Absence of World Teamers provides more opportunities for others in Fargo

Updated: July 15, 2015

Photo: Keegan Moore (right), who was a Cadet Triple Crown winner last summer, is expected to be a finalist in the 2015 Junior Nationals this month in Fargo.

By Rob Sherrill

When you look at the names who have passed through American age-group wrestling the past three years or so, optimism about the future of Team USA is difficult to hide.

With three United World Wrestling (formerly FILA) Cadet World gold medalists a year ago and the prospect of more wrestlers on the podium this year, USA Wrestling is in the midst of a golden age at the Cadet and Junior levels.

World teams have cherry-picked many of the top American wrestlers from the potential pool of 2015 Fargo participants once again this year. Spencer Lee of Murrysville (Pa.) Franklin Regional, Mark Hall of Apple Valley (Minn.) and Zahid Valencia, who graduated this year from Bellflower (Calif.) St John Bosco — all of whom finished the season ranked No. 1 by WIN at their respective weight classes — are members of the UWW Junior World freestyle team, which competes Aug. 11-16 at Salvador da Bahia, Brazil.

rob fargo finalistsLee and Hall were UWW Cadet World champions last year. Give Lee some credit for rebounding to make the Junior team after two-time Oklahoma champion Daton Fix of Sand Springs Charles Page stole his UWW Cadet spot with back-to-back wins in those trials last month.

Similarly, half a dozen or so former Fargo champions, led by Fix, are now members of the UWW Cadet World team. That team also competes in August at Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Aug. 25-30.

So this leaves room for the next generation of wrestlers to make a name for themselves at the FargoDome this month.

Who will they be? Recent history shows that the two tournaments that are the best predictors of Fargo success are the UWW Cadet Nationals … particularly, of course, at the Cadet level — and the Folkstyle Nationals, particularly at the Junior level.

So here are five wrestlers that the UWW Cadet World Team Trials left behind for our potential Fargo viewing pleasure:

  1. Drew Mattin, Ohio — The Division 3 state champion from Delta lost to Pennsylvania state champion Gavin Teasdale of Jefferson-Morgan in the freestyle finals. Mattin had plenty of quality wins this season and could improve upon his double All-America finish of a year ago.
  2. Jaden Enriquez, California — The sophomore-to-be from Tulare Mission Oak was one match away from a double title last year. His loss to three-time Indiana champion Chad Red of New Palestine in the Fargo freestyle final cemented Red’s status as an elite lightweight.
  3. Vito Arujau, New York — From Syosset, Arujau lost a pair of freestyle final matches to Yianni Diakomihalis of Hilton, the Division 1 state champion two weight classes below him. The two own a combined five Empire State titles — with more on the way for both.
  4. David Carr, Ohio — The owner of state titles in Kentucky and Ohio the past two seasons, most recently at Miamisburg Dayton Christian, Carr fell in straight matches to Kasson-Mantorville (Minn.) standout Brady Berge. His father is former Iowa State Olympian Nate Carr.
  5. Keegan Moore, Minnesota — He was a Cadet Triple Crown winner last season, so watching him make his debut at the Junior level — possibly at a loaded 195-pound class — bears watching. He lost twice in the freestyle finals to Owen Webster of Shakopee in an all-Minnesota final after taking the opening match.

Speaking of the Folkstyle Nationals, Moore got a head start on another potential Triple crown, as did a pair of returning Junior Triple Crown winners, Randon Miranda (106) of Quartz Hill (Calif.) and Danny Vega (113) of Oro Valley (Ariz.) Ironwood Ridge. Vega fell to Lee in straight matches in the UWW Junior World Team Trials.


Good summer for this quartet

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? Check out the chart on page 28 for my picks.

As is our usual rule, wrestlers who are included in our predictions already have 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.

It’s also 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 four wrestlers who won three events this off-season:

Cadet — Jake Allar, MN, 145-152 (Cadet Folkstyle Nationals, FILA Cadet National Greco-Roman, West Junior Greco-Roman); Clai Quintanilla, WA, 126 (Northwest double champion, West Junior Greco-Roman)

Junior — Dallas Goodpaster, WA, 220 (Northwest Greco-Roman, West double champion); Max Thomsen, IA, 145 (Folkstyle Nationals, Northern Plains double champion)

Interesting that the state of Washington produced half of the four wrestlers on this list. Good for them, and congratulations to all. n