Indiana's Marcus Schontube and Iowa's Andy Bollhoefer.
Schontube, from Lowell, earned Indiana Wrestler of the Year honors, going 45-0 his senior season. The two-time state champ -- who has not lost a high school match in two years -- was directed to Penn through former Quakers captain Brian Butler, who also hails from Indiana.
Bollhoefer's relationship with Penn began through Quakers assistant coach Derek Mountsier, who is from Bollhoefer's hometown, Newton. The Iowa state runner up is projected to compete at 174 pounds.
Despite the two additions from the Midwest, Reina said that the recruiting focus remains Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Ohio, pointing out that those states produced the most NCAA placewinners in last year's tournament, respectively.
While Reina managed to recruit four wrestlers each from Pennsylvania and Ohio, the lone New Jersey athlete coming to Penn is Flemington native Mike Carr.
Carr capped off an undefeated season with the state title at 215 pounds. He was a member of the New Jersey National Freestyle Team in 1999 and was named State Wrestler of the Year by three publications.
Although the incoming class is larger than usual at 14 members, Reina called the increase in numbers "critical."
"It's a little bit of a bigger class, but we've had as small a returning group as we've had in probably the last five years," Reina said.Comments powered by Disqus
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