Rochester, Minnesota hosted the Junior Team Trials, and the Senior Team Challenge this past weekend. Tons ‘o great wrestling action, and a lot of it from your Penn State Nittany Lions. Let’s recap the results.
Junior World Team Trials
At stake in this particular tournament was a spot on the Junior (ages 20 and under) Team USA squad. Win your bracket, and you’re the best in the USA at your weight. You’ll represent the Stars and Stripes in Trnava, Slovakia, September 18th - 23rd, and fight a handful of other countries for the title of world champion. (Looks great on a resume, by the way).
57KG -Two weeks ago Gavin Teasdale made the semi-finals of the Junior US Open. Gavin choose to sit out the Trials, and instead wrestled at Beat The Streets in NYC, where he dropped a freestyle match to familiar foe Pat Glory (who is headed to Princeton). Arizona State’s Brandon Courtney (who beat Gavin in the closing seconds at the US Open) won the spot on Team USA.
65KG - PSU had two entrants. Jarod Verkleeren cut down from 70KG two weeks ago at the Junior Open and entered here, at 143.3 lbs. Jarod pulled a John Lange. He lost his first match unexpectedly - though it was to a familiar foe, Sammy Sasso - and poof, there went all of Jarod’s hard work, effort, and dream to make the Team, in a one-mistake fall.
Showing a ton of grit, Verk wrestled back through the consolations, winning out - 5 straight (not quite Lange’s 7 straight, but awfully impressive). Here’s the list of names Verk knocked off: Ben Freeman (MICH), Kaden Gfeller (OKST), Max Murin (IOWA), and - of course - Sammy Sasso (OHST), by 15-4 technical fall, in the 3rd place match. Wasn’t what Jarod had in mind, but certainly earned a manly head nod and pat on the back.
PSU’s other entrant was Maverick, aka Nick Lee, who, coincidentally, lost his first match at NCAAs, and then wrestled all the way thru the consolations to finish 5th, as a true frosh. (Man, do we have some mentally tough dudes at PSU, or what?)
Maverick tech’d Purdue’s Parker Filius in his first round match, 10-0. Then he tech’d Dave Schultz runner-up (and Iowa State to Michigan transfer) Kanen Storr 10-0. He beat Iowa’s Max Murin in the semis to make the challenge final against Northern Colorado’s Andrew Alirez. And that’s where the wheels came off. Maverick let Alirez in on a low single, lost the ensuing scramble - and lost it in such a way that he gave up an ankle lace. So laced, Alirez rolled around 4 times, and that was it. Nick was tech’d in about 30 seconds. Such is freestyle. The points can come - and go by - awfully quickly. Alirez then lost the best-of-3 series to Team USA’s representative Dom Demas (OU).
70KG - PSU’s Brady Berge is your Team USA rep at this weight. He came all the way through his bracket, and then got revenge on UNC’s Austin O’Connor in the best-of-3 series. Congrats, Brady!
74KG - no entrants for Dear Old State, but remember the name Mekhi Lewis, Virginia Tech. Lewis beat Travis Wittlake in the semi-final (who had dropped from 79kg), and then beat Iowa’s Alex Marinelli in the challenge bracket final, 6-5, before ripping up Iowa’s Jeremiah Moody in the best-of-3. Lewis, if memory serves, made a lot of noise at the Southern Scuffle last year, as well. It will be interesting to see how the Hokies slot Lewis and David McFadden, since they’re both around the 157 - 165 range.
79KG - PSU’s Aaron Brooks is your Team USA rep. By virtue of winning the Junior Open two weeks ago, AB awaited the winner of the challenge bracket in the best-of-3 final. It was Nebraska’s Mikey Labriola who came thru. AB won both of the first two matches, and will be looking for a medal in September, to add to last year’s Cadet World Gold.
Here’s the full Team USA Junior squad:
|57KG||Brandon Courtney (ASU)|
|61KG||Austin Gomez (ISU)|
|65KG||Dom Demas (OU)|
|70KG||Brady Berge (PSU)|
|74KG||Mekhi Lewis (VATECH)|
|79KG||Aaron Brooks (PSU)|
|86KG||Louie DePrez (BING)|
|92KG||Jacob Warner (IOWA)|
|97KG||Daniel Kerkvliet (OKST)|
|125KG||Gable Steveson (MINN)|
Senior Team Trials Challenge Mini-Bracket With Best-of-3 But Not “Thee” Final Best-of-3 For “Thee” Spot
The process by which you represent Team USA changed a bit this year. Rather than securing your spot on Team USA, this year’s Team Trials merely got you a spot in the best-of-3 “Final X” series (more on that below). Here are your winners:
57KG - Okie State freshman Daton Fix inside tripped his way past Tony Ramos.
61KG - Our PSU favorite Nico Megaludis fell in the finals to old nemesis Nahshon Garrett.
65KG - Logan Stieber avenged his Open loss to Jaydin Eierman.
70KG - Frank the Tank came up just short against Jason Chamberlain.
74KG - IMar rolled.
79KG - Zahid Valencia put it on Alex Dieringer. (Wow).
86KG - Nick Reenan got past Richard Perry.
92KG - Hayden Zillmer over old man Deron Winn.
97KG - Kyven Gadson righted his Open wrong vs Austin Schafer.
125KG - Adam Coon is a large, large man.
With those as your Trials winners, the ballyhoo’d “Final X” field is set. Here are your match ups, dates, and locations. Each is a best-of-3 wrestle-off to wear the Stars and Stripes.
Lincoln, NE - June 9th
57KG - Thomas Gilman vs Daton Fix
70KG - James Green vs Jason Chamberlain
74KG - Jordan Burroughs vs Isaiah Martinez
97KG - Kyle Snyder vs Kyven Gadson
State College, PA - June 16th
65KG - Joey McKenna vs Logan Stieber (man, does this ever stink or what?)
79KG - Kyle Dake vs Zahid Valencia
86KG - David Taylor vs Nick Reenan
Bethlehem, PA - June 23rd
61KG - Joe Colon vs Nahshon Garrett
92KG - J’Den Cox vs Hayden Zillmer
125KG - Nick Gwiazdowski vs Adam Coon
- The Edinboro exodus continues unabated. Last year Pat Lugo transferred to Iowa. This year the entire coaching staff transferred to West Virginia. And this week Dakota Geer announced his transfer to Oklahoma State, and past-AA Sean Russell will finish out his career at Minnesota.
- Minnesota’s lineup is getting a lot tougher. Russell at 25; Lizak to 33; McKee to 41; Thorn to 49; Bleise to 57. And they’re adding Jake Allar (165) off redshirt, plus super-croot Gable Steveson (285).
- Boro hired former Scot (and Kent State assistant) Matt Hill as the new head man.
- Beat The Streets fought off a little wet weather - but what an awesome event. If you have a Flo subscription and haven’t yet watched Burroughs vs Chamizo, you need to make the time asap. Snyder vs Salas was a whole lot of fun, too.