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2021 Who's #1

TOM’s Takeaways From Day Two at Who’s #1

No. 2 Casey Swiderski (MI) takes down No. 1 Jess Mendez (IN) the finals of the 138-pound match  at the 2021 Who’s Number One tournament in Dallas, Texas, Saturday, September 18. Photo by Sam Janicki/SJanicki Photo.

Year number nine was a year of “firsts” for FloWrestling’s signature Who’s Number One preseason tournament.

The 2021 iteration was a two-day spectacle complete with its own all-women’s card on night one and a stellar men’s card on night two. Also, there was a four-person bracket on the men’s side at 170. There was a “Future Stars Match” and a “Big Man Match.” If those luxuries weren’t enough, consensus No. 1 prospect in the Class of 2022, Jesse Mendez, took to the mats to battle No. 2Casey Swiderski.

The field had a plethora of extremely credentialed wrestlers, both domestically and internationally – in both Folkstyle and freestyle – from state champs to Fargo champs to World medalists. Not surprisingly, there were some fantastic bouts and some surprising results as well.

Below are the results of each bout. To see the replay of the action, head over to FloWrestling.

 

RESULTS: WHO’S NUMBER ONE BOY’S CARD 

 

170: Rocco Welsch (Pennsylvania) DEC Manny Rojas (Michigan), 6-3

170: Gabe Arnold (Georgia) DEC Brayden Thompson (Illinois), 3-2

Futures Stars Match – 106: Bo Bassett (Pennsylvania) MD Seth Mendoza (Illinois), 19-8

182: TJ Stewart (Maryland) DEC Jack Wehmeyer (Pennsylvania), 7-4

145: Jackson Arrington (Pennsylvania) DEC Hunter Garvin (Iowa), 4-3

113: Braeden Davis (Michigan) MD Leo DeLuca (New Jersey), 15-7

160: Levi Haines (Pennsylvania) DEC Josh Barr (Michigan), 4-1

106: Anthony Knox (New Jersey) DEC Luke Lilledahl (Missouri), 10-3

152: Caleb Henson (Georgia) DEC Jordan Williams (Oklahoma), 5-4

195: Dylan Fishback (Ohio) DEC Gavin Nelson (Minnesota), 6-1

138: Casey Swiderski (Michigan) DEC Jesse Mendez (Indiana), 7-6

120: Nate Jesuroga (Iowa) DEC Joey Cruz (California), 6-1

170: Gabe Arnold (Georgia) DEC Rocco Welsh (Pennsylvania), 2-1 TB2

285: Nick Feldman (Pennsylvania) DEC Christian Carroll (Indiana), 3-2

 

TOM’s Takeaways from the Matches (In No Particular Order)

 

+ Pennsylvania Looked Strong: Wrestlers hailing from the Keystone State were out in full force Saturday for the men’s card at WNO. Approximately seven of the 26 competitors (27%) represented Pennsylvania. Additionally, six of the seven PA entrants earned a signature win in Dallas. As a unit, PA was a combined 6-2 on the night. Michigan had the second-most competitors from its state with four. Then five states (GA, IA, IL, IN, NJ) were in a tie for third-most competitors by state with two each. Overall, 13 different states were represented in a field of 26 total competitors. No coach was happier on the night than Jody Strittmatter, who coached a sizable contingent of the PA squad, many of whom train at Young Guns Wrestling Club.

+ Michigan’s Casey Swiderski Takes Out Pound-for-Pound No. 1 Jesse Mendez: Anytime a consensus top-rated recruit in a Class takes to the mat, fans are in for a real treat. Fans got that Saturday night as No. 1 Mendez (Crown Point, Indiana) took on No. 2 Casey Swiderski (Dundee, Michigan). It was as good as advertised when Swiderski dethroned Mendez, a Junior World Team member, thanks to a pair of takedowns, a pair of escape points, and some lockdown defense at the buzzer. With the 7-6 win, Swiderski, a future Iowa State Cyclone, is your new No. 1 at 138 pounds. The pair will likely see one another this season, and maybe sooner rather than later.

+ Gabe Arnold Stands Atop the 170-Pound Bracket: Georgia, stand up. In July, Wyoming Seminary standout Gabe Arnold, who won a 16U Fargo title. This weekend, Gabe went 2-0 in Dallas. Arnold tallied a pair of tight, one-point wins over Illinois’ Brayden Thompson (3-2) and then, in the finals, Pennsylvania’s Rocco Welsh (2-1, TB2). A ride out in overtime was the deciding factor for the Georgia native.

