The 2010-11 season was considered a breakout year for the Ashland University wrestling program. Now, the goal is to make sure there is no breakdown in 2011-12. From the looks of the recruiting class head coach Tim Dernlan has assembled, it appears AU fans shouldn't worry about that.
"I'm excited," said Dernlan of his latest recruiting class. "It's good to see them all together. We were hoping that they would mesh well together and I think they've done that."
The nucleus that authored last year's success – a 15-2-1 record and a second place finish at regionals – is back. That group also sent six wrestlers to nationals and the Eagles were 20th at the NCAA Championships. Dernlan has emphasized throughout the offseason that last season is not an exclamation point, it is a starting point. He talks of climbing in the national rankings and being a consistent winner. He went into the recruiting season with well-defined objectives.
"We knew in the upper weights we were getting thin," said the AU head coach. "We brought in some upper weights. It's always good to have the bookends, 125 and heavyweight."
Dernlan's last two recruiting classes were ranked first and fifth in the nation by USA Wrestling and the Amateur Wrestling News. This group doesn't have that same tag applied to it, but Dernlan believes it has great potential.
"This year's class is every bit as talented a group as the last two classes," he remarked. "We're getting more well-rounded athletes, wrestlers who are committed to giving back to the community and committed to wrestling. Our guys are doing a good job recruiting for us, too. Some of the guys on the team are our best recruiters."
This year's recruiting class includes wrestlers from just about every part of Ohio, plus newcomers from Indiana, Florida and Germany. Dernlan was quick to point out that this class also lists three local products – Clint Endicott (Shelby, Ohio/Crestview), Kurt Schaefer (West Salem, Ohio/Northwestern) and Bryson Hall (Doylestown, Ohio/Chippewa).
"We hadn't gotten some of the local guys to stay," admitted Dernlan, thinking back to his first two recruiting classes. "Sometimes they want to spread their wings."
Information on this year's recruiting class follows.
Kemper Baker (Williamsport, Md.) – Baker wrestled at 141 pounds. He has 131 career wins, which is the best total in the program's history. Baker is also the program's career leader in points. As a senior he was 35-3 with 25 pins. His best placement at the state meet was fourth. Baker was an All-Monocacy Valley Athletic League selection four times and was the conference's outstanding wrestler twice. Baker earned seven letters while competing in wrestling and football.
Joe Brandt (Versailles, Ohio) – Brandt is a 184-pound wrestler who was a two-time state qualifier. He had 154 victories in his career and had 27 pins his senior year. Brandt lettered four times in wrestling and twice in football.
Lucas Cummins (Mavengo, Ohio/Cardington) – Twice during his career Cummins was fourth at the state meet. He was a three-time all-conference selection and was named to the Academic All-Ohio team. Cummins, a 149-pounder, won 156 matches in his career. He lettered in wrestling, cross country, track and field and football.
Collan DaFonseca (North Royalton, Ohio/Padua Franciscan) – DaFonseca finished sixth and seventh at the state meet. He was a three-time state qualifier. DaFonseca won 141 matches in his career wrestling at 133 and 141 pounds. He also played on a soccer team that was a two-time district runner-up.
Clint Endicott (Shelby, Ohio/Crestview) – This 285-pounder finished fourth and second at the state championships. He qualified for the state meet three times. Endicott's career record at Shelby is 168-38. He collected 116 career pins and his season total of 44 pins ties him for third in state history. Endicott was recognized as the Ashland Times-Gazette co-wrestler of the year. He was honorable mention All-Ohio in football as an offensive lineman.
Bryson Hall (Doylestown, Ohio/Chippewa) – Hall is a 174-pound wrestler who had one third place finish and a pair of fourth place finishes at the state meet. He was a three-time All-Ohio Academic Team pick. His career record at Chippewa is 185-22. Hall holds school records for victories, wins in a season (52), takedowns in a season (239) and career takedowns (692). He also finished first at the Disney Duals.
Michael Hummer (Osceola, Ind./Penn) – Hummer's best finish at the state meet was sixth. As a senior, Hummer was 36-5. Penn finished third at the state championship meet in Hummer's senior year. Hunter wrestled at 133 pounds.
Joshua Hunter (Pickerington, Ohio/Central) – Hunter was a two-time state qualifier. The 133-pounder was named the team's most valuable wrestler twice and won a pair of conference titles. He lettered four times on the mat.
Clarence Longley (Clearwater, Fla./Largo) – Longley placed third at the state championships wrestling at 133 pounds. He was a two-time district champion and a regional champ. Three times he was recognized as the team's most valuable wrestler. Longley's career record is 140-29. As a senior he was 41-4 and set the school record for the fastest pin (eight seconds). Longley was a three-time state qualifier and he was the first sophomore in school history to qualify for the state meet.
Daniel McNulty (Highland Heights, Ohio/Mayfield) – During his career McNulty finished fourth, fifth and seventh at the state championships. He has wrestled at 125 and 133 pounds. McNulty was a four-time state qualifier. As a team, Mayfield finished fifth at the state meet during McNulty's sophomore year.
Joey Morris (East Canton, Ohio/Canton South) – A 125-pounder, Morris finished third and fifth at the All-Ohio championships. He was recognized as the Stark County wrestler of the year. Morris was a three-time sectional champion. He lettered four times on the mat and twice in cross country.
Drew Polson (Stafford, Va./Wiesbaden) – Polson wrestled at 141 pounds and is a native of Germany. He lettered 10 times in his prep career while competing in wrestling, soccer and wrestling.
Tyler Porter (Middlefield, Ohio/St. Peter Chanel) – Porter was a state qualifier. His two brothers – Dustin and Travis Porter – both wrestled in college and were NCAA qualifiers. Porter was 36-6 his senior year. In 2011, St. Peter Chanel won the Division III state championship. Porter wrestled at 174 pounds.
Kurt Schaefer (West Salem, Ohio/Northwestern) – Schaefer is well acquainted with the awards stand at the state meet. The 184-pounder finished third once and was the state runnerup twice during his career. He was the Wayne County Athletic League's most valuable wrestler twice. His career record on the mat is 192-20 with 116 career pins. Schaefer also competed in football, soccer and track and field. He was second team All-Ohio as a kicker/punter.
Gavin Shannon (Utica, Ohio) – Shannon is a 157-pounder who was a district qualifier He was fourth at the sectional tournament. Shannon lettered in wrestling and football.