#46 Austin Assad, Brecksville (OH) – 1st 120lbs
Assad’s always been a hammer, but his stock had dipped bit after losing to Jake Newhouse at the state tournament and then falling to Jose Rodriguez at the Junior Central Regional. However, he flipped the script in Fargo by winning a Junior National title in what was arguably the best performance of his high school career. Assad stormed to the finals, winning 9-2 over eventual 3rd place finisher Anthony Cefolo of New Jersey in the quarters, and then recording a 14-4 tech over 2X Fargo champ Hunter Marko of Wisconsin in the semis. Then for his grand finale Assad staged an epic finals comeback over Georgia’s Sean Russell, a graduated 4X state champion who will be wrestling for Edinboro in the fall. Trailing 7-2 at the break, Assad outscored Russell 9-1 in the final period to win his first Freestyle national title and make a striking impression on all the D1 college coaches in search of their next 125 lbr.
NR Anthony Cefolo, Hanover Park (NJ) – 3rd 120lbs
After failing to qualify for the state meet as a sophomore in 2013, Cefolo bounced back in a big way to win his second state title this March. He then took it one step further in Fargo, wrestling as well as he ever has against top national competition. He’d already established himself as a Greco whiz, but prior to last week Cefolo’s Freestyle credentials were very limited. He had a couple close calls early but escaped with victories; winning 11-11 over Cadet AA Trayton Libolt of Oregon, and then 13-9 over Texas state runner-up Tanner Kuketz. In the quarters Cefolo really got going with a 10-0 tech of returning Junior AA Cam Bertucci of Michigan before losing his only match of the tournament to Ohio’s Austin Assad, the eventual champion. Cefolo then bounced back and wrestled a pair of great matches to take 3rd, knocking off 3X Nebraska state champ Doyle Trout and then Minnesota state champ Skylar Petry. Following an outing like that, Cefolo is essentially a lock to be a top-100 senior recruit when the AWP releases updated grade level rankings in August.
NR Sean DeShazer, Wichita Heights (KS) – 4th 126lbs
He put himself on the map with a runner-up finish at Folkstyle nationals this spring, but following his Fargo DeShazer has officially announced himself as one of the best lowerweight recruits that the class of 2015 has to offer. His draw was among the toughest in the entire tournament, and all 8 of the matches he wrestled were against a scholastic state champion and/or a Fargo All-American. He reached the quarterfinals after a couple big wins early; 7-4 over Illinois state champ Keegan Calkins, and 3-3 over Utah’s Taylor Lamont, who was last year’s Cadet champion. DeShazer dropped to the blood round following a 3-2 loss to Pennsylvania state runner-up Jonathan Gabriel, which lead a rematch with Calkins where DeShazer opened the gap and posted a 10-0 tech fall. With AA honors now secured, he followed up with a couple of the biggest wins of his career, 8-7 over 3X Michigan state champ Lincoln Olson and 12-2 over FILA Junior runner-up Kaid Brock of Oklahoma. In his final match, DeShazer finally ran out of steam, losing to graduated Dom Forys of Pennsylvania, who will be wrestling at Pitt in the fall. Of his opponents, Brock came in ranked #21 in the class of 2015 and Olson #62, so it’s safe to say that DeShazer is another previously unranked senior who will vault well into the top-100 recruits as a result of his performance in Fargo.
#36 Keegan Moore, Putnam City (OK) – 4th place 132lbs
Moore was already a hot commodity, but he boosted his value to a new level in Fargo with what was by far the best Freestyle performance of his career. With the exception of a forfeit in his 3rd place match, Moore’s only loss of the tournament came via criteria in a 10-10 quarterfinal against 3X Fargo champ and HS graduate Tommy Thorn of Minnesota. Prior to that match, Moore had recorded 3 consecutive wins against 2X Pennsylvania state champ Sam Krivus, Junior Greco champ Will Koll of New York, and returning Junior AA Jordan Shearer of North Dakota. Then, following the Thorn loss, Moore added to his already impressive win list via a defeat of graduated 4X Oklahoma state champ Gary Wayne Harding. Between those 4 monster wins (and his best single match performance arguably coming in a loss) Moore has made a legit case for himself being a top-20ish senior in the country just as recruiting season begins to hit full swing.
