By Jason Bryant
Editor, Amateur Wrestling News
One thing the Cadet & Junior Nationals always brings to the discussion is one of state pride. During the finals on a dimly lit raised platform, wrestlers compete for one of the most prestigious trophies in all of wrestling — the stop sign, an octagonal USA Wrestling national championship plaque.
Cheering them on are fellow wrestlers and coaches from all over the wrestlers’ state of origin. Each state has it’s own tradition, but where does a state’s wrestling pride in Fargo come from? The Junior Nationals started in 1971, while the Cadets entered the fray in 1986. Here’s some numbers from each state association and how they relate to the Cadet & Junior Nationals.
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Alabama is looking to crown its first champion in Fargo. With 33 All-Americans across the six individual wrestling tournaments in the Fargodome, the most accomplished Alabama wrestler is Erwin Lavender. The heavyweight placed in Fargo three times between 1981-1982, making the Junior Greco-Roman finals in 1982. Other finalists from Alabama are Tanner Moon (2008) and J.A. Jones (2010).
The Last Frontier as its called, Alaska has earned 47 All-American medals at the Cadet & Junior levels in both boys and girls competition. The first All-American came in Junior Greco-Roman in 1976 as William Dickson placed fifth at 154 pounds. In 2006, the state made history as siblings Eli and Michaela Hutchison won Junior National titles, becoming the first brother-sister combo to win in Fargo in the same year. Another notable is Dallas Seavey, the 2003 Cadet Greco-Roman Champion. In 2012, Seavey won the noted Iditarod sled dog race across Alaska. He is the youngest person to ever win the race.
Arizona has crowned 30 individual champions, with two brother combinations capturing 12 of those championships. Nick and Nate Gallick combined for five titles, while Angel and Henry Cejudo won seven. Henry Cejudo was the 2008 Olympic gold medalist in freestyle wrestling at 121 pounds. Arizona’s last champion came in 2009, when current Iowa State wrestler Ryak Finch won both styles.
The state association in Arkansas is still in its formative stages, but in 2012, the state earned its first medal as Tyler Mann finished sixth in Cadet Freestyle at 160 pounds. Arkansas sanctioned official high school wrestling competition in 2008-09.
With 1,114 All-Americans in the state’s history, it’s hard to point out any one figure to highlight the Golden State’s performance. It could be NFL lineman and four-time NCAA All-American Stephen Neal, who won Juniors in 1993 at 220 pounds or the 151 All-American medals won by California girls since the inception of the Junior Women’s tournament in 2002. MMA fighter Dan Henderson won double titles in 1988. Boris Novachkov won four titles from 2004-2007 or 2010 World bronze medalist Tatiana Padilla winning four straight Junior Women’s titles. Or we can focus on the present as Aaron Pico enters the Junior Division after winning double titles both times he came as a Cadet.
Colorado has earned 26 championships with multiple titles won by Tony Mustari and Sonny Yohn on the boys side and Adeline Gray and Cody Pfau on the girls side. Gray, a 2012 Women’s world champion at the senior level, won Junior Women’s titles three straight years. Gabe Burak completed his college career in 2012 for the University of Northern Colorado at 165 pounds. He won the Cadet freestyle championship at 91 pounds in 2002.
In 2010, Ross Spencer became the first Connecticut wrestler to win a Junior freestyle championship, winning at 105 pounds. Anthony Valles was a Cadet champion in 2004 and 2005. The state has seven total medals, with the first coming in 1985 with John Meyers in Cadet freestyle.
Much like the diminutive size of Delaware, champions from the First State have also been diminutive. Three-time Junior freestyle champion Sheldon Thomas won titles at 98, 105.5 and 114.5, while Connor McDonald won a Cadet title at 84 pounds in 2003 and then won a Junior title at 112 pounds in 2005. Thomas was an NCAA Division I champion for Clarion, while McDonald was a Division II All-American for Newberry College in South Carolina. The heaviest a Delaware wrestler has been to win a championship was Alex Meade in 2005, when he won Cadet freestyle at 130 pounds.
