Freestyle is over for the men and Greco made its first appearance on the Fargo mats on Wednesday. The Junior women got underway today which means freestyle is still around, too. All throughout the FargoDome, the thud of wrestlers hitting the mat echoed and the intensity ratcheted up a few more notches. While these were mostly early round bouts, building to the business end of the tournaments tomorrow before the finals on Friday, there was no lack of drama here.
Double Champion Watch – Cadet Men
Drake Ayala (Iowa, 88), Zeke Escalera (Kentucky, 106), Ryan Sokol (Minnesota, 120), Robert Kanniard (New Jersey, 160), and AJ Ferrari (Texas, 170) all opted not to compete in Greco after winning Cadet freestyle titles here in Fargo.
Four champions bumped up a class rather than try to make scratch weight again. Jett Strickenberger (Colorado, 94) went to 100 and had no trouble advancing to the quarters. Dylan Ragusin (Illinois, 100) moved up to 106 and posted three tech-falls on his way to the quarter-finals. Joshua Saunders (Missouri, 126) moved up to 132 and fought his way into the quarter-finals. Carson Manville (Minnesota, 132) and Saunders could clash in the finals if both keep winning. Manville opened with a scrappy 15-7 win and then hammered his next two opponents. Carter Starocci (Pennsylvania, 152) moved up to 160 and crushed his first two foes before working his way through Colton Hawks (Missouri), 10-5.
Noah Surtin (Illinois, 113) had three tech-falls before he was ambushed by Adam Arenas (California), 11-0, in the round of 16.
Fidel Mayora (Illinois, 138) outscored his opposition 31-0 in a combined match time of 3:28.
Alex Facundo (Michigan, 145) posted a fall and two shutout techs to cruise into the quarters.
Devin Winston (Missouri, 182) has three straight falls with the longest match taking just one minute even.
Ashton Sharp (Missouri, 195) was pushed by Gabe Christenson (Iowa), eventually winning a 4-1 decision, in between two tech-falls.
Braxton Amos (West Virginia, 220) was untouchable once again, pinning his first opponent in 1:30 before twin tech-falls that took 29 seconds each.
Nash Hutmacher (South Dakota, 285) was yet another double stop sign hunter that had it going on Wednesday. The big man needed 64 seconds to outgun his two opponents, 20-0.
Double Champ Watch – Women’s Freestyle
Olivia Shore (Ohio, 100), Leilah Castro (Ohio, 117), Louisa Schwab (Illinois, 122), and Nia Miranda (Texas, 144) were not in the brackets for Junior women’s freestyle after winning Cadet crowns. Emily Shilson (Minnesota, 94) was forced up to 100 as it is the lowest Junior weight but rolled to a pair of 10-0 techs.
Brelane Huber (Idaho, 106) needed just one 10-0 tech to complete her day’s work.
Stefana Jelacic (Arizona, 112) made quick work of her two opponents, pinning both in under two minutes.
Macey Kilty (Wisconsin, 127) was even quicker as her brutal style translates to any age group. She needed just 102 seconds total to earn two wins.
Sarah Conner (Oregon, 132) didn’t have that sort of luck, falling in her opening match to Joessie Gonzales (Washington), 10-0.
Emily Se’s (California, 138) day consisted of just 33 seconds on the mat as she followed a bye with a fast fall.
Kelani Corbett (Hawaii, 152) didn’t even get on the mat as her bracket had less than 32 competitors and she received a first round bye. Bailey Dennis (Oregon, 164) and Jasmine Clarke (California, 200), who bumped up to 225 for Juniors, had the same experience.
Natalie Kemp (Wisconsin, 180) had to wrestle but handled her business with a fall in 2:10.
Drury comes up big
After a runner-up finish in Washington’s Class 2A, Drury was a double Western Regional champion and faired well against strong international style wrestlers such as Aizayah Maka Yacapin and Brenden Chaowanapibool in local competition. He got off to a hot start here after suffering two bitter defeats in freestyle, first to eventual champion Noah Surtin (Illinois) in the quarter-finals and then to Joel Vandervere (Illinois) in the round of 12, just missing the podium. After three Greco matches the tally stood at Drury 36, Opponents 1. In the round of 16, Drury clashed with Chayse La Joie (Michigan), who was third in Greco here in 2016. Drury and La Joie met in freestyle here with Drury winning easily, but the rematch was not so simple.
La Joie was the de facto top seed holding the highest separation criteria in the bracket but, in a wild, if at times sloppy battle, Drury refused to surrender the lead, answering each time La Joie closed the gap, finishing the match one caution from disqualification, clinging to a 12-11 lead. Next up he’ll meet Nick Masters (Georgia), the runner-up in freestyle. Those two met at the Cadet Duals in freestyle where Masters won, 11-2. Drury will look to avenge that loss with a Greco victory that would see him finally earn Fargo All-American honors. Keep an eye out for bout 1471.
Junior women’s freestyle 127 is loaded
In this bracket alone we have:
Ronna Heaton (South Dakota), a two-time Cadet world finalist.
Macey Kilty (Wisconsin), a returning Fargo Cadet champion who was third at the Junior level last year before winning a Cadet World bronze.
Brenda Reyna (Washington), a returning Junior champion who was also on the Junior world team a year ago.
Hailey Cox (Utah), a four-time Fargo All-American.
Kaylee Moore (Washington), a returning double Fargo All-American.
Xochitl Mota-Pettis (Texas), a Junior Women’s Nationals runner-up from this year.
Kaden Campbell (Colorado), who was third at Junior Women’s Nationals this year, adding to her long resume.
Shaina Murray (New Jersey), a returning Junior All-American.
Brianna Csontos (Virginia), a two time Fargo Cadet All-American.
Logan Mize (Hawaii), a two time Fargo Cadet All-American.
Randi Robison (Illinois), a returning Cadet All-American.
Hope Miracle (Kentucky), a 2015 Schoolgirl champion at Body Bar.
All of those wrestlers are in the round of 16 which should be electrifying when it gets underway at 9 am tomorrow morning. Heaton faces Murray, Csontos meets Moore, Miracle squares off with Mota-Pettis, and Kilty looks to roll up Robison among the highlight matches. Do not miss it!
Tempers are starting to fray in Fargo
This is the fifth day of competition this year and most of the Cadet delegations, both coaches and wrestlers, have been here since the beginning. Long days, less than ideal food, and sleeping in hotel rooms can wear on anyone. I noticed a distinct edge to the proceedings today, more so than on any previous day. I didn’t see anyone get punched, which happened during Cadet women’s freestyle already this week, but the physical nature of Greco brought on more cautions for bad behavior in one day than I had seen the rest of the week combined. Coaches are losing their cool quicker and more matches are getting chippy. To this point, it hasn’t been anything too bad in most cases and there is nothing wrong with an intense competition that walks the line between physical and illegal. However, the officials, who are no doubt starting to fatigue as well, need to keep an eye on it. They’ve been quick to hand out penalties today which makes me believe they are doing their best to keep it under control.