ODU Wrestling Hauls In Nation's Sixth Best Recruiting Class

May 20, 2009
By ODU Athletics

May 20, 2009

NORFOLK, Va. -- W.I.N. Magazine released its annual wrestling recruiting class rankings, with Old Dominion's group pegged as the sixth best class in the nation. It is the highest ranking ever for ODU and the fourth top ten recruiting class under head coach Steve Martin in just five years. ODU's newcomers were ranked ninth in the early recruiting class rankings released in December.

"The coaching staff at Old Dominion University is pleased to announce the signing of six athletes to National Letters of Intent for the 2009-10 academic year," said Martin. "All of these athletes excel in the classroom, are nationally ranked wrestlers and are good citizens on and off the mat. We had a priority to fill many needs at several weight classes and we accomplished that goal. Furthermore, we thought it was very important to compete with the Big Ten and Big 12 teams head-to-head for these athletes so that we can continue to compete and grow as a national power. All of these wrestlers have aspirations to become national champions and All-Americans."

ODU's class boasts six wrestlers to NLI's: #3 John Nicholson (Des Moines, Iowa), brother of current ODU All-American James Nicholson, #7 Justin LaValle (Apple Valley, Minn.), #10 Joey Sheridan (Tulsa, Okla.), #15 Eric Dunnet (Voorhees, N.J), #16 Jack Burbank (Virginia Beach, Va.) and Wrestling USA Special Mention Chad Lowman (Des Moines, Iowa). It is the highest ranking ever for an Old Dominion recruiting class. Since Martin and the new coaching regime took over, W.I.N. has ranked the ODU classes 10th (04-05), 10th (05-06), 16th (06-07), 10th (07-08) and now 6th (08-09).

Nicholson is ranked in the top five in three separate publications and is one of two recruits ranked in InterMat's Top 100, a gauge of the best high school wrestlers in the nation regardless of weight class. Nicholson ranks 14th in the Top 100 after finishing second at the NHSCA Junior Nationals this year. A two-time Iowa state champion, he will join brother James at ODU after being recruited by several Big Ten and Big 12 powers. Nicholson is projected to wrestle at 157 lbs for the Monarchs.

LaValle will come to ODU ranked seventh by InterMat and Wrestling USA, and eighth by W.I.N. The projected 133-pounder was a USA Wrestling Junior National All-American in 2008, and finished in 5th place at the event this season. He is a two-time Minnesota state champion and is the second recruit ranked in the InterMat Top 100, checking in at 80th overall.

Sheridan is also ranked in the top ten for his weight class, coming in from Tulsa, Oklahoma, he ranks 10th in the nation. He is a three-time state champion as well as the 2007 USA Wrestling Cadet National Champion. He's projected to wrestle at the 174 lb weight class for Old Dominion.

Eric Dunnet rounds out the lightweight recruits, projected as a 125/133-pounder for the Monarchs. He ranks 15th in the nation according to Wrestling USA and is a New Jersey State finalist. He finished second in the state tournament this year and finished sixth at the USA Wrestling Junior Nationals in 2008.

Burbank is a local heavyweight prospect for Coach Martin, out of Cox High School in Virginia Beach. He is a two-time Virginia state champion, a sophomore national champion in 2007 and an NHSCA High School All-American in 2008.

The recruiting class is rounded out by three Virginia state wrestlers, in Chris Cabe (Chantilly, Va.), Billy Curling (Chesapeake, Va.) and Matt Brunke (Henrico, Va.). Cabe finished fourth at the Virginia AAA State Tournament in the heavyweight division. Curling is projected as a 184-pounder for the Monarchs after reaching the state semi-finals this year and taking fourth place for the Great Bridge Wildcats. Brunke will add depth to the 157-pound weight class as a third place finisher in the AAA State Tournament this season.

The Monarchs are coming off one of the best seasons in program history, finishing with 17 dual victories and the highest national ranking ever, at 16th in the country. ODU boasted its second ever Division I National Finalist in Ryan Williams, becoming the second All-American in as many years for Coach Martin. The team graduated only Williams and will boast a strong, experienced core in addition to this phenomenal recruiting class in 2009-10.

W.I.N. Magazine Recruiting Class Rankings:
1. Minnesota
2. Oklahoma State
3. Nebraska
4. Oklahoma
5. Virginia Tech
6. Old Dominion
7. Virginia
8. Iowa
9. Cornell
10. Michigan
11. Ohio State
12. Northern Iowa
13. Wyoming
14. Missouri
15. Navy
16. West Virginia
17. Edinboro
18. North Carolina State
19. Boise State
20. Purdue

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