Of the 59 championships won by Florida wrestlers, 39 have come in Greco-Roman. Eric Grajales is the state’s winningest wrestler in Fargo. He won four Greco-Roman championships — two in Cadets and two in Juniors. Sam Hazewinkel, a 2012 Olympian, won back-to-back Junior titles in Greco-Roman in 2001 and 2002. Florida has won four titles each of the last three years.
Eight of the 14 individual championships won by wrestlers from the Peach State belong to one man — Sean Hage. He was the first wrestler to win six Junior National titles. Hage won is first two titles at 209 pounds in Cadets before dropping to 191.5 pounds, where he won both styles in 1993, 1994 and 1995. Chris Rodrigues was Georgia’s last Junior freestyle national champion, winning at 114.5 pounds in 1999. Last year, Amy Hou became the state’s first women’s champion.
Hawaii’s reputation for being a strong wrestling state is almost exclusively tied to its tremendous women’s wrestling program. But in 2001, Travis Lee won both styles. He eventually went on to win an NCAA championship for Cornell. In 2010, sisters Chrissy and Mindy Chow were named co-champions in Women’s freestyle at 124 pounds.
Ten of Idaho’s 23 national champions have come at weights above 171 pounds. Zac Taylor won the state’s first Junior freestyle title in 1992 at 165 pounds, while Brock Zollinger won the state’s first Junior Greco-Roman title in 2001 at 105.5 pounds. You’ll see Brock around the mats in Fargo as he returns every year to officiate the tournament. Hayden Tuma has won championships in Fargo each of the last three years.
Few states have the prolonged success in the international styles like Illinois. The state boasts 67 Junior Greco champions and 42 Junior freestyle champions to go along with 32 Cadet freestyle champions, 25 Cadet Greco champions and seven Junior Women’s champions. With a state so rich in wrestling tradition, the last time Illinois didn’t have at least one champion was in 1999. Since then, Illinois wrestlers have won 75 individual championships. Matt Goldstein won five Cadet & Junior National titles from 1992-1994 and was second three other times, while 2012 Olympic Trials runner-up Max Nowry is a five-time champion.
The banner year for Indiana came in 2011 as wrestlers from the Hoosier State won six championships in four of the six styles. Jeff Pease holds the most individual championships, winning five from 1987-1989. David McCubbins won double titles in 1990 and 1992. Mitch Sliga, who won two of the titles in 2011, was also a Cadet Triple Crown winner that year, also winning the USA Wrestling Cadet Folkstyle national title. Last year, Kayla Miracle wrestled in both the Cadet and Junior Women’s tournaments. She went from a disappointing third place Cadet finish to winning Juniors.
No, Dan Gable never won the Junior Nationals. Why? They weren’t around until after he was done competing in college. Many wrestlers who won Juniors from Iowa went on to wrestle for Gable. The state leads all with 60 Junior Freestyle champions, with 41 titles coming from 1971-1989. David Kjeldgaard won eight titles in Cadets and Juniors between 1993-1996. Neither Tom or Terry Brands won Juniors. The top finish was at Junior freestyle at 98 pounds in 1985 when Terry was second. Iowa has 127 champions. You have to go back to 1990 to find the last time Iowa didn’t have at least one Cadet or Junior national champion.
Despite 324 All-Americans across all styles, Kansas wrestling is often overlooked. Recent National Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee Melvin Douglas speaks highly about his trip to Junior Nationals. Douglas wasn’t recruited heavily until he won the 1981 Junior Nationals at 178 pounds. He then went on to make two Olympic teams and won the 1993 World Championship. Eric Akin won four titles from 1986-1988. Blue Chip Athletic’s Gonz Medina was the state’s first Cadet champion, winning slightly before Akin’s first title in 1986. Why mention Blue Chip? You’ll see a ton of their slick gear in Fargo. The state also boasts two-time Junior Women’s champion Krista Revelle.
