MARSHALL, Minn. – Southwest Minnesota State University head wrestling coach Chayse Jackson announced today three high school student-athletes have signed letters of intent to continue their academic and wrestling careers at SMSU.
Joining the program for the 2022-23 season include Jackson Esping from Minneota, Minn., Alex Ibanez from Grafton, N.D., and Jake Messner from Northfield, Minn.
“With only a few seniors graduating this year, this class reloads the weight classes where a senior has moved on,” Jackson said. “Each of these recruits have shown they have what it takes to compete at the highest level and perform consistently. Between the three of them, SMSU brings in six state places, 10 state qualifications, and a host of Freestyle and Greco accolades.”
Esping, who is expected to compete at 285 pounds, is a 2022 graduate of Minneota High School, where he was a two-time state qualifier. He placed fifth at the 2021 state meet at 220 pounds, before earning a return trip to state in 2022 despite missing most of the season due to an injury. A five-year letter winner, Esping won 93 matches in his career. He was also a standout in football where he started for three seasons and helped lead the Vikings to a state runner-up finish in 2021.
Ibanez is a 2022 graduate of Grafton High School, where as a senior he competed at 145 pounds. He recorded more than 100 victories in his career and was a four-time state place winner and four-time team captain. He won 40 matches as a senior including earning a fifth-place finish at the 2022 state meet.
Messner is a 2022 graduate of Northfield High School and is expected to compete at 149 pounds for SMSU. As a senior, Messner won 48 matches and earned a second-place finish at the state meet while competing at 138 pounds. Messner, who ranks second in program history in victories, was a two-time state place-winner. He is also a state champion in Greco wrestling.
“I am fired up to get to work with these guys and see how they fit into our program,” Jackson said. “This next season should be a great opportunity for us with none of our starters graduating. Add in these tough recruits and we have what it takes to continue our growth and climb in the NSIC. I look forward to seeing these guys develop and seeing the skills and work ethic they all bring into the room. I am truly excited about the group of athletes we have coming in.”
Jackson recently completed his first season as head coach. SMSU’s Caden Steffen was an All-NSIC honoree, NCAA region champion, and earned NCAA All-American honors last season earning a sixth-place finish at the NCAA Championships in March.
SMSU, located in Marshall, is a member of NCAA Division II and competes in the Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference.