Photo: Kurt McHenry of Maryland after defeating Malik Heinselman at Who's #1. Courtesy of Flowrestling.
BETHLEHEM, Pa. – The nation’s best high school wrestlers went head-to-head to determine the top-ranked wrestler in each weight at Flowrestling’s Who’s #1, which took place at Lehigh University’s Leeman-Turner Arena at Grace Hall on Sunday afternoon.
The dual followed collegiate folkstyle rules with a five-minute first-takedown sudden victory in overtime situations.
The event opened with two upsets, including an exciting match at 113 pounds with No. 1 and three-time age-group World Team member Malik Heinselman of Colorado taking on two-time Cadet World champion and second-ranked Kurt McHenry of Maryland.
McHenry maintained control of the first two periods, holding a 5-2 lead going into the final period, where eight points were scored between the two. With just over a minute left, Heinselman threw McHenry for a takedown and followed up with a two-point nearfall to take over the lead, 7-5. However, World champion McHenry responded with an escape to trail by one before scoring a takedown on the restart with three seconds left in the match to steal an 8-7 win.
“I just wanted to score, score, score,” McHenry said. “I wanted [the win] bad. I didn’t want the ranking. I had never beaten him before so it feels good to get the win over him.”
At 120 pounds, 2017 Junior Freestyle national champion and fourth-ranked Patrick McKee of Minnesota knocked off 2017 Cadet World Team member and No. 1 Robert Howard of New Jersey in another match that came down to the wire.
With the pair tied after the second period, 3-3, McKee kicked it up a notch, beginning the final period with an escape before hitting an insane lateral drop to extend his lead to 6-3. With just 17 ticks on the clock, Howard scored on a reversal and quickly cut McKee to look for score-tying takedown, but it was not enough as McKee earned a 7-5 upset win.
Not only did the dual open with a pair of upsets but it also closed with a pair of upsets from the co-main event and the main event.
At 195 pounds, 2017 Cadet World bronze medalist Gavin Hoffman of Pennsylvania knocked off in-state rival and long-standing top-ranked wrestler Michael Beard, 7-6.
Hoffman struck first on a reattack early in the first period and never fell behind. Beard tied up the bout in each the second and third periods but it was Hoffman’s resilience that earned him the No. 1 spot in the country.
The night’s main event was a rematch of the 2017 Junior Freestyle Nationals semifinals, where three-time Fargo champion and third-ranked Sammy Sasso of Pennsylvania took back the No. 1-spot over 2017 Junior Freestyle national champion and No. 1 Anthony Artalona of Florida in front of a raucous home crowd.
After a scoreless first period, Artalona was first on the board with an escape but his lead didn’t last long as Sasso locked up a cradle in a scramble and pinned Artalona with 10 seconds left in the second period.
“I knew I had to come out here and put the pressure on him because I knew he was going to try to slow me down with his ties,” Sasso said. “I had to keep my feet moving and get after it. That was my game plan.”
Other upsets of the night included No. 3 Pat Glory of New Jersey defeating Who’s #1 veteran and No. 2-ranked Gavin Teasdale, 3-0, at 126 pounds and No. 2 Joey Silva of Florida edging out No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young of Arizona in sudden victory, 3-1, at 132 pounds.
Remaining undisputed in their No. 1 rankings were Trent Hidlay, Jacori Teemer and David Carr.
Hidlay of Pennsylvania faced No. 2 Julian Ramirez of Florida, both Fargo runners-up. The bout was knotted 1-1 at the end of regulation with each athlete picking up an escape. The match went to sudden victory, where Hidlay put Ramirez to his back for a pin just 20 seconds in.
2017 Cadet World bronze medalist Teemer of New York came in No. 1 and left as the No. 1 wrestler at 138 pounds, defeating No. 3 Mitch Moore of Ohio with a second-period Peterson roll and two-point nearfall in the second period, which led to a 4-2 win.
At 160 pounds, Carr, a four-time Ohio state champion, faced familiar foe No. 2 Joe Lee, a two-time Indiana state champion. All of Carr’s scoring came in the third period, when he notched an escape to open the period and picked up a takedown and three-point nearfall inside the final 30 seconds of the bout for a 6-1 win. It was Carr’s second Who’s #1 win.
“Wrestling is a fun sport and I’ve been here before, so I knew what to expect, and I just wanted to have a great time. I just wrestled my match. Whatever was there, I just took it,” Carr said.
Who’s #1 rolled out its first female match in event history, pitting 2016 Cadet World bronze medalists Gracie Figueroa of California and Macey Kilty of Wisconsin against each other in the night’s only freestyle match to determine the No. 1 pound-for-pound women’s high school wrestler.
2017 Cadet and Junior World Team member Figueroa used her low singles to slow down Kilty, who was the 2017 Cadet and Junior freestyle national champion. Kilty managed to score on exposure late in the first period and a pair of step outs in the third, but it was Figueroa who had her hand raised in a 6-4 victory.
“I feel like I should have wrestled a little better, but it’s alright. I just have to learn from my mistakes,” Figueroa said. “I just tried not to think about who I was wrestling. I just worried about myself and wrestled the way I wrestle.”
With the absence of No. 1 Will Lewan at 152 pounds, No. 2 Brayton Lee of Indiana defeated No. 6 Justin McCoy of Pennsylvania in a 7-3 decision.
at Bethlehem, Pa.
113: No. 2 Kurt McHenry (MD) dec. No. 1 Malik Heinselman (CO), 8-7
120: No. 4 Patrick McKee (MN) dec. No. 1 Robert Howard (NJ), 7-5
170: No. 1 Trent Hidlay (PA) fall No. 2 Julian Ramirez (FL), 6:20 SV
152: No. 2 Brayton Lee (IN) dec. No. 6 Justin McCoy (PA), 7-3
126: No. 3 Pat Glory (NJ) dec. No. 2 Gavin Teasdale (PA), 3-0
132: No. 2 Joey Silva (FL) dec. No. 1 Roman Bravo-Young (AZ), 3-1 SV
138: No. 1 Jacori Teemer (NY) dec. No. 3 Mitch Moore (OH), 4-2
160: No. 1 David Carr (OH) dec. No. 2 Joe Lee (IN), 6-1
125: No. 1 Gracie Figueroa (CA) dec. No. 1 Macey Kilty (WI), 6-4
195: No. 2 Gavin Hoffman (PA) dec. No. 1 Michael Beard (PA), 7-6
145: No. 3 Sammy Sasso (PA) fall No. 1 Anthony Artalona (FL), 3:50