photo courtesy of Jim Thrall; MatFocus.com
Yesterday, we introduced you to the U23 Greco-Roman world team, so we’ll stay on the topic of Greco and let you get to know the Cadet team. As is often the case with Cadet teams, the 2019 Greco team is 100% comprised of first-time world teamers. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. This year’s team is very talented and features four wrestlers that brought home stop signs from Fargo in 2018. In each of the past two years, the Cadet team has brought home a single medal. While that doesn’t seem like a huge accomplishment, the Greco teams from 2014-16 came back empty-handed. The Cadet World Championships will take place July 29th-August 4th from Sofia, Bulgaria and these are the ten wrestlers that will be representing the United States.
45 kg – Mason Gehloff (Minnesota)
Gehloff just finished his sophomore year of high school and was able to capture his first state title, even while being slightly undersized for the 106 lb weight class. Mason went undefeated for Waseca high school after not making the state meet as a freshman. Last summer in Fargo, Gehloff dominated the field and was a double champion at the Cadet level, which gave him the Triple Crown. He looks poised to make another run through Fargo after winning both styles as a Cadet at the state level in 2019.
The Cadet World Team Trials got off to an unusual start for Gehloff who won his first match over Beau Mantanona (California), after Beau was cautioned out of the match. He would earn a spot in the finals after a tech of 2018 Fargo Cadet runner-up Daniel Sheen (Illinois). A familiar face was waiting for him in the finals, fellow Minnesota native Jore Volk. The two had met in the Fargo Cadet Greco finals last summer. The two would need three matches to sort it out as Gehloff earned a tech in slightly over 30 seconds in their first bout, while Volk returned the favor with a tech in the second, and then Gehloff had another tech of his own, 9-0, to clinch the series.
49 kg – Cory Land (Alabama)
A perfect season as a freshman has helped catapult Cory Land up the national rankings into his current place at #12. Since Cory was able to compete at the high school level as an eighth-grader, this ended up being his second state title. Last year at the Schoolboy level, Land was a Greco national champion and a runner-up in freestyle.
After a first-round tech at the Cadet WTT’s, Land was then paired up with the top seed in the 49 kg bracket Sefton Douglas (Wyoming). Cory jumped out to an early 4-0 lead and would hold on to win and advance to the semis, 10-9. That set up a match with 2018 Fargo Cadet Greco All-American Caleb Coyle (Nebraska) for a spot in the finals. Land would only need one period to wrap up a tech fall 10-0. For the place on the world team, Land needed to go through Pennsylvania state placewinner Joseph Fischer. Last year in Fargo, Fischer was a Junior National champion at 100 lbs. Cory only needed two matches to take the series 6-2, 8-0.
51 kg – Jett Strickenberger (Colorado)
Just over a month ago, Jett Strickenberger earned a Western Junior Regional freestyle style while competing at 113 lbs. Interestingly enough, Jett will be heading into his junior year of high school seeking his first state title. He was third as a freshman and didn’t compete at the state event this year. Going back two years, Strickenberger placed in both styles at Fargo, taking the big stop sign in freestyle and getting sixth in Cadet Greco.
Perhaps Jett’s biggest win came in the quarterfinals when he teched fourth-ranked Sheldon Seymour (Pennsylvania), a 2019 state champion in Pennsylvania. From there he dispatched rival from Colorado Max Black, by the score of 8-4. Strickenberger’s world team berth was earned after a pair of quick techs, nearly lasting longer than a minute over Sam Smith (Oklahoma).
55 kg – Conor Knopick (Nebraska)
Like Strickenberger, Conor Knopick is also a sophomore that has had a state title elude him through two years of high school competition. Conor was third at the Nebraska State Championships, after taking fourth as a freshman. His Greco exploits have been quite good, though. In 2017, he made the Cadet National finals in Fargo and last July he was third at Cadet Nationals, as well. Last year in Akron, he took third at this same weight class.
Conor entered this tournament as the top seed at 55 kg and did not disappoint. He would end up teching the entire field and only surrendered points in one of his six matches. That was against Florida super-freshman Brennan Van Hoecke in the Round of 16. In the finals, Knopick met one of his teammates from the MWC Wrestling Academy in Nebraska, Dyson Kunz, a 2017 Fargo All-American in Cadet Greco. The familiarity between the two didn’t hurt Knopick, as he won both matches by identical 9-0 scores.
60 kg – Parker Decker (Texas)
Parker Decker is entering his senior year of high school but has already committed to wrestle at Duke, alongside his brother Preston. Parker was a 2019 Texas 6A state champion for Keller High School and had placed third in his previous two tries. Last year at this tournament, Parker was fifth while competing at 55 kg. He then went on to win Fargo as a Cadet at 113 lbs. After jumping up a few weight classes since Fargo, Decker’s results have been better than ever.
