Gopher mat welcomes nation's top recruiting class

Minnesota has won three consecutive Big Ten wrestling titles, and with the nation's top-ranked recruiting class, the dominance doesn't appear to be ending anytime soon.

Minnesota has won three consecutive Big Ten wrestling titles, and finished second in the nation behind Oklahoma State last season after winning the national title in 2001 and 2002.

There is no sign that the Gophers dominance will end anytime soon, either.

As classes begin at the U of M, the Golden Gopher wrestling program is welcoming a 17-member recruiting class, ranked as the nation's best by every major amateur wrestling publication and website. The class, headlined by three top-ranked recruits and seven high school All-Americans, is listed No. 1 by Amateur Wrestling News, W.I.N. Magazine, Wrestling USA Magazine, InterMat and others. Rounding out the top five behind Minnesota in AWN's recruiting rankings is Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Ohio State and Michigan.

The early signing period lifted Minnesota to the top of the class with blue-chip recruits Roger Kish, C.P. Schlatter, Mack Reiter, Matt Koz and Mitch Kuhlman all signing National Letters of Intent. The regular signing period saw the Maroon and Gold pick up numerous top recruits and transfers to complete a stellar recruiting class for the 2003-04 season. The spring signees and transfers include Jeremy Anderson, Gordon Bierschenk, Justin Bronson, Gabriel Dretsch, Jon Duncombe, Jestin Hulegaard, Scott Jacobson, Ben Lamphere, Nik Lentz, Dustin Lucarelli, Manuel Rivera and Keri Stanley.

Head coach J Robinson, head assistant Marty Morgan and assistant coaches Mark Schwab and Joe Russell helped Minnesota assemble another elite recruiting class. The 2003 recruiting title is Minnesota's fifth during Robinson¹s tenure (1987, ‘91, ‘96, ‘97, 2003). Incoming freshman Roger Kish joining the Golden Gophers also represents the third time in six years Minnesota has landed the top-ranked recruit in the nation, following Garrett Lowney in 1998 and Damion Hahn in 1999.

Below is a quick look at the highlights of Minnesota's top-ranked recruiting class:

• Roger Kish (LaPeer, Mich.) - Listed as the top recruit in the nation; four-time Michigan state champ; holds two national records: career victories (258) and consecutive victories (223); Junior National champ; 2003 NHSCA Senior Nationals champ; projected to wrestle at 184 pounds.

• C.P. Schlatter (St. Paris, Ohio)-Listed as nation's third-best recruit; four-time Ohio state champ; recipient of the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award; was 165-1 in high school; prep record is best in Ohio wrestling history; 2003 NHSCA Senior Nationals champ; Academic All-American; projected to wrestle at 149 pounds.

• Mack Reiter (Gilbertville, Iowa) Listed as nation's 11th-best recruit; four-time Iowa state champ; Junior National Freestyle All-American; first blue-chip recruit from Iowa to ever sign with Minnesota; projected to wrestle at 125 pounds.

• Matt Koz (Strongsville, Ohio) - Listed as nation's 23rd-best recruit; three-time Ohio state champ; Junior National All-American; projected to wrestle at 197 pounds.

• Mitch Kuhlman (Medford, Minn.) - Listed as a top 50 recruit; three-time Minnesota state champ; won a state-record 233 matches; Junior National All-American; projected to wrestle at 165 pounds.

• Manuel Rivera (El Monte, Calif.) - 2003 NHSCA Senior Nationals champ; three-time all-conference and all-area performer; projected to wrestle at 133 pounds.

Minnesota state champions:

Jeremy Anderson (Thief River Falls, Minn.) - All-conference, all-area and all-state performer in 2003; projected to wrestle at 149 pounds.

Gabriel Dretsch (Frazee, Minn.) - Finished fourth at 2003 NHSCA Senior Nationals; prep teammate of current Golden Gopher Matt Nagel; four-time all-conference, three-time all-state and two-time All-America selection; projected to wrestle at 165 pounds.

Jestin Hulegaard (Anoka, Minn.) - Two-time Minnesota state champ; two-time all-conference and three-time all-state honoree; projected to wrestle at 141 pounds.

Transfers:

Jon Duncombe (St. Michael, Minn.) - Transfer from St. Cloud State University; will have junior eligibility in 2003-04; NCAA Division II runner-up in 2003; projected to wrestle at 174 or 184 pounds.

Keri Stanley (Columbia Falls, Mont.) - Transfer from North Idaho College; will have junior eligibility in 2003-04; 2003 Junior College National Champion; projected to wrestle at 149 pounds.


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