Photo: Mark Hall throws Alex Marinelli in the 74 kg finals of the Junior World Team Trials. Photo by Mark Lundy.
VIDEO: UWW Junior Freestyle World Team Trials interviews
LINCOLN, Neb. – The UWW Junior freestyle finalists put on a show for the 2017 UWW Junior World Team Trials inside the Bob Devaney Sports Center in front of an excitable crowd.
The story of the night came from the 60 kg/132 lbs. finals, where former Cadet World Team members Mitch McKee and Austin Gomez took the series to three bouts, a series that some are calling an instant classic.
McKee ran away with the first match, recording a 10-0 technical fall over Gomez in 2:05.
The second match saw fireworks and an abundance of scoring. McKee was on the board first on a step out, but Gomez snatched the lead with exposure on the edge. Shortly after, Gomez secured a front headlock and rolled through twice for a 6-1 advantage. McKee followed suit with exposure on a headlock for two, but by the end of the first period, Gomez had extended his lead to 8-3.
McKee stormed back in the second period, after Gomez notched another takedown to go up 10-3. A step out and takedown on the edge put McKee within four. Gomez separated himself with a step out. With seconds left, McKee locked up a head pinch for exposure, scoring two, but it was not enough as Gomez forced the series to a third match with an 11-8 win.
The third match kept the crowd on its feet. Once again, McKee opened the scoring, picking up an early takedown. Gomez responded with a giant throw for five, putting McKee straight to his back and seeking the fall, but McKee scrambled his way to a reversal. A McKee takedown tied the bout at the end of the first period, with Gomez holding criteria. The only point scored in the second period was in favor of McKee after Gomez failed to score when put on the shot clock. However, Gomez was in deep on a single, looking for a takedown, but the clock ran out and McKee secured a spot on his first Junior World Team.
“Nothing is given to you,” McKee said. “Coming out of the first match, I think I was a little too confident in myself, and it showed. He came back and beat me. I have to wrestle hard no matter what. I never really panic even if I give up big points because I know I can score a lot of points. When you get scored on, you can’t go into a frenzy. You have to go back to controls and basic stuff to win the match.”
This year’s Junior World Team features three age-group World medalists and two other returning 2016 Junior World Team members.
2016 Junior World champion and 2014 Cadet World champion Mark Hall made his third-straight Junior World Team tonight, defeating Alex Marinelli in two matches.
Hall eased his way to a 10-0 first-period tech fall in match one. In the second round, Marinelli forced the Nittany Lion to work for the win, taking him down late in the second period. However, the two-time World champ’s prowess proved to be too much as Hall walked away with an 8-3 win.
Although he qualified for the Senior World Team Trials, Hall decided to put his focus on another Junior World title.
“I’m only a Junior for three years, and then I have the rest of my career to go Senior, so I’m making the most of that,” Hall said. “I still have one more Junior World tournament, and there are a lot of things I can work on and improve at the Junior level. A lot of people don’t realize that the Junior World tournament is one of the toughest tournaments in the world.”
Fellow 2016 Junior World medalist Daton Fix, who won bronze in Macon, France, had no trouble defending his Junior World Team spot.
Fix faced Brandon Courtney, who he shut down in two matches, recording dominant tech falls in each bout and outscoring Courtney, 27-4. The first match ended in a 12-0 tech fall, while the second ended at 15-4 with Courtney getting a big four-point throw on Fix.
“I came out there and wrestled well,” Fix said. “I made some adjustments. It’s wrestling. You’re going to get scored on. If I go out there and get four points scored on me every time but I end up teching the guy, I’ll be happy with it. I have to go out there and let it fly all the time. That’s just what I have to do. When I step on the mat, I have to be ready. I just have to scrap and let it all go. I don’t care if I get scored on because I know I have the motor to wrestle through and come back.”
First-year Junior Gable Steveson, who won back-to-back Cadet World championships in 2015 and 2016, knocked off returning Junior World Team member Jordan Wood in the 120 kg/264 lbs. finals.
Wood was only able to score two points on Steveson in the series. The Minnesota commit blazed out to a 10-0 tech fall in 2:41 before ending the second match in 3:31 with a 13-2 tech.
Zahid Valencia sailed to his third Junior World Championships bid at 84 kg/185 lbs., bulldozing past Nick Reenan with an 11-0 tech followed by a 12-1 victory.
That one point Valencia gave up was the only point in his last eight freestyle matches that he surrendered.
