Wrestling head coach Chris Bono announced that five high school standouts – three from Missouri and two from Minnesota – signed a National Letter of Intent during the recent signing period, indicating they will enroll at South Dakota State University in the fall of 2017 and compete for the Jackrabbit wrestling program.
The signees include Connor Brown, Oak Grove, Missouri; Samuel Grove, Moorhead, Minnesota; Rylee Molitor, Sartell, Minnesota; Hunter Shelton, Kansas City, Missouri; and Elias Vaoifi, Independence, Missouri.
Brown has won three state titles and compiled a 126-5 record during his career at Oak Grove High School. He claimed 106-pound titles as a freshman and sophomore with respective records of 41-5 and 49-0, also earning Class 2 Wrestler of the Year in 2015. He moved up to 120 pounds as a junior and won a state title by posting his second consecutive undefeated season with a 36-0 mark, earning a 17th-place ranking at his weight class by FloWrestling. Oak Grove won team state titles in 2014 and 2015 and was runner-up last season.
In other competition, Brown earned USA Folkstyle All-America honors this past summer and went undefeated in Freestyle Junior Duals competition. He also is a two-time academic all-state honoree.
Grove has been ranked in the top 20 nationally at 195 pounds and is a three-time state qualifier for Moorhead High School. He has posted back-to-back 40-win seasons and enters his senior campaign with a 145-35 career record, with 90 of his wins coming by pin. He qualified for the Minnesota Class AAA state meet at 170 pounds as a freshman, then placed fourth at 160 pounds his sophomore season. Last season as a junior, Grove turned in a runner-up finish at 195 pounds.
In addition to his success on the mat in high school, Grove has placed highly in numerous USA Wrestling national competitions. This past summer, Grove was 195-pound runner-up at the 2016 USAW Folkstyle Junior Nationals and also earned an eighth-place finish at the Freestyle Junior Nationals.
Besides wrestling, Grove has played fullback and linebacker on the Spuds’ football team and is a four-time letterwinner in track and field, primarily competing in the hurdles and sprints. He was named to the academic all-state second team for wrestling last season.
Molitor has been a state finalist in three different weight classes during a standout career at Sartell-St. Stephen High School. He finished second at 106 pounds as a freshman before winning a Class AAA state championship at 113 pounds during his sophomore season, ending the year with a 38-1 record. He followed that with a 39-3 overall record and runner-up finish at the state meet in the 120-pound division.
Molitor also excelled on the mat in USA Wrestling competition, winning state freestyle and Greco-Roman titles at 132 pounds this past spring before placing third in both disciplines at Northern Plains Regional competition.
Shelton is a three-time state finalist for Oak Park High School in Kansas City. He won the Missouri Class 3 152-pound state title as a sophomore in 2015, followed by a runner-up finish as a junior. He also placed second at 120 pounds as a freshman.
Shelton also has earned All-America recognition at USA Wrestling Freestyle Junior Nationals and has been a member of the Missouri national dual team.
In addition to wrestling, Shelton has lettered three times in football and earned second-team all-conference and team defensive player of the year honors as a linebacker.
Vaoifi has been a member of the varsity squad for four years and served as team captain at Fort Osage High School. He capped a 46-8 junior season with a third-place finish in the 182-pound weight class at the 2016 Missouri Class 4 state meet.
Elsewhere in the wrestling arena, Vaoifi has earned All-America accolades both in freestyle and Greco-Roman national junior competitions. He won a Cadet Freestyle state championship at 170 pounds in 2015 and went on to receive USAW All-America accolades. In 2016, Vaoifi won a Junior Freestyle state title at 182 pounds, while also earning UWW Cadet Greco-Roman All-America honors in the 85-kilogram division and USAW Junior Greco-Roman All-America recognition at 182 pounds.
Bono also announced six other high school standouts have been accepted for admission to South Dakota State University and plan to join the Jackrabbit wrestling program next fall. Those additions include:
- Kelby Hawkins – Webster, South Dakota;
- Anders Lantz – Ellsworth, Wisconsin;
- Riley McSherry – Rapid City, South Dakota;
- Devon Sievers – Gary, South Dakota;
- Peyton Smith – Savannah, Missouri, and
- Aric Williams – Pierre, South Dakota
Hawkins placed fifth in the 160-pound weight class for Webster Area High School at the 2016 Class B state championships, finishing the season with a 40-6 overall record.
Lantz turned in a 36-10 record sixth-place finish at 145 pounds at the Wisconsin Division 2 state tournament in 2016. He also placed second in the 160-pound Greco-Roman division at the 2015 Northern Plains Regional.
McSherry recorded a third-place finish in the 138-pound weight class at the 2016 Class A state meet for Rapid City Central. He ended his junior year with a 39-8 record.
Sievers placed fourth at 138 pounds at the 2016 Class B state meet, ending the year with a 37-9 mark for Deuel High School.
Smith completed his junior season at Savannah High School with a 54-2 overall record and placed third at 132 pounds at the Missouri Class 2 state tournament. He was state runner-up at 120 pounds as a sophomore.
Williams ended his junior season at T.F. Riggs High School with a 43-12 overall record and fifth-place finish in the 138-pound weight class at the 2016 Class A state meet.
South Dakota State is an affiliate member of the Big 12 Conference for wrestling and sent four wrestlers to the NCAA Championships during the 2015-16 season.