U.S. Open returns to Las Vegas #wrestlevegas
By Jason Bryant
Editor, Amateur Wrestling News
An annual trip to Las Vegas used to be a right of passage for wrestlers and fans. The Las Vegas Convention Center, host of the 2013 U.S. Open, was full of mats and competitors for a week-long wrestling festival.
After a three-year layoff, USA Wrestling has returned to the LVCC, bringing together the U.S. Open, Western Junior Regionals, FILA Junior Nationals and the Veterans Nationals. The Grappling World Team Trials, a part of the World Team Trials in 2007, returns along side wrestling as well.
The following is a breakdown based on pre-registrant information available on April 15.
55 kg/121 pounds
1. Sam Hazewinkel, Norman, Okla. (Sunkist Kids)
2. Obe Blanc, Stillwater, Okla. (Titan Mercury WC)
3. Ben Kjar, Orem, Utah (Titan Mercury WC)
4. Zach Sanders, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
5. Mark McKnight, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
6. Brandon Precin, Evanston, Ill. (Wildcat WC)
7. Frank Perrelli, Itahca, N.Y. (New York AC)
8. Kyle Hutter (HRWA/Virginia Beach RTC)
9. Steve Mytych, Coplay, Pa. (Lehigh Valley AC)
10. Shawn Contos, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
Olympian Sam Hazewinkel returns to the mat after finishing 17th at the 2012 London Olympics. The Florida native and former Oklahoma Sooner will be looking for a second U.S. Open title in freestyle. His top competition could come from Obe Blanc, a 2010 World Team Member representing the newly-formed Titan Mercury Wrestling Club. Also joining the TMWC scene is the third seed, Ben Kjar, an All-American at Utah Valley University in 2012.
After Kjar is a deep list of wrestlers who seem to be interchangeable between 4-10 on any given weekend. Minnesota Storm’s Zach Sanders, Nittany Lion’s Mark McKnight, Wildcat’s Brandon Precin and NYAC’s Frank Perrelli were all collegiate All-Americans, while Kyle Hutter of HRWA and Steve Mytych of Lehigh Valley AC missed out on placing in college and have dropped down to 121 pounds to give it one more go towards 2016.
Sanders was a four-time Division I All-American at Minnesota, while Precin was a three-time All-American at Northwestern. McKnight comes into the tournament after a gold-medal performance at the recent Pan Am Championships in Panama City.
The NLWC will also have a pair of unseeded wrestler who could make things interesting — alum Brad Pataky and two-time NCAA finalist Nico Megaludis.
60 kg/132 pounds
1. Coleman Scott, Stillwater, Okla. (Titan Mercury WC)
2. Logan Stieber, Monroeville, Ohio (New York AC/Ohio RTC)
3. Reece Humphrey, Columbus, Ohio (New York AC/Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC)
4. Tyler Graff, Loveland, Colo. (New York AC)
5. Andrew Hochstrasser, Boise, Idaho (Titan Mercury WC)
Another U.S. Olympian from 2012 will come into the Open as the top seed — Olympic bronze medalist Coleman Scott of Titan Mercury Wrestling Club. Scott said after competition ended in London he’d be coming back to try to win a gold medal in Rio. Scott was on the U.S. World Cup Team and also placed fifth at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Krasnoyarsk, Russia back in January.
Scott’s top competition will come from a pair of Ohio Regional Training Center athletes — two-time NCAA champion Logan Stieber and 2011 World Team Member Reece Humphrey.
Three-time All-American Tyler Graff of the NYAC will stay down at 132 pounds after moving down to 133 pounds midway through the collegiate season. Graff will be the fourth seed and should see fifth-seeded Andrew Hochstrasser of Titan Mercury in the quarterfinals. Hochstrasser was a 2011 NCAA Division I runner-up at 133 pounds. It won’t be easy going for the top seeds. Notable names to watch in the field are Olympic Training Center resident athlete Earl Hall, past N.C. State All-American Darrius Little, past Kent State All-American Dan Mitcheff and All-American Alan Waters of Missouri.
