Two months ago, the Western Wyoming Community College Mustangs were in Council Bluffs, Iowa for the 2020 NJCAA Wrestling Championships. After a successful performance in Iowa, the Mustangs immediately focused on building for the future, as eight of the 10 members of the team that qualified for the national championships will not return for the upcoming season.
Head Coach Art Castillo and his coaching staff have worked tirelessly to welcome aboard new faces to the team. Castillo and his staff have had to get creative during the back half of their recruiting efforts due to strict recruiting regulations by the NJCAA which prohibit any in-person visits or meetings. The last four recruits who have signed with Western have not had an official visit to campus.
Although the recruiting process has been different, Castillo said he has found plenty of opportunities. That positive approach has landed the team some bright recruits to be excited about.
As of May 6, 11 recruits have committed to Western, adding youth to an already young roster heading into the 2020 season:
- Garrett Ricks – Brigham City, Utah
- Wyatt Kearn – American Falls, Idaho
- Tyce Raddon – Beaver, Utah
- Rigden Cordingley – Ashton, Idaho
- Payton Tucker – Green River, Wyoming
- Mason Christiansen – South Jordan, Utah
- Tyler Scheurn – Coalville, Utah
- Carson Sheets – Altamont, Utah
- Destin Summers – Fresno, California
- Cole Jensen – Payson, Utah
- Trent Clark – Star Valley, Wyoming
Castillo said that the roster is close to being filled out, and there could be a few others welcomed into the program.
The roster will still have a local connection to the community with two Wyoming wrestlers joining the ranks. Payton Tucker from Green River and Trent Clark from Star Valley will be among some familiar names.
Tucker is a three-time state champion and blew past his competition at this year’s WHSAA 4A state tournament. He wrestled in the 182 weight division, earning the state title his senior year. He also was crowned a state champion his sophomore and junior years.
Castillo said they plan to wrestle Tucker at the 184 weight division, and the possibility of wrestling as a heavyweight could also happen during his career.
“We’ve watched him for several years now,” Castillo said. “We just thought he was an outstanding young man. He was really about the team and you could tell that was really important to him. He’s a pretty decorated athlete.”
Clark, the other Wyoming wrestler, is a two-time state champion and went 105-18 during his time with the Star Valley Braves. He will join his brother Trevor Clark who was a redshirt freshman for the Mustangs this last season.
“He’s a big guy who can ride legs and take some wrists, which I think will transfer well to the next level,” Castillo said.
During high school, Clark wrestled in the 195 weight division. The Mustangs plan to grow him into a heavyweight, which will require him to put on another 30-40 pounds.
Six of the 10 recruits are from Utah and won’t have to travel very far from home to join up with Western.
“They are all studs,” Castillo said. “We’re really excited about our Utah guys.”
Castillo has found many recruits out of Utah due to the location and affordability of attending Western. The Mustangs’ success on the mat along with an emphasis on building individuals also helps draw attention towards Castillo and his team.
Perhaps the greatest strength of Utah recruits is the familiarity they have with one another. The six have been on national teams together, gone to wrestling camps and some of them are friends with one another already.
The six Utahns account for a combined 933-154 record. They’ve also won a combined 11 state championships.
With solid bonds already in place between them, the Utah recruits will serve the Mustangs well going into the future.
Destin Summers is another name that will join the Mustangs for the upcoming year.
Castillo recruited Summers hard in 2019, during his senior year, but he ultimately decided to try his hand in the NCAA with Fresno State.
Fast forward to this spring, Summers said that he thought the Mustangs would be a good opportunity to grow as a wrestler and person and therefore, led to his decision to transfer from Fresno State.
The Mustangs will count on Summers to wrestle at 133 this upcoming season. If it’s like any other wrestler Castillo has recruited from the NCAA, the results will be something to look forward to.
“He reached out to me this spring,” Castillo said. “It was in a weight that we needed, so everything worked out.”
For now, Castillo will work on piecing together the rest of the roster.
“We’re really excited about the guys we’ve recruited so far,” Castillo said. “We’re still growing and we’re not finished recruiting yet.”