The Penn State Nittany Lion wrestling program, fresh off a superb 2007-08 campaign, has finalized its recruiting class for the upcoming year. Ten outstanding high school talents are set to help the powerful program continue its climb on the national scene.
The class begins, alphabetically, with Justin Aube (Harrisburg, Pa.). Aube will matriculate at Central Dauphin High School this year after wrestling in Minnesota for three years. During his four years as high school wrestler, Aube was a three-time captain and four-time all-conference selection. A state qualifier, Aube helped guide Central Dauphin to the 2008 Team State Championship this season and was a member of the Mid-Penn All-Star Team. He ended his high school career with nearly 200 victories. Aube was also a member of the Minnesota Freestyle and Greco Roman squads and was two-time team MVP. Aube projects at 149 or 157.
Jack Chidester (Conestoga, Pa.) is a three-time state qualifier from Conestoga High School. A section, district and regional champion, Chidester won over 100 bouts during his outstanding career at Conestoga, collecting an all-time school record of 133 victories. Chidester is also a stand-out in freestyle wrestling, having just placed fourth at the USAW Northeast Regional Freestyle Qualifier. Chidester could wrestle at 125 or 133.
James English (York, Pa.) won the 2008 District 3 title at Central York High School. A three-time PIAA qualifier, English placed seventh at 145 in 2007 and third at 145 this season. An outstanding talent, English had a superb 150-29 career record and is coming off a senior season that saw him go 45-1 with 26 points. English was also a second team all-conference linebacker. An outstanding student, English carries a 3.9 grade point average with him and is ranked in the top five percent of his class at Central York High School. English could wrestle at 149 for Penn State.
Nick Fischer (Unionville, Pa.) comes to Penn State after winning the PIAA Southeast Regional title last year. Fischer was a four-year letterman for Unionville High School and went 121-28 during his high school career, including a 40-3 mark as a senior. An outstanding student, Fischer won the 2007-2008 Southeastern Pennsylvania Wrestling Officials Association Scholar-Athlete Award. Fischer projects at 157 for Penn State.
Jarrett Freeman (Maspeth, N.Y.) comes to Penn State from New York City’s Martin Luther King High School, where he was team captain for his team the last three years. Freeman was a three-time all-conference pick for MLK High School and was named his team’s Most Outstanding Wrestler twice. Freeman was a two-time New York State place winner and went 27-7 his senior year. Freeman is an outstanding student and was a two-time Academic All-American. Freeman could wrestle at 133 for the Nittany Lions.
Justin Ortega (Oxford, Pa.) just completed an outstanding career at Oxford Area High School, where he went 80-33 during his years there. He won the 2008 District 1 Central title and the District 1 Section 6 crown. Ortega was a two-time all-county pick and a 2008 PIAA state qualifier. Ortega was team captain his last two years and was a volunteer coach for the Oxford Junior Wrestling program. An outstanding student, Ortega was an all-academic pick during his high school career and was nominated for the National Society of High School Scholars. He has served on the Student Council at Oxford Area High School and was voted both Treasurer and Secretary during his time there. Ortega projects at 165 for the Nittany Lions.
Bryan Pearsall (Lititz, Pa.) had an outstanding career at Warwick High School, where he set the school record for victories with 136. Pearsall went 40-5 as a senior with 26 falls. Over the course of his four years at WHS, Pearsall had 80 pins, an unofficial school record. Pearsall was a four-year Lancaster Lebanon League All-Star and claimed the Lancaster Lebanon League tournament title twice. He was voted tournament Outstanding Wrestler this past season and claimed the Most Falls Award after garnering four pins in 3:24. Pearsall was a three-time sectional champion and qualified for states as a senior. An outstanding Greco wrestler, Pearsall has won two USA Wrestling Greco state titles and has won two USA Wrestling Regional Greco crowns. He was a freestyle All-America as well, placing sixth in 2006. Pearsall projects at 133 for the Nittany Lions.
Nick Venditti (Berwick, Pa.) was the 2008 Pennsylvania AA State Runner-Up. He has been a two-time state place winner, having placed eighth in 2007. Venditti won the last two Northeast Regional AA titles and District 2 Championships as well. In 2007, he was named the district tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler. Venditti amassed 137 wins during his high school days at Berwick and was on the Distinguished Honor Roll Student. He will be an Honor Graduate for the Class of 2008 as well. Venditti could wrestle at 165 or 174.
Ethan Virgili (Carmichaels, Pa.) had an outstanding career at Jefferson Morgan High School. Virgili went 127-36 during his years at JMHS, including a 36-3 record this past season. Virgili won the sectional title this season, placed second at districts and then won the regional crown. He capped off a superb senior year with a Runner-Up performance at the state championships. Virgili is a two-time state place winner, having placed eighth as a junior in 2007. Virgili projects at 184 as a Nittany Lion next year.
Quentin Wright (Wingate, Pa.), who signed a National Letter of Intent with Penn State last fall, capped off an amazing high school career with his second state title this past March. A partial list of Wright’s accolades begins with a 39-0 mark as a senior with 27 pins. He was named the PIAA Most Outstanding Wrestler after winning his second straight title (Wright won in 2007 and was Runner-Up in 2006). Wright is a four-time District and Regional Champion as well and won the Dapper Dan tourney this past season. As a high school senior, Wright claimed the 165 pound title at this year’s Nittany Lion Open. An outstanding Freestyle and Greco wrestler, Wright won the 2008 Fila Junior Freestyle National Championship and placed second at the Greco-Roman Championships. Wright was Vice President of his class this year and was Sergeant in Arms of his Business Leaders of America chapter. Wright could wrestle at 165 or 174 for the Nittany Lions.
“We are extremely excited about the incoming freshmen,” head coach Troy Sunderland said. “As our program continues its national ascent, these young men will be welcome additions to the squad. Their prowess on the mat during their high school careers speaks for itself and we are proud to welcome these wrestlers into our family. The coaching staff did an outstanding job this year and this group of young men is testimony to that effort. We are hopeful that this group, with commitment and hard work, can have an immediate impact in the wrestling room.”
Penn State is coming off a superb 2007-08 season that saw it go 14-5 in dual meets, have four wrestlers become All-Americans, crown one National Champion and place third at the 2008 NCAA Wrestling Championships.