A bevy of seniors top 2020 AWN’s High School All-American Team. Gonzales, Figueroa, Vasquez, and Saldate earn First Team Honors.
With more than 10,000 high schools across the country sponsoring wrestling programs for more than 250,000 athletes, it’s easy to see how picking the crème de la crème of those worthy of All-American status can be a daunting task.
The good thing this year is that in each of the 14 weight classes contested at the high school level a few names stood head and shoulders above the rest of the field. There were some jostling for positions on the three teams selected by Amateur Wrestling News, but in the end, three standouts in each weight class made a solid case for consideration.
The three teams selected are heavily laden with seniors who closed out their high school careers in impressive fashion. In addition, a total of 25 of 26 seniors selected to this year’s honors squad are expected to compete in wrestling at the collegiate level in 2020-21.
Amos and Hutmacher Top the 2020 AWN’s High School All-American Team
Few careers were as impressive as the ones forged by wrestlers Braxton Amos and Nash Hutmacher.
Amos sat out his freshman year with an injury, but had a solid career the rest of the way. He won 48 matches during a season twice in his career at Parkersburg (W.V.) South High School and finished with 192 career wins.
He was a two-time outstanding wrestler at the West Virginia state tournament and captured titles at Super 32, Ironman and Powerade three times during his illustrious career.
Amos, who never gave up a takedown, near-fall or reversal during his career, was the jewel of another solid recruiting class by Wisconsin’s Chris Bono.
AJ Ferrari, who was considered by many to be the top high school senior heading into the 2019-20 season, still managed a second-team selection by Amateur Wrestling News despite missing this past season following surgery.
Ferrari previously competed at Blair Academy before transferring to Bergen Catholic, two schools in New Jersey, in January of 2019. He and his family moved to Texas following his time in New Jersey.
Amos and Ferrari, who will be attending Oklahoma State, have never met on the mat.
Hutmacher’s Tough Decision
Hutmacher, meanwhile, will focus on football at the University of Nebraska. “It was a tough decision to make,” said Hutmacher, who stands 6-4 and weighs 310 pounds. “I love wrestling, but at the end of the day it come down to what we thought was the best for me looking forward.”
Hutmacher, who is projected to played defensive tackle for the Huskers, made a name for himself during his mat career at Chamberlain (S.D.) High School. Along the way he eclipsed a record set by one of wrestling’s legendary names.
Hutmacher ended his career with 73 consecutive pins to shatter the South Dakota state record held by former Rapid City standout Randy Lewis. “Beating (Lewis’) record means a lot,” Hutmacher said. “To even be mentioned in the same sentence as one of the greats like him is a tremendous honor.”
Lewis, who later went on to star at the University of Iowa, held the record of 45 pins for more than four decades. Most impressively, this record was surpassed twice on the same day earlier this year.
Hutmacher, along with Kellyn March (Canton, S.D.) both eclipsed the mark set by Lewis on Dec. 21, 2019. March will be attending North Dakota State beginning this fall.
“I held that record for 44 years,” said Lewis, “and then to have it broken twice in one day by two very outstanding young men made me cherish what I had and I felt proud of both of them.”
Hutmacher, who entertained football offers from Wisconsin and Oregon, in addition to Nebraska, finished his career at Chamberlain with a career record of 227-34 and four state championships. His last loss in high school wrestling came as an eighth grader as he won the final 166 matches of his career and become just the fourth wrestler in state history to win four state championships.
“The option is out there for (Hutmacher) to join our program,” Nebraska wrestling coach Mark Manning said.
Top Spots for Jesse Vasquez and Keegan O’Toole
Jesse Vasquez earned a AWN High School All-American Team top spot at 145 pounds after a career that saw him become just the fourth wrestler in California history to claim four individual state championships. Furthermore, he has committed to wrestle at Arizona State next season.
Wrestler Keegan O’Toole (160 pounds) also earned four state championships of his own while competing at Arrowhead (Wis.) High School. He finished this past season with a 49-0 record and extended his winning streak to 111 matches. His final 17 wins in high school all came by pin. Most importantly, he became the 18th wrestler in state history to win four state titles.
O’Toole was also selected as this year’s Junior Dan Hodge Trophy Award winner.
Patrick Kennedy made himself a fixture at the state tournament in Minnesota over the past six season and earned the top spot at 182 pounds. He placed sixth in Minnesota as a seventh-grader and climbed to third the following year. Furthermore, Kennedy captured state titles each of his final four seasons at Kassan-Mantorville High School, where he compiled 223 career wins, including wins in each of his final 112 matches. He will stay close to home and compete at the University of Minnesota.
