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 final day in Fargo, 120 of the best Junior freestyle wrestlers in the country took to the mats to sort out which place each would earn. The finals took place under the spotlight on center stage while All-Americans battled it out everywhere you looked.
Nick Lee is a Magician
138 pounds was perhaps the toughest bracket in the tournament, featuring names such as Carter Happel (IA), Mitchell McKee (MN), Rudy Yates (IL), Jarrett Degen (MT) and Kaden Gfeller (OK), and it gave us an unforgettable final between Kanen Storr (MI) and Nick Lee (IN). A 3-2 match at the break, Storr looked as if he had taken control of the match with a takedown to go up 4-3 and then, a few moments later, a couple of roll-through exposures, countering a Lee shot, that gave Storr a five point lead. However, Lee continued to attack. He got into an over/under position and hit an outside trip for four, then transitioned to a trapped arm gut and scored two additional exposures to take an 11-8 lead. That extra turn proved critical as Storr got a late takedown, but it wasn’t enough as Lee won, 11-10!
Aguilar Knocks Off D’Emilio…Again
Coming into the 113 pound final, the casual observer may have expected Dylan D’Emilio (OH) to be the favorite over Nicolas Aguilar (CA). After all, D’Emilio finished last season ranked fifth at 106 pounds while Aguilar was 11th. D’Emilio won the 2015 UWW Cadet Nationals to make the Cadet world team with Aguilar in the bracket, though the two didn’t meet. However, flashback to the 2014 Cadet national freestyle finals and you’ll see that Aguilar may have had a mental edge coming in. Aguilar defeated D’Emilio in the 94 pound finals there, 11-0, having already won the Greco title earlier that week. Aguilar did it again Saturday, knocking off D’Emilio, 12-7. After failing to place in Greco, Aguilar came back strong and put together an excellent performance to take the Junior freestyle title.
Cyclones Go Four For Five
A remarkable five men who are headed to Iowa State to continue their wrestling careers reached the finals in Junior freestyle. The future Cyclones had a fantastic day, taking four stop signs back to their respective homes. Austin Gomez (IL, 126) started it off right with a nasty lateral-drop that resulted in an early fall. Ian Parker (MI, 132) upset Taylor LaMont (UT), 3-2, to keep the good vibes going. Kanen Storr (MI, 138) nearly got himself a title as well, leading Nick Lee 8-3 at one point, but fell 11-10. The Cyclone commits would close out the night well, however, as Sam Shields-Colbray (OR, 220) put on a show en route to his title and Gannon Gremmel (IA, 285) closed down the tournament with his tech-fall victory in the last match of Fargo 2016.
Marriott and Pentz Put Themselves on the Map
The 170 pound final, between Canten Marriott (MO) and Owen Pentz (UT), was a match-up of wrestlers that made a big statement just by making it this far. Neither wrestler was ranked in the top-20 at their weight coming in and they both lacked any sort of separation criteria. When the tournament started, none of that mattered. Pentz pinned the highest seeded wrestler in the bracket, Lucas Jeske (MN), in round three, got by Andrew Berreyesa (NV) in the quarters and put away Tim Bowers (OH) 11-0 to reach the final. Marriott took out the highest regarded wrestler on the bottom of the bracket, Anthony Mantanona (CA) 14-6 in the quarter final and decisioned Josh Ramirez (LA) 6-2 before taking the stage on Saturday. Their final bout did not disappoint as Pentz built a 3-0 lead early, but Marriott cut the lead to 5-4 after a wild scramble deep in the second period. As time ran down, Pentz looked to have Marriott’s shot blocked off, but Marriott kept working and got the deciding exposure just in time to win 6-5!
Double Champions Are Crowned, Eventually
With five wrestlers taking the stage Saturday having already won a Greco stop sign this week, there was a good chance we would have a double champion or two in 2016. However, in the early going the Greco champs did not fair well. Brendon Garcia (CO, 100) and Dalton Duffield (OK, 120) went down early, but it looked like that trend would be reversed as Taylor LaMont (UT, 132) took the mat. However, he was stunned by Ian Parker (MI), 3-2, leaving just two potential double champs remaining. Both of them would get it done. Griffin Parriott (MN, 152) continued his dominance with a 10-0 tech of Zander Wick (CA). Then, in an amazing display of power, Sam Shields-Colbray (OR, 220) had three four-point moves on his way to finishing off Keegan Moore (MN) 15-4.