World champions Snyder, Pico lead U.S. team for Junior Champions International in Turkey, May 16-18

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | May 12, 2014, 1:34 p.m. (ET)
Photos of Kyle Snyder battling Russia’s Khadjimurad Gatsalov at the Beat the Streets event in New York City. Snyder is among eight FILA Junior stars competing in Turkey this week. Photo by John Sachs,

A pair of age-group World champions headline a talented team of FILA Junior wrestlers who will compete at the International Junior Champions Tournament in Izmir, Turkey, May 16-18.

2013 FILA Junior World champion Kyle Snyder (Woodbine, Md./Sunkist Kids/USOTC) will compete at 96 kg/211.5 lbs., while 2013 FILA Cadet World champion Aaron Pico (Whittier, Calif./Titan Mercury WC) is entered at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.

Snyder is a two-time FILA Junior Nationals champion and the 2013 ASICS High School Wrestler of the Year. He competed last week at the USA vs The World dual in Times Square in New York City, losing a close match to Olympic champion and five-time World champion Khadjimurat Gatsalov of Russia.

Pico is also a two-time FILA Junior Nationals champion in freestyle, and won the Junior Nationals last summer in freestyle. He was also a Cadet Triple Crown winner. Pico won a Senior-level match over respected Russian star Alibeggediz Emeev in a dual meet in Clifton Park, N.Y. this fall.

Both athletes chose not to compete on the high school level this year to concentrate full-time on freestyle wrestling. Snyder is training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, and will head to Ohio State this summer to start his college wrestling career. Pico, who has indicated he may not pursue college wrestling after high school, trains in California but has travelled overseas often this year for training and competition.

“Aaron Pico is having a great year. Kyle Snyder is coming off Beat the Streets event with an impressive performance against Gatsalov. With both of these guys, we want to see their continued development and growth,” said Assistant National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick.

The eight-athlete team is a combination of U.S. Olympic Training Center freestyle developmental athletes, along with some talented and experienced FILA Junior athletes with success in the age-group programs.

Bo Nickal (Allen, Texas /Best Trained Wrestling) will compete at 84 kg/185 lbs. Nickal was fifth in the 2013 FILA Cadet World Championships and was a 2013 Junior Nationals freestyle champion

Competing at 60 kg/132 lbs. is Joey McKenna (Towaco, N.J./LVAC). McKenna won a gold medal at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. at the 2014 FILA Junior Nationals, but is dropping down to 60 kg/132 lbs., which is a weight class contested at the Junior World Championships. McKenna was third in the 2013 FILA Junior World Team Trials and was a 2013 Junior Nationals Greco champion and second in freestyle.

Joining Snyder are four other members of the U.S. Olympic Training Center freestyle developmental resident program.

Competing at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. is Garrett Ryan (Scottsdale, Ariz./Sunkist Kids/USOTC). Ryan was second in the 2014 FILA Junior Nationals and third in 2013 FILA Junior World Team Trials. He competed in both styles at the 2012 FILA Cadet World Championships, placing fifth in freestyle.

Fox Baldwin (Kissimmee, Fla./USOTC) is entered at 74 kg/163 lbs. Baldwin was fifth in 2014 FILA Junior Nationals and was a 2012 Cadet Nationals champion.

The U.S. entry at 84 kg/185 lbs. is Glenn Climmons (Hiram, Ga./USOTC) who was second in the 2012 Junior Nationals.

Resident athlete A.J. Rees (Colorado Springs, Colo./USOTC), who was eighth at the 2014 FILA Junior Nationals, will compete at 55 kg /121 lbs.

“The overall goal of this tour is to gain valuable international experience and get a sense of how to win World and Olympic gold medals earlier in their careers. Immediately, we want our U.S. guys to win Junior World championships this summer. For each individual, the goal is to win this tournament. We have five guys who live at the OTC and some other talented guys from around the country,” said Zadick.

The U.S. team will be accompanied by a crew from Flowrestling, which will bring updates from the competition to the world.

The team is also expected to blog from the tour through the media outlets of the U.S. Wrestling Foundation.

“They all have specific technical areas we want to see in competition. They are preparing to win the Junior World Trials in two weeks and the Junior World Championships in August. I am excited about this team. It will be a great wrestling environment for them in Turkey, with many tough nations there. I am excited about the opportunity for them to lay it out on the line,” said Zadick.

At Izmir, Turkey, May 16-18

U.S. FILA Junior team roster

55 kg /121 lbs. – A.J. Rees, Colorado Springs, Colo. (USOTC)
60 kg/132 lbs. – Joey McKenna, Towaco, N.J. (LVAC)
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Aaron Pico, Whittier, Calif. (Titan Mercury WC)
74 kg/163 lbs. – Fox Baldwin, Kissimmee, Fla. (USOTC)
84 kg/185 lbs. – Glenn Climmons, Hiram, Ga. (USOTC)
84 kg/185 lbs. – Bo Nickal, Allen, Texas (Best Trained Wrestling)
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Kyle Snyder, Woodbine, Md. (Sunkist Kids/USOTC)
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Garrett Ryan, Scottsdale, Ariz. (Sunkist Kids/USOTC)
Team Leader – Assistant National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Coach – Valentin Kalika, Laguna Niguel, Calif.
Official – Cody Goessl, Nekoosa, Wis.

Event Schedule

Friday, May 16
Freestyle and Greco-Roman: 50 kg, 66 kg, 96 kg
Women’s freestyle: 44 kg, 55 kg.

Saturday, May 17
Freestyle and Greco-Roman: 55 kg, 74 kg, 120 kg
Women’s freestyle: 48 kg, 59 kg, 67 kg

Sunday, May 18
Freestyle and Greco-Roman: 60 kg, 84 kg
Women’s freestyle: 51 kg, 63 kg, 72 kg