Loper Wrestling Roster Grows|
Nebraska-Kearney head wrestling coach Marc Bauer today announced the names of 10 high school seniors who will compete for the Lopers next year.
These are the first recruits for UNK, winners of the last two NCAA Division II National Championships.
Coming in from Nebraska are Hunter Bamford, Trey Schlender and Kalen Mazenkowski from Kearney High, Chance Bila from Chadron H.S., Preston Lauterbach of Bellevue East H.S., Nick Null from Plattsmouth H.S. and Trey Tujillo from Grand Island Senior H.S. All seven competed in the 2013 NSWCA Senior All-Star Classic in Grand Island on June 8th.
The three out-of-state Lopers are AJ Hinkle (Allen, Texas/Allen H.S.), Ivan De Leon (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes H.S.) and Khalil Abdushshakur (Lawrenceville, Ga./Parkview H.S.).
“We’re looking forward to what this recruiting class brings to our program. They should fill several big holes that will develop over the next couple years as our upper classmen graduate,” said Bauer. “This is a tremendous group of talented student-athletes that are a great fit for our program. We foresee them all making an immediate impact within our program and at the Division II level.”
Both Trujillo (125 lbs.) and Bamford (125/133 lbs.) figure to help out UNK in the lower weights.
A four-time Class A state qualifier, Trujillo helped the Islanders win the 2013 Class A team title by finishing first at 132 lbs. Going 141-28 in his career, he also won a state title in 2011.
Bamford, the 2013 Kearney Hub Territory Wrestler of the Year, left KHS with a school-record 163 wins in 166 matches. Pinning 116 opponents, he reached the Class A state finals all four seasons, winning three times. A year round wrestler, Bamford recently earned All-American honors with a fourth place finish at the NSHCA Senior National Championships.
Hinkle (141/149 lbs.) began wrestling as a sophomore but has quickly excelled in the sport. Winning 88 times for the Allen Eagles, he was a two-time Texas state placer who helped his squad win the Class 6A team title this past season.
Abdushshakur, Mazenkowski and Null all figure to compete between 157 and 165 lbs.
Like Hinkle, Abdushshakur started the sport in high school. For a powerful Parkview program, he won 101 times, advancing to the state tournament twice with a first place finish this past winter. More recently, he won the USA Southeast Regional Greco-Roman Championships while placing fourth in the Freestyle division. He plans on competing at the USA Junior Dual Championship and USA Junior National Championships in Fargo, N.D., later this summer.
A four-time state qualifier for Plattsmouth, Null won 152 matches in his prep career. This summer, he will join Abdushshakur in Fargo, N.D., in an effort to gain more experience.
After spending his freshman season on the basketball courts, Mazenkowski won an even 100 matches for the Bearcats, finishing as Class A state runner up at 152 lbs. this past March.
Bila and Lauterbach are in the 174-184 lbs. range with Schlender likely at 184 or 197 lbs.
A two-time state qualifier for Chadron, Bila suffered an injury in the Class B 171 lbs. semifinals this year, ending his undefeated season. Winning 122 matches as a Cardinal, he also was a standout football player.
Lauterbach is a second generation Loper as his father, Bob, completed for the Lopers in the late 1980’s. For the Chieftains, the younger Lauterbach went 38-0 this past season, winning the Class A state title at 171 lbs. Overall, he was a three-time state qualifier, a three-time district and a two-time Metro champion.
Schlender, like Mazenkowski and Trujillo, participated in the Kearney Mat Cat program as a youth. Showing marked improvement the past two years, he twice beat the No. 1 ranked individual in the state tournament this year to finish third and reach 73 career victories.
Finally, De Leon is among the most decorated prep wrestlers to choose UNK. Starting on the mats as a freshman, he finished with 164 wins, 105 by fall. Going 61-0 this past season, De Leon won the Class 6A state title after coming in fourth as a junior.
He also came in fourth at both the Super 32 National Tournament in South Carolina and the prestigious NSHCA Senior Nationals in April.
UNK had seven seniors on last year’s team, including national champ Raufeon Stots (149 lbs.) and national runner up Chase Nelson (165 lbs.).