Not traditionally known as a wrestling state, Kentucky has only earned eight medals in the history of the six events, with four of them coming from Joe Carr Jr. Carr gave Kentucky its best finish in 1997 when he made the finals at 143 pounds where he was defeated by Sonny Marchette of Ohio. The Carr family is the same one that produced Nate Carr and Jimmy Carr, who made the 1972 Olympic Team while still in high school.
With 29 All-Americans, 19 have come since 2001, including the state’s first champion, Scott Gibbons in Cadet Greco in 2010. Gibbons recently completed his freshman year wrestling for Princeton University in New Jersey. The state’s most notable wrestling alum is current MMA fighter and 2008 Olympian and 2007 World bronze medalist Daniel Cormier. He placed four times, including a second-place finish in 1997 in Junior freestyle. Cormier also made his first U.S. World Team on the mats in Fargo, winning a special two-out-of-three wrestle-off over Dean Morrison in 2003.
Maine, with nine All-Americans, doesn’t make too many moves nationally when it comes to wrestling. Deanna Rix Betterman won three Junior Women’s championships from 2003-2005 and was a notable participant in Junior Greco during the summer of 2005, going 2-2. The most recent boy’s All-American came in 2005 when Jeremiah Barkac was fifth in Junior Greco. Not listed among Maine’s All-Americans is Ben Kinerson, who finished sixth in 2004 at 171 pounds in Junior freestyle. Kinerson represented New Jersey after attending Blair Academy. He’s a Maine native.
Up in the sky, it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a rubber chicken! Well, the first part of that is technically correct, since we all know chickens are birds. It had become a tradition in Fargo for Maryland wrestlers to throw a rubber chicken to the raised platform after someone would win a title in Fargo. The tradition took a hiatus but is promised to return this year. Nicole Woody won four Junior Women’s championships from 2004-2007, while 2012 World silver medalist Helen Maroulis won two titles. Other multiple champions include three-time champion J.R. Plienis and double champions Eren Civan, Justin Neal and Mike Faust. Maryland crowned two champions last year in Juniors with Josh Llopez and Kyle Snyder.
The Bay State went 12 years between championships. Samir Baghdady won the Cadet freestyle championship in 1991, but it wasn’t until Rollie Peterkin won Cadet freestyle in 2003 that Massachusetts would earn another title. Peterkin won Juniors the next year, while Sean “Spike” Bilodeau used a devastating three-quarter nelson to dominate Junior freestyle in 2007. Bilodeau, Jennah Brennan, Paul Davis and Peterkin are all three-time All-Americans from Massachusetts.
Nathaniel Byrd will forever be remembered as the first wrestler to win a Junior National freestyle title. Byrd won at the lightest weight in 1971 — 105.5 pounds. Brent Metcalf, a two-time NCAA champion for Iowa and two-time U.S. World Team member, won seven titles, including a record-tying six at the Junior level. Andre Metzger won five Junior titles from 1976-1978. Four-time champions include Adam Coon (who goes for more this year) and Taylor Massa. Julia Salata and C.C. Weber are both three-time Junior Women’s champions and Nick Simmons won three freestyle titles from 1998-2000. Dan, Dave and Rod Severn all won individual titles. You might know Dan as “The Beast” from WWE and MMA. Michigan has crowned 82 champions across all six styles.
The North Star State has long been known as the “State of Hockey,” but there’s more wrestlers in Minnesota than there is hockey players. The dominance of the Minnesota Storm is apparent across all levels. The 2013 U.S. Greco-Roman World Team has two Minnesota natives on its roster — Andrew Bisek and Jordan Holm. With 134 champions, Minnesota is always in the discussion as one of the top states in the country for wrestling. The state has three five-time champions — Josh McLay, Billy Pierce and 1996 Olympic silver medalist Brandon Paulson. Hayden Zillmer won four titles and liked Fargo so much, he decided to enroll at North Dakota State. He wrestled at 157 pounds this past season, but won his last title in Fargo at 91 pounds in 2008. Steve King, Dylan Ness and Matt Nagel are also four-time champs. Nagel won’t have to go far to watch this year, he’s Concordia College’s Associate Head Coach. Concordia is located in Moorhead, Minn., just across the river from Fargo.
