USA Wrestling Nation’s top young w...

Nation’s top young wrestlers expected for U.S. Marine Corps Junior & 16U Nationals in Fargo, N.D., July 13-19

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | July 08, 2019, 2:16 p.m. (ET)

Mason Gehloff of Minnesota was a 16U Triple Crown winner last year, and is eligible to return to Fargo to seek more gold. Photo by Jim Thrall,

FARGO, N.D. - Every year, the nation's best young wrestlers come together for the world's largest wrestling competition, the U.S Marine Corps Junior and 16U Nationals at the Fargodome on the campus of North Dakota State in Fargo, N.D.

This competition produces great stories of champions, many who go on to glory in college wrestling, and ultimately at the World and Olympic levels. This marks the 49th anniversary of the Junior Nationals event, which was first held in 1971 in Iowa City, Iowa.

The tournament is scheduled for July 13-19 and will feature outstanding wrestlers in every weight class. USA Wrestling has official state association team standings in all the divisions held in Fargo, adding to the tradition of state wrestling pride exhibited at this event.

For six straight days, starting on Sunday, July 14 and running through Friday, July 19, there will be one championship finals held each day.

The U.S. Marine Corps Junior Nationals features high school wrestlers in grades 9-12. Every year, the Junior division features talented athletes who are proven winners, as well as many top young stars who are making names for themselves.

For the third straight year, the event opens with men’s and women’s freestyle early in the week, with Greco-Roman in the second half of the week.

Only seven different wrestlers have won the coveted USA Wrestling Triple Crown on the Junior level since the program was created in 2007, earned by claiming folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman Junior National titles in the same year. In 2018, Anthony Cassioppi of Illinois won the Triple Crown at 285 pounds, winning this major honor for the second straight year. He became only the second wrestler to win back-to-back Junior Triple Crowns, along with Adam Coon of Michigan in 2012 and 2013. Cassioppi is now in college at Iowa.

2018 Junior National freestyle champions who are eligible to return are Joseph Fischer of Pennsylvania (100), Wil Guida of New Jersey (106), Cullan Schriever of Iowa (113), Eric Barnett of Wisconsin (120), Michael Colaiocco of New Jersey (126), Jordan Decatur of Ohio (132), Keegan O’Toole of Wisconsin (138), Bryce Andonian of Ohio (145), Carson Kharchla of Ohio (170) and Luke Luffman of Illinois (220).

2018 Junior freestyle runners-up who can return include Ronan Schuelke of Illinois (100), Aden Reeves of Iowa (120), Reece Witcraft of Oklahoma (126), Ridge Lovett of Idaho (132), Gabriel Tagg of Ohio (138), Dustin Plott of Oklahoma (170), Peter Christensen of Illinois (195), Jace Punke of Illinois (220) and Nash Hutmacher of South Dakota (285).

2018 Junior National Greco-Roman champions who are eligible to compete in Fargo are Eli Griffin of Oklahoma (100), Brenden Chaowanapibool of Washington (106), Paxton Creese of Minnesota (113), King Sandoval of Virginia (126), Ridge Lovett of Idaho (132), Kyle Parco of California (138), Cael Carlson of Minnesota (145), Alex Cramer of Illinois (170) and Jace Punke of Illinois (220).

Runners-up in the 2018 Junior Greco-Roman Nationals who can return are Christian Tanefeu of North Dakota (100), Ryan Rowland of Florida (113), Chayse Lajoie of Michigan (120), Austin Almaguer of Washington (126), Delon Kanari of Illinois (132), Dawson Sihavong of California (138), Donnell Washington of Illinois (160), Christopher Foca of New Jersey (170), Guillermo Escobedo of California (195) and Luke Luffman of Illinois (220).

Many of last year's 16U National champions are expected to move up into the Junior ranks this year and challenge for titles and All-American honors.

Last year, Illinois was the Junior Nationals team champion in both Greco-Roman and freestyle. Placing behind Illinois in freestyle were Ohio, Iowa, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. In Greco-Roman, the teams behind Illinois were Washington, California, Iowa and Minnesota.

Another indication of the strength of the state teams are the results from the 2019 Junior National Duals, held this June in Tulsa, Okla. In Greco-Roman, Illinois won the team title, beating Minnesota in the finals, followed by California, Oklahoma and Washington. In freestyle, Oklahoma won the team championship, stopping Illinois in the finals, followed by Ohio, Iowa and California.