NR Will Roark, Seneca (MO) 138lbs – 4th place 138lbs
Prior to this season Roark was largely unknown on a national scale. He gained some clout with an undefeated scholastic season followed by a 3rd place finish at Folk nationals, but those accomplishments pale in comparison to the statement he made in Fargo. Wrestling on a stacked chart, his only losses came to HS graduates: eventual runner-up Brock Zacherl of Pennsylvania in the quarters, and 5X Fargo Freestyle AA Zac Hall of Michigan for 3rd. His first signature win came in the round of 16 when Roark won a 10-9 barnburner over Brandon James of Indiana, the nation’s #61 senior. Then, after falling to Zacherl, Roark scored a trio of big wins before falling to Hall in the consolation finals, but none bigger than a 10-8 win over graduated 3X Fargo Freestyle champ Seth Gross of Minnesota. With a tourney like that, chalk up Roark as another new face when the AWP’s top-100 senior recruits are released next month.
NR Jordan Kutler, Blair Academy (NJ) – 7th place 145lbs
Kutler was a Cadet World Team member at 101lbs in 2012, but, prior to Fargo, that level of Freestyle success had not followed him into the middleweights. However, Kutler went a long way towards reversing that trend last week by becoming a first time Fargo AA despite competing in the most loaded weight of the entire tournament. Most notably, Kutler had a pair of wins over top-50 seniors from Pennsylvania: #25 Pat Duggan and #49 Josh Maruca. He’s been somewhat inconsistent over his career and will need to stabilize his results in order to excel at the next level, but last week showcased Kutler’s ceiling and should make him a coveted middleweight prospect.
#49 Josh Maruca, Franklin Regional (PA) – 3rd 145lbs
Maruca’s performance was arguably the most impressive of anyone on this list, bouncing back from a loss in the round of 16 to win 6 straight (5 by tech) and place 3rd in Fargo 2014’s toughest bracket. As previously mentioned, Maruca took an early loss to New Jersey’s Jordan Kutler, but from that point on Maruca was absolutely lights out. He was absolutely dominant against some of the elite prospects in this class, recording shutout techs over #9 Freddy Stroker of Iowa and #29 Max Thomsen of Iowa, and also a 7-2 win over #25 Pat Duggan of Pennsylvania. He has always been a stud, but after a career performance in Fargo, Maruca has officially made the jump to “elite” and can be considered a top-20 caliber prospect in the class of 2015.
#35 David McFadden, DePaul (NJ) – 2nd 152lbs
Between winning a New Jersey state title and finishing 3rd in Cadet Freestyle, McFadden has had no shortage of big wins over the past 12 months, but none can compare to his semifinal upset of Oklahoma’s Joe Smith who entered the week ranked #8 in the class of 2015. After trailing 4-0 halfway through the first period, McFadden came roaring back to score 8 unanswered points and beat Smith to advance to the finals where he fell to Cadet World Champion Mason Manville of New Jersey. Already a hot recruit, McFadden’s stock is now higher than it has ever been as recruiting heats up heading into his final year of high school.
#22 Josh Shields, Franklin Regional (PA) – 3rd 152lbs
Of all the guys on this list, Shields came in with the highest rank, but he still managed to outperform his already lofty status among this class. Competing on arguably the second toughest chart of the tournament, Shields stormed through the quarterfinals with little trouble and posted a 10-0 TF over #48 Myles Amine. It was in the semis where he took his only loss, falling in a 5-4 match to Cadet World champ and the eventual Junior National champ, Mason Manville of New Jersey (#2 class of 2016). Shields bounced back from the loss by dominating his way to 3rd place with a 14-4 TF over #8 Joe Smith of Oklahoma. Now following his best national performance to date, Shields has the look of a legit blue-chipper and a borderline top-10 recruit in his class.
NR Jacob Armstrong, Salem Hills (UT) – 4th 182lbs
Over the past month 5 weeks no upperweight has boosted their stock more than Armstrong, who followed up a great Junior Duals performance with an even better showing at Fargo. Fresh off a 3rd place finish in Greco, Armstrong opened his tournament with a dominant 10-0 tech over FILA Cadet AA Nathan Traxler of Illinois followed by a huge 10-6 win over #24 Justin Rivera of Georgia. In the semis Armstrong looked very solid in 12-4 loss against #3 Myles Martin of Maryland who won all of his other matches by shutout tech-fall. Following the loss, Armstrong responded with a dominant 12-1 TF over Iowa state champion Cash Wilcke before dropping his final match in a 14-13 barnburner versus #27 Dylan Wisman of Virginia. After beginning the summer still relatively unknown, Armstrong now projects as a top-50 recruit when updated rankings are released in August.
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