EDWARDSVILLE — Southern Illinois University Edwardsville coach David Ray announced the signing of five recruits to National Letters of Intent.
The five who will step onto the mat for the Cougars during the 2013-14 season are Wade Willen (Hopkinsville, Ky.), Trevor Feagans (Carthage, Mo.), Russell Coleman (Kansas City, Mo.), Matthew McClimens (Pacific, Mo.), and Dakota Leach (Wichita, Kan.).
"They are leaders," Ray said. "All five are intense competitors. Coach (Donovan) McMahill and I worked extremely hard in signing these five."
Ray said he and McMahill believe this group of five will make an immediate impact on the program. Their impact will be especially important in the practice room where their athletic abilities and work ethic will be influential.
"I could speak highly of each of these young men on how they will be a difference maker for the SIUE wrestling program, but I feel actions speak louder than words," said Coach Ray. "Their careers will tell the story."
Willen is a four-time Kentucky state medalist going into his senior year at University Heights Academy. A three-sport athlete, Willen has picked wrestling as the sport he loves most. No other wrestler in his high school has won four state medals and Wade is going for No. 5 this year. He has 206 wins going into his senior year and a school record 58 wins in a season. A Midwest National Champion this past summer, Willen is projected to wrestle at the 141 pound weight class.
"I chose SIUE because it is a Division I program only four hours from my home," said Willen. "I really like the campus at SIUE, the facilities, and the coaching staff. I think the coaches will help me achieve my personal goals, and the team will be competitive in the NCAA. Coach Ray and Coach McMahill have high expectations, and I know they will push me to be my best."
Feagans is a three-time Missouri state place winner at Carthage High School. He has twice been a finalist at the 119- and 132-pound weight classes. Heading into his senior season, Feagans holds a career record of 129-11. A 2011 Wrestling Academic All-State selection, Feagans has the most falls in a season at 126 pounds with 27. He owns numerous wrestling records at Carthage, including most team points in a season (286). Ray said he expects Feagans will compete for the Cougars at the 141-pound weight class.
"I chose SIUE because I loved the campus and was very impressed with the coaching staff," said Feagans. "I feel like I will be able to make a difference on the Cougar wrestling team and be a part of something great. I also liked the fact that they have some studs around my weight that would be good workout partners in helping me to reach my goals in NCAA wrestling."
Coleman is a three-time Missouri state runner-up for Park Hill High School. Going into his senior year, he holds a career record of 93-14. In 2010, Russ finished fourth at the SUPER 32 Championships and was a 2009-10 Academic All-State selection. Coleman has defeated numerous nationally-ranked wrestlers. He narrowed his decision to SIUE after considering Northern Iowa and Central Michigan. Coleman is projected to wrestle at 149 for SIUE.
"When I went on my recruiting trip to SIUE, I thought the campus was really nice and it's only about two hours from home," said Coleman. "The time I got to spend with the team was great. I thought all the guys were people I could hang out with and enjoy myself. I also liked the coaching staff. I just felt that the program was a great fit for me."
McClimens is the defending Missouri state champion at 182 pounds. He placed fourth in state as a sophomore when the weight class was 189 pounds. At the 2012 NHSCA Juniors Nationals, he advanced to the semifinals after winning three straight but suffered a match-ending injury and defaulted to sixth place. Heading into his senior season, McClimens' career record stands at 91-5. Ray projected he could wrestle 184 or 197 for the Cougars.
"There are several things that attracted me to SIUE: Its move to Division I and the commitment to growing the wrestling program. The coaching staff, and the opportunity to drill and train with a two-time national champ (Coach McMahill) in my weight class," said McClimens. "The quality and reputation of the school along with the close proximity to my family makes SIUE the right fit."
Leach was a 2012 state champion for Goddard High School and 2012 National High School Coaches Association junior champion. Leach is 77-10 the last two years and will be going for his second state title next spring. Coach Ray said that he recruited Dakota for two reasons: He will always be a 125 pounder, and no one will out work him. Leach has been on the honor roll three years and has a cousin who is a current cheerleader for the SIUE Cougars.
"The reason behind my decision of choosing SIUE: I loved the vast tree land of the campus and the great communities surrounding the campus," said Leach. "Second, David Ray went to the same high school as me and is very well known in my community. When I went to visit I could see the same personality in him as my high school coach and many grown-ups in my community; this gave me a very homelike feeling. Third, David Ray has been a coach for some very prestigious schools and my partner for next year (Patrick Myers) is top of his weight class and is expected to qualify for the Division I national tournament."