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Wrestling recruiting class features six state champions
June 1, 2011Tweet
Binghamton wrestling has brought in a huge class of recruits for the 2011-12 season, both in sheer numbers and caliber. Head coach Pat Popolizio will usher in 17 newcomers from seven different states in the largest recruiting class of his tenure. Highlighting the group are six scholastic state champions, three All-Americans and a national champion and premier heavyweight.
“This recruiting class has the attitude and personality we want in our program,” Popolizio said. “It’s a very balanced class - guys who have earned a lot of accolades nationally as well as others who still feel they have a lot to prove in their college wrestling careers. We brought in kids at pretty much every weight and should have balance up and down the lineup. We reached out nationally more than usual this year and have high expectations for these incoming freshmen.”
Highlighting the group is elite big man Nick Gwiazdowski, the nation’s No. 1 heavyweight recruit (Intermat) and the 19th overall recruit in the country (all weights). Gwiazdowski is a two-time New York state champion, 2010 FloNational champion and 2011 high school national champion who went 53-0 in his senior season at Duanesburg High. No opponent went the distance with him as he posted 46 pins and one technical fall and had six forfeit wins. Gwiazdowski won the Junior Wade Schalles Award, given to the top high school pinner in the country. He chose Binghamton over 2011 NCAA champion Penn State, among others. One year after the signing of Tyler Beckwith, the top recruit in New York state, Popolizio made it two in a row by securing Gwiazdowski.
“Nick will have an immediate impact in our program,” Popolizio said. “His accomplishments throughout high school are just fantastic. Every year he has shown great improvement to the point of now being one of the best high school wrestlers in the country, regardless of weight class.”
A pair of local recruits will keep Southern Tier fans in the fold. Two-time state champion Derak Heyman from Tioga and four-time state placewinner Colton Perry from Windsor will solidify the lighter weights for years to come. Heyman joined Gwiazdowski as a top-10 NYS recruit and top 150 national recruit, according to Division I College Wrestling website. He was a three-time high school All-American and three-time state placewinner, adding a runner-up finish to his two state titles. Perry placed third twice and fourth twice at the state championship.
“It’s nice when you keep your backyard talent at home,” Popolizio said. “These guys have watched our program grow over the years and now will do their part to help us improve. Derak wrestles a very tough style and brings two state titles to him to Binghamton. He has done well at national events and will have an impact on the team next year.”
Two-time state finalist Nick Lalone and two-time state placewinner Joe Bonaldi are additional New York state recruits with loads of talent.
“Both Nick and Joe fit our wrestling style very well,” Popolizio said. “Nick is very tough and strong and has had positive results at different weights. Joe is very athletics and should improve quickly in our room.”
Three-time Delaware state champion and All-American Tyler Pendergast gives Popolizio a proven talent at 133.
“Tyler was our last recruit and gives us a solid competitor at our lower weights,” he said. “He’s had a lot of success in high school and has beaten many top-ranked opponents.”
A pair of Pennsylvania prep standouts, Adam Morris and Angelo Bortoluzzi, will bolster the 165-pound weight class.
“Adam and Angelo have great attitudes and fit our standards perfectly,” Popolizio said. “They have faced tough prep schedules and were both All-Americans. It’s always nice to bring in great talent from Pennsylvania, one of the best states for high school wrestling year-in, year-out.”
Another recruit who has excited the staff is 197-pound Tyler Deuel, a state placewinner from Waterloo.
“Tyler has a great work ethic and attitude toward his wrestling career,” Popolizio said. “He came on late to the scene and has a lot of potential to do great things in college.”
Popolizio will return 13 letterwinners and four NCAA qualifiers from a 2010-11 team that set a school-record for dual wins (16), captured a New York State title, finished as runnerup at the Colonial Athletic Association Championship and sent six individuals to the NCAA Championship. The Bearcats went 16-6 to post the program’s highest win percentage in 30 years.