Turnbull Adds Five to 2009 Recruiting Class
By Ira Green
WVU Sports Information Office
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. (May 5, 2009) – West Virginia University wrestling Coach Craig Turnbull has announced the addition of five wrestlers to the Mountaineers’ 2009 recruiting class. The latest additions, Nathan Pennesi, Brandon Loro, Cameron Gallaher, Branko Busick and Brandon Williamson, join Shane Young, the 2009 Tribune-Review Wrestler of the Year, and Mac Mancuso, who signed last fall.
“We feel very positive about this recruiting class,” Turnbull said. “We feel we met the needs of this program. We have spread out through the weight classes really well with what we believe are potential national champions and All-Americans in this class. They are very strong students and most importantly, they come with outstanding character and some great references.”
Pennesi, a Greater Latrobe, Pa., resident, wrestled at Latrobe High – the same high school that produced current Mountaineer Ryan Goodman – for Coach Mark Billett. Pennesi finished his high school career with a 140-25 mark, one win short of Goodman’s school wins record. The National Honor Society member won the PowerADE and the King of the Mountain Tournaments this year, while also being named to the Dapper Dan Team for WPIAL. Pennesi, who is a three-time state qualifier, took second at the state tournament this year. In 2007, he won the sectional championship. While excelling on the mat, the 125-pounder has managed to boast a 3.62 grade-point average and maintain status on the school’s honor roll.
“Nathan Pennesi's father wrestled at West Virginia University so Nathan is familiar with the program and has been passionate about West Virginia for a long period of time,” Turnbull stated. “He's an outstanding student who chose between Cornell, Virginia, Lehigh and West Virginia's engineering programs. He comes in with outstanding character, outstanding potential academically, and athletically, we feel he's very young in his wrestling career.
“He became highly recruited in the beginning part of this season when he won the PowerADE Tournament, one of the more significant tournaments in the country, and the King of the Mountain Tournament. He wrestled Sam White from Massillon Perry, who is the third-ranked wrestler in the country at that weight class (125) and defeated him. He started to move up to the top of many of the top programs' recruiting lists and we feel very fortunate to get Nathan to come into the program.”
Loro comes to Morgantown from Springfield, Pa., where he wrestled for Coach Dave Pecunia at Springfield High. A three-time All-Academic Pennsylvania Wrestling Team member, Loro broke the 100 career-win mark, posting a 105-49 mark by the end of his high school career. In 2009, he won sectionals, took fourth place at regionals and worked his way to a sixth-place finish at the 2009 PIAA State Tournament. At the conclusion of the season, Loro was named to the All-Delco Wrestling Team and is ranked first in the region at 145 pounds. He also holds the school and Delaware County record for takedowns (152) in a single season. During his high school career, Loro played junior varsity baseball and was on the varsity lacrosse squad.
“Brandon Loro was probably in the most competitive weight class (145) in the Pennsylvania State Tournament and placed in that weight class and was competitive with all the wrestlers he faced,” Turnbull said. “I think he is going to make some tremendous strides when he gets into our program. He has very good change of speed. He likes to wrestle from the open, he covers ground very well, his timing is very good, and you can see he is comfortable on his feet. The things that he does well now, we can expand on and he can become an outstanding wrestler.”
The third newest addition comes in the form of Gallaher, who hails from Grafton, W.Va. A three-time state champion at three different weight classes, he wrestled at Grafton High under Coach Rod Auvil.
Gallaher progressively got stronger in his wrestling career, finishing third as a freshman at the state tournament at 125 pounds and worked his way into the heavier weights. As a sophomore, he was crowned the 152-pound state champ and followed that with a title at 171 pounds and then at 189 pounds. This year, he was named the AA-A Outstanding Wrestler of the Year at 189 pounds. Also, he has won the Viking Smash and the Tri-State tournaments all four years of high school. Most recently, he was named the Outstanding Wrestler for West Virginia at the Dapper Dan Classic after he defeated Shadyside’s Roman SanDoval, a two-time WPIAL Class AA and PIAA Champion.
Gallaher also was a three-sport athlete. He began playing football as a freshman and helped his squad win the AA State Championship this season. Career-wise, he rushed for 1,016 yards with 20 touchdowns and threw for 1,823 yards and 25 scores. He was named first-team all-state, while being named the Dominion-Post Player of the Year and earned a spot on the All-Mon Valley Team. Gallaher, who is a National Honor Society member, excelled in baseball as well, playing all four years on the varsity squad.
“Cameron Gallaher is intriguing. He comes in with outstanding character references,” Turnbull said. “He is a 3.6-3.7 student and he was all-state in three sports. The intriguing thing about Cameron is that he has wrestled only two months a year because he has been a committed football and baseball player. He has not wrestled out of state very much at all and we really believe with his character, athleticism and his commitment to excel, that when we get him in a good program and on a good schedule, he has a very high ceiling and becoming a national champion should be a very realistic goal for him.”
From Ohio, the Mountaineers will look to get the services of Busick, following WVU’s football season. The Weirton, W.Va., native signed with the Mountaineers to play football, but plans to balance wrestling in as well. A two-time district and sectional champion, Busick wrestled at Steubenville High under Coach Mike Blackburn. Son of former professional wrestler Nick “Big Bully” Busick, he has placed twice at nationals (third and fifth) and earned as high as third at states. In his senior season, he posted a 45-1 mark en route to a sixth-place finish at the state tournament. He finished his career with a 153-21 overall record.
“Branko Busick is coming in with football, but he has a tremendous love and passion for the sport of wrestling,” Turnbull commented. “He is going to try to blend both sports and he has been given the blessing from Coach (Bill) Stewart, which is much appreciated. When he gets the benefit of coming into our program and working with the athletes in here, we think his ceiling is unlimited as well.”
Rounding out the five signees is Williamson, the 2008 junior college heavyweight national champion. Williamson, who wrestled for two years under Coach Paul Schmidt at Nassau Community College, is a two-time junior college All-American.
This year, he posted a 28-2 mark and won titles at the College of NJ Tournament, The Long Island Open, Wilkes Open and the Mid-Atlantic Championships. Williamson closed out the season with a third-place finish at the junior college national tournament. As a freshman, he posted a 31-10 record en route to his title.
“Coach (Paul) Schmidt does such a nice job with that program, and they have a nice Division I schedule at the community college there,” Turnbull stated. “Brandon's defeated many of the heavyweights that we competed against this year so we have a good measuring stick to recognize that he will step right into our program and compete to become an All-American and win a national championship.
“I think it goes back to putting some attention to the program that he's gone through,” Turnbull continued. “Paul Schmidt has run an outstanding program at Nassau for a number of years and he makes sure that they wrestle a combination of Division I, II and other competition. Brandon defeated Cameron Wade from Penn State, who we competed against early in the season. We think he could compete in the NCAA Tournament right now and that was a consistent report that we got from different people beyond Coach Schmidt.”
WVU finished the 2008-09 season with an 8-4-2 overall mark and took second place at the Eastern Wrestling League Championships. Five Mountaineers, consisting of David Jauregui, Ryan Goodman, Donnie Jones, Kurt Brenner and Dustin Rogers, qualified for the 2009 NCAA Wrestling Championships.
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