Recruiting for the Class of 2014 has been officially underway for a little over a week. However, before we completely shift our focus forward, we took a quick look back at the class that Binghamton put together for the fall of 2013.
According to the rankings produced by a number of wrestling publications, Binghamton had the best recruiting class of the Division I programs in New York this year. Flowrestling slotted the Bearcats into the #25 spot nationally while D1 College Wrestling.net, placed the team at #24. (Columbia also made an appearance in Flo’s article, garnering an honorable mention nod).
When looking at the Binghamton class, what immediately stands out is the strong Empire State presence. Among the seven New Yorkers are eight state championships, 21 All-State showings and more than 10 All-American performances. There’s representation from Section 3 with three-time state titlewinner Nick Tighe and two-time champion Zack Zupan as well as a pair of Shenendehowa standouts – 2013 state gold medalist Nick Kelley and third placer David Almaviva. Adding to the mix in the lightweights are two-time state champion Kyle Kelly from nearby Chenango Forks and Nassau County’s Robert Person, with the upperweights adding Bryce Mazurowski, who was the Division II state runner up as a junior and senior at 195. When the “Top Seniors in New York” feature was done prior to the start of the campaign, Zupan, Kelley and Tighe were ranked 1-2-3.
So, how did Binghamton land many of the Empire State’s best and a top 25 class nationally in Matt Dernlan’s first year as head coach? The program’s recruiting coordinator, Jasen Borshoff, provided some insight.
“We sat down and talked about how we wanted to keep the best kids in state and get them to Binghamton,” Borshoff said. “If you look at the results from the last 10 years, you see New York is way up there in All-Americans. We felt that if you can keep the best New York kids here, you can succeed at the national level. That’s not to say we won’t recruit some kids from out of state. We probably will since we’re close to Pennsylvania and Ohio. But we believe we need to keep New York’s best here and we can win with New York wrestlers.”
Borshoff continued by referencing the 30 for 30 ESPN special about the University of Miami football team during their championship years.
“That part of Florida produces all these awesome football players,” he said. “Miami set up a 200 mile radius and said they weren’t going to let those kids go anywhere else. They were determined not to be outrecruited in their area. That’s the mentality we have here with New York wrestlers. We don’t want to let anyone outrecruit us for the best around here.”
The Bearcats were able to do it by targeting a relatively small set of wrestlers.
“In the past, I probably called over 100 kids in the summer and hadn’t seen many of them wrestle,” he said. “But last year, before the New York State tournament, we were looking at around 16 kids, who we watched wrestle and got to know pretty well. We kept a pretty small focus.”
With that focus, they were able to emphasize the direction that the new staff planned for the Bearcats going forward.
“Most of the guys weren’t really interested in Binghamton at first – they wanted to go out of state or had other schools in mind,” he said. “Coach Dernlan got in front of them at their houses and told them all about the vision and philosophy. Things went from there and they came on board. Hopefully, we can reproduce that success with this year’s class and set ourselves up even more for the next several years here.”
The wrestlers are excited to get started, as all will be spending the summer on campus, getting their feet wet both academically and on the mat.
“We think we have a bunch of tough kids coming in,” Borshoff said in late June. “They’ll all be here in early July. They’ll be taking classes. They’ll be putting in work. We believe some of them will be starters this season. The great thing is, every single one of them asked to come up for the summer. They want to be here, getting started. That’s exactly what we want. We believe we have the best recruiting class in Binghamton wrestling history.”