Four Illinois natives and four state champions highlight the addition of nine recruits to the 2010-11 signing class, NIU head coach Ryan Ludwig announced today.
“I am eagerly anticipating the arrival of this class to campus this fall,” Ludwig said. “I like that we were able to build some depth, while addressing some immediate needs within our lineup.
“There is a great amount of potential in this group that can elevate the level of our room immediately. These guys are hungry to wrestle for Northern Illinois and I expect a couple of them to push for a starting spot right away.”
Derek Elmore of Loves Park, Ill., is one of four Illinois natives and highlights the group of nine recruits. A three-time state placer, Elmore posted an impressive 49-1 record en route to the state title at 119 while wrestling at Harlem High School as a senior. Projected to wrestle at 125 pounds, Elmore finished second in the state in 2009 and fifth in 2010. He earned the 2008 and 2009 Border Wars national championships and the 2009 and 2010 Dominate The Dells national championships.
Ranked No. 8 in the nation at 119 pounds, Elmore was a two-time Junior Freestyle National All-American. Also the 2009 Asics USA Folkstyle national champion, he was named as a “USA Future Olympian” that year as well. A three-time Freestyle State Champion, he also was also a Greco State Champion.
Austin Pickering amassed a 171-33 record during his four-year career at Port Huron Northern High School. He holds the single season and career school records for wins, pins, takedowns and tournament wins. Pickering, who will wrestle at 197 pounds, posted back-to-back 50 win seasons, posting a 54-4 mark as a junior and a school record 56 wins versus three losses his senior season. A two-time team MVP and team captain, he was named All-Area Wrestler of the Year his senior season. Pickering, who also lettered in football and track, was a member of the National Honor Society.
A key member of three state championship teams at Columbia High School in Idaho, Adrian Dickinson, a two-time state champion won the 189 pound title as a senior and the 160 pound crown as a freshman and took second as a sophomore at 171. Dickson, a second-generation wrestler as his father Daniel wrestled for Boise State, was a two-sport athlete excelling in both wrestling and football. He was a team captain for both squads as a junior and senior and was named all-conference and all-state in both as a senior. He will wrestle at 184 pounds for the Huskies.
Tyler Loethen, a native of Jefferson City, Mo., capped his high school career with a perfect 29-0 record and a state championship at 152 pounds during his senior season. He took first place at the Fall Brawl, Missouri Duals and Branson Open as a senior as well. He placed second at the state championships as a freshman at 130 pounds and third as a sophomore at 140. A two-sport athlete, he also lettered in track. Projected to wrestle at 157/165 pounds, Loethen was the Freestyle and Greco State Champion this year and was ranked No. 27 in the nation at 152.
South Elgin’s Eddie Breen was a two-time state qualifier and a four-year letterwinner at Marmion Academy in Aurora. He posted a career record of 118-49, second on the school’s all-time list for wins. Breen, who will wrestle for NIU at 157 pounds, took fourth place at the 2A State Championships while wrestling at 152. He earned all-state honors his junior and senior seasons and was named a team captain his senior year.
Arber Bebo comes to NIU via Harper College where he earned NJCAA All-American honors following the 2010-11 season after helping lead the Hawks to a sixth place finish at the 2011 NJCAA National Tournament. Bebo, who will compete for the starting spot at 184, was a 2009-10 NJCAA All-American as well. A native of Albania, Bebo moved to Addison, Ill. and was a four-year letterwinner at Addison Trail.
Arthur Bunce of Munith, Mich. won a school record 180 matches during his four-year career. He went an astounding 59-0, a school record for wins in a season, and won the Division 4 state title at 215 pounds. Bunce, who is projected to wrestle at 197/285, also owns the school record for career pins with 124. He recorded a career-high 44 and went 55-3 on the season and took second place at the state championships as a junior.
Robert Jillard transferred to NIU after a successful freshman season at Liberty where he qualified for the 2011 NCAA National Championships at 125. He finished seventh and eighth place at the state tournament his junior and senior years respectively. The Franklinville, N.J. native was a team captain the past three seasons, he was named team MVP following his junior and senior campaigns. He won the Tri-County Championship as a junior and took second at the TCC as a senior.
A four-year letterwinner, Steven Bradley rounds out the quartet of recruits that hail from Illinois. The Byron native recorded a 111-18 record during his career, including a 39-3 mark with 16 pins and a third-place finish at the 2011 state championships his senior year. A three-time all-Big Northern Conference selection for Byron High School, Bradley was named team captain and earned MVP honors his senior year. He will compete for the starting spot at 149 pounds.
“The thing that most impresses me with this group is that they live to compete,” he said. “They are training for off-season tournaments, which speaks well for their passion. I believe in these student-athletes and I look forward to working with them.”
The nine additions this spring join Tyler Argue, Jackson Bratcher, Ethan Davis, Nick Harrison, Ryan Smith and Thorian Twyner who signed in the fall.