MINNEAPOLIS – A year after signing its largest recruiting class in a decade, the Gopher Wrestling program announced the addition of eight talented student-athletes who will arrive on campus for the 2019-20 campaign.
Three local products and champions from Illinois, Montana, and California highlight the class for head coach Brandon Eggum and his staff. Cael Carlson of Willmar, Sebas Swiggum of Apple Valley, and Rowan Morgan of Mounds View will represent their home state when they don the Maroon & Gold next season. The class also includes Lockport, Illinois standouts Baylor Fernandes and Matt Ramos, three-time Montana State Champion Martin Wilkie, Wisconsin state champion Kevin Meicher, and California native Marcos Polanco.
Carlson arrives on campus after a stellar career at Willmar, following up a second-place finish at the 2017 Minnesota State High School League tournament with a state championship in 2018 as he enters his senior season. His other accolades include a 2017 Minnesota Christmas Tournament Championship and a 2018 Greco Fargo Championship.
Coach Eggum on Carlson: “Cael is one of the top wrestlers in Minnesota, and we are excited to be able to keep him home. His father wrestled for the Gophers so he understands the tradition and resources we have here. Cael has an incredible motor, is a great person, and will do really well for us here at Minnesota.”
— Cael Carlson (@CaelCarlson) September 29, 2018
Morgan remains in-state where he participated in the MSHSL State Tournament the past two seasons, earning a fifth-place finish in 2018. A two-time USAW Folkstyle Nationals All-American in 2017 and 2018, Morgan will graduate from Mounds View High School this spring.
Coach Eggum on Morgan: “Rowan comes to Minnesota following in the footsteps of his father Marty Morgan, a National Champion and longtime coach for the Gophers. Marty coached both assistant coach Luke Becker and I so we are very close to the family and have been able to watch Rowan grow up. He is a tough nose kid who loves to train. We believe we are just seeing the tip of the iceberg when it comes to his wrestling success. He’s going to come here and be very successful on and off the mat.”
Excited to announce that I have committed to the University of Minnesota to further my wrestling and academic career! Proud to be #GopherTough 〽️ @BrandonEggum @LukeDBecker @trbrandvold pic.twitter.com/Ce9uTTJkWg
— Rowan Morgan (@RowanPMorgan) September 27, 2018
Swiggum finished among the top performers in the state in two of the last three seasons with a third-place finish at the 2016 MSHSL State Tournament and a second-place finish in 2018 as he enters his senior campaign at Apple Valley. This year, Swiggum also earned MN/USA Freestyle and Greco State Championships.
Coach Eggum on Swiggum: “Sebas is a very popular wrestler from the Twin Cities area. He’s well liked around the state not just because of his exciting style but his reputation for being an incredible person. Sebas will make an immediate impact for the team with his grit and work ethic. Don’t be surprised to see him causing other big ten teams headaches during his career with a motor that doesn’t stop.”
I am excited to announce my commitment to the University of Minnesota to continue my wrestling and academic career!! Thank you to my family, coaches, teachers, and teammates who have played a role in this journey. The best is yet to come!! #blessed #GopherTough 〽️ pic.twitter.com/Ymshud9ZuS
— Sebas Swiggum (@sebizzle2000) September 28, 2018
Fernandes and Ramos come to the Gopher State after standout careers for Lockport High School. Fernandes is a two-time Illinois State Tournament participant, qualifying each of the last two seasons including a fourth-place finish in 2017 and a runner-up finish in Freestyle in 2018.
Coach Eggum on Fernandes: “Baylor is a young man who is a tough wrestler now but we see becoming a great wrestler in the near future. He will remind fans of former Gopher Dylan Ness: a beast on top who hits everything hard. Baylor and Matt Ramos both wrestle at the Illinois powerhouse program of Lockport where they are coached by Josh Oster.”
Ramos earned Illinois State Titles in both Freestyle and Greco in 2018 and finishing in third place at the State High School Tournament the past two seasons. In 2016, Ramos was named a Cadet Fargo Freestyle and Greco All-American. Ramos claimed the Cadet World Championship this past summer in Zagreb, Croatia.
Coach Eggum on Ramos: “Matt fills a need for us in the lighter weights. He has been successful at every level but has really hit another gear this past summer. He won the tough UWW Cadet Trials and went on to win a Cadet Gold Medal at the World Championships. He is a good counter wrestler who is dangerous in all positions.”
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Meicher crosses state lines from Middleton High School in Wisconsin to don the Maroon & Gold. The three-time state qualifier claimed the WIAA Division 1 Tournament title in 2016. He is also an All-Conference performer on the grid iron for Middleton.
Coach Eggum on Meicher: “Kevin is a high-character kid who we are very excited to have committed. He’s a great scrambler and a very tough top wrestler. He leg rides and turns people which will make him a dangerous collegiate wrestler.”
#GopherTough welcomes another one.
Happy to have you with the Maroon & Gold, Kevin! pic.twitter.com/SS7kpDljT5
— Minnesota Wrestling (@GopherWrestling) November 16, 2018
Polanco will wrap up his prep career at Bishop Amat High School, where he is already a two-time California State Tournament participant. He earned a fourth-place finish in 2018. Last month, he finished third at 132 at Freakshow 2018 nationals in Las Vegas.
Coach Eggum on Polanco: “It’s great to have Marcos on board. He is very athletic, difficult to score on, and quick to his leg attacks. He comes from an awesome family who we are excited to welcome to the Gopher family. We feel like Marcos will be the start to establishing a California pipeline to Minnesota.”
I am very excited to announce that I will be continuing my academic and athletic careers at the University of Minnesota〽️! I want to thank my family, friends, and coaches for helping me get to where I am today. #Gophertough 〽️ pic.twitter.com/nEjbzkKOrf
— Marcos Polanco (@MARKEES0) October 14, 2018
Wilkie rounds out the incoming class for Minnesota, winning Montana State Championships each of the past three seasons (2016, 2017, and 2018). Like Polanco, he performed at the Freakshow 2018 nationals where he claimed a third-place finish at 138.
Coach Eggum on Wilkie: “I am fired up to have another Montana-to-Minnesota connection here with Martin. What impresses us the most about him is his fearlessness when he wrestles. He will be a fan favorite with his attacking style and big point ability.”
Beyond excited to make this announcement and the picture explains itself thanks to my coaches, training partners, amazing family and close friends I’m able to make this decision!〽️ #gophertough @GopherWrestling pic.twitter.com/o2ijBc6rWz
— Martin Wilkie (@themwiii) October 17, 2018