NEWBERRY — Newberry College head wrestling coach Jason Valek announced the Wolves’ incoming recruiting class for the 2015-16 season features 16 wrestlers from 10 states and should rank as one of the top classes in the nation.
In the new class of Wolves are two junior college All-Americans, five Division I transfers, 23 state championships and 11 high school All-America awards.
“We are very excited about this year’s recruiting class, we covered the entire country coast to coast and we believe on paper this is the best class in Newberry wrestling history,” Valek said. “It’s very exciting to add a group of great wrestlers, but more importantly these kids are all high character kids and solid students.”
Valek said they had a nice mix of incoming freshmen who had some great credentials they would be bringing with them to Newberry and they had also added a few impact transfers who already had some high level college experience.
“This is a very exciting time for Newberry wrestling, we have a solid group of over 20 student-athletes returning and the addition of this crop of recruits could make for some very exciting seasons ahead,” Valek said.
Grant Aycox is one of the top ranked high school wrestlers in the nation, coming in to the Newberry family with a No. 17 national ranking an four state placements. Aycox comes to the Wolves from Archer HS in Lawrenceville, Ga., where he was a state champion as a junior. He also finished as state runner-up twice and finished in fourth place once.
Austin Crocker joins the Wolves from Laurens District 55 HS in nearby Laurens. The projected 184-pounder is a two-time state placer with second and fourth place finishes.
Zac Dobbins was a spring 2015 enrollee who brought a long list of accolades to the scarlet and gray. The Coweta, Okla., native was an NJCAA national runner-up at Northeast Oklahoma A&M College. The two-time freestyle and Greco-Roman All-American was also a four-time state placer at Coweta HS. The 149-pounder was state champion as a junior, state runner-up as a sophomore and senior and finished fourth in the state as a freshman.
Nick Hall is a Division I transfer from Appalachian State, where he started for the Mountaineers as a true freshman. The 157 lbs. wrestler is a freestyle All-American and was a three-time state champion at Thompson HS in his hometown of Alabaster, Ala. He was state champion as a freshman, junior and senior with a fourth place finish as a sophomore.
Jesup Hammond is a native of Monroe, Va., and graduated from Brookville HS, which is also the alma mater of current Newberry starter Trung Duong. Hammond is a two-time state placer projected to wrestle at 184 lbs. He was a state champion as a senior.
Mike Kennedy is a Division I transfer from Tennessee-Chattanooga. He was a four-time state placer at Blackman HS in Murfreesboro, Tenn., and was an NHSCA National Champion. The heavyweight wrestler also was a state champion as a senior and finished in fifth place at both the NHSCA nationals and Super 32.
Sean Kennedy is Mike’s younger brother and comes to Newberry from Riverdale HS in Murfreesboro, Tenn. The projected 174 lbs. wrestler is currently ranked No. 12 in the nation and finished in fifth place at the Super 32. The three-time NHSCA All-American is also a three-time Tennessee state placer with state championships as a junior and a senior.
Elliot Lee is a three-time Georgia state finalist from Archer HS and is currently ranked No. 8 in the nation at 220 lbs. Lee will wrestle in the upper weights for the Wolves and is a Powerade Champions KC Stampede runner-up. The Snellville, Ga., native was a state champion as a junior and a senior.
Ryan Long is a projected 165-pounder who is coming to Newberry from Knoxville, Tenn., where he graduated from the Christian Academy of Knoxville and was a two-time state champion.
Timmy Martinez joins the wrestling squad from Pasco HS in Pasco, Wash. He is a Greco-Roman All-American and four-time state placer. He is projected to wrestle at 133 lbs. and has two state championships, a state runner-up and a seventh place finish.
Austin Palmer is a two-time state finalist from White Knoll HS in Lexington. He was state champion as a junior and state runner-up as a senior. The projected 149 lbs. wrestler was also the Coastal Clash champion.
Alex Rice comes to Newberry from Labette CC where he was a junior college All-American last year. He is projected to wrestle at 157 lbs. and was a three-time state finalist with two Maryland state championships before enrolling at Division I Kent State. The Pasadena, Md., native will have three seasons of eligibility remaining at and is a graduate of Chesapeake HS.
Joey Rocca is a 141/149 lbs. wrestler, who comes to Newberry from Elmwood Park, N.J. He was a two-time state Round of 12 qualifier at Queen of Peace HS.
Austin Solari comes to Newberry from Grand Canyon University where he was a two-year starter for the Antelopes. Last year he was a fifth place finisher at the Bakersfield Roadrunner Open. Prior to his time at GCU, the 141-pounder wrestled at Liberty HS in Brentwood, Calif., where he finished in sixth place in the state.
Nick Weldon joins the Wolves after his freshman season at Division I national power Penn State, where he went 7-9 at 184 lbs. The Birmingham, Ala., native graduated from Clay-Chalkville HS, where he was a three-time state placer including state championships as a junior and senior. He was also a Disney and NHSCA All-American.
Louis Wilson joins Newberry from Columbia HS, where he was the Gatorade state wrestler of the year and three-time state finalist. He was a state champion for the Capitals as a senior after two state runner-up finishes. He is projected to wrestle at 157 or 165 lbs.
This release provided by Newberry College.