Cassioppi scores in last second to beat defending champ Metz to win Junior Triple crown with Greco-Roman gold

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | July 22, 2017, 2:55 p.m. (ET)
Anthony Cassioppi of Illinois has his hand raised as the Junior Nationals Greco-Roman champion, clinching the Junior Triple Crown, after his heavyweight victory on Saturday. Photo by Austin Bernard.

Video: Junior Greco-Roman Nationals Interviews

FARGO, N.D. – Trailing as time was running out, heavyweight Anthony Cassioppi of Illinois decided to go for it. His dream of winning a Junior Triple Crown was sinking fast.

Cassioppi’s two point throw with one second left on the clock gave him a 4-3 lead over returning Greco-Roman Junior National champion Brandon Metz of North Dakota. When the challenge by Metz was denied, the final score ended up 5-3, making Cassioppi only the eighth Junior Triple Crown winner and the first since 2014.

“I was just going for something. I was looking for the passivity call, but when I saw the clock start to tick down, I just went for it. I tried to make it a smart, last-ditch effort,” said Cassioppi.

Based upon dramatic win over a returning champion with everything on the line, Cassioppi was named Outstanding Wrestler in the U.S. Marine Corps Junior Greco-Roman Nationals at the FargoDome on Saturday.

“[Triple Crown] was the goal going into this summer season. It was just to be the best that I could be. I was going to do the best I could anyway, so it’s really awesome that it worked out and I got the Triple Crown this year. Looking ahead, maybe I can get it again next year,” said Cassioppi.

Two 2016 Junior National Greco-Roman champions were able to repeat with Junior Greco-Roman titles, Brendan Garcia of Colorado (106) and Haydn Maley of Oregon (220).

Garcia defeated 2017 Junior Nationals freestyle champion and 2016 Cadet Nationals Greco-Roman champion Samuel Latona of Alabama with an 11-0 technical fall in the finals. Garcia had a takedown and immediate turn in the first period, then another takedown to turn in the second to open up the match. Garcia had placed third in Junior freestyle earlier in the week.

“It was about keeping good position. I was just trying to stay out of his two-on-ones and get to my ties,” said Garcia. “I really wanted to come this one because I avenged what I did in freestyle. I just wanted to come out here and finish matches and keep the pace going. In freestyle, I didn’t do too good of a job of keeping the pace going, but I got it done here,” he said.

Maley had little trouble in his finals bout, opening up the offense on the way to a 16-4 technical fall win over Darrell Mason of Illinois. Mason scored first, but Maley scored a takedown and three front-head turns to get ahead 8-4. He closed it out with a two-point bodylock and a four-point throw.

“My main goal was just to make sure I didn’t panic and didn’t freak out. It didn’t matter if I got down, I just had to keep pressing for my match and chipping away two or four points at a time. You have to stay focused and take good shots,” said Maley.

Four 2017 Junior National freestyle champions reached the finals, but only two were able to win Junior Greco-Roman gold as well, Cassioppi and his Illinois teammate Jacob Warner at 195 pounds. Iowa recruit Warner was dominant in a 12-0 technical fall over Dalton Hahn of Wisconsin in the finals.

Besides Latona, the other 2017 Junior Nationals freestyle champion to fall in the finals was Anthony Artalona of Florida, who lost to an inspired 2017 Pan American Cadet Pan American double champion Peyton Robb of Minnesota in a spirited match, 8-3 at 152 pounds.

Robb broke a 1-1 tie with a takedown, two points on a caution, plus a gutwrench turn for an 8-1 lead. Artalona was seeking a fifth Fargo title, as he won two Junior Nationals freestyle titles along with a Cadet double title.

There were some great matches with big scoring and last minute heroics.

At 100 pounds, Anthony King of Illinois fell behind 4-0 to Parker Decker of Texas, but a big throw in the second period gave him an exciting come-from-behind 6-4 victory.

In a bout with 29 total points scored, Brandon Kaylor of Washington and Anthony Molton of Illinois were tied at 7-7 at the break. Kaylor scored an armspin takedown and a two-point turn in the second period, and went on to an 11-9 victory. Kaylor had placed second in Junior Freestyle Nationals earlier in the week.

Trailing 10-7, Mason Phillips of Washington was able to throw Alston Nutter of Wisconsin to his back, and secured a pin in 4:07 at 138 pounds. Phillips had won the Cadet Nationals in Greco-Roman in 2016.

It was an all-California battle at 145 pounds, as Jaden Enriquez was able to outscore Peyton Omania, 11-9. A key move was a four-point first-period headlock by Enriquez, giving him a lead he did not lose.

