World Team Trials preview in freestyle at 97 kg
Jake Varner is back.
And in a very big way.
The 2012 Olympic gold medalist capped a dominating tournament by downing Wynn Michalak 4-0 at 97 kg/213 lbs. in April’s U.S. Open finals in Las Vegas.
Varner’s U.S. Open victory clinched him a spot in the final-round series for the U.S. World Team Trials, set for May 31-June 1 in Madison, Wis. He will face the winner of the Challenge Tournament in the best-of-3 match finals.
The champion at the Trials will advance to September’s World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Varner took most of the 2013 season off from competition, but he is back looking stronger and hungry again this season.
Michalak had a strong showing at the Open, knocking off two-time World Team member J.D. Bergman in the semifinals.
Bergman, a 2010 and 2013 World Team member, bounced back to place third at the Open.
Deron Winn continues to wrestle well after placing fourth at the Open. Micak Burak was fifth in Vegas with past NCAA champions David Zabriskie and Cam Simaz taking sixth and seventh, respectively.
2013 Trials runner-up Chris Pendleton and National Team member Dustin Kilgore also could be in the mix. Pendleton was injured at the Open and Kilgore missed the event with an injury.
Veteran Jack Jensen is another wrestler who has had good results in this weight class.
NCAA champion J’Den Cox has also qualified for the Trials in this division. Cayle Byers qualified by winning the Northern Plains Regional.
Varner will be a big favorite at the Trials and will be difficult to beat. Michalak did earn a win over him last year and Bergman had success against him in making his first World Team in 2010.
2014 U.S. Open Results
97 kg /213 lbs.
1st – Jake Varner, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC) dec. Wynn Michalak, Champaign, Ill. (Titan Mercury WC/Illinois RTC), 4-0
3rd – J.D. Bergman, Columbus, Ohio (NYAC/Ohio RTC) tech. fall Deron Winn, Ames, Iowa (Titan Mercury WC), 10-0
5th – Micah Burak, Iowa City, Iowa (Titan Mercury WC) dec. David Zabriskie, Nothampton, Pa. (Lehigh Valley AC), 7-1
7th – Cameron Simaz, Ithaca, NY (Titan Mercury WC) tech. fall Evan Brown, Ames, Iowa (Titan Mercury WC), 10-0
2014 World Team Trials Qualifiers
97 kg/213 lbs.
Final Wrestle-off Qualifier
2014 U.S. Open champion – Jake Varner, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
Trials Tournament Qualifiers
2014 U.S. Open second place – Wynn Michalak, Champaign, Ill. (Titan Mercury WC/Illinois RTC)
2014 U.S. Open third place – J.D. Bergman, Columbus, Ohio (NYAC/Ohio RTC)
2014 U.S. Open fourth place – Deron Winn, Ames, Iowa (Titan Mercury WC)
2014 U.S. Open fifth place – Micah Burak, Iowa City, Iowa (Titan Mercury WC)
2014 U.S. Open sixth place – David Zabriskie, Nothampton, Pa. (Lehigh Valley AC)
2014 U.S. Open seventh place – Cam Simaz, Ithaca, NY (Titan Mercury WC)
2013 World Team Trials second place – Chris Pendleton, Laramie, Wyo. (Titan Mercury WC)
2013 World Team Trials third place – Dustin Kilgore, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids/OTC)
2014 Northern Plains Senior Regionals champion – Cayle Byers, Stillwater, Okla. (Titan Mercury Wrestling Club)
2014 NCAA Div. I champion – J’Den Cox, Columbia, Mo. (Univ. of Missouri)
Wild-card selection – Jack Jensen, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army)