Decker made the semis after blitzing through the bracket from the second seed with three techs and a fall. In the semis, Parker found himself paired with another 2018 Cadet national champion in Haiden Drury (Washington). No worries, as Decker controlled the action early and often and got a 10-2 win. It was more of the same in the finals for Parker as he racked up 27 points in two matches against Tarrell Wallace (Florida) as he claimed his spot on the team.
65 kg – Robert Perez III (California)
One of the top incoming freshmen in the country this fall will be California’s, Robert Perez. Last summer in Fargo Perez came home with a Cadet Greco national title and took fifth place in freestyle. He also had a great showing at FloNationals when he won the Greco portion of the tournament and was third in freestyle.
Perez’s showing at FloNationals helped earn him the three seed from he went out and teched his first three opponents, outscoring them 31-2. In the semis, Robert ran into Vince Zerban a Fargo Cadet Greco finalist from a year ago. Perez was trailing 2-1 with just under 20 seconds left in the match when he was able to pull off a front head pinch to take the lead and then fended off a late Zerban charge with a four-point throw to win 7-2. That set up a finals match against Matthew Singleton (Georgia), an opponent that Perez had defeated at FloNationals. In both bouts, it was all Perez, as he won both matches by the score of 8-0.
71 kg – Daniel Segura (Ohio)
Ohio junior Daniel Segura just placed fourth for a second consecutive season at the DI state tournament for Dublin Scioto High School. Coming into this tournament his best placement at a national-level tournament was when he was fifth in Cadet Greco last year in Fargo. Segura trains out of Ohio with former Ohio State coach Miron Kharchla.
This was a weight class that looked pretty wide open before the tournament and that is how it turned out with neither of the top two seeds making the finals. After earning techs in his first two matches, Daniel survived a back-and-forth affair with Tyler Lillard (Ohio) to prevail 14-9. He then had to grind out a 1-1 win over the tournament’s top seed, Brayden Roberts (West Virginia). His final series against Kaden Reetz (Wisconsin) would end up going three matches as Segura won the first by fall, then Reetz got a 25-second tech in the second, yet Segura would rebound to win 16-6 and clinch his place on the world team.
80 kg – Tate Picklo (Oklahoma)
High school sophomore Tate Picklo was made the Oklahoma state finals for a second straight season, but unlike 2018, he was able to bring home the gold medal. Another time that Tate stood at the top of a podium in a big tournament was last July in Fargo, when he won a Cadet freestyle national title. He was also third in the Greco tournament.
After opening his tournament with a tech fall, Tate dropped the tournament’s top seed Adrien Cramer (Illinois) 10-2. That led to a battle with 2018 Cadet freestyle All-American Duwayne Villalpando (Kansas). Duwayne provided little resistance as Picklo earned a tech in only 68 seconds. The berth to the World Championships was dependant on a series between Picklo and Caden Rogers (Pennsylvania). The two had a hard-fought first bout which Tate won 4-2. He was able to open it up in the second match and picked up a tech in just over a minute.
92 kg – Kyle Haas (Kansas)
The first part of a massive weekend for Kyle Haas started with his title in the Cadet Greco tournament. It was an improvement on his fifth-place finish at 80 kg in Akron last year. This tournament put Kyle over the hump, so to speak, as he had always been a player at the national level, but had never been able to win at the huge national tournaments. Kyle was third in Cadet freestyle and a Cadet Greco runner-up last July in Fargo. This season also saw Haas capture his first Kansas state title after taking third in 2018.
Haas claimed his spot in the finals after disposing of his first three opponents by first period falls. The last one was the most notable, Silas Allred (Indiana), currently ranked second in the country at 195. Kyle’s finals opponent was a familiar foe, Tayler Hannah (Wisconsin), the wrestler that has defeated him in the Cadet Greco national finals in Fargo. In the midst of a 6-6 match, Haas was able to get the fall after a four-pointer which gave him the first match. In the second, both wrestlers were a bit more guarded; however, it was Haas that emerged the victor, 2-1.
110 kg – Braxton Mikesell (Washington)
Braxton Mikesell had a huge Fargo last year, taking third in Cadet freestyle and winning the Cadet Greco tournament, then used that momentum to capture his first Washington state title. He had those exact same placements this spring in Pennsylvania at FloNationals. Currently, Braxton is ranked sixth in the nation at 285 lbs.
As one may expect, this weight class had the lowest number of entries and Mikesell ended up head and shoulders above the rest of the competition. His first match came in the quarterfinals where he registered an 11-0 tech fall. It was more domination in the semis, as Braxton rolled up his opponent for an 8-0 tech in only 41 seconds. In the finals, Mikesell was paired up with 2018 Cadet Greco fourth-place finisher Danny Striggow. Braxton needed a minute and eight seconds to end their first match and put his opponent on the brink of elimination. The second bout was much tougher, but Mikesell was able to come out on top on the strength of a four-pointer in the second period, 4-1.