Two-time Division III champion Bebeto Yewah has modest success in freestyle domestically and could be a problem draw, as will OTC resident Sam White. A few names from the past are popping up as well — past NCAA finalist Ryan Lewis will compete unattached, while former age-group champion Norman Richmond returns the the mat. Richmond was second at the 2007 USA Wrestling Junior Freestyle nationals, losing to Jason Chamberlain in the finals.
Lewis was an NCAA runner-up in 2002 and 2003.
66 kg/145.5 pounds
1. Brent Metcalf, Iowa City, Iowa (New York AC)
2. Chase Pami, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
3. Adam Hall, New York, N.Y. (New York AC/Titan Mercury WC)
4. Jordan Oliver, Easton, Pa. (Titan Mercury WC)
5. Jason Chamberlain, Springville, Utah (Titan Mercury WC)
6. Phil Simpson, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
7. Kevin LeValley, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
8. Drew Headlee, Bethlehem, Pa. (Lehigh Valley AC)
9. Kellen Russell, Ann Arbor, Mich. (New York AC/Cliff Keen WC)
10. Kyle Ruschell, Madison, Wis. (New York AC)
With the retirement of Jared Frayer, the depth at 145.5 pounds remains strong. The odds-on favorite (pardon the pun) is 2010 World Teamer Brent Metcalf of the NYAC. The two-time NCAA champion will be challenged by Olympic Training Center resident Chase Pami and Titan Mercury’s Adam Hall, a current assistant coach at Columbia.
Pami was fourth at the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2012 and topped Hall in the finals of the NYAC International back in November.
Four-time All-American and two-time NCAA champion Jordan Oliver of Titan Mercury will be one to watch. After not making 132 pounds at least year’s Olympic Trials, Oliver was forced to move up to 145.5, where he met Metcalf in the opening round falling in three periods. Hall also beat Oliver at the Trials 1-0, 1-1.
Oliver and Jason Chamberlain could meet in a rematch of this year’s NCAA championship in the quarterfinals. Chamberlain did beat Oliver in freestyle a few years ago to make the Junior World Team. The Army’s Phil Simpson, a three-time All-American in college, draws the sixth seed, while Bucknell graduate and current Minnesota assistant Kevin LeValley is seeded seventh.
Drew Headlee of the Lehigh Valley Athletic Club was second at the Pan Am Championships after moving up from 132 pounds, while two-time NCAA champion Kellen Russell of the NYAC is seeded ninth. Russell is the least experienced at the senior level of any wrestler seeded in the top eight.
Other names to watch are: Nittany Lion WC’s Dylan Alton, Division II runner-up Ryan Fillingame of Adams State, DCAC’s Kyle Borschoff and Titan Mercury’s Vlad Kochiev.
74 kg/163 pounds
1. Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb. (Sunkist Kids)
2. Nick Marable, Columbia, Mo. (Sunkist Kids)
3. David Taylor, St. Paris, Ohio (Nittany Lion WC)
4. Anthony Jones, E. Lansing, Mich. (Michigan WC)
5. Colt Sponseller, Glenmont, Ohio (New York AC)
Reigning World and Olympic Champion Jordan Burroughs starts his journey towards a third-straight world-level medal as the top seed at the U.S. Open. Recently engaged, Burroughs is also a leading figure in the Keep Olympic Wrestling movement worldwide, so it’s been a busy time for the New Jersey native.
Burroughs should keep his international unbeaten streak alive through the finals where he could face either Nick Marable of Sunkist Kids or David Taylor of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club. The weight is hollowed out some, as only five wrestlers are pre-seeded and the No. 4 seed, Anthony Jones, isn’t on the preregistration list as of April 15. Colt Sponseller of the Ohio Regional Training Center is the fifth seed, primarily due to his loss to Jones at the NYAC International back in November.
