IX (9) Days Until Final X Preview – May 31: 61k MFS,...
May 27 Preview of upcoming Final X: MFS 74k, GR 72k, WFS 59k
• A three-time World champ and Olympic bronze medalist is expected to get a tougher challenge from a former three-time NCAA champ in men’s freestyle.
• Greco-Roman features a rematch between a U.S. World Team member against an opponent 12 years younger.
• In a battle between women’s freestyle newcomers to Final X, one is competing for her college coach who was fired this winter.
These are three storylines from WIN’s fifth installment of previews for the 2022 Final X matches that will take place June 3 in Stillwater, Okla., and June 8 in New York City.
WIN Magazine will provide a comprehensive look at both the Challenge Tournament and Final X in the next issue of WIN, which will be printed June 16. Click here or call 888-305-0606 to subscribe to WIN.
The 30 wrestlers — 10 each in men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman — who eventually win the Final X bouts will be our U.S. World Team for the 2022 UWW World Championships, Sept. 10-18, Belgrade, Serbia.
The following is also a schedule of when the Final X previews will take place. Action begins at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater with Round 1 matches at 2 p.m. (CDT) and Round 2 at 7 p.m., Round 3 bouts, if necessary, will follow after the completion of Round 2. The Final X in NYC will take place in the Hulu Theater at Madison Square Garden. Round 1 matches begin at 2 p.m. EDT and Round 2 at 6 p.m.
(Please note that 14 World Team Trials Challenge Tourney winners had to win Best-of-3 finals in Coralville, Iowa, before meeting a 2021 World medalist at Final X. The other 16 weights feature wrestlers who only had to win a Challenge semifinal to earn a spot in Final X, in weights where there was no returning World medalist.)
Friday, May 27
MFS – 74k: Kyle Dake (Spartan) vs. Jason Nolf (NLWC) at June 8 Final X in New York City
This is a rematch of the 2020 Olympic Trials Challenge tournament, where Dake won 11-0 at 74 kilos before beating Jordan Burrough in the Best-of-3 finals. Nolf moved up to 79 kilos for the World Team Trials, where he reached the semifinals before losing 5-3 to Burroughs, while Dake earned the World Team berth at 74 after earning an Olympic bronze.
Dake, 29, enjoyed his first summer at 74 kilos in 2021 — after winning a pair of World championships at 79 kilos in 2018 and ’19 — when he first beat the World/Olympic champ Burroughs in the Olympic Trials, then fought back to take home a bronze medal from the Tokyo Olympics in August, before claiming a third World title last October in Oslo, Norway. He is still a native of Ithaca, N.Y., where he won four NCAA championships at four different weights in four consecutive years (2010-13) for Cornell.
Nolf, 26, is a native of Yatesboro, Pa., and was a four-time NCAA finalist and three-time (2017-19) champion for Penn State at 157 pounds. In freestyle, Nolf also finished third in the 2017 World Team Trials and second in the 2019 World Team Trials Challenge tourney.
Nolf said he is a lot different wrestler than his college days.
“I wrestle a completely different style,” said Nolf. “I know how to wrestle freestyle better than I used to.”
GR – 72k: Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) vs. Benji Peak (Sunkist Kids WC) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater
This is a rematch of the 2021 World Team Trials, where Smith defeated Peak, 3-3, 6-4 in the Best-of-3 Finals at 72 kilos, a non-Olympic weight. They competed at different weights at the Olympic Trials where Smith finished fourth in the 77 kilos Challenge Tournament, while Peak finished second in the Challenge tourney down at 67 kilos.
Smith, 32, is a native of Chaska, Minn., who has qualified for three World Championships; splitting two matches in 2017 at 71 kilos, going 0-1 in 2019 at 77 kilos and last fall, when he lost his only bout 4-3 to Moldova’s Valentic Petic. Smith won both of his matches at the WTT Challenge Tournament in Coralville.
“Every year is something new,” Smith said. “I need to maximize whatever I’ve got. Every year brings new variables and circumstances. There is no repeating what you used to do. It’s about moving forward and building off whatever happened before.”
Peak, 22, scored a pin and technical fall at the recent Challenge tourney to earn a trip to Final X. The native of Elkhorn, Wisc., won a U23 national championship in 2021, one year after he won the 2020 Senior Nationals.
Peak makes the most of his long arms.
“Lots of guys have big muscles and are short and stocky,” said Peak. “I’m not the strongest dude. I’m pretty skinny, but the one thing I’m able to do is use my leverage.”
Peak said he wants to be considered part of the new generation of U.S. Greco-Roman wrestlers.
“That’s me. I’m here to save the sport,” he said. “A lot of people think this sport is boring. Everyone wants to pummel and pummel. Not me. I’m here to throw dudes.”