Dustin Plott (195), who will join Ferrari in Stillwater as a member of the Cowboys this fall, also had a brilliant career cut short because of injury this past season. He owns career wins over collegiate wrestlers Abe Assad (Iowa) and Kaleb Romero (Ohio State) and was a two-time Junior freestyle finalist.
Third Team Highlights
The third team is highlighted by Robert Howard (126) and Silas Allred (195). Both were seniors this past season.
Howard, who will compete at Penn State, has been a standout on several World teams during his high school career.
Allred, who became the first wrestler in school history at Shenandoah (Ind.) to win a state championship finished his prep career with a record of 146-2, including 138 falls.
Allred will join Hutmacher at Nebraska this fall.
“He’s a stud,” Nebraska coach Mark Manning said. “His mentality to challenge himself and to get better is incredible.
FIRST TEAM ALL-AMERICANS
106: Andre Gonzalez (Poway, CA, Jr.), Undecided
113; Richard Figueroa (Selma, CA, Jr.), Arizona St.
120: Greg Diakomihalis (Hilton, NY, Sr.), Cornell
126: Nick Bouzakis (Wyoming Seminary, PA, So.), Undecided
132: Shayne Van Ness (Blair Academy, NJ, Jr.), Undecided
138: Beau Bartlett (Wyoming Seminary, PA, Sr.), Penn State
145: Jesse Vasquez (Excelsior Charter, CA, Sr.), Arizona St.
152: Chase Saldate (Gilroy, CA, Sr.), Michigan St.
160: Keegan O’Toole (Arrowhead, WI, Sr.), Missouri
170: Alex Facundo (Davison, MI, Jr.), Penn State
182: Patrick Kennedy (Kassan-Mantorville, MN, Sr.), Minnesota
195: Rocky Elam (Staley, MO, Sr.), Missouri
220: Braxton Amos (Parkersburg South, WV, Sr.), Wisconsin
285: Nash Hutmacher (Chamberlain, SD, Sr.), Nebraska
SECOND TEAM: AWN’s High School All-American Team
106: Marc-Anthony McGowan (Blair, NJ, Jr.), Undecided
113: Stevo Poulin (Shenendehowa, NJ, Jr.), Undecided
120: Drake Ayala (Fort Dodge, IA, Jr.), Iowa
126: Jesse Ybarra (Sunnyside, AZ, Sr.), Iowa
132: Dominick Serrano (Windsor, CO, Sr.), Nebraska
138: Josh Edmond (Detroit Catholic, MI, Sr.), Missouri
145: A.J. Ferrari (Allen, TX, Sr), Oklahoma State
152: Ed Scott (DeBois, PA, Sr.), N.C. State
160: Paddy Gallagher (St. Edward’s, OH, Jr.), Ohio State
170: Tyler Stolzfus (St. Joseph Catholic, PA, Sr.), Lock Haven
182: Garrett Nijeinhuis (Canon-McMillan, PA, Sr.), Purdue
195: Dustin Plott (Tuttle, OK, Sr.), Oklahoma State
220: Kyonte Hamilton (Georgetown Prep, MD, Jr.), Rutgers
295: Hunter Catka (Sun Valley, PA, Sr.), Virginia Tech
THIRD TEAM: AWN’s High School All-American Team
106: Kanon Webster (Washington (IL, Fr.), Undecided
113: Joey Cruz (Clovis North, CA, So.), Undecided
120: Dean Peterson (St. John Vianney, NJ, Jr.), Undecided
126: Robert Howard (Bergen Catholic, NJ, Sr.), Penn State
132: Jesse Mendez (Crown Point, IN, So.), Undecided
138: Cael Happel (Lisbon, IA, Sr.), Northern Iowa
145: Lachlan McNeil (Wyoming Seminary, PA, Sr.), North Carolina
152: Peyton Hall (Oak Glen, WV, Sr.), West Virginia
160: Andrew Cerniglia (Notre Dame, PA, Sr.), Navy
170: Nevan Snodgrass (Ketterling-Fairmount, OH, Sr.), Northern Iowa
182: John Poznanski (Colonia, NJ, Sr.), Undecided
195: Silas Allred (Shenandoah, IN, Sr.), Nebraska
220: Cade Lautt (St. James Academy, KS, Sr.), North Carolina
285: Hayden Copas (Westville, IL, Jr.), Undecided
By Ray Maloney
Story by SportStars INSIDER, Al Fontes. Follow Al at www.thecaliforniawrestler.com
Feature image: JESSE VASQUEZ (Excelsior Charter, S) 4x CA State Champion