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Manville & Fix among Changing of the Guard in Fargo
By Rob Sherrill
When you look at the talent that has passed through the Cadet and Junior Nationals at the past couple of years, you’d have to admit: we’ve been spoiled.
The raised mat at the FargoDome has showcased two reigning FILA Junior World champions: Kyle Snyder, a resident of the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo., and Sam Stoll of Kasson (Minn.) K.-Mantorville. Junior Hodge Trophy winner Chase Marsteller of Fawn Grove (Pa.) Kennard Dale won three Cadet titles under the Dome and FILA Junior World Team member Aaron Pico of Bellflower (Calif.) St John Bosco established an unprecedented level of Cadet excellence during his two-year run in that age group.
Two of Pico’s Junior World teammates, Joey McKenna of Blairstown Township (N.J.) Blair Academy and Jon Jay Chavez (74 kg) of Boise (Idaho) Centennial, a member of the Greco-Roman squad, also have taken home the biggest stop signs from Fargo. Snyder, who also has been on the top step at Fargo, will try to become the first American to win a second Junior World crown.
A record seven wrestlers of high-school age earned spots on this year’s Junior World team, which normally is populated by college freshmen … and that doesn’t include Stoll, who was beaten out in the final trials by a 2013 Fargo double champion and current University of Michigan sophomore-to-be Adam Coon.
So make no mistake. The talent pool for American wrestling is getting younger … and deeper. As all of these guys showed, Fargo and other tournaments like it are a big reason why. They set the bar very high for those who follow.
But as dominant as they’ve been and will be going forward, they’re the past in American age-group wrestling. Now, it’s time for others to step in and take their places on the Fargo stage. And, since the Cadet and Junior Nationals historically has been a futures tournament, this year’s edition could be very interesting for the new faces it brings.
One of those, actually, will be mine. After a couple of years away, I’m looking forward to returning for the week, thanks to the generosity of home-state Team Illinois. Along with my usual head-table duties, and maybe a webcast or two, it will be fun to see the people I normally see once or twice a year, at most … as well as the next generation of age-group wrestling stars.
Who will they be? Answers later on if my guesses are right.
Predicting the Fargo finalists
It’s now time for our annual fearless forecast. You know: the one where we hang ourselves out to dry. Who will make the Cadet and Junior National finals at Fargo?
But, before we do that, it’s time to give some credit to some wrestlers who went above and beyond the call of duty this spring and summer. Not many wrestlers venture beyond the borders of their particular home region, but it’s time to recognize the seven wrestlers…count ‘em, seven…who won three or more events this off-season.
At the top of the list: Daton Fix (120) of Oklahoma, the only wrestler to win four events in USA Wrestling’s spring series. Fix won the Cadet Folkstyle Nationals, the FILA Cadet Nationals in freestyle and was the Southern Plains Cadet Regional double champion.
It’s more difficult for Cadet wrestlers to make this list, because, unlike Junior wrestlers, they’re limited to competing in their home regional tournament. Fix, who also went 13-0 in the Cadet National Duals earlier this month, also made this list last year with three spring wins, adding a Fargo double title to his collection last July.
Six more won three events:
Cadet — Taylor LaMont, UT, 126 (FILA Cadet National Greco-Roman, West double champion)
Junior — Matt Halverson, WI, 285 (Northern Plains Greco-Roman, Central double champion); Mason Manville, NJ, 152 (FILA Cadet National double champion, FILA Junior National Greco-Roman); Seth McLeod, ID, 182 (Northwest Greco-Roman, West double champion); Randon Miranda, CA, 100 (Folkstyle Nationals, West double champion); Peter Nagy, FL, 170 (West Greco-Roman, Southeast double champion)
Manville, who also made this list for the second year in a row, was the only wrestler to win three national championships. Like Fix, he also added a double Cadet Nationals title at Fargo. Congratulations to all.
As is our usual rule, everybody who makes our predictions already has participated in at least one USA Wrestling event this year. In some years, that has limited the available talent pool significantly (though we’re not using that as an excuse). No Fargo walk-ins on this list, regardless of ability. Still, plenty of the nation’s elite wrestlers have come out for one or more events this year.
The Junior National Duals were not available at press time, so they’re not reflected in these predictions. Dual-meet wrestling, though, regardless of the venue, is a sport of momentum. A lot of upsets take place after your teammates have won four or five matches in a row (an upset win) or after a similar losing streak (an upset loss). That’s where the mental toughness aspect of the sport comes in. As we’ve seen, however, a lot of those results get turned around a few weeks later under the Dome.