Hawkeye Wrestling Club’s Ryan Morningstar is also worth keeping an eye on, as is Hofstra assistant and past Penn State All-American Dan Vallimont. Freestyle specialist Vlad Dombrovskiy of Team Natomas is a dangerous draw.
Another blast from the past comes in the form of 2005 NHSCA High School Senior National Champion Travis Hammons. Hammons committed to N.C. State out of high school and was never seen on a Division I college mat, but he’s repping the Harvey Twisters, one of the top clubs in the nation. Could be interesting to see how Hammons does after a long layoff.
This weight should also have a preliminary qualifier bracket.
84 kg/185 pounds
1. Keith Gavin, Columbus, Ohio (Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC)
2. Max Askren, Hartland, Wis. (New York AC/Titan Mercury WC)
3. Phil Keddy, Iowa City, Iowa (Hawkeye WC)
4. Jon Reader, Ames, Iowa (Sunkist Kids/Cyclone WC)
5. Austin Trotman, Boone, N.C. (Titan Mercury WC)
6. Clayton Foster, Laramie, Wyo. (Cowboy WC/GRIT Athletics)
7. Ed Ruth, Harrisburg, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
8. Cam Simaz, Ithaca, N.Y. (Finger Lakes WC)
9. Mike Pucillo, Columbus, Ohio (Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC)
Without 2009 World Silver Medalist and 2012 Olympian Jake Herbert, 185 pounds has turned into a pretty balanced weight featuring numerous NCAA champions and finalists. The depth of the weight is promising as we move toward 2016.
Keith Gavin comes in as the top seed and was seconds away from making the 2009 World Team. The NCAA champion from Pittsburgh has been training at the Ohio Regional Training Center and representing Titan Mercury.
Of the top nine seeded wrestlers, six are NCAA champions within the past five years. Titan Mercury’s Max Askren picked up a gold-medal finish at the World Cup and his flexible style can put him in a position to score points in bunches.
Hawkeye Wrestling Club’s Phil Keddy competed with the U.S. World Cup team, and recently won the Pan Am Championships in Panama at 84kg. After Keddy is past NCAA champion Jon Reader of Sunkist Kids, who has medaled at the last three international events he’s entered — the Medved (bronze), the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria (gold) and the Dave Schultz Memorial (gold). Reader beat up-and-coming freestyle Austin Trotman, the fifth seed, in the finals at the Schultz.
Trotman became a fan favorite in 2012 en route to his third-place finish at the NCAA Division I championships for Appalachian State. Trotman has quickly picked up freestyle and if his progression continues, he could be a real threat come 2016. Clayton Foster, an NCAA runner-up for Oklahoma State who is currently training in Laramie, Wyo., has placed at the last two international tournaments held in the U.S.
Reigning two-time NCAA champion Ed Ruth of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club might be overlooked due to his lack of freestyle credentials, but his long reach and leech-like ability on top could lead to a variety of
96 kg/211.5 pounds
1. Wynn Michalak, Champaign, Ill. (Titan Mercury WC)
2. Les Sigman, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
3. David Zabriskie, Bethlehem, Pa. (Lehigh Valley AC)
4. Chris Pendleton, Laramie, Wyo. (Cowboy WC)
5. Dustin Kilgore, Berea, Ohio (Sunkist Kids)
6. J.D. Bergman, Columbus, Ohio (New York AC/Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC)
7. Trevor Brandvold, Verona, Wis. (New York AC)
8. Jack Jensen, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
9. Cayle Byers, Stillwater, Okla. (Titan Mercury WC)
10. Luke Lofthouse, Iowa City, Iowa (Hawkeye WC)
Even without 2012 Olympic Champion Jake Varner, 211 pounds has turned into one of the deepest weights domestically in freestyle competition.
Top-seeded Wynn Michalak of Titan Mercury Wrestling Club has earned his top seed, beating Varner already this season at the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria. Second-seeded Les Sigman has made the drop down to 211 after making the 2010 U.S. World Team at 264.5. Sigman is joined by another former heavyweight, David Zabriskie of the Lehigh Valley Athletic Club.
