The 2016 Asics/Vaughan Cadet/Junior National Championships begin Saturday, July 16th in Fargo, North Dakota. There will be wrestlers competing in the FargoDome for eight consecutive days, beginning with Cadet women’s freestyle and culminating on the 23rd of July with the Junior men’s freestyle final session. In between, thousands of wrestlers from across the country will battle for the coveted stop sign, awarded to those who place in the top eight at a USA Wrestling championship. The full schedule of events can be found here. Check back with TOM for previews, results and analysis all week long.
On the second to last day of Fargo 2016 the Cadet freestyle tournament came to an end with a final session in the afternoon. The Junior freestyle tournament started the day with the round of 16 and quarter-finals in the morning, followed by the semi-finals in the evening. The final matches will take place tomorrow morning starting at 10 am central time.
Nick Raimo Joins A Select Group
Much like his Greco run, Raimo (NJ) was untouchable on his way to the Cadet freestyle final before facing a tough opponent that pushed him. Jaden Abas (CA) was no tough, but Raimo wrestled a smart, controlled match and got the win, 3-1. With the win, Raimo becomes just the 14th wrestler to win Cadet Greco and freestyle in the same year twice. This event has been going on since 1986, so to join a group that small signifies something special. Congratulations, Nick!
Doubles are Tough
Raimo was one of five double champions this year as Aaron Brooks (MD, 160), Travis Wittlake (OR, 170), Ryan Karoly (NJ, 182) and Braxton Amos (OH, 195) all won freestyle stop signs to go with their Greco titles. However, four Greco champions, Sam Latona (AL, 88), Ridge Lovett (ID, 100), Jace Koelzer (KS, 106) and Mason Phillips (WA, 132) reached the freestyle finals only to finish second. Several other Greco champions managed to gain All-American honors in freestyle, but couldn’t quite do the double.
Travis Wittlake is a Monster
This is not exactly breaking news for those that pay attention to the Cadet level, but Wittlake (OR) only surrendered six points, all in Greco, over his twelve matches en route to his two championships. His six techs in freestyle took just 10:04 and his finals match was complete domination. Travis was the best Cadet I saw all week in Fargo so, if you don’t know his name already, remember it. It wasn’t just me he impressed as he was named the Outstanding Wrestler for the Cadet Freestyle tournament.
Nick Lee Takes Out Mitchell McKee
TOM’s #5 at 132, Nick Lee (IN), faced #4 at 138, Mitchell McKee (MN), in the Junior freestyle semi-finals at 138 pounds. While Lee is a fantastic wrestler, he came into this match a clear underdog. McKee handled Lee at the UWW Junior Nationals in April, securing a 14-4 tech-fall. At the Junior World Team Trials, Lee lost by tech to Seth Gross (South Dakota State), 12-2, in the challenge tournament finals. Gross and McKee wrestled an electric three match series for the junior world team spot, with Gross prevailing two matches to one. All signs pointed to McKee, who has a junior freestyle stop sign from 2014 and was runner-up to Taylor LaMont a year ago, reaching another Fargo final, but Lee had other plans. Nick was smart tactically and displayed remarkable quickness throughout the match. When the score was 4-4, it looked like Lee would have a nice showing, when he scored two takedowns to make it 8-4, the upset watch was on. When he drove through McKee for four more to make it 12-4, the statement was made. One more takedown finished the bout, 14-4, and Nick Lee moved on to the finals with one of the most impressive victories we’ve seen all week.
Double Watch: Junior Edition
Entering the semi-finals, eight of the 2016 Junior Greco champions were still alive to become double titleists this year. Brendon Garcia (CO, 100), Dalton Duffield (OK, 120), Taylor LaMont (UT, 132), Griffin Parriott (MN, 152) and Sam Shields-Colbray (OR, 220) won their matches to keep that dream alive. Mitchell McKee (MN, 138), as noted earlier, Ryan Deakin (CO, 145) and Brandon Metz (ND, 285) fell a match short of the finals. The five semi-final winners are now one match away from doing the double!