Fortune ready to cash in with strong performance in Las Vegas

By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling | April 17, 2014, 6:48 p.m. (ET)

Tyrell Fortune is the No. 2 freestyle seed at heavyweight for the U.S. Open. USAW file photo. 

LAS VEGAS – Tyrell Fortune is a talented young heavyweight with a promising future.

And plenty of options.

Fortune is an outstanding prospect who captured a bronze medal in freestyle and placed fifth in Greco-Roman at the 2013 World University Games.

Fortune will compete in freestyle during the U.S. Open competition on Friday and Saturday at the Las Vegas Convention Center. 

He will be seeded No. 2 at 125 kg/275 lbs. behind veteran Tervel Dlagnev, a past Olympian and World bronze medalist. Dlagnev beat Fortune in the finals of the 2013 World Team Trials before going on to place fifth at the World Championships.

“I had a good performance here last year and finished third coming right off a college season,” Fortune said. “I’ve improved a lot since then and I want to go out and win it this year. I’m excited and ready to go.” 

Fortune has had a strong season, winning the Dave Schultz Memorial International title and placing in a number of other international events.

The powerful 6-foot-2 Fortune, who won junior college and NCAA Division II titles, has continued to progress while transitioning to wrestling full-time in freestyle this season. 

“I’ve gained so much experience in the last year,” he said. “I’ve wrestled a lot of these guys and I’ve seen what they do. That makes a big difference for me.”

One of those guys is Dlagnev, who has made every U.S. World or Olympic Team but one since 2009. 

“I’ve watched Tervel, and I’ve seen how he trains and prepares,” Fortune said. “I’ve become more of a student of the sport. It’s important to study your opponents and watch video and develop strategies. It’s made me a much better wrestler.”

Fortune, 23, said he hasn’t ruled out wrestling Greco this season. The U.S. is holding separate World Team Trials for freestyle and Greco this season. He said he may wrestle in both events. Fortune was a U.S. training partner for Greco at the 2013 Worlds.

“I’m looking at wrestling Greco,” he said. “There is an opportunity to make the World Team in freestyle and Greco, so I will definitely look at the possibility of doing that."

Fortune also is considering his training options.

He spent time training with the Cliff Keen Wrestling Club in Ann Arbor, Mich. He also is considering training at Arizona State University with new ASU coach Zeke Jones, who previously worked with Fortune as the U.S. National Freestyle Coach. The regional training center at the University of Nebraska is another option, Fortune said. 

Fortune, who weighs 270 pounds now, said the heavyweight class has worked well for him after he previously wrestled at 96 kg/211.5 lbs.

“I can focus more on technique and training than watching my weight,” he said. “Heavyweight is a great fit for me. All I have to worry about now is wrestling.” 

Fortune is living in Phoenix, where he competed for Grand Canyon University. He is scheduled to graduate in December with a degree in psychology.

“For me, graduating from college is my No. 1 accomplishment,” Fortune said. “It means more to me than winning any wrestling tournament. Now I have my education to fall back on, no matter what happens with wrestling.”