Unfortunately, Mississippi is the only state in the country that doesn’t sponsor high school wrestling and as a result, there are few wrestlers who compete at the Junior & Cadet Nationals. A few have popped up, but without the infrastructure of high school programs and coaches, there isn’t much in the way of a USA Wrestling state association.
With 69 individual champions, T.J. Hill might be remembered as the most prolific. Standing under 5-feet-tall, Hill won seven titles, five of them in Juniors. Ryan Mango was a five-time champion as well, while Deron Winn won four titles. Olympic silver medalist Sammie “The Bull” Henson was an accomplished wrestler on the senior level in freestyle, but won both of his Junior titles in Greco. Speaking of Greco, six-time U.S. World Team member and two-time Olympian Spenser Mango never won Juniors — he was second once and third twice.
Mike Zadick, a 2008 Olympian, is Montana’s most prolific Junior-level wrestler. Zadick won three Junior titles, two in freestyle and one in Greco. Of the 17 individual titles won from Montana, four go to a pair of twins — Jade and Valyen Rauser. Each won two titles with Jade, a 2013 NCAA qualifier for Utah Valley University, winning double titles in Juniors in 2009 at 105 pounds. In all, the Rauser twins combined for 13 All-American medals in Fargo.
All of Nebraska’s 18 champions have come after 1994, with 2007 World silver medalist Brad Vering winning three titles, including a double title in 1996. Three-time Division II champion Todd Meneely brought home nine medals from Fargo, including two championships. A trio of brothers from Omaha North, DaVaughn, RaVaughn and JaVaughn Perkins have won 10 medals and three titles. JaVaughn is still in the mix to become the third brother to win a title in Fargo.
Nevada’s wrestling tradition isn’t entirely loaded with medals, but the Silver State has produced three national champions, one each in Junior freestyle, Cadet freestyle and Cadet Greco-Roman. Alfonso Alcaraz won the state’s first title in 1988, while Chad Espinoza won the state’s first Cadet freestyle title in 2000. Trey Edmunds won Cadet Greco in 2006. Bryce Saddoris, a two-time NCAA Division I All-American from Navy, and Skyler Woods are the only two wrestlers to place four times.
It’s been 15 years since New Hampshire put a wrestler on the podium in Fargo, as Joe Sparkman’s sixth-place finish at 220 pounds in Junior freestyle accounts for half of the state’s medals. The other half was 1987 Junior freestyle runner-up Keith Ketcham.
What’s surprising about New Jersey is despite the state’s proud wrestling tradition and performance, the state has only 74 total champions across all six styles. That being said, those champions rank up there with some of the all-time greats. Two-time NCAA champions Damion Hahn and Steve Mocco each won four titles as did Andrew Campolattano and Pat Lynch. Lynch placed nine times across the Cadet and Junior levels. Tyler Fraley made six finals, winning three across both the Cadet and Junior levels. Current New York Jet Antonio Garay, an NCAA Division I All-American at Boston College, placed four times. While Mike and Mark Grey combined for 10 medals and five championships — Mark has the lead on big brother with three titles to Mike’s two.
Actively participating since 1978, New Mexico crowned its first Junior freestyle national champion last year when Paul Mascarenas won at 106 pounds. Mascarenas is one of five champions from the Land of Enchantment, with Louis Trujillo winning Cadet freestyle in 2008, Scott Owen winning Cadet freestyle in 1995 and Gary Witherspoon taking the title in the same division in 1986. Anthony Romero won the state’s first Junior title in 1983 with a championship at 154 pounds in Greco. Owen is the state’s most accomplished wrestler in the international styles, winning seven medals. He was a two-time Division I All-American at Northern Illinois.
