Cal Poly’s 2009 class of five recruits, announced two weeks ago, has been judged as the sixth best in the nation by InterMat.
In its Early Period Recruiting Class Rankings, InterMat lists Iowa as No. 1, followed by Northwestern and Iowa State. Penn State and Cornell round out the top five.
Cal Poly’s signees — five high school wrestlers — to the National Letter of Intent included a pair of state champions and three state placewinners.
“The Cal Poly program is not one usually seen toward the top of the collegiate wrestling landscape or the recruiting rankings,” according to a release by InterMat on its Web site. “However, this class of five wrestlers — four of them ranked inside the Top 100 recruits for the Class of 2010 — is clearly among the best classes of the early period.”
This season, first year assistant coach Mark Perry joins the Mustangs. Perry spent the past year as an assistant coach at Penn State and was the NCAA individual national champion for two consecutive years (07-08) while propelling the Iowa Hawkeyes to a team championship in 2008.
“Mark Perry is spearheading the recruiting and has made a tremendous impact in a relatively short period of time,” the release read.
Mustang recruits in the Top 100 include No. 42 Jesse Delgado of Gilroy High School, No. 83 Tucker Armstrong of Kenton Ridge High School in Springfield, Ohio, No. 93 Drew Meulman of St. Francis High School in Mountain View and No. 95 Travis Gallegos of Foothill High School in Palo Cedro, Calif.
“We’re very excited that some of the best wrestlers in California and the nation have signed with Cal Poly,” said Mustang head coach John Azevedo. “Being ranked sixth shows we are headed in the right direction.”
Azevedo and Perry are both optimistic for the futures of their incoming recruits.
“Coach Azevedo and I are very pleased with how our early signing period class has turned out. These five student-athletes have the mindset and attitude we want in every one of our athletes,” Perry said. “They want to be NCAA champions and they want team titles.”
Azevedo and Perry hope their early recruitment class will strengthen the Mustangs’ hopes at reaching the top of the Pac-10.
“As the spring signing period is just around the corner, we are at work looking to sign guys who will make an immediate impact on the program,” Perry said. “The Cal Poly wrestling staff is working very hard in all areas to bring Pac-10 and national championships to the West.”
In InterMat’s high school weight class rankings, Delgado is No. 5 at 119, Armstrong is No. 10 at 140, Meulman is No. 7 at 285, Gallegos is No. 10 at 160 and Dominic Kastl of Gilroy High School, the fifth Mustang signee, is No. 16 at 160.
After a losing record led the Mustangs to finish sixth in the Pac-10 championship a year ago, Cal Poly has posted a 2-0 record in duals against Cal State Fullerton and Missouri so far this season.
“We’re a year older,” Azevedo said at Monday’s press conference. “Nobody wants to experience what happened last year … Hard work and commitment is what’s (turning this season) around.”
With the aspect of experience, come a couple of new additions to this year’s squad.
“Our lineup is a little bit different (this year),” Azevedo said.
New faces on the mat include Boris Novachkov, who is considered the Mustangs’ best wrestler by Azevedo, a wrestler who didn’t suit last year because of a redshirt. Others include Steven Vasquez (165) and Nick Fisher (149), who both redshirted last year.
“Overall, were very pleased (with our start).” Azevedo said. “The guys have competed very hard.”
Even with the undefeated season Azevedo sees room for improvement.
“It can get better, but you’re always looking to get better,” Azevedo said.
The Mustangs were idle last week for Thanksgiving and return to action Friday and Saturday at the 28th Annual Cliff Keen Las Vegas Collegiate Invitational at the Star of the Desert Arena in Primm, Nevada.