So, with apologies to blind squirrels everywhere, here’s a guess at what the Cadet and Junior National finals could look like:
88: GR, Trey Keeley (IL) vs. Nathan Rankin (TX); FS, Derek Giallombardo (MI) vs. Billy Simpson (OK)
94: GR, Peter Ogunsanya (IL) vs. Elijah Varona (FL); FS, Dylan D’Emilio (OH) vs. Ogunsanya
100: GR, Roman Bravo-Young (AZ) vs. Matt Parker (PA); FS, Killian Cardinale (VA) vs. Parker
106: GR, Dack Punke (IL) vs. Kaden Gfeller (OK); FS, Gfeller vs. Trey LaFlamme (NY)
113: GR, Ben Freeman (MI) vs. Jason Renteria (IL); FS, Austin Gomez (IL) vs. Spencer Lee (PA)
120: GR, Daton Fix (OK) vs. Joe Lee (IN); FS, Yianni Diakomihalis (NY) vs. Fix
126: GR, Chad Red (IN) vs. Corey Shie (OH); FS, Taylor LaMont (UT) vs. Matt Seitz (NY)
132: GR, Jaden Enriquez (CA) vs. Jaron Jensen (UT); FS, Eric Hong (PA) vs. Andrew Mehrholz (IL)
138: GR, Anthony Artalona (FL) vs. Cameron Coy (PA); FS, Coy vs. Dominick Demas (OH)
145: GR, Ethan Karsten (MO) vs. Leonard Merkin (NY); FS, Braeden Redlin (TX) vs. Jared Verkeleen (PA)
152: GR, Johnny Blankenship (MO) vs. Paul Hutton (MD); FS, Blankenship vs. Jake Lanning (IL)
160: GR, Ben Darmstadt (OH) vs. Jacob Warner (IL); FS, Anthony Walters (PA) vs. Warner
170: GR, Kamal Bey (IL) vs. Brandon Whitman (MI); FS, Bey vs. Brandon Dallavia (NJ)
182: GR, Isaac Luellen (KS) vs. Wyatt Koelling (UT); FS, Koelling vs. Keegan Moore (MN)
195: GR, Troy Allen (VA) vs. George Bessette (IL); FS, Christian Brunner (IL) vs. Matt Stencil (OH)
220: GR, Dallas Goodpaster (WA) vs. Romeo McKnight (IL); FS, Lucas Ready (OH) vs. Anthony Stallings (IL)
285: GR, Nick Boykin (TN) vs. Kevin Vough (OH); FS, Bryan Ditchman (IL) vs. Gavin Nye (CA)
100: GR, Cade Olivas (CA) vs. Randon Miranda (CA); FS, Zack Murillo (CT) vs. Gavin Teasdale (PA)
106: GR, Louie Hayes (IL) vs. Kirk Johansen (IL); FS, Johansen vs. Danny Vega (AZ)
113: GR, Joey Prata (VA) vs. Matthew Schmitt (MO); FS, Devin Brown (PA) vs. Andrew Nieman (OK)
120: GR, Paul Fitterer (MN) vs. Kyle Norstrem (FL); FS, Mike Cullen (IL) vs. Nolan Hellickson (IA)
126: GR, Taylor LaMont (UT) vs. Skyler Petry (MN); FS, Mitchell McKee (MN) vs. Scott Parker (PA)
132: GR, Kyle Bierdumpfel (NJ) vs. Dylan Lucas (FL); FS, Carter Happel (IA) vs. Matthew Kolodzik (NJ)
138: GR, Josh Bird (WI) vs. Blake Clevenger (MO); FS, Kaid Brock (OK) vs. Anthony Giraldo (NJ)
145: GR, Johnny O’Hearon (UT) vs. Zahid Valencia (CA); FS, Grant Leeth (MO) vs. Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer (NY)
152: GR, Mason Manville (NJ) vs. Brooks Robinson (UT); FS, Manville vs. Joe Smith (OK)
160: GR, Dakota Greene (FL) vs. Izaec Quintanilla (WA); FS, Fox Baldwin (FL) vs. Ryan Blees (ND)
170: GR, Kimball Bastian (UT) vs. Burke Paddock (NY); FS, Christian Stackhouse (NJ) vs. Chris Weiler (PA)
182: GR, Dontae McGee (FL) vs. Seth McLeod (ID); FS, Lance Dixon (OK) vs. Myles Martin (NJ)
195: GR, Lance Benick (MN) vs. Samuel Shields-Colbray (OR); FS, Dan Hawkins (MD) vs. Marcus Harrington (IA)
220: GR, Ethan Andersen (IA) vs. Roy Nash (UT); FS, Nash vs. Jordan Wood (PA)
285: GR, Dane Drimmer (CO) vs. Tate Orndorff (WA); FS, Nour Abdullatif (CA) vs. Adarios Jones (IL)