WAHS "All-Time" Great Wrestler's
WolfPack Wrestling – Würzburg American High School
‘All Time Greats’
103 Bob McDaniels (66) 1
112 Craig Apiag (94-95) 1-2
119 Herb Lugo (71-74) 1-1-1
125 AJ Werner (88-89) 1-1
130 Stewart Keller (92-93) 1-1
135 Jordan Francis (94-96) 5-5-2
140 Anthony Hall (95-97) 4-3-1
145 Alex Placencia (93-96) 1
152 Gino McDuffy (96-98) 6-1-2
160 Tom Howard (74) 1
171 Tony Jackson (86-87) 1
189 Matt Shriver (98-01) 4-2-1
215 Stephan Hopkins (98-01) 3-1
275 Zach Stone (98-01) 4-2-2
After picking the Team of the 90’s, I thought that it would be interesting to look at the wrestlers who represented the ‘Pack over the years and how they would stack up in today’s line-up. Limited information is available prior to 1987 so it is possible that there are wrestlers who have been left off this list. There are champions Tom Buncak and Harold Frazier (76) that I don’t know weight classes in which they competed. Mike Jones was another champion without weight class information. Team members were moved around to match today’s weight categories. Special thanks to Bob Manwaring, Edna Weber, Tom Howard, Stacy Stewart, and Mike McBride for providing information on the earlier years. Updates will be made when information becomes available about earlier champions.
Bob McDaniels gets the nod here. The ESDESEA champion in the inaugural WAHS season (65-66) had plenty of competition for this slot. Michael McBride (81-84) placed 4-2 while competing at 95 pounds and he continued his career with stints with German clubs Unterdurrbach and TSV Schonungen. Sam Begg was another finalist for the ‘Pack and returned to help as one of coach Werner’s assistants with the ’97 team in their title season. Michael Gadson has to be included in this group. He was twice runner-up in the Europeans at 103 his freshman and sophomore years and went on to finish his prep career in Florida. Michael was a two-time Academic All Conference member while at Würzburg. The ‘Pack had a number of finalists in this weight, including Gary Harris (93, Michael Lewis (94), Bob Monasterio (96) and David Garcia (00).
The next four weight classes have produced some outstanding wrestlers. AJ Werner not only won the title at 112 his junior year with an undefeated record, but was also named the Outstanding Wrestler at the Europeans. Moving up to 119 his senior year and winning a second title, this leaves this spot open to Craig Apiag. Apiag was a two-time finalist who should have repeated the second time around. Although not much of a trainer, he possessed great strength, quickness and balance. These two met in a holiday practice session with Werner hammering the younger wrestler. Apiag gets the slot at 112 while Werner has the top spot at 119. Werner competed at 125.5 on the international scene and moves up to 125 on the All Time Great list to make room at 119 for 3x USDESEA champion Herb Lugo. Herb put together a remarkable 117-1 record while competing for WAHS. By all accounts Lugo was one tough wrestler - he has to be considered with Werner and Steward Keller as the top wrestlers to come through the program.
The top wrestler to come out of WAHS over the years has to be AJ Werner. An undefeated two-time champion, he won titles at 112 and at 119. In addition, he put together an outstanding career for TSV Schonungen, won the Bavarian (German) championship for them and helped lead this team to their first title. He placed 3rd in the Kansas 6A state meet as a sophomore 103 pounder before moving to Germany to finish his high school career. He was also on three Kansas national teams and twice placed in the top 8 at the junior nationals in Greco roman. A scholar athlete, AJ was an Honor Society member and Salutatorian of his senior class. He heads the list at 119. He wrestled 118 and 126 while helping the Air Force Academy win their first WAC championship title and was also named to the NCAA Academic All American team while at the Academy.
Tobias Champagne was the WolfPack’s outstanding wrestler in each of his three years at WAHS. He missed placing by one match during his freshman year. He lost his finals match as a sophomore after pinning the champion at the Holiday Classic. Tobias was on a mission his junior year and capped off a stellar career at WAHS by winning the European title at 125. He will finish his prep career in Virginia. A team captain, he also led the ’00 football team to the European title as quarterback of the Division I championship team. A tough rider, he pinned his share of opponents with his spiral ride and a half nelson. He was also a three-time Academic All Conference member. Tobias got considered at 125 but was pushed aside by Werner. Another champion at this weight class was Otis Ellis who won the title his sophomore year and was on the Team of the 90’s. Gary Melendez won his title as a senior in his first year of wrestling (94).
Another outstanding wrestler who was a three-time DoDDS champion, Stewart Keller won two titles at Würzburg and finished his high school career with another crown while wrestling for Patch High School. Named to the top spot at 130, he had the ability and was virtually unstoppable – winning all but 1 match during his high school years. Another pinner in the mold of the above two selectees, very few of his opponents made it to the end of the third period.
Jordan Francis has the top slot at 135. Another honor student, he was 5-5-2 while losing a close match in the finals to Nate Ackerman from ASL. Jordan had one of best work ethics, wrestled for fun and excitement and was not only an Academic All Conference selectee, but also a thespian for WAHS as well, splitting practice time between the stage and the mat.
