Repeat champ Cassioppi leads Illinois to another Junior National freestyle title

Updated: July 17, 2018

Photo: Anthony Cassioppi applied the finishing touches to his pin against Nash Hutmacher for the Junior National Freestyle championship Tuesday afternoon in the Fargodome. Photo by G. Wyatt Schultz

(Editor’s Note: WIN Magazine is in Fargo, N.D., all week for the 48th Annual U.S. Marines Cadet/Junior National championships. WIN will provide comprehensive coverage of the national tournament in WIN’s next issue, which will be printed on Aug. 7. Click here to subscribe to WIN or call 888-305-0606.)


By Mike Finn

FARGO, N.D. — Anthony Cassioppi has bigger days ahead for himself, including a college wrestling career at the University of Iowa. But the heavyweight from Roscoe, Ill., has some unfinished high school-level business this week at the U.S. Marines Junior Nationals, including Tuesday afternoon (July 17) when he recorded his second straight Junior National freestyle title and led Illinois to a 12th all-time Junior freestyle team championship.

“I’m going to take it one match at a time,” said Cassioppi, who pinned Nash Hutmacher from South Dakota in 1:14 of their heavyweight final in the Fargodome.

Cassioppi, a two-time state of Illinois from Hononegah High School, now hopes to become just the second Junior wrestler to win a Triple Crown at this level. Cassioppi also won the Junior Folkstyle championship in April (when he beat Hutmacher, 3-1) and will begin his quest for a second straight Greco-Roman championship on Thursday and Friday to close out the 48th annual national tournament.

Overall, the state of Illinois produced four national champions and 20 All-Americans in Junior Freestyle as Illinois won a second straight team title and seventh since USAW officially listed a team title in 2006.

“We have the greatest state,” said Cassioppi. “Everyone loves to compete and the coaches do a great job of getting everyone to come out.”

Also winning a national championship for Illinois were 160-pound Danny Braunagel from O’Fallen, Ill.; 182-pound Jack Jessen of Villa Park, Ill., and 220-pound Luke Luffman of Urbana, Ill.

Braunagel, who will wrestle at the University of Illinois this fall, scored a 13-2 technical fall over Jared Franek of North Dakota. Jessen, who blanked Joel Shapiro of Iowa 11-0, was a six-time Fargo national finalist and will compete at Northwestern this upcoming winter. Luffman defeated another wrestler from Illinois, Jace Punke of Washington, Ill., 4-2.

Illinois scored 95 team points to out-distance Ohio and Iowa, which finished second and third, respectively, with 62 and 61 points.

Ohio saw three wrestlers win championships, including Bryce Andonian from Kirkland, Ohio, who became the 100th all-time wrestler from the Buckeye state to claim a Junior National freestyle championship.

“That means a lot. Coming from Ohio, everyone pushes each other. Being part of Team Ohio means a lot,” said Andonian, a state champion from St. Edward High School, whose Junior honor was sandwiched between victories by Ohio teammates, 132-pound Jordan Decatur and 170-pound Carson Kharchilava.

Decatur, who will be a senior at Cuyahoga Valley Christian Academy and a future Ohio State Buckeye, defeated Ridge Lovett of Idaho, 13-8, while Kharchilava of Oletangy Liberty High School stunned top-ranked Dustin Plott with a 10-0 technical fall.

Cassioppi was one of two wrestlers to win a second straight Junior National freestyle championship. Wil Guida of New Jersey defeated Anthony King of Illinois for the 106-pound championship.

Wil Guida (left) of New Jersey celebrated a second straight Junior National freestyle championship when he defeated Anthony King of Illinois, 11-3, for the 113-pound championship. (G.Wyatt Schultz photo)

“This one was really important,” said Guida, who will be a junior at St. Paul’s High School in Maryland. “At this year’s Powerade, Beast of the East and Prep Nationals, I finished second, second and third. I needed a championship to end this summer.”

The Cadet and Junior Nationals will continue tomorrow when Junior Women’s freestyle finals will begin at 1 p.m. CDT and the start of Cadet Greco-Roman tournament. The Cadet Greco finals will be Friday at 1 p.m. CDT and the Junior Greco-Roman finals will take place Friday at 3 p.m.


2018 Junior National Freestyle

Championship Matches

100 — Joseph Fischer (Pennsylvania) won by TF over Ronan Schuelke (Illinois), 10-0 1:04

106 — Wil Guida (New Jersey) dec. Anthony King (Illinois), 11-3

113 — Cullan Schriever (Iowa) dec. Jonathan Prata (California), 10-10, criteria

120 — Eric Barnett (Wisconsin) pinned Aden Reeves (Iowa), 2-0 1:32

126 — Michael Colaiocco (New Jersey) won by TF over Reece Witcraft (Oklahoma), 10-0 2:10

132 — Jordan Decatur (Ohio) dec. Ridge Lovett (Idaho), 13-8

138 — Keegan O’Toole (Wisconsin) dec. Gabriel Tagg (Ohio), 11-6

145 — Bryce Andonian (Ohio) won by TF over Logan Meek (Oregon), 12-2 1:34

152 — Brayton Lee (Indiana) dec. Alexander Lloyd (Minnesota), 3-3 criteria

160 — Danny Braunagel (Illinois) won by TF over Jared Franek (North Dakota), 13-2 5:53

170 — Carson Kharchilava (Ohio) won by TF over Dustin Plott (Oklahoma), 10-0 1:11

182 — Jack Jessen (Illinois) won by TF over Joel Shapiro (Iowa), 11-0 2:57

195 — Lucas Davison (Indiana) won by TF over Peter Christensen (Illinois), 10-0 3:27

220 — Luke Luffman (Illinois) won by TF over Jace Punke (Illinois), 4-2

285 — Anthony Cassioppi (Illinois) pinned Nash Hutmacher (South Dakota), 10-0 1:14


Top 10 States in Junior Freestyle

PLACE State (Champs/AA) POINTS
1 Illinois (4/20) 95
2 Ohio (3/13) 62
3 Iowa (1/13) 61
4 Pennsylvania (1/8) 35
5 Wisconsin (2/6) 34
6 New Jersey (2/6) 31
7 Oklahoma (0/7) 30
8 Indiana (2/4) 24
9 Minnesota (0/5) 20
10 California (0/5) 19