The US Open - and in a few weeks, the Team Trials - is better than it’s ever been. The sheer volume of super high quality wrestlers entered in these tournaments surpasses anything we’ve seen before - and we can thank USA Wrestling’s decision to focus on development a decade ago, as well as the emergence of Regional Training Centers (specifically, the donor dollars pouring into these RTCs).
Consider the anticipated 2020 Olympic Trials lineup for 74kg, as compared to the 2012 version, as illustrated in the table below:
|Incumbent||Jordan Burroughs||Jordan Burroughs|
|1||Andrew Howe (JR)||Kyle Dake|
|2||Trent Paulson||Alex Dieringer|
|3||Nick Marable||Isaiah Martinez|
|4||Tyler Caldwell (SO)||James Green|
|5||Ryan Morningstar||Jason Nolf|
|6||Kyle Dake (JR)||Mark Hall|
|7||Mike Poeta||Vincenzo Joseph|
|8||David Taylor (SO)||Anthony Valencia (JR)|
|9||Moza Fay||Alec Pantaleo|
|10||Lloyd Rogers||Ryan Deakin (SR)|
|11||Colt Sponseller (SR)||Chance Marsteller|
|12||Matt Brown (FR)||Alex Marinelli (SR)|
|13||n/a||Evan Wick (SR)|
|15||n/a||Hayden Hidlay (SR)|
|16||n/a||Mekhi Lewis (JR)|
Half of the 2012 field were college undergrads, including top seed Andrew Howe. Most of the other half were full-time assistant coaches. Conversely, most of the 2020 field figures to be full-time, professional athletes, training year-round to be the best on planet Earth at 74kg.
Quite an astonishing difference, isn’t it? Not that Team USA reps didn’t “earn it” before, but daggone. These are flipping brutal brackets to navigate.
US Open Results - Seniors
Josh Rodriguez won Pan Ams - so he’ll be wrestling at the Team Trials tournament in a few weeks, despite falling to Vito Arujau in the blood round, and missing the podium in Vegas.
Champ: Daton Fix beat Thomas Gilman, 8-4.
Qualifiers: Zane Richards (3rd), Vito Arujau, Darian Cruz, Nato, and Frank Perrelli round out top 7
Just Missed: Zach Sanders (8th), Jesse Delgao, Nick Piccininni all fell in the blood round
Nico tech’d his way to the final, and was beating Cody Brewer 3-0 in the 2nd period when he got thrown from double overs / outside trip by Brewer, and pinned. So that stinks. But Nico’s as mentally tough as they come.
Champ: Cody Brewer WBF Nico
Qualifiers: Joey Palmer (3rd), Tyler Graff, Cory Clark, Tony Ramos, and Earl Hall
Just Missed: Shelton Mack, Ben Whitford, Johnni DiJulius, and Jordan Conaway
Zain destroyed everything in his path to the final, but lost that final to Yianni Diakomihalis on criteria, 4-4.
Champ: Yianni D beat Frank Molinaro, Jordan Oliver, and Zain Retherford, consecutively, to win the Open. As a true sophomore. So...pretty good.
Qualifiers: Jayson Ness (3rd), Frank Molinaro, Jaydin Eierman, Jordan Oliver, Kanen Storr.
Just Missed: BJ Futrell, Dean Heil, Dom Demas, Evan Henderson, Joey McKenna, and Bryce Meredith (that’s an insane list of names).
Two mistakes from Jason Nolf cost him 6 points against James Green in the semifinals - a match Nolf lost on criteria, 6-6. Jason also fell behind Alec Pantaleo in the consi final 0-6, but scored 10 unanswered in the final 90 seconds to take 3rd.
Champ: Ryan Deakin beat James Green, 8-6, on a last second takedown at the edge. Un-flipping-believable.
Qualifiers: Jason Nolf (3rd), Alec Pantaleo, Brandon Sorensen, Nazar Kulchytskyy, Jason Chamberlain
Just Missed: Anthony Collica, Kevin Jack, Mike Deangelo
Grizzled vet Dan Vallimont actually lost his opener, but fought back through the consilations to punch his ticket to the Trials. That’s some mental toughness.
Champ: I-Mar over Tommy Gantt, 6-4.
Qualifiers: Anthony Valencia (3rd), Logan Massa, Brian Murphy, Dan Vallimont, Jared Frayer
Just Missed: Quinton Godley, Joey Lavallee, Evan Wick
How about Geno Morelli, eh? Geno was unseeded, but rolled into the semifinals, and finished 5th, securing an invitation to the Trials in the process. Awesome tournament from Geno.
Champ: Ape Dieringer tech’d the field, including Chance Marsteller in the final.
Qualifiers: Nick Becker (3rd), Matt Finesilver, Geno Morelli, Stacey Davis, Ben Harvey
Just Missed: CJ Brucki, Spencer Carey, Justin Llopez
Pat Downey trailed Myles Martin in the semis 7-0 with about 2 minutes remaining. And then, poof, it all fell apart for Myles, and PD3 won 9-7. And the Baltimore Clubber kept it rolling in the final over Nick Heflin.
Champ: Pat Downey over Nick Heflin, 10-4
Qualifiers: Sammy Brooks (3rd), Brett Pfarr, Nathan Jackson, Myles Martin (MFF’d), Kenny Courts
Just Missed: Max Dean, Josh Asper, Cam Caffey, Nino Bonaccorsi
Bo tech’d the field. Really, he destroyed everyone, and it wasn’t close.
