Making a name
De Soto High senior wrestler catching coaches’ eyes
Any college coaches who hadn't heard of Neil Erisman going into last weekend's Junior Dual Free Style National Championships in Enid, Okla., should be adding his name to their lists right about now.
The senior-to-be at De Soto High School not only led 'Team Kansas' to a fourth-place team finish at the 28-team event, but also dominated his opposition on the way.
Through nine matches -- all technical fall victories -- not one grappler scored a point on the two-time state finalist in 4A. During his 10th match, Erisman jumped out to a 5-0 lead over Hubbard High School's (Chicago) Travis Hammons, but had to hold on for a 7-5 triumph.
Although he lost his streak of nine straight matches by shutout, Erisman's victory was impressive just the same. Hammons came out of nowhere to win April's Senior National High School Wrestling Championships in Cleveland.
"I kind of made a name for myself in front of the college coaches," Erisman said. "I know some of them (coaches) were probably saying, 'Who is that kid?'
"This tournament showed me how I compared to everyone else in the nation."
Because of his national championship performance in April, Hammons, who was 36-0 during his senior season, received the No. 2 ranking in Dan Fickel's (Wrestling USA magazine) Best 2005 High School All-Class Rankings at the end of last season.
He ran rough shod over such wrestlers as three-time Ohio state champion Mike Miller (8-4) in the quarterfinals and then belted freestyle and Greco-Roman power Rocky Cozart (8-2) of Brandon, Fla. The two wrestlers finished the prep season as the No. 4 and No. 8 grapplers.
Hammons defeated Long Island's (N.Y.) Alton Lucas 6-3 in double overtime in the championship.
Lucas finished third in Fickel's 160-pound weight class, while Erisman wound up 26th at 152 pounds following his junior season.
Erisman disposed of Hammons by an 11-0 score and then won by two points in the rematch.
"That guy is really tough," Erisman said of the national champion. "I wrestled really well in the first match. In the second match I don't think I wrestled to my full potential."
Erisman described the Kansas squad as a hard-nosed team, one that wouldn't back down to anybody.
In fact, the Sunflower State's representative in the tournament was so physical that they injured opposing grapplers in four straight matches during a 43-16 triumph over the Minnesota Storm during Red Pool action.
"It was pretty controversial," Erisman said of the tussle. "We almost got into it with them. They said we should have to forfeit our final four weight classes for the rest of the tournament. They were doing a lot of trash talking, but we kept our composure."
Erisman said last weekend's action helped prepare him for the National Junior Freestyle Championships in Fargo, N.D., July 24 to 30, but he pointed out that there wasn't as much pressure individually at the dual championships as there would be at the individual championships.
"There is a lot more motivation behind it (individual championships)," he said. "There is more incentive."
Kansas, which finished the tournament with a 7-3 record, ran off five straight victories to start the tournament. But the team finished second in Pool C after losing 35-28 to Illinois in the seventh round.
Following pool competition the top two teams in each pool were placed in a second set of pools to begin championship competition, while the third- and fourth-place teams from each pool battled each other in the consolation bracket.
Kansas gave the eventual tournament champion Iowa Dirty Rotten Corn its toughest match of the three days, but fell 33-28. They defeated Minnesota Storm 43-16 and edged Pennsylvania Team No. 1 by winning the most individual matches after tying the score at 30.
With the two victories, Kansas earned second place in the Red Pool and was placed in the third-place match against Blue Pool runner-up Illinois for a rematch. This time Illinois won, 38-24.
Other members of Team Kansas were Lawrence's Brandon Goodwin (98 and 105), Silver Lake's Collin Hase (98 and 105), Derby's Donny Altman (112), Goodland's Brett Bahe (119), Wichita South's Tim Elliott (125), Wichita West's Tristan Deshazer (130), Douglass' James Fox (130), Campus' Josh Baldridge (135), Goddard's Chase Moses (135), Wichita Northwest's Tyler Adcock (140), Hays-TMP-Marian's Tait Weatherbee (140), Campus' Joe Cornejo (145), Clay Center's Danny Grater (152), Abilene's Ross Taplin (171), Concordia's Chris Kearn (171), St. Thomas Aquinas' Neil Cisper (189) and Clay Center's Jacob Maars (215).
Elliott (1), Baldridge (4), Cornejo (2), Grater (3), Taplin (3), Cisper (2) and Maars (1) have all won at least one state championship during their high school careers.
1. Iowa Dirty Rotten Corn; 2. New Jersey Team Josh; 3. Illinois; 4. Kansas; 5. Oklahoma Team No. 1; 6. Pennsylvania Team No. 1; 7. Missouri; 8. Minnesota Storm.
Round 1: Kansas 52, Indiana Extreme 12
Round 2: Kansas 45, Colorado Ski Bums 18
Round 3: Kansas 40, Florida Rock You Like A Hurricane 20
Round 5: Kansas 52, Oklahoma Team No. 2 10
Round 6: Kansas 43, Rhode Island 14
Round 7: Illinois 35, Kansas 28
Red Pool Match 1: Kansas 30, Pennsylvania Team No. 1 30 (Kansas wins on criteria of most individual wins)
Red Pool Match 2: Iowa Dirty Rotten Corn 33, Kansas 28
Red Pool Match 3: Kansas 43, Minnesota Storm 16
Third-place match: Illinois 38, Kansas 24
Round 1: Neil Erisman technical falled Cahmelan Porter (Indiana Extreme), 10-0
Round 2: Neil Erisman technical falled Bryce Clemner (Colorado Ski Bums), 10-0
Round 3: Neil Erisman technical falled Marco Toledo (Florida Rock You Like A Hurricane), 10-0
Round 5: Neil Erisman technical falled Mitch McKee (Oklahoma Team No. 2), 10-0
Round 6: Neil Erisman technical falled John Holzinger (Rhode Island), 10-0
Round 7: Neil Erisman technical falled Travis Hammons (Illinois), 11-0
Red Pool Match 1: Neil Erisman technical falled Rob Waltko (Pennsylvania Team No. 1), 10-0
Red Pool Match 2: Neil Erisman technical falled Tom Slater (Iowa Dirty Rotten Corn), 10-0
Red Pool Match 3: Neil Erisman technical falled Jake Grygelko (Minnesota Storm), 10-0
Third-place match: Neil Erisman decisioned Travis Hammons (Illinois), 7-50.