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December 11, 2012

Tech Wrestling Recruiting Haul Among the Top in the Nation

By: Jimmy Robertson

The Hokies’ softball and golf programs also sign highly touted recruiting classes

Nov. 14 marked the beginning of the fall signing period for several NCAA sports, and several of Tech’s coaches landed high-quality recruiting classes. For a recap, please read below:


Virginia Tech wrestling coach Kevin Dresser and his program’s run of success figures to continue well into the future, as he and his staff put together one of the top recruiting classes in the nation. Amateur Wrestling News, a magazine that covers wrestling, rated the class in the top five, and three of the five signees ranked among the top 25 nationally by InterMat magazine, another national publication that covers wrestling.

The class includes two signees who wrestle at nearby Christiansburg High – Joey Dance and Zach Epperly – along with Kevin Norstrem, a Florida native, Dennis Gustafson from Dumfries, Va., and Jared Haught, who is from Parkersburg, W.Va.

Dance, who is ranked the No. 5 overall recruit in the nation by D1CollegeWrestling and the No. 1 recruit in the country at 126 pounds by Amateur Wrestling News and InterMat, figures to wrestle at 125 pounds at Tech. Additionally, Dance is a three-time Virginia state champion with a career record of 129-17.

Epperly is rated as the No. 24 overall recruit in the country by InterMat, No. 26 by D1CollegeWrestling and No. 48 by Amateur Wrestling News. He won his third Virginia state title with a 6-4 decision over three-time state champ Jake Crawford of Millbrook in the 160-pound final as a junior. He also won a state title as a freshman at 135 pounds and then a title at 145 pounds as a sophomore before winning the crown at 160 last year. He is currently ranked No. 3 in the country at 170 pounds by InterMat and No. 6 by Amateur Wrestling News and is projected as a 174-pounder in college.

Norstrem, who attends Brandon High School in Brandon, Fla., is the No. 7 overall recruit in the country as rated by Amateur Wrestling News, No. 11 by D1CollegeWrestling and No. 12 by InterMat. He has finished the past two seasons with a combined record of 124-0, while amassing a record of 59-2 as a freshman, to make his three-year “high school” record 183-2.

Gustafson wrestles for Forest Park High and was a 2012 NHSCA Junior National runner-up. Amateur Wrestling News rated him the No. 98 overall prospect in the nation. Gustafson was a 2010 North Carolina Group 4A champion and followed it up by finishing third in Virginia in both 2011 and 2012. He has a career record of 141-14 heading into his senior season and is currently ranked No. 8 in the country at 132 pounds by InterMat and No. 9 by Amateur Wrestling News. He figures to wrestle as a 133-pounder in college.

Haught will give the Hokies some help in the upper weights. He is a three-time West Virginia state champion who is currently ranked 12th in the country at 182 pounds by both InterMat and Amateur Wrestling News. He placed third at the Super 32 this year and is projected as a 184- or 197-pounder in college.

“Quality is the word of the day,” Dresser said. “These five guys are top quality guys on and off the mat. We can’t wait to get them in Blacksburg next fall. Hats off to Coach (Tony) Robie and Coach (David) Hoffman for their efforts. Teamwork at all levels is what this business is all about!”â�¨â�¨


Virginia Tech golf coach Jay Hardwick signed two prospects during the fall signing period, including a local standout with a decorated career.

Ryan Mondy, a Blacksburg native who attends Blacksburg High School, won the Virginia High School League’s Group AA championship this past fall and earned all-state recognition for three straight years. His 5-under-par 67 in the final round enabled him to claim the state championship.

The 2011 Alleghany Amateur and Bobby Bowers Memorial champion also has numerous high finishes on the AJGA circuit to his credit. He finished ninth in the prestigious Scott Robertson Invitational in 2011 and has been named All-Timesland by The Roanoke Times and the Roanoke Valley Hall of Fame Player of the Year during his high school and junior career.

Hardwick’s other signee is Drew Johnson, an Oak Ridge, N.C., native who attends Northwest Guilford High School. A three-time all-state selection and Piedmont Triad 4A Conference medalist, he has also been named conference Player of the Year twice. Earlier this summer, he recorded top-five finishes at the AJGA Golf Pride Junior Classic and AJGA Junior at River Landing, and he was an alternate for the 2012 US Amateur at Cherry Hills.


Virginia Tech softball coach Scot Thomas signed four standouts during the fall signing period from four different states. Elizabeth Birle, Vanessa Gonzalez, Cailey Isaacs and Aysha Richardson comprise the class.

Birle, a native of Winter Springs, Fla., headlines the class. A 2012 MaxPreps Junior Class All-American, she pitches and plays first base. She batted .451 during her junior season at Winter Spring High School, with 13 homers and 41 RBI. She earned first-team all-state honors (Group 7A) after her junior year. She holds the single-season (13) and career (30) home run records at Winter Springs High.

Gonzalez, an outfielder/first baseman from Torrance, Calif., hit .500 last season for North High School and hit .625 in league contests. She finished with 48 hits, including nine doubles, three triples and nine homers, earning first-team All-CIF Southern Cal Division III honors.

Isaacs plays in the outfield for Laurel High School in Georgetown, Del., after spending the past three seasons at Sussex Technical High School in Georgetown. She hit .400 as a junior, with a .500 on-base percentage. She also scored 18 runs in leading Sussex to the state championship. During her sophomore season, she hit .404 and scored 22 runs. She hit .520 as a freshman, with 17 stolen bases and 19 runs.

Richardson is the lone in-state recruit, hailing from Louisa, Va., and playing at Orange County High School. The outfielder hit .527 as a junior, with an on-base percentage of .565, and she struck out 167 in the circle to go with a 0.91 ERA. She earned first-team all-district, all-region and all-area honors, while being an honorable mention all-state selection.