Francis, Burkert and Stefanowicz avenge US Open losses to make World Team at Final X Rutgers

Updated: June 8, 2019

Photo: Victoria Francis celebrates after she defeated Alyvia Fiske to claim the 72-kilogram weight class at Final X Rutgers and place in the 2019 UWW World Championships this September. (Justin Hoch photo)

PISCATAWAY, N. J. — Victoria Francis, Jenna Burkert and John Stefanowicz all avenged this past April U.S. Open losses and earned spots on the 2019 USA World Teams in women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman by sweeping a pair of matches Saturday in the first Session of Final X Rutgers.

They were among six winners of six Best-of-3 meetings, which were held at the Rutgers Athletic Center, and qualified them for the United States teams that will compete at the 2019 UWW World  Championships, Sept. 14-22, in Nur-Sultan, Kazahkstan.

WIN Magazine will provide comprehensive coverage and analysis of both Final X locations in next issue, which will be mailed June 27. Click here to subscribe to WIN Magazine or call 888-305-0606.

Click here to read story on second Session of Final X Rutgers.

Francis of the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club, who lost to Alyvia Fiske at the U.S. Open and was forced to qualify for this event at a World Team Trial Challenge tournament in May, defeated Fiske, 7-2 and by fall to claim the 72-kilogram weight class.

Burkert, a member of Army’s World Class Athlete Program, defeated U.S. Open champ Becka Leathers, 4-2 and 5-0 at 57 kilos … after losing to Leathers at the Open.

John Stefanowicz (right) earned a World Championships spot at 82 kilos when he won both bouts over Kendrick Sanders (Justin Hoch photo)

Stefanowicz, who represented the U.S. Marines, also avenged a U.S. Open loss in Greco-Roman wrestling at 82 kilos as he defeated Kendrick Sanders, 8-5 and 3-2.

The Army’s WCAP qualified two additional wrestlers in Max Nowry, who won both of his matches, 3-0 and 11-5, at 55 kilos over Ohio State’s Brady Koontz to claim his first World Team, while his WCAP teammate Ellis Coleman earned a fourth World Team appearance with two win over Jamel Johnson at 67 kilos.

The final wrestler to earn a World spot was Joe Rau, a native of Chicago, and who competed in freestyle last year, claimed a second World appearance by winning both bouts over former World Team wrestler Ben Provisor.

The following are best-of-3 matchups that will be held in Session II, which starts at 6 p.m. EDT

Women’s Freestyle

50k – Whitney Conder (US Army WCAP) vs. Victoria Anthony (Sunkist Kids WC)

65k – Forrest Molinari (Titan Mercury WC) vs. Maya Nelson (Titan Mercury WC)

68k – Tamyra Mensah-Stock (Titan Mercury WC) vs. Alexandria Glaude (Titan Mercury WC)


77k – Kamal Bey (Sunkist Kids WC) vs. Pat Smith (Minnesota Storm)

Men’s Freestyle

65k- Yianni Diakomihalis  (Titan Mercury WC/Finger Lakes WC) vs. Zain Retherford (Nittany Lion WC)

92k – J’den Cox (Titan Mercury WC) vs. Bo Nickal (Nittany Lion WC)

125k – Nick Gwiazdowski (Titan Mercury WC/Wolfpack RTC) vs. Gable Steveson (Minnesota RTC)

There were supposed to be two other meetings at Rutgers, but World champs Kyle Dake and David Taylor were forced to miss the event at 79- and 86-kilograms because of injuries. Dake asked for a postponement of his meeting with Alex Dieringer, while Taylor announced that he will not be able to wrestler and ceded the Worlds spot to Pat Downey.

There will be 15 additional matches in all three styles a week from now at Final X Lincoln (Neb.).

The following are highlights from Saturday’s first session of Final X Rutgers.


55k — Max Nowry (US Army WCAP) def. Brady Koontz (Ohio RTC), two matches to none

Match 1 – Nowry wins 3-0 — Nowry scored all his points after Koontz was called for passivity with 1:33 left in the first period, then added two more of a lift from his par terre advantage 17 seconds later.

