SIOUX FALLS, S.D. – Augustana head wrestling coach Jason Reitmeier announced Wednesday that seven student-athletes have committed to compete for the Vikings beginning in 2011-12. Jon Gorter from Pipestone, Minn., Mark Vetter from Yankton, S.D., Brandon Chesnut from Onawa, Iowa, Riley McManus from Wayne, Neb., Zachary Friederich from Lonsdale, Minn., Lance Shaull from Tea, S.D., and Alex Burghardt from Watertown, S.D., will join the Vikings next season.
“Jon is a great kid who still hasn’t reached his full potential in wrestling,” Reitmeier said. “He has speed on the mat, and is exceptional at going forward and being offensive the whole time. Jon is still just learning the sport, which is impressive for a kid that has been in two state finals.”
A four-year letterwinner and starter at Yankton High School, Vetter captured a state championship this past season after registering a 31-4 record. He was also a two-time Eastern South Dakota Conference champion and one-time region champ. Vetter will wrestle at 141 pounds.
“Mark is a determined and hard-working kid who doesn’t know the word defeat,” Reitmeier said. “He outworks everyone on the mat and in the classroom. We are excited to have Mark’s no-quit, give 100-percent attitude joining our team.”
Chesnut is a 2011 graduate of West Monona High School. He was a four-year letterwinner and starter and holds a host of career records at WMHS, including career wins (163), wins in a season (46) and career pins (89). Chesnut was a four-time conference champion and three-time state qualifier. On the junior freestyle scene, he was a state runner-up and national qualifier. Chesnut will wrestle at 133 pounds.
“Brandon fits the mold of some our past outstanding lightweights—being long and lengthy,” Reitmeier said. “Being coached by his dad, who was a college wrestler, Brandon certainly will come in well trained and knowing what to expect at this level. We love Brandon’s size for a lightweight and look for him to continue growing in our program.”
A 2011 graduate of Wayne High School, McManus was a four-year letterwinner and starter who amassed a school-record 116 wins during his career. He was a two-time state qualifier and picked up a conference title during his senior season. As a sophomore, McManus earned AAU All-America honors. He will wrestle at 165 or 174 pounds.
“We have a lot of bright kids coming in, and Riley might be the brightest,” Reitmeier said. “Another extremely hard worker, Riley hasn’t met his wrestling goals and is looking to accomplish them in college. He brings intensity and passion for wrestling into the classroom.”
Friederich prepped at Montgomery-Lonsdale High School, where he was a four-time all-conference pick. He was also a four-year letterwinner and starter and totaled 146 wins—76 by fall—during his high school career. Friederich was a three-time state qualifier and peaked with a second-place finish as a senior. He was also named conference MVP during his senior season. Friederich will wrestle at 141 pounds.
Said Reitmeier: “Zach comes to Augustana with a ton of wrestling experience. He is well rounded and great in all positions of wrestling. We love Zach’s style, great position, controlling ties and how he can score from multiple positions. We are excited to have Zach join our team and could see him contributing immediately.”
Shaull is a 2011 graduate of Tea High School. As a four-year letterwinner and starter, he collected two fourth-place state finishes and one fifth-place honor. He holds school records in career wins, takedowns, escapes, nearfalls, pins and reversals. He was named his team’s MVP three times. Shaull is expected to wrestle at 133 pounds for the Vikings.
“We really like the toughness that we seen in Lance; he is just mentally tougher than most of his opponents,” Reitmeier said. “He has a relentless work ethic to go with his natural athletic ability. Lance is exactly what you want in a wrestler: hardnosed with a never-quit attitude.”
Burghardt was a two-year letterwinner and starter at Watertown High School, where he compiled a career mark of 82-48. As a senior, he captured conference and region crowns and was a third-place state finisher. He also logged a seventh-place state finish as a junior. Burghardt will compete at 125 pounds.
“Alex comes from a winning tradition in Watertown and will bring that winning attitude and confidence with him,” Reitmeier said. “We think Alex has a high upside and will continue to improve and get better every time he gets on the mat.”
The seven signees join Shawn Hatlestad from New London, Minn., Garret Heiberger from Hartford, S.D., JD Herst from St. Louis, Mo., Taylor Harris from Harrisburg, S.D., and Bret Johnson from Story City, Iowa, in Augustana’s 2011-12 recruiting class.
“(Assistant coach) Tom Meester and I are extremely excited about this year’s class,” Reitmeier said. “We added depth and talent to every weight, and we got the kind of kids that understand how to work–that shows in their results on the mat and in the classroom. In fact, this might be one of our most recognized groups for not only their great accomplishments on the mat but also in the classroom.”
Augustana finished third and had seven All-America honorees at the 2011 NCAA Championship. The Vikings, who took second at the Super Regional Three Championship, finished the dual season with a record of 14-2 and were the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference champions with a flawless 7-0 conference campaign.
Located in Sioux Falls, S.D., Augustana College is a member of NCAA Division II and competes in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.