Photos by Richard Immel
The Bill Farrell Memorial International has been one of two anchors of the Senior-level schedule for years in the United States and will be held this weekend at the New York Athletic Club. Traditionally held in the fall, the event swapped places with the Dave Schultz Memorial on the schedule missing all of 2017 in the process. Friday, March 30th will see all weight classes of Greco and women’s freestyle in action while men’s freestyle wraps up the tournament on Saturday, March 31st. With the men’s freestyle World Cup coming next week, this will be a good opportunity to get familiar with the international styles if you’ve been focused on folk the last several months. An entertaining field of Americans is registered in addition to a smattering of foreign competitors. Here are the five weights we’ll be most interested in based on the registration list so far.
FloWrestling will have a live stream.
61 kg, Men’s Freestyle
One of the more interesting storylines we see each freestyle season is college stars going up against proven Senior level wrestlers. This weight will be a good example of that as the last two DI champions at 133 pounds, Cory Clark and Seth Gross, are entered. Clark needed some time to heal after his college career ended, but we did see him at the Yarygin earlier this year. Gross was a member of the 2016 Junior world team which gave him his last international experience. It will be interesting to see how they stack up. 2017 Pan-Am champion Tyler Graff is the veteran with the best track record among the entries to this point. In addition to Graff, there will be plenty of names that college fans will recognize and that those who follow freestyle will be familiar with from recent years. Chris Dardanes, Shelton Mack, and Alan Waters would each provide a measuring stick for Clark or Gross. AJ Schopp, Earl Hall, and Jon Morrison are still trying to prove themselves at this level, though they are well known from their folkstyle exploits.
65 kg, Men’s Freestyle
Many of the weights this weekend lack international competitors with quality credentials. However, 65 kg is the exception. Anthony Jose Montero Chirinos from Venezuela beat Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez (Cuba) and James Green at the 2016 Pan American Championships and won the Junior version of that event the last two years. He hasn’t been to a Senior World Championships yet and did not medal in two trips to age group World Championships so it will be interesting to see how he looks here. South Korea is sending two quality competitors as well. Jae Hoon Yang is 36 now and last made a world team in 2015. Still, that was his fourth over a long career. Seon Ho Yoo won a bronze medal at the 2017 World Military Games. Those three will be met with a variety of American competitors. Nick Dardanes and Joey Lazor have been on the Senior level circuit for a couple of years now while Kanen Storr, who recently announced he will transfer to Michigan, scored a couple of international medals early last year at 61 kg. Jaydin Eierman will also test the waters after a fourth-place finish at the NCAA tournament. Robbie Mathers was the Outstanding Wrestler at last year’s University Nationals when he beat Dean Heil, Earl Hall, and Tommy Thorn en route to the 65 kg title. Dave Habat, Evan Henderson, Joey Ward, and Ben Freeman are other names that may catch the eye of wrestling fans this weekend.
86 kg, Men’s Freestyle
Pedro Francisco Ceballos Fuentes of Venezuela is likely the favorite at 86 kg even though there will be several Americans aiming to knock him off. The 2017 Pan Am silver medalist was fifth at the Rio Olympics and has a long history at the Senior level. There are plenty of other foreign competitors entered, but they lack credentials, making it difficult to peg which ones will be contenders. For the US, Vic Avery was a bronze medalist at last year’s Cerro Pelado and finished second at the Last Chance World Team Trials qualifier last May. Tim Dudley was a three-time All-American for Nebraska, finishing third in 2017. Two younger athletes that we will be keeping an eye on are Nick Reenan and Jelani Embree. Reenan was a two-time age group world team member in Greco who won Junior Pan Am gold in both styles in 2015. Embree is a highly regarded recruit who redshirted at Michigan this year. He won the Cadet World Team Trials in 2015, but did not compete at the World Championships. Neither man is likely to be a title threat, but it will be fun to watch them battle against Senior level competition.
125 kg, Men’s Freestyle
Any time Gable Steveson takes the mat, it is worth watching. That he is doing so in his first Senior-level event this weekend makes it doubly so. The three-time age group World Champion, winning Cadet in 2015 and 2016 before taking the Junior title while still Cadet eligible in 2017, will be a true freshman at Minnesota in the fall and will immediately be one of the best heavyweights in the NCAA. However, Gable has his sights set on being the best in the world. There will be plenty of international foes assembled here, though no recognizable names. Former Penn State heavyweight Jon Gingrich and Mike Kosoy, formerly of NC State, likely won’t pose much threat to Steveson. Still, these are grown men at the heaviest weight class in freestyle wrestling facing a young man who hasn’t turned 18 yet. If Gable does as expected and wins it, that will be impressive. If he is pushed hard, that will be informative. Either way, keep your eye on 125 kg.
77 kg, Greco
The best Greco weight to watch this weekend includes Senior level veterans, Junior world champion Kamal Bey, and a couple of names that will be familiar to NCAA fans as well. Any field that includes Bey will draw eyeballs, but he will be sternly tested here. After his historic win at the Junior World Championships, wrestling 74 kg, Bey made the Under 23 team at 80 kg, though he went out early in Poland. Back down to 77 kg, he won the Cerro Pelado in February. He will be looking to continue building momentum as he hopes to make his first Senior world team this year. Cheney Haight made his second such team in 2017, claiming the spot at 80 kg six years after his first. He hasn’t competed this low since a third-place finish at the 2016 Olympic Trials at 75 kg, but his experience should make him dangerous if he can handle the cut. Jesse Porter, another young prospect who has finished second to Bey numerous times in recent years is here too. Senior level stalwarts Alec Ortiz and Kendrick Sanders are also expected to be in the bracket. College folkstyle fans should recognize the names Jon Jay Chavez, who had a lot of age group Greco success and just finished seventh at the NCAA tournament for Cornell, and Alex Mossing, who had an impressive run to make the U23 world team last fall and had some good wins for Air Force this season.