Photos: There was plenty of buzz between Penn State (left) and Iowa...
Here are the U.S. preps who deserved ‘Olympic’ honors this summer
Photo: 2019 Cadet World champ Alex Facundo of Davison, Mich., won WIN’s Junior Schalles Award and the Dave Schultz High School Excellence Award.
By Rob Sherrill
It took place a year later than originally scheduled, but the 2020 Olympics are now history. As you’re reading throughout the Olympic Commemorative issue of WIN Magazine, the USA’s performance at Tokyo was also historic.
In the aftermath of the record nine medals brought home by the American men’s and women’s freestyle teams, I decided to have some fun putting together an “Olympic team” from some of this summer’s best performances by high school-aged wrestlers.
With some great performances at the USMC/USA Wrestling U-16 and Junior Nationals that attracted more than its share of age-group greats to the Fargodome and the U.S.’s near-winning freestyle performance in the UWW Cadet Worlds, plenty of wrestlers earned medal recognition of another kind.
That’s why I decided to put together a unique Olympic medal stand for these young stars. I’ve divided the age-group weight classes into six Olympic divisions, awarding gold, silver and bronze medals at each weight (similar to Olympic weights) in freestyle and Greco.
Those divisions are as follows:
|Freestyle||Greco-Roman||U.S. HS weights|
|57 kg||60 kg||113 and under|
|65 kg||67 kg||120, 126, 132|
|74 kg||77 kg||138, 145|
|86 kg||87 kg||152, 160, 170|
|97 kg||97 kg||182, 195|
|125 kg||130 kg||220, 285|
In addition to Fargo, I looked at performances in the National Duals, as well as the UWW national and World events. This list is limited to wrestlers who completed grades 9-12 in 2021 or those below the ninth grade who competed at the varsity level, along with the school most recently attended.
What I discovered in putting this list together was that the quantity of candidates mirrored the Americans’ performance at Tokyo.
There were more candidates than we could select for the freestyle list — more than we identified for Greco — but the quality we were able to put on both lists indicates that the future of American wrestling is in good hands. Here’s what my age-group Olympic podium would look like in 2021.
Gold – Nathaniel Jesuroga (So) Pleasant Hill, Iowa Southeast Polk — UWW Cadet National champion, beating 5 ranked opponents; World bronze medalist at 51 kg; 7-0 at Junior FS Duals
Silver – Luke Lilledahl (Fr), St. Louis, Mo. Christian Brothers College — UWW Cadet National FS champion, third in UWW Cadet GR; World silver medalist at 48 kg
Bronze – Braeden Davis (So), Dundee, Mich. — Junior National champion at 113; 5 of 6 wins by tech fall
Gold – Richard Figueroa (Sr), Selma, Calif. — UWW Junior World Trials champion at 57 kg, beating 2 No. 1 opponents
Silver – Drake Ayala (Sr), Fort Dodge, Iowa — Junior National champion at 132, beating 5 ranked opponents; 7-0 at Junior FS duals with 7 technical falls; fifth in UWW Junior Nationals
Bronze – Kannon Webster (So), Washington, Ill. — Junior National FS champion at 120; third in Junior National GR; 11-0 at Junior Duals with 11 technical falls
Gold – Meyer Shapiro (So), Potomac, Md., Bullis School — UWW Cadet World gold medalist at 65 kg
Silver – Jesse Mendez (Jr), Crown Point, Ind. — Junior Hodge Trophy winner; UWW Junior National champion at 61 kg
