Freestyle WTT Challenge Tournament previews at 125 kg men and 76 kg women

By Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling | May 16, 2018, 5:58 p.m. (ET)

For 10 straight days, TheMat.com will post two previews each day for the Freestyle World Team Trials Challenge Tournament, set for Rochester, Minn., May 18-20. One of the previews will be in men’s freestyle, with the other in women’s freestyle.

This is a closed tournament, in which the athletes in the field must have qualified, based upon approved Team Selection Procedures in each style. The winners of each of the 20 weight classes advance to one of the three Final X series events in June.

In weight classes in which there was a 2017 World medalist, the 2018 U.S. Open champion advances directly to the best-of-three Championships Series in Rochester. In the weight classes without a 2017 World medalist, the U.S. Open champion has advanced directly to Final X and nobody sits out to the finals series in Rochester.

Today, we provide previews in men’s freestyle at 125 kg and women’s freestyle at 76 kg.

MEN’S FREESTYLE 125 KG

As a weight class with a World medalist, U.S. Open champion Adam Coon advanced directly to the best-of-three Championship Series in Rochester. To secure his spot in the challenge tournament, Coon defeated 2012 Olympic champion Jake Varner in the U.S. Open finals, 3-1.

Coon, a Junior World bronze medalist in both freestyle and Greco, defeated other big names in Vegas, including multiple-time National Team member Dom Bradley and three-time age-group World champion Gable Steveson. Coon tallied a 3-3 decision over Bradley, after scoring an 11-0 tech fall over Steveson.

A 2016 Olympic Team Trials runner-up in Greco, Coon also competed also in the Greco bracket of the Open, taking second to veteran Robby Smith.

Varner, an Olympic champ and 2011 World bronze medalist, is expected to enter the field, making this one of the most competitive weights in Rochester.

At the Open, Varner wrestled freestyle for the first time since the 2016 Olympic Team Trials. Prior to that, he had won spots on the Senior World Team in 2009, 2011 and 2014. Varner also owns a gold medal from the 2011 Pan American Games, a 2014 U.S. Open national title and two NCAA championships (2009, 2010).

Taking third at the Open was six-time National Team member Bradley, who already has two U.S. Open titles to his name. Bradley was already qualified for the Challenge Tournament before the Open, claiming a gold medal at the 20th Annual Dave Schultz Memorial International in November.

A 2009 Junior World champion Bradley is a veteran on the scene and has collected several international medals over the years, including back-to-back gold medals at the 2016 and 2017 Pan American Championships.

The youngest entrant this weekend is Gable Steveson, who took fourth at the Open to earn a bid to the Senior tournament this weekend. Last summer, Steveson traveled to Tampere, Finland, where he won the 2017 Junior World Championships as a Cadet-eligible athlete. He was also a 2015 and 2016 Cadet World champion.

Steveson has announced that he will compete in both the Junior World Team Trials and the Senior World Team Trials Challenge Tournament as both will be held in Rochester, Minn., this weekend.

The other three qualifiers in this weight include Anthony Nelson, Tanner Hall and Mike Kosoy.

Nelson, who was fifth at the Open, made his first Senior National Team last summer, taking third at World Team Trials. Nelson is also a two-time NCAA champion for Minnesota with four All-American honors. Internationally, one of Nelson’s biggest wins was a gold-medal performance at the 2017 Outstanding Ukrainian Memorial. He also holds medals from events like Yasar Dogu, Bill Farrell International, Dave Schultz Memorial and Cerro Pelado.

Finishing sixth at the Open was Hall, who is an All-American for Arizona State. In his Junior-aged days, Hall made the Junior Freestyle World Team in 2011 and 2012. He went on to finish top-10 at the 2012 World Championships in Pattaya, Thailand.

With a seventh-place finish at the Open, Kosoy is the final qualifier. Although he had limited freestyle experience, Kosoy won gold medals at the 2017 Maccabiah Games in both freestyle and Greco last summer in Israel.

With all the talent and accolades represented at the weight this weekend, fans can expect to be entertained by this bracket.