After the two former heavyweights comes Chris Pendleton, who’s going the other way after a collegiate career that ended at 174 pounds. The Wyoming assistant coach has been able to utilize his quickness up a weight from where he would typically wrestle.
Kent State’s Dustin Kilgore comes back to freestyle after his last season on the collegiate mats. During his Olympic redshirt year, Kilgore picked up wins over accomplished international opponents, including eventual 2011 world silver medalist Serhat Balci of Turkey.
Another world teamer in the mix will be No. 6 J.D. Bergman. Bergman competed for the U.S. Team in 2010 and was the Freestyle Wrestler of the Year that season.
120 kg/264.5 pounds
1. Tervel Dlagnev, Columbus, Ohio (Sunkist Kids/Ohio RTC)
2. Dom Bradley, Blue Springs, Mo. (Sunkist Kids)
3. Zach Rey, Hopatcong, N.J. (Lehigh Valley AC)
4. Ryan Tomei, Chapel Hill, N.C. (Titan Mercury WC)
5. Kyle Massey, Ann Arbor, Mich. (New York AC/Cliff Keen WC)
Tervel Dlagnev of Sunkist Kids begins his march towards a third U.S. World Team at heavyweight. After reaching the semifinals at the 2012 London Olympics, Dlagnev ultimately finished in fifth place. His top challenger should be 2009 Junior World Champion Dom Bradley, also of Sunkist Kids. Bradley recently completed his NCAA career with a fourth-place finish at the NCAA Division I Championships.
After Bradley comes a line of talented wrestlers who have recently moved into the senior level from college competition and a mix of younger athletes who still maintain college eligibitliy.
From a collegiate standpoint, 2011 NCAA champion Zach Rey of the Lehigh Valley Athletic Club should be one to keep an eye on. Rey recently won the Pan Am Championships in Panama, while a pair of Division II wrestlers will also be in the mix. Grand Canyon’s Tyrell Fortune was a standout in the age-group levels in both freestyle and Greco-Roman and could be a threat when the 2016 Trials come around. For now, the 2013 NCAA Division II champion will have to get back into the freestyle swing of things. The wrestler Fortune beat in the Division II finals, two-time Division II champ Matt Meuleners of Northern State, will also enter the fray.
Nick Gwiazdowski of N.C. State (representing the NYAC), Kyle Massey (NYAC) and Jeremy Johnson of Ohio University (Bobcat Wrestling Club) are also past Division I All-Americans entered.
By Richard Immel, USA Wrestling
The theme for the 2013 Greco-Roman National Championships is experience. Six of the seven 2012 Olympic Trials champions are expected in the field of competitors, with five of them having competed in the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England. In addition, there are multiple athletes who came up just short of the Olympic dream last season and are looking to overtake the top spot.
Read the full Greco-Roman Preview from USA Wrestling
By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling
t was a busy summer of wrestling for America’s women wrestlers, with the 2012 Olympic Games in London, England and the 2012 Women’s World Championships in Sherwood Park, Canada.
The highlight of the Olympic Games was the bronze-medal performance of Clarissa Chun at 48 kg., with some amazing wrestling including a win over 2004 Olympic champion Irini Merlini of Ukraine for her bronze medal. Chun, a 2008 World champion, has not ruled out a run for a third Olympic team in 2016. Also competing in the London Games were Kelsey Campbell at 51 kg, Elena Pirozhkova at 63 kg and two-time Olympian Ali Bernard at 72 kg.
With two divisions in the Grappling World Team Trials, familiar names for wrestling fans are Will Durkee, 71kg (Gi and No-Gi), Brandon Ruiz, 100kg (No-Gi), Dennis Hallman, 71kg (No-Gi) and Matt Holt, 62kg (No-Gi).
Ruiz is a multiple-time medalist for Team USA in Grappling, while Durkee wrestled collegiately for Virginia and Northwestern and Holt for Southern Oregon. Holt was also trained at the U.S. Olympic Training Center last cycle in Greco-Roman.