MIAMI — Nine former state champions from five different states are among the players who have either committed or signed to wrestle at Northeastern Oklahoma A&M College.
“I think we recruited very aggressively this year; we’ll see how it pays off,” Norse coach Joe Renfro said. “We will definitely need to do some work, but I feel comfortable with the contents at this time. It’s all a matter of how the group conforms and works; it’s not rocket science.
“We’ll have to outperform out opponents, working harder and smarter and we generally do a good job of that. Plus, it’s an even year, so we got that going for us.”
The Golden Norse have won national titles in 2014 and 2016.
But in the odd years, NEO was fifth (2015) and third (’17) at the national tournament.
One of the most decorated of the future Norsemen is Sand Springs 141-pounder Jack Karstetter.
Karstetter — whose father Alan, wrestled for Ray Judkins at NEO in the early 1980s — captured a state title as a senior and is a two-time finalist.
He also is a two-time Fargo (North Dakota) Junior Cadet Nationals all-American.
NEO has landed a trio of three-time state champs: 133 pounder Mikey Mascarenas of Rio Rancho, New Mexico; 141 pounder Kendon Lee of Stillwater and heavyweight Brian Andrews of Grapevine, Texas.
Andrews’ brother, Blake, was an NJCAA national champion for the Norsemen in 2016.
Blake Andrews signed with Oklahoma State.
Another incoming freshman, Jordan Dieringer of Stillwater, is the younger brother of Alex Dieringer — a three-time national champion and the 2016 winner of the Dan Hodge Award at Oklahoma State.
Jordan Dieringer is a three-time state placer and a one-time state champ for the Pioneers.
Other blue-chippers who are expected to wrestle for the Norsemen are 125-pounder Boo Dryden, a two-time state champ and a third-place finisher at Fargo from Haysville, Kansas; 157-pounder Trevor VanVliet, a one-time state champ from Moapa Valley, Nevada; 174-pounder Jacob Mintzmyer, a two-time state champ from Maryville, Kansas; 184-pounder Alex Kauffman, a three-time finalist and two-time state champ from Vinita; 184-pounder Justin Cates, who won the 4A state title this past season as well as a MyHouse Nationals champ, from Fort Gibson, and 197-pounder Zeke Silva, a state finalist and fifth-place finisher at Senior Nationals from Aurora, Colorado.
Other notable freshmen include Taylor Cook of Seneca, Dion Brown of Geary, Brandon Johnson of Westmoore, Sam Shore of Poteau, Christian and Michael Rosales of Fort Gibson, Joseph Tillman of Muskogee, Kole Rollins of McAlester, Grant Sullivan of Union and Desmond Hill of Monett, Missouri.
“We have lots of good sophomores returning so this should be an interesting year,” Renfro said. “We had a very good summer camp in early June, which suggested some great enthusiasm for the season to come.
“No doubt we have a lot of work to do, but rest assured, we’ll be ready for the national tournament in February.”