Photo courtesy of USA Wrestling
After a dominant day one, Illinois continued their fantastic Greco tournament at the 2017 Junior Duals, easily working their way through the day two round robin to earn yet another trip to the finals. When Kansas Blue upset Oklahoma, it looked like Minnesota would cruise through their side to set up another battle between the two powers in the finals. However, Oklahoma almost threw the entire pool into chaos taking a lead into the final match of their dual against Minnesota before falling and saving tournament administrators from a trip through the tie-breaker rules.
After making their third consecutive finals, both Minnesota and Illinois were set to pursue their second title in three years. Early in the dual, the teams kept each other in check, never allowing the score to get out of hand one way or the other. However, when Dylan Ragusin won for Illinois at 106, it started an eight-match winning streak for Illinois and sent them into freestyle champions.
Just as on Wednesday, there were outstanding performances all over the Cox Business Center on Thursday. Here are five in addition to our picks for the all-tournament team.
Duncan Nelson, Illinois (145)
Nelson began his day with a quick fall against Ohio, got the match off against Nebraska Blue, and then found himself in a dogfight against Ethan Woods in a winner take all dual between Illinois and Michigan Blue for a spot in the finals. He trailed 4-0 and 7-2 before a late first period four got him close. Duncan pulled out the victory and Illinois moved on to the finals against Minnesota Blue. As Illinois pulled away in that one, the only question was who would clinch the title. Nelson got that honor, knocking off Alex Lloyd, a 2016 Fargo double All-American who had not lost in the tournament, 8-4. We caught up with Duncan after the tournament.
Peyton Robb, Minnesota (160)
Robb ended Illinois’ eight-match win streak in the final dual to cement his undefeated record in the tournament. On Thursday, Robb led off against Kansas Blue with a shutout tech. When his team stumbled a bit against Oklahoma, Robb took the mat last in a do or die bout. If Robb won, Minnesota was going to the finals. If not, there would be a three-way tie and tie-breakers would have to be calculated. There would be no need for that as the South Dakota State commit needed just 48 seconds to pick up the 10-0 win.
Brandon Whitman, Michigan (195)
After picking up a forfeit to start the day, Whitman shut out 2016 UWW Cadet All-American Anthony Perrine (Ohio), 10-0, as Michigan nipped their rivals, 36-30. Whitman also took down Riley Vanik (Illinois), 11-5, though it wasn’t enough as Michigan fell to the third place match. There, facing the upstart Kansas Blue team, Whitman would handle Anthony Gaona, 10-0, in the second match of the dual. Michigan Blue would go on to take third place as Whitman finished the tournament undefeated.
Anthony Artalona, Florida (152)
A day after nipping Duncan Nelson, 7-6, to give the Illinois man his only loss, Artalona had much less trouble. He bookended his day with a pair of falls that each took less than 30 seconds and found time to squeeze in a pair of 10-0 tech-falls between them. On the tournament, Artalona was 8-0 with seven matches ending early. The 2016 Fargo Junior freestyle champion looks to be well prepared to defend his title.
Trent Hidlay, Pennsylvania (182)
Despite wrestling up at 195 for one dual, Hidlay was flawless, outscoring his opponents 47-0 as an undermanned Pennsylvania squad fought on despite forfeiting four weights every dual. For the tournament, Hidlay had seven tech falls, three at 195, and in a format where pitching a shutout keeps the opposing team from earning a team point, Hidlay had six of them, surrendering points in just one match, a 17-4 victory over Dominic Vasquez (Michigan Blue).
TOM’s All-Tournament Team
100 Christian Goin (Illinois)
106 Aizayha Maka Yaccapin (Washington)
113 Lucas Byrd (Ohio)
120 Dack Punke (Illinois)
126 Drew Mattin (Ohio)
132 Savion Haywood (Illinois)
138 Brady Lowry (Utah)
145 Sammy Sasso (Pennsylvania)
152 Anthony Artalona (Florida)
160 Peyton Robb (Minnesota)
170 Jake Allar (Minnesota)
182 Trent Hidlay (Pennsylvania)
195 Brandon Whitman (Minnesota)
220 Tyler Curd (Missouri)
285 Anthony Cassioppi (Illinois)