The pick at 140 will be Anthony Hall. A tenacious wrestler with great ability, he placed 4-3-1 in his three-year career at WAHS. This was a tough weight to pick. Stanton Pink (honor student, thespian and honor band member) was 4-2-3 during his high school years (finishing up at Heidelberg high school) but was beaten by Hall during his senior year. Hall beat another good wrestler, Tommy Garcia, Ramstein, for the title after Garcia had taken out Pink in the semis. Hall has the edge over Alex Placencia, champion in 1996, by virtue of his multiple placings in the Europeans. I don’t think he would have beaten Placencia when both were in their championship seasons as Alex that season beat Ramstein’s 2X champion Kelly Sowell – forcing Sowell to drop weight classes! If Hall had the drive that Placencia had his senior year, look out! Alex went on to finish his high school career in Texas and wrestled for Old Dominion University. Champion Mike Jones (75-76) was undefeated as an USDESEA champion but I cannot imagine him beating Hall. Hall had the skills to make it big time. Strong and hard-nosed he could score when he needed the points.
Placencia will get bumped up to the 145-pound slot. The only one to challenge him here would have been Gino McDuffy (6-1-2). McDuffy wrestled both 145 and 152 and he will man the 152-pound division. A champion his junior year, his only loss during his senior year was in the finals of the Euros. He certainly had the ability and was a natural. Ellis, Hall and McDuffy probably hold the record at WAHS for most push-ups done during practice! These three were buddies and all had a tremendous amount of talent. They made the championship season of ’97 one to remember. Brian Hamilton placed 2nd at 152 in ’99. He had great ability but was a defensive wrestler and had he developed an offensive philosophy there is no telling what the results would be before he finished his career.
The choice at 160 is champion Tom Howard (74). He won his title at 167 and was undefeated that year. Vaughn Grimes (92) placed 4th in the championship finals. For some reason the Pack has not had as many finalists at this weight as in the other weight classes. A promising sophomore on the ’01 team may change that by the name of Sean Dowty. Gaining a spot in the championship tournament as a rookie freshman in ’01, he may become another great one.
Another champion will get the nod at 171. Tony Jackson arrived his senior after wrestling at Junction City High School (Kansas) and promptly became an undefeated champion in 1987. I met this young man when he visited WAHS in the early 09’s. Coach John Sellers was very high on this wrestler. His athletic ability was apparent when we met. His start at Junction City came when the Blue Jays were the top team in Kansas. He is pushed by Eric Dowty (3rd in ’01) was also an All Europe selection in football and Eric Collins (4th in ’97). Dowty arrived his junior year from Florida and was a mainstay on the championship football team in ’00. He currently is wrestling at Norwich University. Collins was a blue-collar type worker who always showed up ready to work. Quiet and unassuming, he was the Purple Heart winner for the ’97 team. He too was another in the long line of WolfPack Academic All Conference selectees.
There is no doubt that the toughest 189 pounder in DoDDS has to be Matt Shriver. This young man had tremendous talent and really grew, not only as a wrestler, but also as a person, during his years at WAHS. Another Academic All Conference member, Matt was not only a champion on the mat, but an All Europe football player. He was the MVP during the championship football game against Ramstein his senior year in helping the WolfPack to the title. Matt also won the Most Falls award at the Division I wrestling championship meet his senior year while leading that team to the European title as well! He placed 4th as a sophomore (171), was runner-up as a junior to SHAPE’s Csaba Kalimar (2x champion) and won the title his senior by defeating Ramstein’s Kuk Sok in the finals. Sok, a national judo champion, lost to Matt in the finals of the Division I championship tourney and in the Euro finals.
215 and 275 could almost be interchangeable for the ‘Pack. At least for the top spot this holds true. Stephan Hopkins and Zach Stone both left their mark on the team, Hopkins with his tenacity and Stone with his dedication to wrestling. Stone was 4-2-2 at heavyweight while weighing a mere 190 pounds. His quest for wrestling knowledge made him a favorite at the summer wrestling camps. Hopkins placed 3rd at 215 his junior year. Stone was the runner-up at 275. Hopkins was behind Zach and Brice Shriver the year before. Shriver was second at 215 and avenged his loss to the champion in the PFP tournament the week after the Euros. During their senior year Hopkins started off at 215 and Stone at 275. After the holiday break the coaching staff made the decision for them to flip flop their weight classes to help the team. Both of these individuals proved to be team players and both made the finals in the European championship meet. While Zach placed second in Europe at 215, Stephan won the heavyweight title. The role could have been reversed. Stone gets the nod at 275 due to his runner-up finish in the Polish national tournament at heavyweight while Hopkins is the choice at 215. Both are good selectees. Hopkins is playing football (another All Europe selection for the WolfPack) and wrestling at Norwich University, while Stone is preparing for his church mission in Novosibirsk, Siberia, home of the great Alexander Karelin. These two young men beat out some really great heavyweights, including runner-up Rick Smith, who went on to capture a Colorado 4A state championship his undefeated senior year and wrestle at the University of Northern Colorado; runner-ups Michael Guzman (a 2x place winner), Nate Wendlick, Ricky McMurray and placer Justin Stead. McMurray made the finals in his only season of wrestling while Stead was a mainstay for three years. McMurray and Stead were both All Europe football players.
In the end it has to be Hopkins at 215 and Stone at 275 holding down the top spots.
Here it is! The ‘All Time Greats’ from Würzburg American High School represent the top wrestlers over the years. This listing is designed to showcase the efforts of the individuals on these teams and to get the reader involved in putting together their own ideas of who is who is not tough!
Look for another team to be named this winter. ‘The Early Years’ will feature those wrestlers who started the WolfPack wrestling on the road to greatness since the beginning of wrestling at Würzburg High School during the 65-66 season. This list will cover the 60’s and 70’s with a look at another team to be named from the 80’s. Many of the All Time Greats will appear on these teams. It is exciting to look at the wrestlers, compare their accomplishments, and decide who gets named to the teams! Feel free to let me know about wrestlers in these early years that might have the credentials to make the list!
If you have information on other Würzburg greats please do not hesitate to contact me!
Würzburg High School Wrestling Coach