Big Ten wrestling recruiting grades, Part I

The Big Ten is arguably the toughest conference in all of college wrestling. With most teams recently completing their recruiting classes, will list all the recruits at each school, break down the big names, and grade each team on their success - or failure. Part I of a two-part series.

The Big Ten sends more wrestlers to the NCAA national tournament than any other conference in the nation. It is the biggest, the baddest and where the most talent comes from. While the Big 12 has made strides in recent years, the conference only has five teams, and 36 national qualifiers.

Recruiting is tough in the Big Ten, and those who can add depth, top-notch talent and turn walk-ons and the unknown into All-Americans will succeed.

How did the Big Ten do this recruiting season?

Here is a look at who signed where and what to expect from each recruiting class in part I of a two-part series:


133 - Joe Gomez (Glenbard North HS, IL); 149 - Troy Tirapelle (Clovis, CA); 157 - Michael Poeta (Highland Park, IL);

Tirapelle's brother Adam was a national champion for the Fighting Illini, and his brother Alex is an All-American who will be a junior and national title contender at 157 next season. The bloodlines are there, and so is the talent. Look for Tirapelle to be a good one. Poeta was ranked by some recruiting services as the best recruit in the nation. Gomez will also be a starter eventually. Not a lot of depth, but a lot of talent.

Grade: B+


125 - Jose Escobedo (Griffith, IN); 133/141 - Andrae Hernandez (Griffith, IN); 197 - Heath Vandeventer (Bloomington, IN);

The Hoosiers are going to have a hard time moving out of the Big Ten cellar, but these individuals will have a chance to improve and be capable competitors at the Big Ten level.

Grade: D


125 - Charlie Falck (Apple Valley, MN); 133 - Mario Galanakis (Ellsworth CC); 141 - Alex Tsirtsis (Griffith, IN); 197 - Michael Bucklin (Colfax-Mingo, IA); 197 - Luke Lofthouse (Mountain Crest HS, UT); 197 - Dane Pape (Maquoketa, IA); 285 - Matt Fields (North Cedar, IA);

Finishing as Big Ten champions and second in the NCAAs was a big boost to Iowa coach Jim Zalesky and his staff's recruiting efforts. Falck and Fields are both considered the top recruits in their weight classes. Tsirtsis competed at the prestigious Midlands tournament in December and defeated college opponents. He did not lose any matches in his high school career, and his only loss came in the National High School Association Senior Championships finals. With heavyweight Steve Mocco questionable on a return to the Hawkeyes, Fields – who ran cross country in high school – could move right into the heavyweight slot. If Mocco, the 2003 NCAA heavyweight champ, returns, look for Fields to redshirt. Pape, Bucklin and Lofthouse add depth, and Galanakis, a transfer, could fill in at 133 immediately.

Grade: A-


165 - Steve Luke (Massillon Perry, OH); 184/197 - Tyrel Todd (Bozeman, MT);

The Wolverines were pretty quiet this recruiting season, although Luke is from a wrestling powerhouse, and Ohio guys are always full of potential. Like Illinois, not much depth, but plenty of talent, with two potential All-Americans here.

Grade: B

Michigan State

125 - Jeff Wimberley (Ft. Lauderdale, FL); 149 - Nick Fallico (Chicago, IL); 149/157 - Eddie Skowneski (Clinton Township, MI); 174 - John Murphy (Chicago, IL); 197 - Josh Cross (Montrose, MI); 285 - Freddie DeRamus (Chicago, IL);

A heavyweight, the 260-pound DeRamus completed his senior season with a 41-1 record, and took third in the Illinois AA State Tournament. Nick Fallico, a prep standout from Chicago, was defeated by Mike Poeta (No. 1-ranked at 152) in the Illinois state high school tournament. He will redshirt, as will most of these recruits – but the opportunity is there in the future for success, MSU has a lot of holes to fill.

Grade: B

Check back tomorrow for reports on the rest of the Big Ten teams, including the Minnesota Golden Gophers.

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