By Blaze Lowery
Indiana consistently produces quality wrestlers that elicit remarkable feats in their collegiate careers. Whether its Division I or NAIA, Indiana is becoming a beacon for successful wrestling programs, especially at the next level. So much of the time, these accomplishments are not recognized: which is why I am here to do so: Without further or due, you NAIA Collegiate 2022-2023 Season Preview.
Indiana Teach has nine incoming freshmen from Indiana’s 2022 graduating class, the most of any college in Indiana, and not even accounting for the out-of-state recruits. There are eight of 11 national qualifiers returning for another season, and of which are national champions. The Warriors are looking to secure yet another top five finish at the NAIA Championships this season, in addition to winning another WHAC title.
2022 NAIA National Champions:
Conner Gimson (133) of Jimtown – NAIA National Champion
Gimson won his second national title this past season, making him the first two-time national champion for the Warriors wrestling program. He also secured a 2nd team COSIDA Award for his academic and athletic accomplishments. There are talks of Gimson possibly coming back for his COVID year, but its looking like he will not be continuing his time on the mat.
Eric Vermillion (184) – NAIA National Champion (Returning)
Vermillion also won his second national title this past season for Tech, becoming the second wrestler in program history to have repeat championships under his belt. As if that was not enough, he also secured the 1st team COSIDA Award, the most prestigious award earned in the NAIA.
2022 NAIA National Qualifiers:
Kyle Kantola (141) – 8th Place (Returning)
Nathan Orum (125) – National Qualifier (Returning)
Matt Gimson (133) of Jimtown– National Qualifier (Returning)
Nick Gates (149) – National Qualifier (Returning)
Corey Cavanaugh (149) – National Qualifier (Returning)
Nate Wheeler (157) – National Qualifier (Returning)
Hunter Gasper (174) – National Qualifier
Vernon Willis (285) – National Qualifier
Braydon Erb (285) of Western– National Qualifier (Returning)
Although the numbers did not translate into placement for many of the Warriors at Nationals, I am certain that it will this upcoming season with such a large recruiting class. In other words, Indiana Tech is not rebuilding, it is reloading for an even better post season in 2023.
Incoming Freshmen: Braxton Vest (125) of Westfield, Michael Tharpe (125) of Center Grove, Zimani Malomboza (125) of Fort Wayne Northrop, Elijah Anthony (133) of Frankfort, Corbin Walston (149) of Lawrenceburg, Landon Buchanan (165) of Jimtown, Nathan Critchfield (285) of Evansville Mater Dei, Ian Clifford (285) of Columbia City, Ryan Lattimore (285) of Purdue Polytechnic.
Out of these nine incoming freshmen, I’m highest on Elijah Anthony. I think Indiana Tech will be a great fit for Anthony with the Gimson brothers departing in the coming year. Another guy to look forward to is Braxton Vest; with a showstopping performance at the state tournament this past season, this kid is a proven gamer.
Coach Thomas Pompei is locked in for yet another season of greatness.
The Knights took advantage of the portal this offseason. Not even mentioning the eight recruits they acquired in the 2022 recruiting class, this team is stacked to say the least. After placing 10th at the NAIA Championship last season, Marian is taking strides to gain a top five finish at this year’s tournament.
Recent Transfer List:
Alex Cottey of Perry Meridian, Chattanooga University
Cottey transfers after a season-ending leg injury that kept him from showing his true potential for the Mocs. He is a two-time Indiana state champion, and two-time runner-up for the falcons of Perry Meridian. His homecoming is a great chance for him to showcase the skills he picked up in Tennessee.
Asa Garcia of Avon, Indiana University
Garcia was in and out of the lineup for the Hoosiers, but never solidified himself as the guy down in Bloomington. With his little brother, Blaze Garcia of Brownsburg, joining the Knights this offseason, this was an awesome place for him to land coming out of the portal. Garcia was a three-time Indiana state champion and was ranked 9th in the nation his senior year.
Head Coach Steven Bradley will have his hands full with these transfers, as he already has eight returning qualifiers from last year’s tournament.
2022 NAIA Nationals Results:
Sam Osho (184) of Avon – 3rd place (Returning)
Elliot Rodgers (165) of Cathedral – 6th place (Returning)
Jack Servies (197) of Perry Meridian– 6th place (Returning)
Anthony Hughes (125) of Lawrence North– Qualifier (Returning)
Aundre Beatty (141) of Warren Central– Qualifier (Returning)
Logan Wagner (141) of Zionsville– Qualifier (Returning)
Seth Johnson (149) of North Montgomery- Qualifier (Returning)
Bailey Moore (157) of Beech Grove– Qualifier (Returning)
Honorable mention goes to Blake Mulkey of Brownsburg, Gardner-Webb transfer, who placed 4th at nationals the year prior, but suffered a season-ending injury that kept him from wrestling last season.
In addition to the national qualifiers and incoming transfers, this 2022 freshmen class is also full of hammers.
Incoming Freshmen: Landon Bertsch (133,141) of Bluffton, Braden Haines (141) of Brownsburg, Drew Willis (141) of Roncalli, Jude Barger (149) of Franklin Community, Blaze Garcia (149) of Brownsburg, Zach Wilson (149) of Roncalli, Dylan McKelvey (149) of Brownsburg, Liam Begley (285) of Crown Point.
I do not see any of these freshmen making a significant impact in the coming season, but I feel like a large majority of them have potential to start in their later years for the Knights.
Marian is one of Indiana’s newer collegiate teams in the state and its lineup has only gotten deeper. It is safe to say that the Marian Knights are not only here to stay but are here to play as they enter their 7th season as a program.