Bronze – Pierson Manville (Fr), State College, Pa. — U-16 National champion in FS and GR at 145; 16-0 at U-16 Duals; 7-0 in FS Duals, no points allowed
Gold – Alex Facundo (Sr), Davison, Mich. — Junior Schalles winner; third in UWW Junior Nationals at 74 kg
Silver – Joshua Barr (So), Davison, Mich. — Junior FS champion at 160, beating four ranked opponents
Bronze – Gabriel Arnold (So), Kingston, Pa., Wyoming Seminary — U-16 National FS champion at 170; 10-0 at U-16 Duals with 8 technical falls
Gold – Christian Carroll (So), Mishawaka, Ind., Penn — Junior FS champion at 220, beating three ranked opponents; UWW Junior Nationals runner-up in both styles at 97 kg
Silver – James Rowley (Jr), Corvallis, Ore., Crescent Valley — UWW Cadet World silver medalist
Bronze – Dylan Fishback (Jr), Aurora, Ohio — Junior FS champion at 195; 8-0 at Junior FS Duals, beating six ranked opponents
Gold – Jim Mullen (So), Montvale, N.J., St. Joseph Regional — UWW Cadet World FS silver medalist at 110 kg; fifth in UWW Cadet Worlds GR
Silver – Gavin Nelson (Fr), Inver Grove Heights, Minn., Simley — Fifth in UWW Cadet World FS at 92 kg; 13-0 at U-16 Duals
Bronze – Ben Kawczynski (Sr), Oak Creek, Wisc. — Junior FS champion at 285; 7-1 in FS Duals
Gold – Otto Black (Fr), Parker, Colo., Ponderosa — Fifth in UWW Cadet Worlds at 48 kg; 17-0 in Junior Duals at 106 with 13 technical falls
Silver – Kaedyn Williams (Fr), Lancaster, Pa., Manheim Township — Ninth in UWW Cadet Worlds at 51 kg
Bronze – Ray Ray Harris (So), Clovis, Calif., Buchanan — Junior GR champion at 106; 5-0 in GR Duals
Gold – Cory Land (Jr), Moody, Ala. — UWW Cadet World silver medalist at 55 kg
Silver – Max Black (Sr), Castle Rock, Colo., Douglas County — Junior GR champion at 120; 7-0 in GR Duals
Bronze – Mason Gibson (Fr), Johnstown, Pa., Bishop McCort — U-16 National GR champion at 126; third in U-16 National FS
Gold – Jadon Skellenger (Jr), Idaho Connections Academy, Boise, Idaho — Seventh in UWW Cadet Worlds GR at 65 kg; UWW Cadet National FS runner-up
Silver – Joel Adams (So), Omaha, Neb., Millard South — U-16 National FS and GR champion at 138; 15-0 at U-16 Duals; UWW Cadet GR runner-up
Bronze – Q’Veli Quintanilla (So), Spokane, Wash., Gonzaga Preparatory — Junior GR champion at 138; eighth in UWW Cadet National GR
Gold – Evan Canoyer (Sr), Waverly, Neb. — Junior GR champion at 170, beating four ranked opponents
Silver – M.J. Gaitan (Jr), Temecula, Calif., Valley — Junior GR champion at 160
Bronze – Nick Hamilton (Jr), Papillion, Neb., P.-LaVista — Junior GR champion at 152
Gold – DeAnthony Parker (Sr), Moline, lll. — Junior GR champion at 182; 7-0 with 7 technical falls, 1 point allowed; 5-0 in Junior GR Duals
Silver – Matthew Singleton (Jr), College Park, Ga., Woodward Academy — UWW Junior GR champion at 77 kg; seventh in UWW Junior FS
Bronze – Sawyer Bartelt (Fr), Homestead, Fla. South Dade — U-16 National GR champion at 195; fifth in U-16 National FS; 17-0 in U-16 Duals with 13 technical falls
Gold – Ryan Boersma (Jr), Chicago, Ill., Mount Carmel — Junior National GR champion at 285; third in Junior National FS
Silver – Koy Hopke (Fr), Amery, Wisc. — U-16 National FS and GR champion at 220; third in UWW Cadet Nationals FS and GR
Bronze – Alex Semenenko (Sr), Staten Island, N.Y., McKee Career & Technical — Junior National GR champion at 220
(A native of Chicago’s south suburbs, Rob Sherrill has been covering high school wrestling on the national level since 1978 and has served as WIN’s high school columnist since 1997.) n