The 2022 college wrestling national championships are over … but the great...
May 31 Preview of upcoming Final X: MFS 92k, GR 87k, WFS 68k
• A five-time World/Olympic medalist in men’s freestyle takes on a former All-American from Indiana, who overcame personal challenges to even compete for a Final X spot.
• A Cuban immigrant looks to make a second World Team against a former Cadet World bronze medalist in Greco-Roman.
• USA’s second all-time gold medalist in women’s freestyle welcomes a challenge from a former five-time NAIA All-American from Southern Oregon.
These are three storylines from WIN’s eighth 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.)
Tuesday, May 31
MFS – 92k: J’den Cox (TMWC) vs. Nathan Jackson (NYAC) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater
Cox, 27, first appeared at this level of competition in 2016, when the three-time NCAA champ of Missouri and native of Columbia, Mo., ignored his No. 8 seed to claim a spot at 86 kilos in the 2016 Olympics in Rio, where he claimed a bronze medal. Cox has medaled in every World/Olympics he competed in; winning World championships in 2018 and ’19 (both at 92 kilos), while adding World bronze in 2017 (86 kilos) and 2021 (92 kilos). Cox had planned to wrestle at 97 kilos at the 2020 Olympic Trials, but missed the weigh-ins.
Overall, Cox’s Olympic and World record is 18-3.
Jackson, 27, first made his name at Indiana, where the native of Crete, Ill., earned two All-American honors (5th at 174 in 2016 and 8th at 184 in 2017). He is trying to make his first U.S. World Team at the Senior level in freestyle.
He qualified for his first Final X by winning the recent World Team Trials Challenge Tournament — as he won four bouts by a combined 40-0 score, including a pair of wins over Isaac Trumble in the Best-of-3 finals. But, he nearly missed this opportunity after he tested positive for an illegal substance after competing overseas this winter, and was not cleared until he competed in the Last Chance World Team Qualifier.
“When I wrestled in the Last Chance, I was kind of out of it,” said Jackson, who is the assistant coach at Princeton. “It was hard to put in words what I was thinking. Once I started processing what was going on, I was excited to be here and handled my business.
“Perseverance is really important and a big part of our sport. The lessons you learn just by showing up and going through stuff and continue to move forward is invaluable and something that sets our sport apart from others.”
GR – 87k: Alan Vera (NYAC) vs. Timothy Young (Illinois) at June 8 Final X in New York City
Vera, 31, is looking to make his second U.S. World Team after immigrating in 2017 from Cuba, where he was a four-time Cuban national champion. He won a Senior Nationals in 2020, but failed to make the Olympic Team when he lost 6-3 to John Stefanowicz in Fort Worth in 2021. But, he came back to win a pair of technical falls over Ryan Epps to make the 2021 World Team in Oslo, Norway, where he lost his only match. Most recently, Vera earned a trip to Final X by scoring a technical fall over Christian Dulaney.
Vera now lives in New Jersey, but travels all over the country to find training partners. That included spending time with Zac Dominguez, the founder and head coach of the MWC Wrestling Academy in Papillion, Neb., where he has trained many Greco-Roman wrestlers.
“He has been with me since 2016, so when I came to this country, we would meet up,” Vera said. “This year we have been trying to fix a couple things. It comes down to work. Living in New Jersey, I have no regular guys there to train with so I’m traveling all the time to Orlando, Fla., Minnesota a couple times, and Colorado Springs and Omaha, where I feel very comfortable.”
Young comes to Final X with a past World Greco-Roman medal — winning a Cadet bronze in 2014— but the native of Aurora, Ill., put most of his focus on folkstyle during his college years. That included two years at Ellsworth (Iowa) Community College (where he won an NJCAA championship in 2017) and two years (2019 and 2020) at the now defunct Old Dominion program where he posted a 32-30 career mark.
Since focusing full-time on Greco, Young has moved up the charts this spring, finishing third at the 2022 U.S. Open, then claimed a Final X spot in Coralville by pinning George Sikes at the WTT Challenge
WFS – 68k: Tamyra Mensah Stock (TMWC) vs. Sienna Ramirez (Southern Oregon) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater
Fewer USA women freestylers had a better 2021 than this 29-year-old native of Katy, Texas, who became just the second American woman to claim an Olympic gold medal last August in Tokyo, then collected a bronze medal at the 2021 World Championships in October in Norway. Overall, Mensah Stock has competed in four Worlds, finishing ninth in 2017 before she began a medal run of bronze in 2018, gold in 2019 and bronze last fall.
The former two-time WCWA national champ for Wayland Baptist also became the first American woman to win three Yarygin Grand Prix championships in Russia (2017-19). She also won the 2016 Olympic Team Trials, but wasn’t able to qualify the weight for the Rio Games.
Ramirez, 23, recently finished a career at Southern Oregon as the native of Lakewood, Wash., claimed five All-American honors and won the 2021 NAIA national championship at 155 pounds. That preparation set her up for a banner freestyle season in 2022 as she won the U.S. Open in April and most recently earned a Final X spot by winning four matches at the WTT Challenge Tournament, including two of three bouts against Solin Piearcy in the best-of-3 finals. She won the last match 6-6 on criteria.
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
MFS – 74k: Kyle Dake (Spartan) vs. Jason Nolf (NLWC) at June 8 Final X in New York City
GR – 72k: Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) vs. Benji Peak (Sunkist Kids WC) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater
WFS – 59k: Lexie Basham (Spartan) vs. Abigail Nette (Army WCAP) at June 3 Final X in Stillwater
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
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 – 65k: Forrest Molinari (Sunkist Kids WC) vs. Mallory Velte (BDRT) 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