Gilman, Ness brothers, Vallimont among top pre-registered athletes for Last Chance Qualifier this weekend

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | May 17, 2017, 4:12 p.m. (ET)
Thomas Gilman, shown competing for Iowa at the 2017 NCAA Championships, is among the top wrestlers entered in the Last Chance Qualifier this weekend. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors.

On-line registration has closed, and 40 athletes have thrown their hats in the ring for the Last Chance World Team Trials Qualifier in men’s freestyle, set for the RCTC Regional Sports Center in Rochester, Minn., May 20-21.

Senior men’s freestyle wrestlers from across the nation will be able to compete for the final spot in the field for the U.S. World Team Trials to be held June 9-10 in Lincoln, Nebraska. The highest placed athlete per weigh class who has yet to qualify will earn a spot in the 2017 World Team Trials.

Leading the prominent wrestlers who have signed up in advance is Thomas Gilman of the Hawkeye WC, a 2014 Junior World bronze medalist and three-time All-American for Iowa at 55 kg/121 lbs.

The Ness brothers, Jayson Ness of the Minnesota Storm at 61 kg/134 lbs. and Dylan Ness of the Minnesota Storm at 70 kg/154 lbs. are also on the registration rolls. Both have a number of freestyle achievements in the past. Jayson was an NCAA champion for Minnesota and Dylan won four All-American honors (including two runners-up finishes) for the Gophers.

Dan Vallimont of the New York AC/Pennsylvania RTC is ready to wrestle at 74 kg/163 lbs. The former Penn State NCAA runner-up was eighth at the 2017 U.S. Open, missing the qualifying standard of having to place in the top seven.

A number of other athletes who just missed qualifying at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas are giving it a final chance in Rochester, seeking the final spot in the field for Lincoln.

The thing about the pre-registration is that athletes can walk up and register on-site, paying a higher fee than if they registered online. There are expectations that there will be walk-ups, since the Midwest location of the event is most definitely close enough to numerous college programs and Regional Training Centers.

Flowrestling has reported that two-time NCAA champion and three-time runner-up Isaiah Martinez of Illinois plans to enter at 74 kg, from their “sources.” Martinez, who is a talented freestyler, would for sure be a top challenger if he does show up. There could also be a number of other quality walk-ups who chose not to pre-register, so anybody could be added, including other wrestlers of the quality of an Isaiah Martinez.

Predicting walkups is speculative at best, but there are some active wrestlers on the Senior freestyle scene who have not yet registered and could have an impact if they arrive.

This event will be broadcast on Flowrestling. Below is a review of the pre-registered fields.

55 kg/121 lbs. Pre-registered athletes
Joshua Portillo (Jackrabbit WC)
Justin Portillo (Jackrabbit WC)
Skyler Petry (Minnesota Storm)
Thomas Gilman (Hawkeye WC)

Gilman is the most experienced of those pre-registered, and clearly has the highest achievements as a Junior World medalist and three-time Div. I All-American. The Portillo brothers, who are freshmen at South Dakota State, are in the field, along with Minnesota Gopher wrestler Skyler Petry. A possible walk-up is 2010 World Team member Obe Blanc, who was beaten in the round of 12 at the U.S. Open this year.

61 kg/134 lbs. Pre-registered athletes
Daniel Deshazer (Minnesota Storm)
Darrius Little (Lehigh Valley WC)
Jayson Ness (Minnesota Storm)
Joey Lazor (Panther WC RTC)
Shelton Mack (Titan Mercury WC)

Deshazer was eighth at the U.S. Open in April, just missing the qualifying standard of the top seven to qualify for Lincoln. Little was knocked out of the Open in the round of 12. Ness, who was third in the 2016 U.S. World Team Trials at this weight, was also beaten in consolations at the Open, losing a 4-4 match to veteran star Andrew Hochstrasser, who was then beaten in the round of 12. Hochstrasser may be the best of the round of 12 guys at the Open who have not pre-registered. Lazor, the former UNI star, was beaten in the U.S. Open consolations by eventual qualifier Chris Dardanes. The other pre-registrant, Mack, has also been very active on the Senior freestyle circuit.