At 160 pounds, Jaron Chavez of Idaho scored two points on a throw in the closing seconds to edge 2017 UWW Junior Nationals champion Tyler Dow of Wisconsin, 8-7. Chavez was a Cadet Greco-Roman runner-up back in 2014.

A number of past Junior Nationals runners-up were attempting to win their first Junior Nationals title.

Rayvon Foley of Michigan, who was a 2016 Junior Nationals freestyle runner-up, defeated 2015 UWW Cadet Nationals champion Brady Koontz of Wisconsin in the 120 pound finals by a 6-1 margin.

Dalton Young of Washington, a 2016 Junior Nationals Greco-Roman runner-up, scored a tight 3-1 win over Jason Shaner of Oregon at 132 pounds. A key to the victory came when Young forced Shaner to step out in the second period, breaking a 1-1 tie.

At 182 pounds, 2017 Junior Nationals freetyle runner-up Jack Jessen of Illinois earned a Junior stop-sign trophy with a quick bodylock and pin over Illinois teammate Cameron Caffey of Illinois in 32 seconds.

Alex Thomsen of Iowa was able to defeat 2016 Junior Nationals Greco-Roman runners-up Austin Macias of Illinois, 6-1 at 126 pounds. Thomsen is a five-time Fargo All-American and was able to win his first title.

At 170 pounds, Cornell recruit Andrew Berreyesa of Nevada scored a four-point throw and a two-point takedown to defeat 2017 Junior Nationals freestyle runner-up Trent Hidlay of Pennsylvania, 7-2. No points were scored in the second period of this battle.

Illinois easily defended its team title, scoring 106 points, led by four champions, four runners-up and 17 All-Americans. Wisconsin was second with 42 points, just ahead of Washington in third with 40 points. Rounding out the top five were Colorado in fourth with 37 points and Minnesota in fifth with 32 points.

At Fargo, N.D.

Greco-Roman results

100 pounds
1st - Anthony King (Illinois) dec. Parker Decker (Texas), 6-4
3rd - Jacob Rundell (Illinois) dec, Christian Goin (Illinois), 8-1
5th - Chase Randall (Washington) tech. fall Preston Blotter (Utah), 10-0 0:35
7th - Jackson Cockrell (Oklahoma) forfeit Vu Le (Washington)

106 pounds
1st - Brendon Garcia (Colorado) tech. fall Samuel Latona (Alabama), 11-0, 5:51
3rd - Justin Cardani (Illinois) dec. Brenden Chaowanapibool (Washington), 9-1
5th - Steele Dias (Nevada) tech. fall Blake Fredrickson (California), 10-0 0:28
6th - Reese Fry (Michigan) pin Jacob Cochran (Florida), 1:24

113 pounds
1st - Brandon Kaylor (Washington) dec. Anthony Molton (Illinois), 16-13
3rd - Cody Phippen (Missouri) dec. Eric Barnett (Wisconsin), 5-2
5th - Patrick Allis (Colorado) tech. fall Nick Onea (Pennsylvania), 12-0 1:20
7th - Camden Russell (Nebraska) dec. Jace Koelzer (Kansas), 10-4

120 pounds
1st - Rayvon Foley (Michigan) dec. Brady Koontz (Wisconsin), 6-1
3rd - Ridge Lovett (Idaho) tech. fall Patrick Mckee (Minnesota), 18-7 3:39
5th - Nathan Rankin (Texas) pin Delon Kanari (Illinois), 4:22
7th - Dominic La joie (Michigan) pin Cole Jones (Minnesota), 2:02

126 pounds
1st - Alex Thomsen (Iowa) dec. Austin Macias (Illinois), 6-1
3rd - Jet Taylor (Oklahoma) tech. fall Ryan Roth (Colorado), 17-5 1:45
5th - Branson Proudlock (Michigan) dec. Corbin Nirschl (Kansas), 7-6
7th - Jevon Parrish (Kansas) inj dft. Aaron Perez (California)

132 pounds
1st - Dalton Young (Washington) dec. Jason Shaner (Oregon), 3-1
3rd - Job Greenwood (Colorado) pin Riley Gurr (Montana),1:31
5th - Michael Gunther (Illinois) dec. Jack Karstetter (Oklahoma), 6-2
7th - Rylee Molitor (Minnesota) tech. fall Dylan Schickram (Oklahoma), 18-7 3:53