Match 2 – Nowry wins 11-5 — Koontz opened the scoring with a three-point throw midway through the first period, Nowry quickly reversed Koontz in the same scramble and got the exposure points to put match at 3-2; but seconds later Koontz got an exposure of his own to make it 5-3. Then, with under 15 seconds to go in the first period, Nowry used an arm drag to a gut for three points to take a 6-5 lead into the break.

38 seconds into the second period, Nowry used a belly-to-back suplex for a five points to take an 11-5 lead and was able to stay the aggressor through the rest of second period for his first Senior World team spot.

67k — Ellis Coleman (US Army WCAP) def. Jamel Johnson (US Marines), two matches to none

Match 1 – Coleman won by TF 9-1 — Trailing 1-0 at intermission, Coleman scored all his point after Johnson was hit with passivity at the 2:28 mark in the bout. That led to a par terre advantage for Coleman, who first used a pair of guts to lead 5-1, then ended the match on a four-point lift with 1:55 left in the bout.

Match 2 – Coleman won 6-0 — Coleman took at 3-0 lead mid-way through the first period when Johnson was hit with a passivity, then Coleman hit a gut-wrench. 20 seconds later, Coleman lifted Johnson off the mat with a gut again, but only got a two-point exposure for the 5-0 lead.

One minute and 28 seconds into the second stanza, Johnson was hit with passivity again to give Coleman a point and the par-terre advantage with a 6-0 lead to make his sixth World or Olympic team.

82k — John Stefanowicz (US Marines) def. Kendrick Sanders (NYAC), two matches none

Match 1 – Stefanowicz won 8-5 — Trailing 5-5 on criteria at intermission, Stefanowicz scored a stepout with 24 seconds left, and then earned two more on a caution-and-2 for fleeing the match with 11 seconds left. Sanders trailed 5-1 when Stefanowicz countered a throw for a takedown and 2 with 1:23 left in the first before he scored a four-pointer off an arm throw with 10 seconds left in the first period.

Match 2 – Stefanowicz won 3-2 — Sanders opened the scoring when Stefanowicz was hit with passivity in the first period. Stefanowicz got on the board with a takedown right at the end of the first period to take the 2-1 lead. 40 seconds into the second period, Sanders was hit with passivity to make the score 3-1. Sanders forced a step-out with 50 seconds left in the match, 3-2.

87k — Joe Rau (Titan Mercury WC/Chicago RTC) def. Ben Provisor (Nittany Lion WC), two matches to none

Match 1 – Rau won 2-1 – With Provisor leading on criteria, Rau scored the deciding point with four seconds left when the former NCAA Div. III champ forced a stepout against Provisor. Preceding points came from passivity in the first and second periods.

Match 2 – Rau won 5-1. Rau jumped out to a five-point lead in the first period off a pair of gut-wrench turns and a passivity against Provisor. Provisor’s first point came about 50 seconds into the second period when Rau was hit with passivity.

Women’s Freestyle

57k — Jenna Burkert (US Army WCAP) def. Becka Leathers (Titan Mercury WC), two matches to none

Match 1 – Burkert won 4-2 — Burkert scored all her points in the first period off a go-behind and a pair of stepouts by Leathers, who was able to cut the margin to 4-2 in the second frame on a go-behind in the second period.

Match 2 – Burkert won 5-0 — Burkert snapped Leathers down and finished the go-behind for a takedown 17 seconds into the first period for a 2-0 lead. Burkert then got a third point on a step-out and took that lead into the break. At the 2:44 mark of the second, Burkert added two more off an exposure from a single-leg and controlled the pace the remainder of the match to punch her 2019 Worlds ticket.

72k — Victoria Francis (Titan Mercury WC) def. Alyvia Fiske (Titan Mercury WC), two matches to none

Match 1 – Francis won 7-2 – Trailing 2-0 at intermission, Francis exploded for seven points in the final three minutes; highlight by a strong double that tied the bout 2-2 and a four-point arm throw that put Fiske on her back in the final 22 seconds.

Match 2 – Francis won by fall — Fiske opened the match with a takedown 45 seconds into the bout for a 2-0 lead. 27 seconds into the second period, Francis threw Fiske straight to her back and got the fall to punch her ticket for the women’s Senior Worlds at 72 kilos.