The University of Minnesota’s wrestling recruiting class of 2009 was recently ranked No. 1 in the nation by Wrestling Insider News Magazine.
Also listed in the top five in WIN Magazine’s ranking is No. 2 Oklahoma State, No. 3 Nebraska, No. 4 Oklahoma, and No. 5 Virginia Tech. Minnesota is one of three Big Ten teams listed in the top 10, with Iowa coming in at No. 8 and Michigan ranked No. 10.
Many of the nation’s top seniors made college commitments before the 2008-09 season started, but several key seniors waiting until the spring signing period to choose their school. In the November rankings, the Gophers stood at No. 5, but were bumped up to No. 1 after the spring signing of Tony Nelson, a two-time Minnesota state champion (197, Hwt.) out of Cambridge-Isanti High School. The 2009 Minnesota Class AAA state champion, Nelson posted a 47-0 record as a senior, including a staggering 35 wins by fall. He also captured the 2009 National Wrestling Championship in the 215-pound class, going 6-0 during the tournament with three pins. In the national championship match, Nelson pinned his opponent in 30 seconds.
Nelson joins seven other recruits who committed to the Gophers in the fall 2008 signing period. The rest of the Minnesota recruiting class includes Jake Kettler (Ramsey, Minn.), Alec Ortiz (Newberg Ore.), Bart Reiter (Gilbertville, Iowa), Pat Smith (Chaska, Minn.), Kevin Steinhaus (Pennock, Minn.), David Thorn (St. Michael, Minn.) and Danny Zilverberg (Wayzata, Minn.).
Kettler, a product of Anoka High School, wrestled in the heavyweight class as a prep, winning the state title in 2009. He placed third at the 2008 Minnesota high school tournament. On a national level, Kettler was named a Junior National Greco-Roman All-American.
Ortiz, is a four-time Oregon state champion at 160 pounds from Newberg High School. The No. 4 overall recruit in the nation and the No. 1-ranked wrestler in his weight class, Ortiz has been a dominant force in Oregon wrestling and earned four Junior National All-America citations (two in Freestyle and two in Greco-Roman).
Reiter, the younger brother of Gopher three-time All-American Mac Reiter, is a four-time state wrestling champion at Don Bosco High School in Gilbertville, Iowa. A National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) Junior National All-American, is ranked as the No. 10 recruit in his weight class and No. 80 prospect overall by Intermat.
Smith, who attends Chaska High School, finished second at 145 pounds at the 2009 Minnesota state tournament, and placed third in the 2008 state tournament at 135 pounds. Considered the No. 11-rated recruit in his weight class, Smith was also honored as an NHSCA Junior National All-American.
Steinhaus, of Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg High School, is a three-time Minnesota state champion, a four-time finalist, and a five-time placewinner. Steinhaus is also a first team academic all-state selection and won the 160 pound Class A title at the 2009 Minnesota high school state tournament. In 2008, he won the 152-pound title as a junior after capturing the 145-pound title as a sophomore. The No. 5-ranked prospect in his weight class, Steinhaus was the 2008 NHSCA Junior National Championships runner-up.
Thorn, from St. Michael-Albertville High School and the brother of current Gopher Mike Thorn, is a four-time state champion and a two-time Junior National Freestyle All-American. He captured the Minnesota state title at 125 pounds in both his junior and senior seasons. As a sophomore in 2007, he won the 112 pound state title, and won the 103 pound state title as a freshman in 2006. Ranked as the No. 24 overall prospect in the nation and the No. 2 recruit in his weight class, Thorn also earned second team academic all-state honors.
Zilverberg, a Wayzata High School product and the brother of current Gopher David Zilverberg, is a three-time state placer at the Minnesota state tournament, winning the state title at 145 pounds in 2009. He was third at the 2008 state meet after taking fourth as sophomore in 2007. Zilverberg also won the 2006 Folkstyle National Championship at the cadet level.