USA Wrestling Cadet World champion...

Cadet World champion Hall, World Teamer Blanc among men's freestyle champions at Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier

By Richard Immel, USA Wrestling | April 02, 2016, 6:14 p.m. (ET)

 74 kg Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier champion Mark Hall (OTC)
pictured at the 2015 UWW Junior World Team Trials in Madison, Wis.
Photo: John Sachs,
VIDEO: Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier Champion Interviews

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa – A thrilling second day of competition at the Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier concluded at the UNI Dome on Saturday with six men’s freestyle athletes punching their tickets to the U.S. Olympic Team Trials set for Iowa City, Iowa next weekend.

High school senior Mark Hall (OTC) stole the spotlight in Cedar Falls by capturing the gold medal at 74 kg/163 lbs. with a last second 5-4 victory over Anthony Valencia (Sunkist Kids) in the finals.

“When I was wrestling Anthony [Valencia], he was in on my leg, you know, he was up four-three going to potentially put the match away. I could hear coach [Brandon] Slay screaming ‘You score from here,’ so I just had to wrestle through it. [Valencia] is an impressive wrestler,” said Hall.

Hall won the Cadet World Championships in men’s freestyle two years ago and finished in ninth place at the Junior World Championships last year. He ended his high school career last month by winning his sixth state championship and will attend Penn State University in the fall.

“To imagine me getting myself into this position, being able to wrestle with the best guys that haven’t qualified for the Trials is really, it’s an honor for me. It’s just awesome,” said Hall.

2011 U.S. World Team member Obe Blanc (Titan Mercury WC) will compete for the top spot in the U.S. at 57 kg/125.5 lbs. once more after cruising to gold at the Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier.

Blanc took out Dan Mitcheff (New York AC/Penn WC) by technical fall, 11-0, in the 57 kg finals. He won five matches on the day with three coming by technical fall and one by pin.

“I definitely took a very long road to that process, but none-the-less the ticket is punched. I’m really excited to get back to work and keep working on that dream,” said Blanc.

At 65 kg/143 lbs. Bernard Futrell (Titan Mercury WC) revisited his winning ways and booked his trip to Iowa City with an 8-2 win over Nazar Kulchytskyy (Titan Mercury WC) in the gold medal match.

Futrell has come up one match short of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials at his previous two competitions. He was the silver medalist at the Dave Schultz Memorial International and finished in eighth place at the U.S. Open.

“One of the best feelings in the world is when you see things come together after you’ve seen them fall apart for so long. Honestly, this has been my toughest season of my career. I’ve had a surgery every year for the past four years, so it’s been tough to get that consistency in my training. I just thank God, my parents, my coaches, my teammates, everybody that kept me encouraged in those hard times,” said Futrell.

Deron Winn (Titan Mercury WC), the top seed at 86 kg/189 lbs., was in the same situation as Futrell having finished in second place at the Dave Schultz Memorial International and in eighth place at the U.S. Open leaving him just shy of qualifying for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials.

Winn was able to grind his way through the 86 kg bracket in Cedar Falls to finally secure his berth in Iowa City next week. He capped off the day with a hard-fought 10-6 win over Timmy McCall (Titan Mercury WC).

Hometown hero Blaize Cabell (Panther WC) received the loudest ovation of the day when he pinned past NCAA champion David Zabriskie (Lehigh Valley AC) with a headlock at the 0:55 mark in the 125 kg/275 finals.

Cabell just finished off his senior season for Northern Iowa a couple weeks ago. He was a NCAA qualifier this year for the Panthers but was unable to compete at the NCAA Championships for health reasons.

At the U.S. Olympic Team Trials Cabell plans to compete at 97 kg/213 lbs.

Able to secure the last U.S. Olympic Team Trials spot at 97 kg was North Dakota State graduate Kallen Kleinschmidt (OTC). He picked up a second period fall over Matthew Gibson (Cyclone WC) in the 97 kg finals.

The Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier will conclude tomorrow morning with the women’s freestyle competition. Action will begin at 9:00 a.m. (CT) and can be viewed live on

April 1-3 at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa

Men’s Freestyle Results
57 kg/125.5 lbs.
1st: Obe Blanc (Titan Mercury WC) tech. fall Dan Mitcheff (New York AC/Penn WC), 11-0
3rd: Stevan Micic (Cliff Keen WC) tech. fall Mark McKnight (Nittany Lion WC), 12-1

65 kg/143 lbs.
1st: Bernard Futrell (Titan Mercury WC/Cliff Keen WC) dec. Nazar Kulchytskyy (Titan Mercury WC), 8-2
3rd: Chase Pami (Sunkist Kids) tech. fall Brandon Wright (Viking WC), 12-1

74 kg/163 lbs.
1st: Mark Hall (OTC) dec. Anthony Valencia (Sunkist Kids), 5-4
3rd: Chance Marsteller (Unattached) tech. fall Santiago Martinez (Lehigh Valley AC), 13-2

86 kg/189 lbs.
1st: Deron Winn (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Timmy McCall (Titan Mercury WC), 10-6
3rd: Nicholas Heflin (Princeton AWS) fall Bo Nickal (Nittany Lion WC), 3:27

97 kg/213 lbs.
1st: Kallen Kleinschmidt (OTC) fall Matthew Gibson (Cyclone WC), 3:29
3rd: Joshua Manu (North Providence) dec. Donald McNeil (Bears WC), 6-3

125 kg/275 lbs.
1st: Blaize Cabell (Panther WC) fall David Zabriskie (Lehigh Valley AC), 0:55
3rd: Austin Schafer (Cowboy WC) fall Dustin Porter (Tiffin), 0:16