Troy Nickerson stands out among the New Yorkers to come home from Cadet & Junior Nationals with first-place hardware. The four-time NCAA Division I All-American from Cornell won five titles in Fargo. Adam Mariano, regarded as one of the top high school wrestlers of all-time, won three titles, while Matt Herrington, Paul Paquin and Marco Sanchez also won three. Only three times in the previous 42 years has New York not had at least one champion — 1975, 1996 and 2010. J.P. O’Connor, an NCAA Division I champion from Harvard, placed eight times in Fargo, with his top finish coming at 140 pounds in 2005, where he took second in Junior Greco. New UFC middleweight champion Chris Weidman placed in Fargo three times.
It’s been 17 years since Ty Reynolds won North Carolina’s last national title as he captured the Cadet freestyle crown at 121 pounds. Five times since Reynolds’ championship, a North Carolina wrestler has reached the raised platform in Fargo, including Reynolds himself in 1998. Cousins Byron Sigmon and Chris Bullins each made the finals in freestyle, while Parker VonEgidy, a Missouri signee, was the most recent finalist, placing second in Cadet freestyle at 171 pounds in 2011. Bullins and Reynolds both placed four times across both the Cadet and Junior levels. Olympic wrestling official Stacey Davis was sixth in the 1982 Junior Greco-Roman championships. He now resides in Georgia.
As the host for the Cadet & Junior Nationals, North Dakota has a slight home mat advantage when stepping to the raised platform. Scott Owens won five heavyweight titles, while current Oregon State assistant coach Troy Steiner is probably the most widely-recognized name to hail from the state. He won Junior freestyle in 1988. Owens placed nine times, while current University of Minnesota All-American Scott Schiller placed six times. Schiller hails from West Fargo.
One wrestling brother combination — the Schlatters — are synonymous with Fargo success. Dustin and C.P. won a combined 10 titles in Fargo and hauled in 14 medals overall. Every time Dustin went to Fargo, he won it, collecting six titles across the Cadet and Junior levels. C.P. won four times, made the finals on two other occasions and added a third place and eighth-place finish as well. David Taylor of Penn State won five titles, while Tommy Rowlands, Alan Fried and Logan Stieber each won four titles. Other notable champions from Ohio include Lee Kemp in 1974 and Luke Fickell, a two-time champion who was Ohio State’s interim football head coach between Jim Tressel and Urban Meyer.
In the Smith household, Oklahoma State head wrestling coach John Smith has most of the bragging rights. He won six straight World and Olympic titles during a stretch in the 1990s, ranking him as one of the top international wrestlers of all time. But John has to yield the floor to brothers Pat, Mark and Lee Roy when there’s a discussion about Junior Nationals. Pat, Mark and Lee Roy each won two Junior freestyle national titles — John’s best finish at Juniors? Fourth in 1982 and 1983. Collectively, the Smith brothers won 11 medals. The next generation is already here as John’s son Joe was second in Cadet freestyle last year. John still has plenty to one-up his brothers about.
With 102 total champions, Oregon’s strength has always been Greco. Of the 102 titles, 67 have been won in Greco. Much like the Schlatter brothers dominated from Ohio, the Wood brothers — Isaac and Oscar — dominated from Oregon. The tandem combined to win 11 titles, seven of them in Greco-Roman. Tyrell Fortune joined Isaac as a six-time champion and was most recently the runner-up at the 2013 U.S. World Team Trials. He was the 2013 NCAA Division II heavyweight champion for Grand Canyon University in Arizona. Kenny Cox won five titles as well. Oregon has won 21 Greco titles since 2000.