WFS – 59k: Lexie Basham (Spartan) vs. Abigail Nette (Army WCAP) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater
The past year has been a bittersweet one for Basham, who, as a sophomore, became the first woman from Texas Wesleyan to win an NAIA championship, only to see her coach Ray Bedford fired. After winning two matches at the WTT Challenge Tournament, the native of Roanoke, Texas, broke down in tears as she spoke about Bedford.
“It’s been tough,” said Basham. “With our coach getting fired, we have not been training like we should. I wanted to go out and do this for him and at the end of the day, that’s what this was and to show everyone he is not what everyone thinks he is. He’s got a big heart.”
Nette, 25, is a native of St. Rose, La., who has competed in the past two U23 World Championships; finishing as high as seventh in 2019. She has fared well on the Senior level, finishing as high as second in the 2019 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament. She also excelled in college, winning a national championship in 2020 for Campbellsville. She earned a trip to Final X with a pair of victories, including 5-1 over Michaela Beck.
Click on Previous Dates to preview those weight classes.
MFS – 57k: Thomas Gilman (Nittany Lion WC) vs. Vito Arujau (Spartan) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater, Okla.
GR – 55k: Max Nowry (Army WCAP) vs. Brady Koontz (Ohio RTC) at Final X (June 3) in Stillwater, Okla.
WFS – 50k: Sarah Hildebrandt (NYAC) vs. Alyssa Lampe Sunkist Kids WC at June 8 Final X in New York City
MFS – 61k: Daton Fix (Cowboy RTC) vs. Seth Gross (Sunkist Kids WC) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater, Okla.
GR – 60k: Dalton Roberts (Army WCAP) vs. Ildar Hafizov (Army WCAP) at June 8 Final X in New York City
WFS – 53k: Felicity Taylor (Bearcat WC) vs. Dominique Parrish (Sunkist Kids WC) at June 8 Final X in New York City
MFS – 65k: Yianni Diakomihalis (Spartan) vs Evan Henderson (Ohio RTC) at June 8 Final X in New York City
GR – 63k: Sammy Jones (NYAC) vs. Jesse Thielke (Army WCAP) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater
WFS – 55k: Jenna Burkert (US Army WCAP) vs. Jacarra Winchester (TMWC) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater
MFS – 70k: Zain Retherford (NLWC) vs. Jordan Oliver (Sunkist Kids WC) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater
GR – 67k: Alejandro Sancho (Army WCAP) vs. Alston Nutter (Sunkist Kids WC) at June 8 Final X in New York City
WFS – 57k: Helen Maroulis (Sunkist Kids WC) vs. Alex Hedrick (USOP/TMWC) at June 8 Final X in New York City
Saturday, May 28
MFS – 79k: Jordan Burroughs (Penn RTC) vs. Chance Marstellar in June 8 Final X in New York City
GR – 77k: Britton Holmes (Army WCAP) vs. Kamal Bey (Army WCAP) at June 8 Final X in New York City
WFS – 62k: Kayla Miracle (Sunkist Kids WC) vs. Jennifer Rogers (NLWC) at June 8 Final X in New York City
Monday, May 30
MFS – 86k: David Taylor (NLWC) vs. Zahid Valencia at June 8 Final X in New York City
GR – 82k: Ben Provisor (NYAC) vs. Spencer Woods (Army WCAP) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater
WFS – 65: Forrest Molinari (Sunkist Kids WC) vs. Mallory Velte (BDRT) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater
Tuesday, May 31
MFS – 92k: J’den Cox (TMWC) vs. Nathan Jackson (NYAC) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater
GR – 87k: Alan Vera (NYAC) vs. Timothy Young (Illinois) at June 8 Final X in New York City
WFS – 68k: Tamyra Mensah Stock (TMWC) vs. Sienna Ramirez (Southern Oregon) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater
Wednesday, June 1
MFS – 97k: Kyle Snyder (NLWC) vs. Kollin Moore (Ohio RTC) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater
GR – 97k: G’Angelo Hancock vs. Braxton Amos (Wisconsin RTC) at June 8 Final X in New York City
WRS – 72k: Skyler Grote (NYAC) vs. Amit Elor (NYC/TMWC) at June 8 Final X in New York City
Thursday, June 2
MFS – 125k: Hayden Zillmer (Gopher WC/RTC) vs. Nick Gwiazdowski (Spartan/TMWC) at June 8 Final X in New York City
GR – 130k: Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist Kids WC) vs. Tanner Farmer (NYAC) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater
WFS – 76k: Dymond Guilford (USOP/TMWC) vs. Yelena Makoyed (Card/TMWC) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater