2014 LAS VEGAS: Senior Open Men’s freestyle previewOlympic champion and two-time World champion Jordan Burroughs headlines a deep field at the U.S. Senior Freestyle Open in Las Vegas this week.
Believe it or not, we are just a little over two years away from another Olympic Games. So, top American wrestlers are trying to make their mark and establish momentum as we move closer to the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
The 2013 season was highlighted by the success of Jordan Burroughs, who captured his second straight World title after winning a gold medal in between those titles at the 2012 Olympics in London. Burroughs was the lone U.S. medalist in freestyle wrestling at the 2013 Worlds, so American wrestlers obviously are looking to improve on that performance this year.
Burroughs had his U.S. record of 69 straight international victories snapped in a loss to fellow American Nick Marable earlier this year at the Yasar Dogu International in Turkey. Burroughs, a two-time U.S. Open champion, bounced back to place third in Turkey. He then dominated the competition in going 5-0 at the World Cup in March in Los Angeles. He is now 76-1 in his amazing international career.
There will be some changes this year with the new weight classes implemented by FILA, the sport’s international governing body. Eight weight classes will be contested at the Open this year instead of seven.
The top seven finishers in each of the six Olympic weight classes will qualify for the U.S. World Team Trials on May 30-June 1 in Madison, Wis. The World Championships are scheduled for Sept. 8-14 in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
U.S. Men’s Freestyle Rankings
57 kg/125.5 lbs.
The lightest freestyle weight class has seen a number of different wrestlers represent the U.S. at the Worlds and Olympics in recent years. Angel Escobedo turned in a strong performance at the 2013 Worlds, advancing to the bronze-medal match before placing fifth. He looked strong at the World Cup and may be considered the favorite at the U.S. Open.
2012 Olympian Sam Hazewinkel also is still in the mix and remains a tough competitor in this division. Hazewinkel was third in the 2013 World Team Trials and fifth in the 2014 Grand Prix of Paris. Andrew Hochstrasser has dropped down to this division and has looked tough in placing in two international events. He was third in the Grand Prix of Paris and fifth in the Yasar Dogu. He earned a win over Hazewinkel this season.
Nick Simmons, who placed fifth at the 2011 Worlds, remains a dangerous wrestler who could make some noise in this weight class. Zach Sanders and Steve Mytych also could contend here. Sanders placed second and Mytych fourth at the Dave Schultz Memorial this year. Mytych took third at the Cerro Pelado in Cuba.
Veterans Mark McKnight, Kyle Hutter and Frank Perrelli also could make a splash in this weight class. Perrelli was second and McKnight fourth at the 2013 U.S. Open. Hutter was third at the New York AC International this season.
Three-time NCAA All-American Nico Megaludis placed fifth in the U.S. Open last year. He competed for the U.S. at the World University Games in 2013. NCAA champion Tony Ramos, a past Junior World Team member, also could be a factor in this class as could two-time NCAA champion Jesse Delgado.
61 kg/134 lbs.
Two-time World Team member Reece Humphrey was the Outstanding Wrestler of this event last year at 60 kg/132 lbs.Humphrey competed in this new weight class at the 2013 World Cup. He dropped a wild 10-8 decision to World bronze medalist Masoud Esmailpoor Jouybari of Iran in that event. Humphrey led 8-1 before the Iranian rallied to win.
Humphrey, who won the U.S. Open in 2011 and 2013, is expected to bump up to 65 kg/143 lbs. for this year’s Open.
American Jimmy Kennedy, second to Humphrey at the 2013 World Team Trials, looked strong at the World Cup and has continued to excel internationally. He won the Yasar Dogu this year and has placed in four international events this season.
Newcomer B.J. Futrell has had a superb season. He placed second at the New York AC International before finishing third at the Dave Schultz and Alexander Medved tournaments. 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Coleman Scott also is back now after suffering an injury at the World Team Trials last year. Scott placed fourth at the Dave Schultz event this year.
Past Junior World Team and University World Team member Tyler Graff also could do some damage in this division. Graff placed second at the 2014 NCAA tournament. He was third at the 2013 U.S. Open.
Two-time NCAA champion Matt McDonough, a past Junior World Team member, is another guy to watch after transitioning full-time to freestyle this season. Alan Waters placed fifth at the 2013 Open at 60 kilos.
65 kg/143 lbs.
Two-time World Team member Brent Metcalf is the favorite in what looks like a very loaded weight class. Metcalf turned in a strong performance at the World Cup, winning all five of his bouts in L.A.
Two-time NCAA champion Kellen Russell also is expected to contend. He won the U.S. Open last year before placing second to Metcalf at the World Team Trials. He was third at the 2014 Cerro Pelado International in Cuba.
Two-time NCAA champion Jordan Oliver can’t be overlooked in this weight class. The past Junior World medalist is a very gifted freestyle wrestler. Oliver was second at the U.S. Open and third in the World Team Trials last year. Oliver beat 2013 World bronze medalist Magomed Kurbanaliev of Russia and Olympian Haislan Garcia of Canada at the United 4 Wrestling event last year in Los Angeles.
Three-time NCAA champion Logan Stieber is another rising star in freestyle. The past Junior World silver medalist likely will bump up to this class after moving up to 141 pounds during the college season. Stieber was third at the 2013 World Team Trials at 60 kilos.
Past NCAA champion Frank Molinaro has made a strong transition to freestyle. He won the New York AC tournament this season. NCAA All-American Jason Chamberlain was third at the Dave Schultz before taking second at the Grand Prix of Paris.Veteran Chase Pami is another top competitor in this class. He was fifth at the Medved event this year. NCAA runner-up Montell Marion was fifth in the Cerro Pelado this year.
70 kg/154 lbs.
This new weight class, a non-Olympic division, looks to be very wide open. Nick Marable, who ended Burroughs’ winning streak, is expected to drop down to this class after going 2-2 at 70 kilos at the World Cup in March.
Marable has won three international tournaments this season – the New York AC, the Yasar Dogu International and the Grand Prix of Paris. He was third in the 2013 U.S. Open.
Veteran Moza Fay has been wrestling well in this division. He was second at the Cerro Pelado at 70 kilos after placing third at the New York AC and Dave Schultz events. Fay also won a match for the U.S. at the World Cup.
Kevin LeValley is another top freestyle competitor who has had a strong season. He was second at the Medved and third at the Dave Schultz. NCAA runner-up Jason Welch also could contend here. He was third at the Cerro Pelado. Kyle Ruschell finished fourth at the Schultz event in this class.
2013 University World Team member James Green is another guy to keep an eye on. Green finished third at the 2014 NCAA tournament and is a dangerous wrestler who is very skilled and explosive on his feet. Dan Vallimont, a member of the U.S. World Cup Team, is another wrestler to watch in this class. Nate Carr Jr. could be a factor at 70 kilos.
74 kg/163 lbs.
Jordan Burroughs is obviously the favorite here, but this is a deep class with a number of talented wrestlers looking to make a move.
Four-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake battled Burroughs tough in the final-round series at the 2013 World Team Trials. Burroughs beat Dake in overtime in their second match. Dake won the Cerro Pelado in Cuba this season, but may not be able to compete at the Open because of an injury.
Two-time Hodge Trophy winner David Taylor had a superb freestyle season in 2013. He was second in the U.S. Open and third in the World Team Trials last year. He then won a bronze medal for the U.S. at the 2013 World University Games.
Past NCAA champion Andrew Howe also has been a top contender in this division, placing second at the World Team Trials and Olympic Team Trials in the past. But the powerful Howe may bump up to 86 kg/189 lbs. after wrestling at 174 during his final college season.
86 kg/189 lbs.
Clayton Foster has emerged as the favorite in this weight class. Foster had an outstanding World Cup. He posted wins over two-time World champion Ibragim Aldatov of Ukraine and over Olympic and World bronze medalist Ehsan Lashgari of Iran in that event.
2013 World Team member Keith Gavin also can’t be counted out. He beat Foster in finals of the World Team Trials last year. Gavin placed second at the Grand Prix of Paris this season.
Veteran Phil Keddy continues to excel internationally. He was second at the Yasar Dogu and third at the Grand Prix of Paris. Past NCAA champion and University World Team member Jon Reader is another top contender in this division. He won the Dave Schultz title for the second straight year.
Enock Francois was third at the New York AC event and Austin Trotman was fourth. Francois was second at the Guelph Open. Three-time NCAA champion Ed Ruth is another wrestler who could make a splash at the Open. Ruth made the University World Team last year after finishing fourth at the U.S. Open.
Two-time NCAA champion Chris Perry is expected to skip the Open, but we likely will see him at the World Team Trials in Madison. Perry placed in two international tournaments last year and is a past Junior World bronze medalist.
Howe, second to Perry at the 2014 NCAAs, could be a force in this division. He’s been No. 2 on the U.S. ladder in freestyle on three occasions.
97 kg/213 lbs.
2012 Olympic gold medalist Jake Varner has returned to the mat this season. He won his first match at the Yasar Dogu tournament before having to pull out of the event with an injury.
Two-time World Team member J.D. Bergman is the favorite in this class. Bergman went 2-2 for the U.S. at the World Cup.
Veteran Chris Pendleton is another tough wrestler in this class. He was second at the U.S. Open and World Team Trials in 2013.
University World Team member Dustin Kilgore placed second at the Dave Schultz event this year. He won his only bout for the U.S. at the World Cup. Veteran Wynn Michalak captured a title at the New York AC tournament this season. He was third at the Grand Prix of Paris.
Deron Winn has looked strong in this class, placing second at the New York AC and third at the Dave Schultz this season. Past NCAA champion Cam Simaz was third in the New York AC this season. Jack Jensen finished fourth in New York. Micah Burak finished fourth at the Schultz tournament this year. Burak made the U.S. University World Team in 2013.
125 kg/275 lbs.
Tervel Dlagnev has been a fixture atop this weight class, making every U.S. World or Olympic Team but one since 2009. The 2009 World bronze medalist finished fifth at the 2011 Worlds, 2012 Olympics and 2013 Worlds.
Dlagnev is in a strong class that includes University World Team member Tyrell Fortune, who lost to Dlagnev in the finals of the 2013 World Team Trials.
Fortune won a bronze medal for the U.S. at the 2013 World University Games. He has carried that momentum into this season on the Senior level. He won titles at the New York AC and Schultz tournaments before taking second at the Grand Prix of Paris.
Zach Rey is looking strong again after placing third at the World Team Trials last year. Rey won the Cerro Pelado in Cuba and was third at the Medved event.
Past Junior World champion Dom Bradley is back and wrestling well again. He was third at the Grand Prix of Paris and the Yasar Dogu International. Two-time NCAA Division II champ Matthew Meuleners has had a strong year. Fourth in the U.S. Open last year, Meuleners placed second at the Cerro Pelado and third at the Schultz this year.
Two-time NCAA champion Tony Nelson finished fifth at University Worlds in 2012. North Carolina State’s Nick Gwiazdowski is another wrestler to watch. He knocked off Nelson in the 2014 NCAA finals after beating him twice at the 2013 World Team Trials.
2010 World Team member Les Sigman also is back at heavyweight after moving down a weight class last year. Jarod Trice also has excelled internationally. He was second at the Dave Schultz tournament this season, falling to Fortune in the finals. Veteran Kyle Massey was second at the Guelph Open this season.
2013 Senior Open Men’s Freestyle Results
55 kg/121 lbs.
1st – Obe Blanc, Stillwater, Okla. (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Frank Perrelli (New York AC/FLWC), 6-0, 4-0
3rd – Brandon Precin, Evanston, Ill. (New York AC) dec. Mark McKnight, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC), 1-0, 2-0
5th – Nico Megaludis, Murrysville, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC) dec. Ben Kjar, Orem, Utah (Titan Mercury WC), 1-0, 0-1, 1-0
7th – Steve Mytych, Coplay, Pa. (Lehigh Valley AC) dec. Zach Sanders, Lauderdale, Minn. (Minnesota Storm), 4-3, 6-0
60 kg/132 lbs.
1st - Reece Humphrey, Columbus, Ohio (New York AC/Ohio RTC) dec. Coleman Scott, Stillwater, Okla. (Titan Mercury WC), 2-0, 1-0
3rd – Tyler Graff, Loveland, Colo. (New York AC) dec. Logan Stieber, Monroeville, Ohio (New York AC/Ohio RTC), 3-1, 3-0
5th – Alan Waters, Kansas City, Mo. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Danny Mitcheff, Cornwall, N.Y. (West Point WC), 3-1, 6-2
7th – Andrew Hochstrasser, Boise, Idaho (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Conor Beebe, Western Springs, Ill. (Beebe Trained), 3-0, 2-1
66 kg/145.5 lbs.
1st – Kellen Russell, Ann Arbor, Mich. (New York AC) dec. Jordan Oliver, Easton, Pa. (Titan Mercury WC), 0-1, 2-2, 1-0
3rd – Brent Metcalf, Iowa City, Iowa (New York AC) dec. Adam Hall, New York, N.Y. (New York AC), 2-0, 6-0
5th – Chase Pami, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids) inj. dft over Phillip Simpson, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)
7th – Kyle Borshoff, Washington, D.C. (DCAC) dec. Brett Robbins, Cedar Falls, Iowa (Panther WC of NE Iowa), 6-0, 2-0
74 kg/163 lbs.
1st – Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb. (Sunkist Kids) dec. David Taylor, St. Paris, Ohio (Nittany Lion WC), 3-1, 1-0
3rd – Nick Marable, Columbia, Mo. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Ryan Morningstar, Iowa City, Iowa (Hawkeye WC), 1-0, 1-0
5th – Colton Sponseller, Glenmont, Ohio (New York AC) dec. Moza Fay, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP), 1-0, 1-0
7th – Dan Vallimont, Long Beach, N.Y. (Blue & Gold WC) dec. Vladyslav Dombrovskiy, Rocklin, Calif. (unattached), 0-2, 2-0, 2-0
84 kg/185 lbs.
1st – Keith Gavin, Columbus, Ohio (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Clayton Foster, Laramie, Wyo. (GRIT Athletics/Cowboy WC), 1-0, 1-1, 2-1
3rd – Jon Reader, Ames, Iowa (Cyclone WC) dec. Ed Ruth, Harrisburg, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC), 2-0, 3-1
5th – Phillip Keddy, Iowa City, Iowa (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Austin Trotman, Boone, N.C. (AppState RTC/Titan Mercury WC), 4-0, 6-0
7th – Enock Francois, New Windsor, N.Y. (West Point WC) won by inj. dft. over Max Askren, Hartland, Wis. (New York AC)
96 kg/211.5 lbs.
1st – J.D. Bergman, Columbus, Ohio (New York AC/Ohio RTC) dec. Chris Pendleton, Laramie, Wyo. (Titan Mercury WC), 1-0, 2-1
3rd – Wynn Michalak, Champaign, Ill. (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Brandon Halsey, Oceanside, Calif. (Sunkist Kids), 7-0, 5-0
5th – Les Sigman, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC) inj. dft. over Trevor Brandvold, Madison, Wis. (New York AC)
7th – Dave Zabriskie, Bethlehem, Pa. (Lehigh Valley AC) dec. Dustin Kilgore, Berea, Ohio (Sunkist Kids), 1-0, 0-3, 2-1
120 kg/264.5 lbs.
1st – Tervel Dlagnev, Columbus, Ohio (Sunkist Kids), champion
2nd– Tyrell Fortune, Portland, Ore. (Grand Canyon WC) dec. Zach Rey, Bethlehem, Pa. (Lehigh Valley AC), 3-0, 4-1
4th – Matthew Meuleners, Norwood-Young America, Minn. (Aberdeen WC) dec. Kyle Massey, Ann Arbor, Mich. (New York AC), 4-1, 5-0
6th – Nick Gwiazdowski, Delanson, N.Y. (New York AC) dec. Jeremy Johnson, North Royalton, Ohio (Bobcat WC), 3-1, 4-0
Outstanding Wrestler – Reece Humphrey (New York AC), 60 kg
Div. I Team Standings – 1. New York AC, 72; 2. Titan Mercury WC, 55
Div. II Team Standings – 1. Sunkist Kids, 40
Regional Training Center Cup – 1. Ohio RTC; 2. Team OTC
OVERALL Team Standings (all three styles) – 1. New York AC, 122; 2. Titan Mercury WC, 86 pts.