Champ: Bo Nickal tech Hayden Zillmer
Qualifiers: Mike Macchiavello (3rd), Tim Dudley, Kollin Moore, Riley Lefever, Timmy McCall
Just Missed: Scottie Boykin, Cody Walters, Pat Brucki
Kyven Gadsen rolled through a less credentialed field, not allowing a single point.
Champ: Kyven Gadsen over Ben Honis, 5-0
Qualifiers: Danny Chaid (3rd), Ty Walz, Kevin Beazley, Michael Boykin, Wynn Michalak
Just Missed: Jeremiah Imonode, Don McNeil
Nick Nevills scratched. Adam Coon beat everyone, again.
Champ: Adam Coon over Tony Nelson, 5-2
Qualifiers: Dom Bradley (3rd), Derek White, Youssif Hemida, Tate Orndorff, Garrett Ryan
Just Missed: James Romero, Matt Voss, Tanner Hall
Brody Teske wrestled well, though he fell short of the podium. Unseeded, Brody rattled off three consecutive wins to advance to the quarterfinals, including an impressive 7-2 win over Jacob Camacho (NCST). Brody fell victim to a trapped-arm gut wrench in the quarters, and that put him into the round of 12 against 3-seed Eric Barnett (WISC). We’re biased, but we though Brody looked like the better kid, but he lost 3-2. Bummer.
Champ: Malik Heinselman tech’d everyone, including Sam Latona (VaTech) in the final 10-0.
Qualifiers: RayVon Foley (3rd), Chris Cannon, Trevor Mastrogiovanni, Wyatt Henson, Justin Cardani
Just Missed: 4-Julian Tagg, 5-Matt Ramos, 7-Aaron Cashman,
Roman Bravo Young looked awesome, including a 12-1 tech of Pat Glory (PRIN) in the semis. RBY led 4-2 in the final versus Gabe Tagg (UNC). He tried to scramble out of a takedown for a little too long, scrambled onto his back, and got pinned.
Champ: Gabe Tagg (UNC) WBF RBY
Qualifiers: Jevon Parrish (3rd), Jaime Hernandez, Pat Glory, Jarrett Trombley, Teague Travis
Just Missed: 2-Jordan Decatur, 5-Dylan D’Emilio, 7-Pat Moomey
Uh - Yahya Thomas (JNW) didn’t qualify for NCAAs, but he just won the Junior Open.
Champ: Yahya Thomas 4-0 over Andrew Alirez
Qualifiers: Real Woods (3rd), Josh Saunders, Victor Voinovich (high school soph), Peter Ogunsanya, Keegan O’Toole
Just Missed: Jojo Aragona, Jaden Abas
Sammy Sasso’s is going to be a problem next year. He looked big, and after a slow start against Quincy Monday (13-10), he wrecked the rest of the field, going tech, pin, pin, tech, tech for the title.
Champ: Sasso tech Brayton Lee, 10-0
Qualifiers: Peyton Robb (3rd), Monday, Jacori Teemer, Anthony Artalona, Kendall Coleman
6-seed Joe Lee started hot with 2 pins (0:50 and 1:17), and made a miraculous comeback to beat Jaden Mattox (OHST) in the 2nd round, 14-13, at the buzzer. But either that match took a little something out of him, or Joe may have gotten a little dinged health-wise, because he dropped his next two bouts in painful fashion to miss the podium.
Champ: David Carr over Danny Braunagle
Qualifiers: Nelson Brands (3rd), Julian Ramirez, Travis Wittlake, DJ Shannon, Philip Conigliaro
Aaron Brooks tech’d everyone, including Stanford’s Shane Griffith.
Champ: AB tech Griffith, 10-0
Qualifiers: Dustin Plott (3rd), Parker Keckeisen, Tyler Dow, Jake Allar, Mike O’Malley
Champ: Trent Hoagie Hidlay over Zach Braunagel
Qualifiers: Abe Assad, Gavin Hoffman, Victor Marcelli, Thomas Penola, Peter Acciardi
Just Missed: Kordell Norfleet
Michael Beard scratched, so that was a bummer for us.
Champ: Lucas Davison (JNW) over Jake Woodley (OU)
Qualifiers: Brandon Whitman (3rd), Joel Shapiro, Dakota Howard, Jacob Cardenas, Connor Corbin
No PSU entries here either.
Champ: Sam Schuyler over Tanner Sloan
Qualifiers: Austin Harris (3rd), Aric Bohn, Kyle Lightner, Wyatt Hendrickson, Antonio Andrade
Seth Nevills is getting the hang of this freestyle thing. Big Snacks advanced to the final in his second freestyle tournament. He got blasted there by Anthony Cassioppi. But hey - pretty awesome for his second event.
Champ: Cassioppi tech Seth Nevills
Qualifiers: John Borst (3rd), Emerson, Jonathan Spaulding, Kayne Hutchinson, Zach Knighton-Ward, Josh Heindselman
OH BY THE WAY
The National Wrestling Coaches Association announced their 2019 Academic All-Americans. Thirty-Nine academic AAs were also NCAA all-americans. Penn State produced the most, with 5: Roman Bravo-Young (133), Nick Lee (141), Jason Nolf (157), Bo Nickal (197), and Anthony Cassar (285). PSU was also the only team, nationally, to place top 10 at NCAAs, and top 21 academically.
If you’re keeping score at home - which, you ought to, since that’s the point - then you might notice the following on your scorecard:
- Best Wrestling: Penn State
- Best Academics: Penn State
- Best Wrestling Coaches: Penn State
- Best Post Grad Training: Penn State
- Largest Alumni Network: Penn State
- Happiest, Kindest, Most Well Adjusted People On Planet Earth: Penn State
Why would you want to send your kid anywhere else?