138 pounds
1st - Mason Phillips (Washington) pin Alston Nutter (Wisconsin), 4:07
3rd - Mason Schulz (North Dakota) dec. Aristotle Rockwell (Oregon), 7-3
5th - Mason Hartshorn (California) dec. Jarred Papcsy (Pennsylvania), 8-4
7th - Sam Webster (Minnesota) tech. fall Jared Thieler (Louisiana), 10-0 4:34

145 pounds
1st - Jaden Enriquez (California) dec. Peyton Omania (California), 11-9
3rd - Brock Hardy (Utah) pin Jake Stiles (Illinois), 5:11
5th - Britton Holmes (Colorado) tech. fall Jacob Garcia (Arizona), 13-0 0:42
7th - Weston Milnes (Arizona) dec. Duncan Nelson (Illinois), 20-11

152 pounds
1st - Peyton Robb (Minnesota) dec, Anthony Artalona (Florida), 8-3
3rd - Tyler Eischens (Minnesota) dec. Justin Ruffin (Georgia), 4-3
5th - Thomas Lisher (Missouri) tech. fall Markus Hartman (Illinois), 13-0 2:20
7th - Trevor Elfvin (Pennsylvania) tech. fall Matthew Ortiz (Illinois), 11-0 3:32

160 pounds
1st - Jaron Chavez (Idaho) dec. Tyler Dow (Wisconsin), 8-7
3rd - Terrance Parks (New York) dec. Kenny O`neil (Minnesota), 9-3
5th - Noah Grover (New York) dec. Edmond Ruth (Pennsylvania), 17-9
7th - Hayden Krein (Wisconsin) inj dft. John Knight (Washington)

170 pounds
1st - Andrew Berreyesa (Nevada) dec. Trent Hidlay (Pennsylvania), 7-2
3rd - Zachary Braunagel (Illinois) tech. fall Tate Samuelson (Colorado), 15-2 5:52
5th - Braeden Redlin (Texas) tech. fall Jackson Turley (Virginia), 10-0 1:03
7th - Jeremiah Kent (Missouri) inj. Jose Acosta (Wisconsin), 1:52

182 pounds
1st - Jack Jessen (Illinois) pin Cameron Caffey (Illinois), 0:32
3rd - Tommy Brackett (Tennessee) dec. Myles Wilson (Colorado), 9-1
5th - Victor Marcelli (Ohio) dec. Christian Knop (Alabama), 5-0
7th - Lucas Davison (Indiana) tech. fall Emil hayden Schrull (Montana), 10-0 1:48

195 pounds
1st - Jacob Warner (Illinois) tech. fall Dalton Hahn (Wisconsin), 12-0, 2:16
3rd - Brandon Whitman (Michigan) pin Jackson Mckinney (Washington), 4:00
5th - Chad Porter (Arizona) dec. Miles Lee (Pennsylvania), 2-1
7th - Bear Hughes (Oklahoma) tech. fall Kaleb Reeves (Iowa), 10-0 0:48

220 pounds
1st - Haydn Maley (Oregon) tech fall Darrell Mason (Illinois), 16-4, 3:00
3rd - Aric Bohn (Wisconsin) dec. Chase Trussell (Utah), 8-1
5th - Max Darrah (Missouri) dec. Saylor Schmit (Minnesota), 4-2
7th - Colin Lawler (Texas) tech. fall Christopher Kober (Pennsylvania), 11-0 2:12

286 pounds
1st - Anthony Cassioppi (Illinois) dec. Brandon Metz (North Dakota), 5-3
3rd - Zach Muller (Illinois) tech. fall Austin Emerson (Michigan), 12-1 3:23
5th - Montana Phillips (Oklahoma) dec. Kendrick Watson (North Carolina), 5-4 1:45
7th - Spencer Trenary (Iowa) dec. George Barrera (Idaho), 12-9

Outstanding Wrestler – Anthony Cassioppi (Illinois)

Team Standings
1 Illinois 106
2 Wisconsin 42
3 Washington 40
4 Colorado 37
5 Minnesota 32
6 Michigan 27
7 California 23
8 Pennsylvania 22
9 Oregon 20
10 Oklahoma 18
11 Texas 17
12 Missouri 16
13 Idaho 15
14 Utah 14
15 North Dakota 13
16 Nevada 12
17 Iowa 11
18 tie. Alabama and New York 10
20 Arizona 9
21 Florida 8
22 tie Kansas, Montana and Tennessee 6
25 Georgia 5
26 Ohio 4
27 tie. North Carolina and Virginia 3
29 tie Indiana and Nebraska 2
31 Louisiana 1