Though his program took a big step forward this past season, wrestling head coach Chris Ayres knows that this is not the time to rest. One year after watching a trio of freshman starters help his program to one of its best team seasons in decades, Ayres welcomes an eight-man Class of 2018 that he believes can help the program take another positive step.
With six underclassman starters, Princeton went 11-4, meaning it had both double-digit wins and fewer than five losses for the first time since the 1980-81 season; it also shared second place in the Ivy League. Five Tigers placed at the EIWA Championships, including four underclassmen, and each will return next season.
But that doesn’t mean the Class of 2018 can’t pay immediate dividends. Besides the open starting spots at 133 and 174, Ayres expects this group to compete for other spots in the lineup as well. After all, it is the improved competition within the wrestling room that has provided such a significant boost to the team’s development.
“I am thrilled with the incoming recruits for next year,” Ayres said. “As a group, the incoming freshmen placed in the state 19 times and won six state championships. Beyond the state level our wrestlers have made in impact on the national level as well, with Jonathan Schleifer winning Flonationals and taking second at super 32, Coy Ozias winning a greco title in Fargo, and Ian Baker placing first and second at NHSCA nationals.
“All three recruits were ranked nationally as well (4th, 9th, 15th respectively),” Ayres added. “The accolades speak for themselves and we are certain that some of these wrestlers will be starting for us next year. The most exciting thing is that we return eight of our current starters. With some of these recruits battling for spots in the lineup, we should have a much stronger team next year.”
Below is a list of the incoming freshmen, along with their top credentials:
197 • Carlsbad, Calif. • LaCosta Canyon
Ranked 15th at 195 in latest FloWrestling rankings … won the 195-pound California state title … won the NHSCA Junior Nationals (182) … placed third at NHSCA Senior Nationals (195) … went 39-1 as a senior; earned career record of 132-32 … holds high school single-season (34) and all-time (89) pin records.
184 • Menham, N.J. • Mendham
Placed fourth in the 2014 New Jersey state championships … won a N.J. freestyle and Greco-Roman state championship … holds high school record for most falls (47) and ranks second in all-time wins (125).
149 • New Hope, Pa. • Central Bucks East
Two-time placewinner at the Pennsylvania state championships … placed as high as fifth … holds record for most wins in the Central Bucks School District … compiled career record of 147-27.
141 • Fairfield, N.J. • Delbarton
Placed three times at the New Jersey state championships, including a career-best third … two-time medalist at the Beast of the East … Super-32 medalist … two-time regional champion … earned 136-32 career record.
197 • Hopewell Valley, N.J. Hopewell Valley
Placed fifth twice in the New Jersey state championships … holds Mercer County career record for wins … went 137-21 in high school … two-time region champion … three-time county and district champion.
133 • Christiansburg, Va. • Christiansburg
Ranked as high as eighth in the InterMat national rankings (132); ranked ninth as of this release; ranked 75th among all high school seniors … won four Virginia state championships … won a Greco-Roman national championship.
125 • Vernon Hills, Ill. • Vernon Hills
Placed in Top 3 twice at Illinois state championships … 2011 Fargo Freestyle All-America … placed second at 2013 Central Regional Freestyle … went 118-30 in high school, including 89-11 over final two years … holds school record for most takedowns in career.
165 • East Brunswick, N.J. • East Brunswick
Ranked fourth at his weight class and 24th among all high school seniors according to InterMat national rankings … won 2014 New Jersey state championship … 2013 FloNationals champion … won NHSCA national championship … finalist at Super 32 … four-time county, district, and region champion … holds school record for number of wins, pins, and team points … earned career record of 153-8.