Pennsylvania reigns supreme when you total all six wrestling tournaments with 186 champions and 1,294 All-American medals. The Keystone State’s dominance is noticeable on the Cadet level, where the state has won 109 championships. Despite its dominance, there’s never been a six-time champion from Pennsylvania, but there have been three five-time champions — Andrew Alton, Chris Fleeger and Mark Angle. Combined with twin brother Dylan, the Altons won nine titles in Fargo and have 13 medals between the two. Current Ohio State wrestler Nick Roberts also has four titles. Jeremy Hunter placed nine times, winning three times, Matt Dragon placed eight times, winning twice, while another twin combination — John and Russ Hughes — combined for 14 medals and three titles. Ray Brinzer, the technical guru behind TheOpenMat, placed seven times. There are literally too many notable names to list, but as a friend pointed out via Facebook, there’s Brad Pataky, a 10-time All-American in Fargo. Pataky finished second twice and medaled an astounding eight times in Juniors. Worth noting.
Eleven wrestlers from Rhode Island have stood on the podium with just one wrestler — Pat Feeley, ascending to the top. The nation’s smallest state has two multiple-time All-Americans — Feeley and John Lema, who placed in 1990 and 1992. Feeley won in 2002 and placed three times overall.
Terrance Thompson is the state’s only Junior champion in the boys side of things, while Brittany and Brieana Delgado have combined to win four titles in the Junior Women’s division. Jordan Wigger, currently wrestling at The Citadel, was the state’s first double All-American, placing in both styles in 2011 and 2012. Thompson and Michael Colucci (1986) are the state’s only two wrestlers to reach a final on the boys side.
South Dakota only has five championships in the state’s history, but those five titles, won by four different wrestlers, belong to some pretty stout names. Lincoln McIlravy won Junior and Cadet titles, while Junior freestyle titles were won by Randy Lewis, Bill Scherr and current Minnesota Golden Gopher Logan Storley. Lewis won the 1977 Junior freestyle title, and seven years later, he won the Olympic gold.
It’s been 11 years since Nick Marable became Tennessee’s first and only champion. The Cadet freestyle title was won over another Southerner, Ben Fiacco of Georgia. Marable is the only Tennessee wrestler to even make a final. Tate Robinson returned to Tennessee after a year in Missouri and looks to get back on the podium. Robinson has placed three times.
There’s a common misconception about Texas. Well, there’s probably more than one, but in wrestling terms, Texas’ entry into sanctioned high school wrestling wasn’t that long ago. Most believed wrestling in Texas didn’t exist until Kendall Cross and Kenny Monday showed up to assist Tim Matthews at Bishop Lynch High School in Dallas. Texas has 28 champions across all six styles, with 10 of them occurring before 2005. There was a 15-year gap between titles. Brandon Slay won Cadet Greco in 1990 and it wasn’t until 2005 when Justin “The Viking” Wren and Luke Ashmore won titles, breaking the Lone Star State’s drought. Brad Knouse won five titles. One notable about Texas is its sanctioned girls high school wrestling. It’s made Texas one of the top states for producing women’s wrestling talent, evidenced by the state’s nine Women’s champions.
You can’t talk about Utah wrestling without mentioning the Sanderson brothers. Cole, Cody, Cael and Cyler each won titles across the Cadet and Junior levels and the brother duo combined to win seven of them. Cody, Cole and Cael each won two. Another legacy is growing as 1987 Junior freestyle All-American Craig LaMont has two of his sons competing. Grant won Junior Greco in 2012, while Taylor should be in the mix this year. In 2010, Grant, then a first-year Cadet, made the Junior finals because he couldn’t wrestle on Sunday due to religious reasons. Cam Jones won four Greco-Roman national titles, three in Juniors. World bronze medalist Justin Ruiz won three titles, as did current Iowa Hawkeye Ethen Lofthouse.
Vermont hasn’t sent a state delegation to the Cadet & Junior Nationals in a number of years, but two women stand out for their performances competing for other states — Erin Clodgo and Rachel Hale. Clodgo won two Junior titles representing Connecticut, while Hale, a two-time high school state champion from Mount Anthony Union, represented Massachusetts and finished third in 2012. The last official Vermont All-American came in 1994 with Rafael Vega’s sixth-place finish. Vega, like Hale, wrestled for Mount Anthony Union, which has won every Vermont high school state team championship since, well, let’s just say there wasn’t a single Junior-age wrestler alive the last time MAU didn’t win Vermont.
