WADSWORTH — Nate Ball is a man with a vision.
When the recruiting process started for the three-time All-Gazette wrestler, big name schools started looking at him, including Division II stalwart Ashland and two-time defending NAIA national champion Notre Dame College.
In the end Lake Erie College, which just finished its first year of varsity action, picked up his verbal obligation and should grab the 140-pound Division I state runner-up out of Wadsworth when he can sign in April.
“I figured it’s a brand new program, so there will be a lot of firsts,” Ball said. “I figured I could set some records and it would be great to be a part of that. I’m hoping to be an All-American and that could happen (next year) if I work hard.”
This season, the Storm compiled a 5-8-1 dual meet record and finished 12th at the Division II Super Regional.
Those aren’t necessarily numbers that stick out, but success has followed coach Kevin Hoogenboom wherever he has gone.
He was part of the first recruiting class at Mercyhurst and stuck around after graduating in 2004 as an assistant under Tony Cipollone.
During his tenure, Hoogenboom coached 11 All-Americans and 26 all-academic student-athletes as well.
Now at Lake Erie, he’s built a team from the ground up that includes the likes of 2010 state runners-up Josh Linden and Billy Vaughan as well as state placers in Andrew Gasber, Joe Poyser and Zachary Vargo.
“I really like the coaches,” Ball said. “I think they’re doing great things. They’re out there recruiting hard and setting up for the future. I felt it would be a good time to wrestle there and get better.
“I didn’t want to be like Akron close, but I didn’t want to go out of state. They’re telling me they’re excited to have me.”
To add Ball to the stable would be a bonus for the Storm moving forward.
Ball compiled 125 victories in a four-year career at Wadsworth, reaching the state tournament the last three seasons.
A sixth-place finisher as a junior, Ball put a stamp on his senior year by reaching the state finals at 140 pounds.
His final campaign at Wadsworth included individual titles at the Lorain District, Medina Sectional, Suburban League and Grizzly Invitational tournaments. He also placed at the Brecksville and North Canton Hoover Holiday tournaments.
Wrestling wasn’t the only thing on Ball’s mind when he chose Lake Erie, however. While he plans on wrestling at 149 next season, a major in biology or pre-med caught his eye as well as the one-on-one feel the school has to offer.
“They just built a brand new biology building which is nice so that helped, too,” Ball said. “I really like the smallness of the school because if I’m struggling in class, it’ll be easy to get help. I won’t be one of thousands of kids.”
Contact Brad Bournival at firstname.lastname@example.org.