EDWARDSVILLE, Ill. – The optimism for SIUE wrestling continues to grow, and fourth-year Head Coach Jeremy Spates is ready to show off the 2016-17 Cougars.
SIUE opens the 2016-17 season Saturday at the Grand View Open in Pleasant Hill, Iowa. The month of November also features tournaments at the Kaufman Brand Open (Nov. 12) and the Lindenwood Open (Nov. 19). The dual season begins at home Dec. 4 against North Dakota State and Indiana.
The Cougars have three returnees who have appeared at the NCAA Championships with 125-pounder Freddie Rodriguez (Lansing, Michigan), 149-pounder John Fahy (Pewee Valley, Kentucky) and 197-pounder Jake Tindle (Troy, Illinois). Jake Residori (Shorewood, Illinois), who has 75 wins in his first three seasons and 21 last season in a limited redshirt schedule, also returns at 174 pounds.
Rodriguez and Fahy were preseason All-Southern Conference selections. SIUE also was picked to finish fourth in the coaches' preseason poll.
Below is a breakdown by weight class.
Rodriguez was tabbed No. 14 nationally in his weight class by WIN Magazine and gives the Cougars the opportunity for a great start in tournaments and dual matches.
"Freddie has the highest preseason ranking that we have had since I have been here," said Spates. "With him going 2-2 at nationals last year, that also was our best finish since moving to the Division I level. He has an exciting style because he wants to score a lot of points."
Gage Datlovsky (Ingleside, Illinois), a sophomore, is gaining valuable knowledge as a backup for Rodriguez. "He is working hard and is getting better by wrestling Freddie and our other talented lightweights."
"Joe Antonelli (St. Charles, Illinois) is probably going to be the starter at 133," said Spates. "He started for a big part of the season at 125 pounds before Freddie entered the lineup. He learned a lot from his freshman season."
Antonelli posted a 12-23 record as a freshman last season.
John Muldoon (Pearl River, New York), a redshirt sophomore, is hoping to make the move to 133 but continues to battle injuries. "John is going to be a force once he gets healthy, we are hoping that happens soon."
Four wrestlers will be battling for position at 141. Angelo Silvestro (Geneva, Illinois) was the starter two seasons ago and was injured last season. Trevor Feagans (Cathage, Missouri) won 10 matches last season in three different weight classes. Cameron Kelly (Franklin, Massachusetts) picked up 12 wins last season with five falls, the most among the lighter SIUE weights. Tyshawn Williams (Baltimore, Maryland) is coming down from 149 where he wrestled last season.
"Whoever comes out of this weight class we will feel comfortable that we will win a lot of matches," said Spates. "Going into it, it will be interesting to see who will take the spot. They all are working hard."
"The 149-pound weight class is kind of a scarce weight class because of Fahy," said Spates.
Fahy posted a 19-11 record last season and was a perfect 4-0 in SoCon dual matches.
"He had a really good summer and got better in a number of areas," said Spates. "John is kind of the total package. He has a few nice things that he does offensively, and he has good defense. He scrambles well and doesn't give up points."
Sam Zimmerman (Fairbanks, Alaska), a redshirt junior, also is looking to challenge Fahy. He finished last season with a 3-4 record.
"Those two will be battling it out," said Spates. "With Sam going down a weight class, they are the two at the weight class. It's going to be a tough matchup between those two, but whoever comes out, we'll be better than we were last season."
Nate Higgins (Millstadt, Illinois) bounced between 157 pounds and 165 pounds last season and finished with 15 total victories.
"He spent the summer getting stronger and growing into the weight class," said Spates. "I think we'll see Nate take a big jump from where he was last year."
Residori and Clayton Bass (Yorkville, Illinois) are starting the season at 174 pounds.
"Jake got better with his redshirt season last year. He always has worked hard, but last year he really learned the sport of wrestling. He's hungry to get back out there."
Bass may be starting the year at 174 but may be moving down to 165. As a spot starter for the last three seasons, Bass provides a steady level of depth for the Cougar lineup. "Clayton has done a great job filling in over the past two years, he will see more action again this year."
Jake Godinez (Washington, Illinois) will step into a starting role this season.
"Jake started wrestling late in his career, he is starting to figure out collegiate wrestling," said Spates. "He is working hard and I'm excited to see how he does this weekend."
Tindle wrestled through injuries last season after qualifying for the national championships two seasons ago. He is hoping to make a return trip to the Scottrade Center for the national championships next March.
"He had some nagging injuries that were slowing him down," said Spates. "We have him about as healthy as we can get him. He has learned to wrestling around those challenges and is looking really good. He is putting up a lot of points on his feet, and he is putting up a lot of points on top."
Tindle recorded a 16-14 record last season with two falls, two technical falls and four major decisions.
Jake McKiernan (Richmond, Michigan) placed at University Nationals this past summer. He is ready to step into a starting role this season after recording 10 falls as an unattached wrestler last season.
"He gained some strength which is what he needed because he was a 189-pounder his senior season in high school," said Spates. "We're expecting big things out of Jake. We thought he was going to take a bigger jump than he did last year. He defeated some heavyweights who were among the nation's top 30 last year. We're excited to see what he do this year."
Spates also noted the similarities between the final four weight classes with "Jake" in the Cougar lineup from Residori to Godinez to Tindle to McKiernan.