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2018 Cadet National Duals Recap
By Rob Sherrill
We’ve come to expect plenty of great matches at the Cadet and Junior National Duals. They’ve shown themselves to be accurate predictors of what might happen at USA Wrestling’s flagship agea-group event, the Cadet and Junior Nationals at Fargo, N.D. later this month.
The Junior National Duals had not been contested by press time, which gives us a chance to focus on the Cadet National Duals, which took place June 13-16 in Spokane, Wash.
The usual suspects — Illinois, which won the Cadet Greco-Roman title, Pennsylvania, which took the freestyle event and Minnesota — were, as usual, front and center.
But so was the host state, Washington, which took Illinois to the edge before falling in a 39-36 thriller in the Greco final. Team Georgia also impressed in the freestyle tournament, finishing seventh.
Washington survived a 36-36 criteria loss to Georgia in the final Gold/Silver Pool round and fell behind Illinois 27-6 after seven matches of the final before nearly coming back to steal the title. With Chase Randall (113) and C.J. Hamblin (145) scoring pins, Washington won eight of nine matches to pull within a single point, 36-35. That set up a winner-take-all final match at 170, which Illinois’s Adrien Cramer won by a 12-5 score.
Kansas did Washington one better in the freestyle pool competition, beating Illinois 42-34 to take first place in Pool A. The Sunflower State led 15-4 after four matches, then fell behind 32-30 before Devin Gomez (145) of Valley Center scored a pin, Taidon Wills (152) of Derby a technical fall and Malachi Karibo (160) of Wichita South a decision in a comeback win. Losses to Iowa and Minnesota in the Gold/Silver Pool dropped Kansas to the fifth-place match.
The ascent of Washington and Kansas to the Cadet elite — at least on this weekend — saw the two states take divergent paths. In addition to owning the built-in advantage of being the host state, Washington dominated the Northwest Cadet Regional, with 11 Washington wrestlers earning double titles among the 17 weight classes. One of the 11, Braxton Mikesell (220) of Veradale Central Valley, also was the West double champion.
Three other Team Georgia members, Riley Van Scoy (152) of Stanwood — from the same high school as two-time Greco national champion Mason Phillips — Weston Lyver (160) of Buckley White River and Gage Cook (220) of Granger, were unbeaten in both styles.
Kansas was a tougher sell. First, the Sunflower State is surrounded by more high-profile states like Oklahoma and Missouri. Second, the state lacked star power after graduating four three-time state champions and a dozen two-time state champions in 2017, several of whom went on to Division I programs.
Meanwhile, just one of the nine double champions in Kansas’s home regional, the Southern Plains, was a Kansas wrestler – state champion Duwayne Villalpando (160) of Maize.
At Spokane, however, Villalpando’s high-school teammate at Maize, Kyle Haas, made our Cadet Duals Fab Five by going 15-for-15 (see below). For his part, Villalpando was spectacular again, going 14-1 up a weight at 170. His only loss: 11-7 to Greyden Penner of Missouri in freestyle — a match won ironically by Kansas, 37-31 in the Gold/Silver Pool opening round. They also beat Oklahoma, 40-38 in the fifth-place match. Their fourth-place Greco finish included lopsided wins over New Jersey and Oklahoma.
Will that success carry over to Fargo for either state? It will be interesting to watch.
The Fab Five of the Cadet Duals
The Duals were also about individual achievements. A total of 20 wrestlers were undefeated in both styles in the Cadet Duals. Here are five who shined.
- Mason Gehloff, Minnesota — One of three 88-pounders — two coming from his own state — to complete an undefeated run through both styles, Gehloff went 7-0 in each. He was unscored upon in his 14 matches, which included four pins, three in freestyle, five technical falls and five forfeits.
- Nicholas Kayal, New Jersey — Twice third in the New Jersey state tournament at 106, Kayal was one of three wrestlers — two coming from his own state — to win 15 matches without a loss in the Cadet Duals. That included an 8-0 freestyle record, featuring a pin and six technical falls. He racked up two pins and 11 technical falls overall.
- Fabian Lopez, Illinois — The 3A state champion from DeKalb helped Illinois to the Cadet Greco duals title. He went 6-0 in each style at 126 and was unscored upon in Greco, racking up a pin and five technical falls. Lopez added five more technical falls in freestyle.
- Carson Manville, Pennsylvania — Manville has made this list in back-to-back years, in back-to-back states (he represented Minnesota last year). The National Prep champion from Kingston Wyoming Seminary followed up his Cadet Pan-Am gold medal with a 5-0 record in each style at 145. That included three pins and six technical falls overall. He allowed just one point in Greco and five in freestyle.
- Kyle Haas, Kansas — A one-point loss in the state semifinals prevented Haas (48-1) from posting a perfect freshman season. He made up for that with 15 wins in Spokane, allowing just three points overall. That included eight pins, four in each style. Haas’s 8-0 Greco record also included three technical falls and a forfeit, with no points allowed. He also had two freestyle technical falls. n