The winner of this weight advances to Final X at Lehigh on June 23 to face 2017 World bronze medalist Nick Gwiazdowski of Titan Mercury WC for the World Team spot.

Men’s Freestyle 125 kg

Directly to best-of-three series - 2018 U.S. Open champion – Adam Coon, Fowlerville, Mich. (NYAC/MWC)

Challenge Tournament entries

Nov. 17 Dave Schultz Memorial champion – Dom Bradley, Lincoln, Neb. (Sunkist Kids/Nebraska WTC)

2018 U.S. Open runner-up – Jake Varner, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)

2018 U.S. Open fourth place – Gable Steveson, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)

2018 U.S. Open fifth place – Anthony Nelson, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)

2018 U.S. Open sixth place – Tanner Hall, Meridian, Idaho (Arizona State)

2018 U.S. Open seventh place - Michael Kosoy, Raleigh, N.C. (Titan Mercury WC)

Note: Winner in Rochester advances to Final X at Lehigh on June 23, to face World medalist Nick Gwiazdowski (Titan Mercury WC)

 

WOMEN’S FREESTYLE 76 KG

As a weight class without a World medalist, U.S. Open champion Adeline Gray advanced directly to Final X, and nobody gets to sit out in Rochester. After taking the 2017 season off, Gray is back, defeating Leilani Camargo-Naone in the U.S. Open and just days later, winning the Pan American Championships in Lima, Peru.

There are several current Women’s Collegiate Wrestling Association athletes that qualified for this weight, including two wrestlers who won WCWA national championships earlier this spring, Brittany Marshall of Wayland Baptist, who won at 170 pounds, and Paige Baynes of Grays Harbor, who claimed the crown at 191 pounds.

Marshall is also a 2017 National Team member, taking third at the World Team Trials.

Taking second to Baynes at WCWAs was Camargo-Naone, who was also the runner-up at the U.S. Open, earning a bid to the challenge tournament.

Korinahe Bullock qualified for Rochester when she won the U23 World Team Trials in March and punched her ticket to the U23 World Championships in Bucharest, Romania, which will take place later this year. A 2018 WCWA All-American, Bullock also took fourth at the U.S. Open, falling to Mariah Harris in the bronze bout.

Harris is expected to compete at the event. Last weekend, she advanced to the finals of the Junior World Team Trials but fell short in the best-of-three finals series. Harris is a two-time WCWA All-American, taking second at this year’s national championships.

Winning the Junior World Team Trials and snagging the last qualifying spot at 76 kg was Dymond Guilford, a 2018 WCWA All-American.

Also qualified at the weight is U.S. Open fifth-place finisher and two-time WCWA All-American Nahiela Magee.

Taking over the World Team spot last year in Gray’s absence was Victoria Francis, who is not expected to compete this weekend in Rochester.

The winner of this weight advances to Final X in State College, Pa., on June 16 to face Adeline Gray of New York AC for the World Team spot. Gray advanced to Final X by winning the U.S. Open. Gray is a three-time World champion, five-time World medalist and 2016 Olympian.

Women’s Freestyle 76 kg

Challenge Tournament entries

2017 Senior World Team member at 75 kg – Victoria Francis, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Titan Mercury WC/OTC)

2018 WCWA champion at 170 – Brittany Marshall, Lewisville, Texas (Wayland Baptist)

2018 WCWA champion at 191 – Paige Baynes, Houston, Texas (Grays Harbor)

2018 U23 National champion – Korinahe Bullock, Cahokia, Ill. (Bearcat Takedown Club)

2018 U.S. Open runner-up – Leilani Camargo-Naone, Honolulu, Hawaii (MWC Wrestling Academy)

2018 U.S. Open third place – Mariah Harris, Johnstown, Pa. (Campbellsville University)

2018 U.S. Open fifth place – Nahiela Magee, Lancaster, Pa. (McKendree Bearcat WC)

2018 UWW Junior World Team member – Dymond Guilford, Lancaster, Pa. (Missouri Baptist)

Note: Winner in Rochester advances to Final X at State College on June 16, to face U.S. Open champion Adeline Gray (New York AC)