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Div I all-Americans who started wrestling in high school

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Hey fellow forum members, happy quarantine day whatever! I am hoping your collective knowledge can help me with something here. I am a kids' club coach and we take a different philosophy on the development of our wrestlers. In short, we develop our wrestlers at a far slower, more patient pace. That said, I love using examples of Div 1 all-Americans who did NOT start wrestling until high school. These athletes are excellent examples to use when trying to explain our club's philosophy to parents and athletes.

If you know of any wrestlers, please respond to this thread and post their name, school, and year(s) when they became all-Americans. Feel free to tell a short story about them if you have one.

Here are two to kick off the thread:

Steve Marianetti began wrestling as a freshman in high school

Brian Picklo began wrestling as a junior in high school (thank you to Wrestling Changed My Life podcast!)

Altho he never became an all-American, I think what Jamill Kelly did in 2004 is an even better story.

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52 minutes ago, TripNSweep said:

John Llwellyn who was an NCAA champion for Illinois

I don't think Adam Wheeler was an AA but he did win an Olympic bronze medal

Obe Blanc started as a high school sophomore I think 

Wheeler went to Northern Michigan, so he wasn’t an AA.

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I want to say Stephen Neal didn't start until high school too. His best finish was 4th at CA state, so if he was a late starter that result wasn't surprising.  But I forget where I'd heard he played soccer as a kid and began wrestling in high school.  

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This does not meet your criteria, but it blew my mind when I witnessed it.

We had a 125lber in high school that started wrestling as a freshman.  His senior year, he placed 4th at regionals and was a one-time state qualifier.  His first match at state, he beat a kid (junior) that went 1, 3, 3, 2 in high school that had also medaled nationally since youth.  Our guy did not place at wrestling state but the next year, he was the 3rd best bareback rider (rodeo) and is a multiple time world champion bareback rider now.  He was a more brute-force than technical wrestler.  https://www.prorodeo.com/prorodeo/cowboys/cowboy-biographies?id=1682

Edited by jross

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Henry Wittenberg, an Olympic gold and silver medalist who became one of America’s greatest amateur wrestlers while he was a New York City police officer, died on Tuesday at his home in Somers, N.Y. He was 91.

His death was announced by his family.

As a teenager, Wittenberg was devoted to chess and swimming. It was not until he arrived at City College that he turned to wrestling. He became a collegiate star, and after graduating in 1940, he dominated national and international freestyle wrestling in his weight group. He went undefeated in more than 300 consecutive matches during the 1940s, according to the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.NY Times

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There are certainly some wrestlers who became great after starting in high school. It's possible. But isn't it more instructive to note that the vast majority of AAs started much earlier. 

I personally was not even aware that folkstyle wrestling even existed until I started high school. When I started, I was very bad. And I stayed pretty bad. And that's OK. I enjoyed the sport then and am still a fan.

 

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15 hours ago, CoachWrestling said:

I could be wrong but one of the Churella's came to mind 

I think all 3 boys started wrestling in high school, Mark Jr., was second in the state, and was a varsity letterwinner @ UM, but, I believe Ryan and Josh both started wrestling in about ninth grade as well ....a couple of them were soccer players in high school.  Ryan went 3/4/2 @149 and 165 and Josh went 8/2/4 @141 and 149....both of them had success wrestling freestyle as well.  Great family from what I understand.  Fadz

 

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I heard Churellas started in middle school - still late by today's standards. Though answers like "Lee Kemp" and "Mark Schultz" are correct, I suspect the OP is looking for examples from the last 10 years or so. If you tell HS kids "you can start at age 14 and still AA" and the only examples you have are from 40 years ago, they may not believe you.

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7 minutes ago, Fletcher said:

I heard Churellas started in middle school - 

I knew them fairly young- I helped Sr run Vegas sometimes in the 90s. The kids helped also. I can't swear that they were wrestling at that point but I thought so. So what you say sounds reasonable.

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Not that the older folks aren't impressive, but I'm curious to see more who has started wrestling in the 2000s while in high school and AAed.  I think it's much harder now with the year round training, private coaching, explosion of multi-state and national tournaments, holding back grades, transferring schools etc modern wrestlers do in high school. I think they were become more and more of an outlier as the years go on and  the HS wrestlers get better and better.

Edited by Gantry

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47 minutes ago, Fletcher said:

I heard Churellas started in middle school - still late by today's standards. Though answers like "Lee Kemp" and "Mark Schultz" are correct, I suspect the OP is looking for examples from the last 10 years or so. If you tell HS kids "you can start at age 14 and still AA" and the only examples you have are from 40 years ago, they may not believe you.

And Lee Kemp and Mark Schultz probably could have started wrestling in college and still AAd back then, now or in 100 years from now.  Physical specimens that almost nobody can relate to.

Edited by Broomstick

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I believe Andrew Hochstrasser didn’t start wrestling until he was a freshman in high school, he was a swimmer before got into wrestling. He ended up being runner up at NCAA’s, losing to Jordan Oliver.

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8 hours ago, Tofurky said:

I may have misunderstoodwhat I had heard, but didn't Nashon Garrett start wrestling as a sophomore in high school?

I think he just said on a podcast that he started in 8th grade.

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