OSU Wrestling: A Deeper Look at the 2018 Signing Class of Wittlake, Montalvo and Harper

Written by Seth Duckworth

The Cowboys signed three wrestlers to National Letters of Intent last month and all three will join the program in the fall of 2018. Let’s take a deeper look at those signees and what we can expect from them going forward.

Travis Wittlake

Depending on what recruiting service you’re looking at Wittlake is the  No. 2 or No. 3 overall recruit in this year’s class. The Coos Bay, Oregon product has had a really impressive prep career. He’s made multiple world teams and was a cadet bronze medalist in 2016.

The interesting thing with Wittlake will be to see what the Cowboys do with him next year. He projects as a possible 174 or 184 in college with most penciling him in at 174. He currently wrestles at 170 in high school, but the Cowboys’ biggest need for next year, a year where they will have a very real shot at a team title, depending on a few potential line-up shifts looks like it will be at 184.

The entire circumstance for Wittlake is a bit different than what is currently going on with Daton Fix. Fix is in a completely stacked portion of the lineup where having him redshirt looks as though it will have minimal impact on the team race and allow him a year to develop. Long term, and even in this current year, allowing Fix to redshirt seems to definitely be the best answer for the program.

In my opinion, Wittlakes’ freshman year will play out similar to Joe Smith’s freshman season a few years ago. For Wittlake’s overall career and maybe even the Cowboy team as a whole it may be best for him to get a redshirt year to develop and physically mature. Depending on what he’s doing in open tournaments and what they see in the room the dilemma could become, “Do we sacrifice a potential team title next year in the interest of giving him a redshirt year?”

If Wittlake looks as though he has All-American potential next year at 184 and Keegan Moore, who lost to a D2 wrestler last weekend, doesn’t, or Austin Marsden struggles with the weight cut and doesn’t look as though he’ll solidly be an All-American, then there’s a very real chance they insert Wittlake at the higher weight as a true freshman. They would do so in hopes that he could push Oklahoma State over the edge for a team title.

If he takes a redshirt year and stays down at 174 he’ll slot in perfectly when Jacobe Smith graduates, but I really think the staff will be taking a very hard look at what’s going on at 184 when trying to make a decision on what to do with Wittlake next year.

Either way the kid has the tools to be a multiple time NCAA champ/All-American and was a huge late pickup for OSU’s recruiting class.

Anthony Montalvo

Montalvo isn’t as highly rated of a prospect as Wittlake, but the ranked California recruit is in the top 10 of his weight class. Montalvo physically fills out the need at 184 a bit better than Wittlake, but he’s simply not one you would expect to step right in as the starter at the Division 1 level. I think it’s pretty likely that he’ll redshirt, but he could turn out to be a pretty big piece for the program going forward.

OSU’s has a knack for taking under-the-radar recruits at the upper weights and making them All-Americans. Preston Weigel and Nolan Boyd are two prime examples. If Montalvo can fill a similar role at 184 or 197 it could be huge for the Cowboys over the next few years.

With this program’s recruiting needs, it looks as though it is set up to have the 3-4 potential powerhouses needed to compete for NCAA titles in the future with Fix, Wittlake, commit Greg Kerkvliet, and even freshman Kaden Gfeller. Those under-the-radar guys that wind up as All-Americans can make a huge impact on a team.

Montalvo is potentially one of those guys.

“Montalvo wrestles for a great program and we’ve seen a lot of development from him in the last year,” John Smith said. “That’s one of the reasons we chose to go after him and we see him being the biggest in this class, as far as size.”

The development is part of the reason OSU recruited him. If that holds true, and he continues to improve to the level of an All-American, he could be big for OSU going forward.

Jalin Harper

Harper is another recruit that on the surface doesn’t look as though he’ll be a superstar, but the state champ out of Kansas has been a multi-sport athlete his entire life and coming to OSU where he’ll just be focused on wrestling may allow him to change levels in the sport and be up there with some of the more highly-touted wrestlers. He projects as a 157-165 and could end up having an impact in the lineup after Chandler Rogers graduates next year.

  • Sonic the Hedgehog

    My wrestling lineup prediction for next year:

    125: Daton Fix
    133: Nick Piccinnini
    141: Kaid Brock
    149: Boo Lewallen/Geo Martinez
    157: Jonce Blaylock
    165: Joe Smith
    174: Chandler Rogers
    184: Jacobe Smith
    197: Preston Weigal
    HWT: Derek White

    • Seth Duckworth

      There are a lot of potential lineups we could send out next year. That’s definitely one. It’s a really interesting topic. I’ll probably do some write-ups on that later, but the only problem I see there is Jacobe Smith being a bit small for 184 and maybe even Brock a little small for 41. Also in that scenario I’d guess one of Boo/Geo move up to 57. Even with bumping everyone like that it may be the strongest lineup.

      • Sonic the Hedgehog

        It’s definitely fun to think about. I think Smith and Brock could make the jump and be effective. But there are multiple lineups we could roll out next year

        • Phil

          Where would Gfeller fit in the lineup next year?

          • Sonic the Hedgehog

            Dunno might have to wait a year or two to start unfortunately. I don’t think he’d beat out Brock, he could go 149 but then he’d have Lewallen, Martinez and Moran to deal with. Might be too small for 157 and there would still be Blaylock and/or Martinez

            *Sigh if only my newest games were as good as our wrestling team.

          • Seth Duckworth

            Tough thing is no matter what we’ll probably have at least one, maybe more, AA caliber wrestlers left out of the lineup next year.

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  • Steve Mehl

    I think Joe Smith would be stronger at 165 because of less weight cutting. But Chandler Rogers at 174? Not sure he is big enough for that. I think we need to go with Wittelake if he can beat the starters in open tournaments. We get the guys who are under the radar while PSU gets the proven super stars. How times have changed. I am not sure about Jonce Blaylock. Time will tell. And if our freshman can beat Derek White, then put him in the lineup next season. The redshirts should be decided on which year coach Smith thinks has the best chance for a title. If he concedes next season again to PSU, then redshirt the frosh and go for broke the following season.

    • Sonic the Hedgehog

      Rogers went 174 his freshman season and nearly All-Americaned. And Kerkvliet is actually Class of 2019 so White will be gone by his true freshman season. But Derek White Is good I wasn’t too sure at first but he’s been really solid.

      • Steve Mehl

        The question is, with all of this new depth like I have never seen before, can we keep all of them or do a few transfer so they can be starters sooner? I think I would rather be a big fish in a small pond than a small fish in a big pond getting blisters riding the bench for a few years.
        Does anyone know where Wittlake was born? Watching his video it was obvious that he has a foreign accent that sounds part Irish and part Scandinavian.