“I got down, dug deep, rode [Welsh] out and got the win,” Arnold said in his mat-side interview after the finals victory. “At the end of the day, it’s just heart. It has nothing to do with my physical capabilities. It has a lot to do with heart.”

+ Middle School Phenom Bo Bassett Dominates “Future Stars Match” at 106: The nation’s premier middle schooler, Bo Bassett (8th grade at Bishop McCort Catholic in PA), and current 2021 Cadet World champion at 45-kg in freestyle was electric. In Bo’s “106-pound Futures Match” against Seth Mendoza, a 16U Fargo champion at 100 pounds. Bassett recorded a 19-8 victory. Bassett’s pace and takedown abilities were just too much for Mendoza during the seven-minute match. 

+ Five Number One’s Go Down: A testament to the strength of this event, five total No. 1’s lost in Dallas. Manny Rojas (170/Michigan), Jack Wehmeyer (182/Pennsylvania), Hunter Garvin (145/Iowa), Gavin Nelson (195/Minnesota), and Mendez (138/Indiana) all were on the losing end of their respective matches. Pennsylvania natives Rocco Welsch and Jackson Arrington looked particularly impressive as they toppled Rojas and Garvin, respectively. 

+ Six No. 1’s Defend Their Top Ranking: In six of the 14 bouts, the No.1-rated wrester defended his status. Braeden Davis (113/Michigan), Levi Haines (160/Pennsylvania), Anthony Knox (106/New Jersey), and Caleb Henson (145/Georgia) all won their respective bouts in four consecutive bouts. Nate Jesuroga (120/Iowa) and Nick Feldman (HWT/Pennsylvania) got it done, too. Both Knox and Jesuroga got the win and did so in exceptionally dominant fashion, with Knox winning 10-3 and Jesuroga getting it done 6-1.

+ Levi Haines over Josh Barr: World Teamer Levi looked strong against Barr in his 4-1 decision. Haines had Josh Barr’s offense thoroughly stymied in a reasonably uneventful bout. With Haines slated to be a Nittany Lion at the next level, it will be interesting to see what impact this match has on Josh Barr’s recruitment by those same Penn State Nittany Lions.  Barr’s Top-5 schools are Penn State, Ohio State, Iowa, Virginia Tech, and in-state Michigan.

+ Rocco Didn’t Miss a Beat Up at 170: Welsh has been growing like a weed. As a freshman, the Waynesburg Central (PA) star was at 126. As a sophomore, he was up at 152. At WNO, Rocco competed at 170 and looked stellar. After back-to-back PIAA runner-up performances in as many tries, Rocco looks to make the jump to a PIAA state champ at a much heavier weight in 2021-22. If WNO was any indication, Welsch will be just fine.

+ Injuries and Refereeing Were the Storylines at 152: It was a great match between Caleb Henson (GA) and Jordan Williams (OK). Williams hung in there after a couple of injury stoppages. However, it was an illegal hold by Henson that wasn’t called that proved costly. Williams required injury time as a result of the maneuver . Afterward, due to the injury time, Henson had the choice. The Georgia prep and future VT Hokie picked bottom. Henson escaped and won by that one-point margin. Both battled hard, but it’s unfortunate to see refereeing factor into a result.

+ The “Big Man Match” Delivered: One of the unique facets of WNO this year was a “Big Man Super Match” that pitted Nick Feldman and Christian Carroll together in the final bout of the two-day event. For Feldman, it was a takedown and escape that gave him his three points. In Carroll’s case, he recorded two escapes against the Malvern Prep senior future OSU Buckeye in Feldman. A final takedown attempt at the buzzer for Carroll went to review with the match at 3-2. Carroll was denied the takedown and lost the match. These two will see one another in Big Ten action in the years to come. Carroll (Class of 2023) verbally pledged to Mike Poeta and the Illini earlier in the summer. Feldman heads Columbus to join the Bucks after one last ride at Malvern Prep. 

+ A Couple Things to Keep in Mind: Given that this was a preseason event, there will still be quite a bit of weight gains and cuts before we reach post-season play. Thus, some of the matchups we saw in Dallas, and hope to see again, may not reoccur later this year as we all hope. Additionally, WNO utilized a non-traditional Folkstyle set of rules at the event. These atypical rules could influence some final results.

USA Wrestling WNO Day Two Recap 

 

 

 

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