Nov. 16, 2006
EVANSTON, Ill. -- Northwestern head coach Tim Cysewski has announced the signing of three student-athletes to National Letters of Intent. Michael Benefiel (Aurora, Ill./Montini Catholic), along with Robert Kellogg (Sioux City, Iowa/Sioux City North) and Ben Kuhar (Concord Township, Ohio/St. Edward), will join the 'Cats for the 2007-08 season. All three are national champions.
"This class is on par with the recruiting class that brought in (Ryan) Lang, (Jake) Herbert and (Nick) Hayes," Cysewski said. "That class was ranked top-five nationally and this class will be as good if not better."
Michael Benefiel will add local talent to the 2007-08 Wildcats as he comes to Northwestern from the powerful Montini High School wrestling program coached by Mr. Mike Bukovsky. He is currently the top-ranked high school prospect in the nation at 160 lbs. and is ranked sixth overall by Intermatwrestle.com. He captured three Illinois High School state wrestling championships at 119, 140 and 152 lbs., was the Cadet Freestyle National Champion in 2004 and earned All-America honors at the Junior Freestyle National Championships in 2006. Benefiel projects to be a 174/184-pound wrestler for the Wildcats.
"Mike is the top recruit in Illinois and provides us with the perfect package of athleticism, intelligence and the desire to be an NCAA Champion," Cysewski said. "With Brandon Precin last year, this makes two years in a row that we believe we have secured the No. 1 talent in the state."
Robert Kellogg hails from Sioux City, Iowa and brings his 2006 Junior National Greco-Roman National Title to Evanston along with 120 career high school victories. Kellogg wrestles for Sioux City North High School and is currently the fifth-ranked high school prospect at 152 lbs. by Wrestling USA Magazine. He projects to be a 157/165-pound wrestler for NU. He was the 2006 Brute-Adidas Folkstyle National Wrestling Champion at 152 lbs. and earned All-America honors three times at the USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals.
"Robert was a relative unknown to some wrestling enthusiasts until this summer when his Junior National Title this past summer elevated him to the upper echelon of high school wrestling," Cysewski said. "He has a desire to win Big Ten and NCAA titles and that is the type of attitude Northwestern Wrestling is all about"
The third member of this year's class, Ben Kuhar, continues the St. Edward High School-Northwestern pipeline. Current Wildcats Lang, Keith Sulzer and Kyle Bertin all wrestled for St. Edward High School in Ohio. The storied Eagles' wrestling program, currently ranked No. 1 in the nation by Amateur Wrestling News, has captured 22 team state championships, 79 individual state championships and holds the state record for points at the state meet with 210.
Kuhar's impressive high school resumé includes two Cadet National Freestyle Titles in 2004 and 2005. As a sophomore in high school, Kuhar reached the state finals, won 30 matches for the Eagles and after his sophomore season, was rated as the No. 1 heavyweight prospect in the nation for the class of 2007. A season-ending football injury sidelined him last wrestling season, but he will be looking to challenge for state and national titles in his senior year.
"When our staff was at the Cadet Nationals two years ago, we knew we were watching the No. 1 heavyweight in the country for his age," Cysewski said. "An unfortunate injury kept Ben from competing last season, but now that he is fully healthy, he will be ready to secure state and national titles once again this year."
Full biographies of the wrestling signees appear below:
Aurora, Ill./Montini Catholic
High School: Career record 145-4 ... Three-time High School Champion at 119, 140 and 152-pounds ... Cadet National Freestyle Champion (2004) ... Ironman Champion (2004) ... All-American at Junior Freestyle National Champioinships (2006) ... Member of Illinois National Championship Junior Dual team (2006) ... Rated No. 1 high school prospect at 160 lbs. and No. 6 overall by Intermatwrestle.com.
Personal: Born Michael Benefiel on 6/12/88 ... Son of Dr. Dan and Reneé Benefiel ... High school teammate of current Wildcat Vincent Coletti ... Chose Northwestern over Minnesota, Iowa State, Illinois, Wisconsin, Virginia Tech, Nebraska and Michigan.
Sioux City, Iowa/Sioux City North
High School: Career record of 120-16 ... Junior National Greco-Roman National Champion (2006) ... Brute-Adidas Folkstyle National Wrestling Champion at 152 lbs.(2006) ... Three-time All-American at USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals ... Cadet Freestyle All-American (2005) ... FILA Cadet All-American in both Greco-Roman and Freestyle (2006) ... Member of 2006 Junior National Greco-Roman Team Champions ... Rated No. 5 high school prospect at 152 lbs. by Wrestling USA Magazine.
Personal: Born Robert Henry Kellogg on 1/6/89 ... Son of Jeff and Nancy Kellogg ... Will be enrolled in McCormick School of Engineering ... Chose Northwestern over Iowa State, Stanford, Columbia and Pennsylvania.
Concord Township, Ohio/St. Edward
High School: Career record of 50-13 with 29 pins ... Two-time Cadet Freestyle National Champion (2004, 2005) ... Won 30 matches and reached state finals sophomore year ... St. Edward is currently ranked No. 1 high school program by Amateur Wrestling News ... Ended sophomore season as No. 1 ranked heavyweight prospect in the nation for the class of 2007.
Personal: Born Bennett Elmer Kuhar on 1/16/89 ... Son of Kevin and Laurie Kuhar ... Attends same high school as current Wildcats Ryan Lang, Kyle Bertin and Keith Sulzer ... Plans to major in engineering ... Chose Northwestern over Minnesota and Stanford.