Wrestling team adds Oklahoma transfer

Photo by Philip Botta

Photo by Philip Botta

Tim Dorst

The Kent State wrestling team announced the addition of freshman Sam Wheeler, a Copley, Ohio, native who is transferring from Oklahoma to wrestle for the Flashes.

Wheeler, who graduated from Copley High School last year, won a 2011 state championship and was a state runner-up in 2010. InterMat ranked him as the No. 12 recruit in the 184-pound weight class.

“Coming out of high school, Sam is already very, very athletic,” Kent State head coach Jim Andrassy said. “He was one of the best high school recruits in the nation, and he comes from a school not known for producing that level of wrestling talent. He has potential.”

Wheeler will compete unattached in open tournaments this season, while still receiving valuable training with the team. He will also have a chance to spend some time with Dustin Kilgore and learn from the reigning National Champion. After this season, he’ll have four years of eligibility left.

“We’ll redshirt him this year, then get him ready to compete in his sophomore, junior and senior years,” Andrassy said. “That’s normally what I like to do with incoming freshmen. He’ll get a chance to work out with our upperclassmen and really get a feel for the collegiate game.”

Wheeler compiled an impressive list of accomplishments while wrestling at Copley. He finished third place at the 2010 FloNationals, finished fourth at the 2010 Cadet Nationals, and earned MVP honors at the Hephner Memorial Tournament. In his junior year, he finished the season with a record of 53-1, his sole loss coming in the state finals.

Stats from Copley High School

• Won 189-pound state championship as a senior

• Went 53-1 as a junior with only loss coming in state final

• Placed fourth at 2010 FloNationals

• Named MVP of Hephner Memorial Tournament

• Placed fourth at 2010 FILA Cadet Nationals

• Ranked as the No. 12 recruit in the nation at 184 by InterMat

Coach Andrassy said Wheeler originally committed to Oklahoma because it is one of the most premier colleges and has one of the best wrestling teams in the nation. The Sooners are currently ranked No. 9 in the National Wrestling Coaches Association poll. However, he decided to transfer to Kent State so he could be closer to home.

Andrassy also said that while Wheeler’s impact on the team won’t be immediate, his addition gives the Flashes a fresh, young talent with the potential to be a highly-ranked collegiate wrestler in the coming years.

“I don’t know yet how much he’ll improve this team, but he definitely has a lot of ability.” Andrassy said. “The athleticism is there. The next step is to work with him and develop him from a high school wrestler to a college wrestler. What he does do is solidify our upper weights for the next few years.”

Wheeler would currently wrestle in the 174-pound weight class, but could move up to the 184-pound or 197-pound class depending on his development and personal preference.

After scouting him for well over a year, Coach Andrassy is excited about what Wheeler could eventually bring to his team.

“We’ve been looking to get him on board for a while now,” Andrassy said. “So we’re really pleased to have him join us.”

Contact Tim Dorst at [email protected] and @TimmyD_DKS.