A relatively small recruiting class includes some of the best high school wrestlers in the region as Southern Oregon signed nine student-athletes to join the program in 2013, head coach Mike Ritchey announced Tuesday.
Four-time Oregon state champion Lucas Randall highlights a class that includes six Oregon natives, one Washington native, one Colorado native and one Californian. Incoming freshmen Randall, Luke O'Connor, Tyler Cowger, Chance Lindquist and Tim Tsukanov join transfer students Rhett Breed, Aaron De May, Bryce McMahon and Kamal Qteishat as the Raiders look to reload after a second-place finish at the 2012 NAIA National Championships.
"Having brought in huge classes the last three years, we only needed to spice up our lineup a little this year," Ritchey said. "Our plan was to go after the best wrestlers in the region. Obviously we wouldn't get them all to commit, but we signed some good ones."
Randall finished his high school career with an astounding 171-2 record and four 4A state titles, moving up a weight class each season to compete at 145 lbs. as a senior. He follows his older brother Cody into the collegiate ranks. Between the two brothers the Randall family boasts seven high school state championships. The younger Randall was named Oregon's Wrestler of the Year at North Marion High School and plans to major in criminology at Southern Oregon.
"SOU fit me," Randall said. "They have one of the best criminology programs and there location is magnificent. But with all that aside, the wrestling team brought me to my decision. With a great team comes hard work and dedication and that's the type of influence I want to be around."
O'Connor comes to SOU from Glide High School. The Roseburg native is a three-time top-three finisher at the state championships and claimed the title as a junior. His Wildcats won the team title during his senior campaign.
Cowger joins the program from Sweet Home High School, where he finished with 192 wins and a state title among four top-three finishes. He plans to major in history and education at SOU.
Lindquist is a four-year wrestling letterwinner from Redmond High School. He is a three-time top-three finisher in state for the Panthers, placing second at the tournament during his senior season. He will major in computer science at SOU.
Tsukanov gives the Raiders five incoming freshmen after finishing second at state as a senior at Sam Barlow High School in Gresham.
De May comes to SOU after two years at Sierra College, where he ranked third in the California Junior College state championships. A native of Shingle Springs, Calif., De May plans to major in business administration.
Breed spent his last two years at Mesa State College. The Durango, Colo., native plans to major in outdoor adventure leadership.
McMahon will be a junior for the Raiders after attending both Southwestern Oregon Community College and North Idaho College. His high school career included one state championship, four top-three finishes and four team titles at Hermiston High School.
Qteishat attended Northern State University in Aberdeen, S.D., last year, where he redshirted last season. A native of Ellensburg, Wash., he plans to major in finance.
The Raiders will look to replace a pair of national champions in 2013 after Mitchell Lofstedt and Jimmy Eggemeyer graduated in the spring. Ritchey believes these nine wrestlers will play a key role in that quest.
"I'm excited to bring this class into the fold and watch them grow as Raiders," Ritchey said. "Along with their wrestling abilities, we are also very excited about this class as these student-athletes will really contribute academically at SOU. They have joined the 'Band of Warriors' and may be on the front lines fairly soon."