Kollin Moore, a 2016 Junior World Team member and 2017 NCAA All-American for Ohio State, was the only wrestler that came out of the challenge bracket to win the best-of-three series. He took out Andrew Marsden in two bouts at 96 kg/211 lbs.
Moore dominated the first match, 13-2, but Marsden put up a bigger fight in the second match, where 28 points were scored between the two. Moore clocked in another tech fall, 20-8.
Two-time Cadet World Team member Malik Heinselman will make his debut on the Junior World stage later this summer, after dismissing Cevion Severado in two matches, 7-4 and 10-0, at 50 kg/110 lbs.
Ryan Deakin earned the right to represent the U.S. at 66 kg/145 lbs., handily defeating Patricio Lugo, who emerged from a loaded challenge bracket.
Deakin’s slick style and length helped him to a 9-2 win and 10-0 tech fall.
The UWW Junior World Championships are set for Aug. 21-26 in Tampere, Finland.
The weekend will wrap up with the U.S. Senior Freestyle World Team Trials tomorrow with preliminary action starting at 10 a.m. CT and the best-of-three finals slated for 6 p.m. Fans can watch every match live on Flowrestling or check out @USAWrestling on Twitter for updates.
2017 JUNIOR FREESTYLE WORLD TEAM TRIALS
at Bob Devaney Sports Center in Lincoln, Neb.
Best-of-three finals results
50 kg/110 lbs. – Malik Heinselman (Olympian WC) dec. Cevion Severado (Xtreme RTC), two matches to none
Bout one – Heinselman dec. Severado, 7-4
Bout two – Heinselman tech. fall Severado, 10-0
55 kg/121 lbs. – Daton Fix (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Brandon Courtney (Sunkist Kids), two matches to none
Bout one – Fix tech. fall Courtney, 12-0
Bout two – Fix tech. fall Courtney, 15-4
60 kg/132 lbs. – Mitchell McKee (Minnesota Storm) dec. Austin Gomez (Gomez Wrestling Academy), two matches to one
Bout one – McKee tech. fall Gomez, 10-0
Bout two – Gomez dec. McKee, 11-8
Bout three – McKee dec. Gomez, 6-5
66 kg/145 lbs. – Ryan Deakin (Northwestern) dec. Patricio Lugo (Gladiator WC), two matches to none
Bout one – Deakin dec. Lugo, 9-2
Bout two – Deakin tech. fall Lugo, 10-0
74 kg/163 lbs. – Mark Hall (Nittany Lion WC) dec. Alex Marinelli (Univ. of Iowa), two matches to none
Bout one – Hall tech. fall Marinelli, 10-0
Bout two – Hall dec. Marinelli, 8-3
84 kg/185 lbs. – Zahid Valencia (Arizona State) dec. Nick Reenan (Wolfpack WC), two matches to none
Bout one – Valencia tech. fall Reenan, 11-0
Bout two – Valencia tech. fall Reenan, 12-1
96 kg/211 lbs. – Kollin Moore (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Andrew Marsden (Cowboy WC), two matches to none
Bout one – Moore tech. fall Marsden, 13-2
Bout two – Moore tech. fall Marsden, 20-8
120 kg/264 lbs. – Gable Steveson (Minnesota Storm) dec. Jordan Wood (Lehigh Valley WC), two matches to none
Bout one – Steveson tech. fall Wood, 10-0
Bout two – Steveson tech. fall Woods, 13-2
55 kg/121 lbs. - Alex Thomsen (SWIFT) VSU Liam Cronin (Hoosier Wrestling Club), 11-0 5:42
Third- place matches
55 kg/121 lbs. - Alex Thomsen (SWIFT) tech. fall Paul Bianchi (Bison Wrestling Club), 11-1
60 kg/132 lbs. - Jack Mueller (Cavalier Wrestling Club) tech. fall Paul Glynn (University of Iowa)
66 kg/145 lbs. - David Carr (TMWC) tech. fall Kanen Storr (Cyclone RTC), 10-0
74 kg/163 lbs. - Evan Wick (University of Wisconsin) dec. David McFadden (SERTC-VT), 10-4
84 kg/185 lbs. - Owen Webster (Minnesota Storm) tech. fall Ahmed Alford (Navy-Marine Corps RTC), 11-0
96 kg/211 lbs. - Nathan Traxler (Stanford - California RTC) tech. fall Samuel Colbray (Cyclone RTC), 14-3