65 kg/143 lbs. Pre-registered athletes
Anthony Abidin (Valley RTC)
Deondre Wilson (Indiana Pride)
Henry Pohlmeyer (Jackrabbit WC)
Jaydin Eierman (Missouri Wrestling Foundation)
Mario Mason (Lehigh Valley WC)
Robbie Mathers (Sunkist Kids)
Yayha Thomas (Chicago RTC)

Former Rutgers and Minnesota wrestler Mason was eighth in the U.S. Open in Las Vegas, just one victory shy of making the field in Lincoln. Three of the wrestlers who were knocked out in the round of 12 at the U.S. Open have pre-registered for the Last Chance Qualifier, Anthony Abidin, Deondre Wilson and Jaydin Eierman. Of these, Missouri freshman star Eierman has been making rapid progress. Another veteran freestyler in the pre-registration is Robbie Mathers, who was eighth at the 2015 U.S. Open. Mathers wrestled at the U.S. Open up at 70 kg.

70 kg/154 lbs. Pre-Registered athletes
Dylan Ness (Minnesota Storm)
Elroy Perkin (WI-Eau Claire)
Joshua Nolan (Legends of Gold)
Santiago Martinez (Lehigh Valley AC)
Tony Tolbert (Pennsylvania RTC)

Ness is the only prominent pre-registered wrestler in the field. He reached the U.S. Open quarterfinals, where he was beaten by eventual champion James Green, then was knocked out in the round of 12 by talented Chase Pami. Ness won the Northern Plains Senior Regionals in 2010 and 2011 when they were World Team Trials qualifiers. The other well-known name in this list is former Lehigh star Santiago Martinez, who was fourth in the 2016 Last Chance Qualifier. The other round of 12 losers from the 2017 U.S. Open who have not registered include Hunter Stieber, Jake Sueflohn and Grant LaMont.

74 kg/163 lbs. Pre-Registered athletes
Alfred Daniel (Rochester)
Brett Bye (Jackrabbit WC)
Colten Carlson (Pennock)
Dan Vallimont (New York AC/Pennsylvania RTC)
Michael Schmitz (Stewartville WC)
Nick Wanzek (Minnesota Storm)
Sean Havlovic (Legends of Gold)

Vallimont placed eighth at this weight class at the Open in Las Vegas, just falling short of qualifying. Vallimont was seventh at the 2013 U.S. Open and has medalled in past Bill Farrell Internationals and Dave Schultz Memorials. Sean Havlovic was knocked out at the U.S. Open in the consolation round prior to the round of 12. Minnesota NCAA qualifier Nick Wanzek is among the best known of the others on the list. A big question is whether or not Isaiah Martinez is among the walkup entries, since he is capable of winning this weight if he enters.

86 kg/189 lbs. Pre-Registered athletes
Michael Kelly (Old School Wrestling)
Nolan Funk (Jackrabbit WC)
Robert Jordan (Jackrabbit WC)
Skyler Gonzalez (AL-unattached)

The most prominent name on this list is seven-time Grappling World medalist Michael Kelly, who still enters Senior-level freestyle and Greco-Roman events even though he is often double the age of some of his opponents. Two South Dakota State wrestlers are entered, Nolan Funk and Robert Jordan. Among the notable Round of 12 losers from the U.S. Open who are not pre-registered are Pete Renda and Josh Asper.

97 kg/213 lbs. Pre-Registered athletes
Chase O’Connor (Minnesota Storm)
Hayden Zillmer (Minnesota Storm)
Jacob Kasper (Blue Blood WC)
Joshua Manu (Navy-Marine Corps Mat Club)

The top two wrestlers among those who pre-registered have strong Greco-Roman backgrounds, Hayden Zillmer and Jacob Kasper. Zillmer, who was an All-American at North Dakota State, was second at the World Team Trials in Greco-Roman this year and third in Greco at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials. Kasper, an All-American heavyweight at Duke, was sixth in the Greco-Roman World Team Trials this year, and also seventh in the 2016 U.S. Open in Greco. Kasper is talking about wanting another match with Kyle Snyder, who beat Kasper in the NCAA semifinals this year, and will need to win the Last Chance Qualifier for a longshot chance to wrestle Snyder in Lincoln. Josh Manu is another freestyle veteran athlete and lost in the round of 12 at the U.S. Open.

125 kg/275 lbs. Pre-Registered athletes
Benjamin Durbin (Titan Mercury WC)
Blake Wolters (Jackrabbit WC)
Blaize Cabell (Valley RTC)
Braden Atwood (Sunkist Kids)

Durbin was the eighth-place finisher at 125 kg at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas, just a match shy of making the World Team Trials field. Durbin has won medals at the last two Dave Schultz Memorials. Former UNI star Blaize Cabell, who was a round of 12 competitor at 96 kg at the U.S. Open, wrestled at heavyweight in college and could be a factor at the higher weight. Atwood, who was a top college wrestler for Purdue, was beaten in the round of 12 at the U.S. Open.