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Final X Lincoln Preview: Colon faces old college rival in Graff
Once upon a time, Joe Colon and Tyler Graff dealt with plenty of NCAA disappointment at Northern Iowa and Wisconsin, respectively, when they were forced to settle for All-American honors after having national-championship aspirations. That included 2014 when Graff upset Colon in the NCAA semifinals.
Colon learned to make the most of a good opportunity when he replaced Nahshon Garrett at the 2018 World Championships and claimed a bronze medal. This year, Colon returns and will be facing Graff, who will be looking for his own mat redemption at Final X in Lincoln, Neb., this Saturday.
Check out this look at that meeting in men’s freestyle, as well as best-of-3 series in Greco-Roman and women’s freestyle — where the winner will be looking to qualify for the 2019 World team that will that will compete at the 2019 UWW World Championships in Kazakhstan this September.
|MFS||61kg/132lb||Joe Colon vs. Tyler Graff|
Colon actually lost to Garrett in Final X 2018 but the former University of Northern Iowa All-American competed in the 2018 UWW Worlds — because of an injury to Garrett — and earned a bronze medal last October in his first World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. That Worlds placement also earned Colon an automatic spot in Final X Lincoln.
Graff, the former NCAA All-American at Wisconsin, earned a shot a his first World Championships when he won the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament by beating U.S. Open champ Cody Brewer in two matches, 22-18 and 8-5. Graff finished fourth at the Open (after losing in the second round in Las Vegas in April) and was seeded third at the Challenge tourney in Raleigh, N.C., in May.
One should expect plenty of points in this matchup considering how many points Graff scored (116) in 12 Open/Challenge tournament matches while Colon tallied 12 points and gave up 27 in three bouts vs. Garrett in Final X 2018. The two wrestlers also share a competitive past in college wrestling, especially during the 2014 NCAAs when Graff, seeded No. 4, upset the top-ranked Colon, 6-4, in the semifinals before losing to Iowa’s Tony Ramos in the NCAA final.
Colon, a 28-year-old native of Clear Lake, Iowa, won a gold medal at the 2019 Pan American tournament, but lost to Rutgers’ 2019 NCAA champ Nick Suriano at the Beat the Streets Gala this past May in New York City.
Before Graff wrestled at Wisconsin, where he also finished fifth in 2010 and ’11 and third in 2013, the 30-year-old native of Loveland, Colo., competed in two straight Junior World Championships (2007 and ’08).
|WFS||55kg/121lb||Jacarra Winchester vs. Dominique Parrish|
This marks the second straight Final X for Winchester, who defeated Becka Leathers last June to make the 2018 World Team in Budapest, where the 26-year-old native of San Leandro, Calif., finished fifth. That meant she had to win the 2019 U.S. Open (over Areana Villaescusa of the Army/WCAP) to earn the automatic spot in Final X in this summer.
Parrish, who came back to finish third at the Open — after losing a first-round match to Areana Villaescusa — had to win the World Team Trials Challenge tournament at NC State to fill the other spot. And she did that by avenging that Open loss to Villaescusa by winning two consecutive matches in Raleigh by an 8-0 and 4-1 margins.
Winchester was a three-time World Team Trials bronze medalist who won a 2015 WCWA championship for Missouri Valley. Parrish, a 22-year-old native of Scotts Valley, Calif., finished third in the 2018 World Team Trials — after winning a WCWA title for Simon Fraser University that season — but did qualify for the U23 World Team for a second consecutive year; claiming ninth in 2017 and fifth in 2018.
|GR||63kg/138.5lb||Ryan Mango vs. Xavier Johnson|
Mango, known by many as the little brother to Spenser Mango, the former eight-time World/Olympic Team member, has a chance to qualify for his first World team after he clinched an automatic spot in Final X Lincoln when the 27-year-old native of St. Louis won the U.S. Open in April.
Johnson, who claimed sixth at the Open, after losing to Sam Jones in the semifinals, earned a ticket to Final X Lincoln when he defeated Jones in two straight matches in the finals as a No. 3 seed at the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament.
This will be a battle between an Army (Mango) and Marines (Johnson) wrestler. Neither wrestler had even competed an age-group World team.
Previous/Upcoming Daily Previews of Final X, Lincoln, Neb., June 15
(Click on date to read preview)
|MFS||57kg/125.5lb||Thomas Gilman vs. Daton Fix|
|WFS||53kg/116.5lb||Sarah Hildebrandt vs. Katherine Shai|
|GR||60kg/132lb||Leslie Fuenffinger vs. Ildar Hafizov|
Wednesday, June 12
|MFS||70kg/154lb||James Green vs. Ryan Deakin|
|WFS||59kg/130lb||Lauren Louive vs. Alli Ragan|
|GR||72kg:/158.5lb||Alex Mossing vs. Raymond Bunker|
Thursday, June 13
|MFS||74kg/163lb||Isaiah Martinez vs. Jordan Burroughs|
|WFS||62kg/136.5lb||Kayla Miracle vs. Mallory Velte|
|GR||97kg/213.5lb||Lucas Sheridan vs. G’Angelo Hancock|
Friday, June 14
|MFS||97kg/213.5lb||Kyven Gadson vs. Kyle Snyder|
|WFS||76kg/167.5lb||Precious Bell vs. Adeline Gray|
|GR||130kg/286.5lb||Cohlton Schultz vs. Adam Coon|
Last weekend in Rutgers, 14 other World Team weights were determined in another Final X event that was also hosted by USA Wrestling and FloWrestling. The only exception was at 79 kilograms, where World champ Kyle Dake requested a postponement for his meeting against Alex Dieringer because of an injury.