Virginia, know as the Mother of Presidents or The Old Dominion, has 20 individual championships. The banner year came in 1986 when four Virginia wrestlers won Junior National titles. Billy Wagner and John Matiyko, both from Virginia Beach, won freestyle titles, while two wrestlers from the Peninsula, Sammy Dollyhigh and Scott Brown, won Greco titles. The Staylor brothers — Jody, Christian, Justin and Casey — from Great Bridge in Chesapeake combined to win eight medals. Jody and Christian won titles. Adam and Aaron Mickiewicz, another set of twins, combined to win nine medals. The Frishkorn brothers — Daniel and Jordan — won seven medals.
Like its neighbor to the South, Washington has seem better results in Greco than it has freestyle, most evidenced by the 21 Cadet Greco titles won compared to the eight it has in Cadet freestyle. At the Junior level, it’s not so blatant, as 16 of the 27 championships were won in Greco. Michael Mangrum’s four titles is tops from Washington. Jordan and Chandler Rogers have combined to win five titles. Washington has been active since the first year of the Junior Nationals, but since 2000, 36 of the state’s total 64 titles have been won.
West Virginia has won six titles, three each in Cadets and Juniors. Four of the six championships belong to two wrestlers — current Alderson-Broaddus head wrestling coach Mitch Smith and wrestling camp promoter Ken Chertow. Smith placed six times. Kyle Turnbull, son of West Virginia University head coach Craig Turnbull, was second in Junior freestyle in 2003. Jeff Courtney, a Greco-Roman All-American, was the state’s first deaf wrestler to place. Anthony, Matt and Seth Easter combined to win five medals in Fargo.
When looking at the statistics from the six tournaments, it’s partially surprising to see Wisconsin has more Greco-Roman champions than it does freestyle. With 68 champions in all, Wisconsin is one of the most organized and efficient state associations and always brings big numbers to Fargo. Garrett Lowney, a 2000 Olympic bronze medalist, won seven titles, while current Oklahoma State Cowboy Alex Dieringer won five, as did Devin Peterson. Dieringer placed eight times. World champion Dennis Hall won three Junior Greco-Roman titles and four-time Junior World Team member and 2012 Junior World bronze medalist Jesse Thielke won twice. Thielke is the U.S. representative at 60kg in Greco-Roman for the 2013 World Championships.
The smallest state in the country in terms of population, Wyoming has crowned five champions at the Cadet & Junior Nationals with the most recent being Cadet Women’s champion Virginia Burkett in 2011. NCAA Division I All-American Tyler Cox won Cadet Greco at 91 pounds in 2005, while Sterling Ogelsby won Junior Greco in 1999. The state is still looking for its first Junior freestyle national champion.
For a three-year stretch, two-time U.S. Greco-Roman World Teamer Jake Clark pioneered an initiative for wrestlers who were Americans stationed with their parents overseas to compete in Fargo. At first, it was dubbed Team Okinawa then morphed into the Armed Forces team. The Armed Forces contingent only had one All-American, Max Huntley, who is currently wrestling for Michigan. Huntley wrestled at Colonial Forge High School in Stafford, Va., after his parents moved back stateside. He finished his career at Blair Academy and finished second in Junior freestyle representing team New Jersey.
Puerto Rico has also made a few appearances at the Junior Nationals. One notable is three-time Division I All-American and 2011 World silver medalist Franklin Gomez. While wrestling for Brandon High School in Florida, Gomez represented Puerto Rico and won two Junior freestyle titles. Dayanara Rivera won the Junior Women’s freestyle title in 2007. Puerto Rico has won 14 medals in Fargo, first appearing on the podium in 1999. Gomez placed six times in Fargo.