The women's Junior freestyle division, now in its 17th year, has grown in size and quality every season, and promises to be very competitive again this year.

2018 Junior National women’s champions eligible to return are Emily Shilson of Minnesota (100), Mia Palumbo of Illinois (106), Alexys Zepeda of Oregon (122), Xochitl Mota-Pettis of Texas (127), Macey Kilty of Wisconsin (152), Tristan Kelly of Colorado (164) and Gabrielle Holloway of Texas (225).

2018 Junior National women’s runners-up eligible to return are Sage Mortimer of Utah (100), Caitlyn Walker of Pennsylvania (106), Peyton Prussin of Nevada (112), Phoenix Dubose of Washington (117), Louisa Schwab of Illinois (127), Aine Drury of California (138), Jerzie Estrada of Colorado (144), Kaylynn Albrecht of Texas (152), Jaycee Foeller of Missouri (180), Adelina Parra of California (200) and Alyssa Alvarez of Texas (225).

Last year, the Junior National team champion in women’s freestyle was California, with Washington in second place and Texas in third place, followed by fourth-place Wisconsin and fifth-place Colorado.

The Women’s Junior Duals was held for the second straight year in Tulsa, Okla., alongside the boys event. The 2019 Women’s National Duals champion was Illinois, which beat Washington in the finals. It was the first Junior Women’s Duals title for Illinois in the women’s division. Placing third was Texas, with California fourth and Colorado fifth.

The 16U Nationals (previously called the Cadet Nationals) are for wrestlers who are 15 and 16 years old, some of the best young talents in the country.

There have been only 23 different wrestlers to win a 16U Triple Crown since the program began in 2003. In 2018, there was only one 16U Triple Crown winner, Mason Gehloff of Minnesota (88 and 94 lbs.). Gehloff is eligible to return at the 16U level, and can become only the second two-time 16U Triple Crown winner, joining Taylor Massa of Michigan (2008, 2009).

Joining Gehloff as 2018 16U National freestyle champions who are eligible to return are Maxximus Martinez of California (94), Jordan Williams of Oklahoma (100), Nicolar Rivera of Wisconsin (106), Tate Picklo of Oklahoma (152), Noah Pettigrew of Georgia (195) and Hayden Copass of Illinois (285).

2018 16U National freestyle runners-up who are eligible to return are Jore Volk of Minnesota (88), Carter Fousek of Iowa (94), Daniel Cardenas of Colorado (113), Manuel Rojas of Michigan (152) and Kolby Franklin of Pennsylvania (195).

Along with Gehloff, the 2018 16U National Greco-Roman champions who are eligible to return are Kaden Ramos of Idaho (88), Kendyl Mobley of Washington (100), Damien Lopez of Illinois (132), Robert Perez III of California (145) and Kolby Franklin of Pennsylvania (195).

2018 16U National Greco-Roman runners-up who are eligible to return are Daniel Sheen of Illinois (88), Kai Owen of Florida (94), Keith Crosby of Colorado (106), Joey Cape of Illinois (113), John Wiley of Oklahoma (120) and Gage Cook of Washington (220).

Last year, Pennsylvania was the 16U team champion in freestyle, followed by Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois and New Jersey. In Greco-Roman, the 16U team champion was Illinois, with Washington, Pennsylvania, Minnesota and California as the next teams in the standings.

The 2018 16U National Duals were held in Spokane, Wash. this June and showcased many of the stars expected in Fargo. Minnesota was the champion in both styles, and defeated Illinois in the championship bout both times. Rounding out the Greco-Roman team placers were Georgia in third, Iowa in fourth and Washington in fifth. In freestyle, following Minnesota and Illinois in the standings were Pennsylvania, Georgia and Iowa.

Last year was the eighth year that there was a 16U National tournament for girls in Fargo, and the tournament continues to grow in size and intensity.

2018 16U National women’s freestyle champions who are eligible to return are Sterling Dias of Nevada (94), Sage Mortimer of Utah (100), Mia Palumbo of Illinois (106), Ally Fitzgerald of New York (112), Adriana Dorado-Marin of Colorado (117), Alexys Zepeda of Oregon (122), Kennedy Blades of Illinois (152) and Olivia Brown of Oklahoma (200).

2018 16U National women’s freestyle runners-up who are eligible to return are Ava Bayless of Pennsylvania (94), Charlotte Kouyoumtjian of California (112), Lily Sherer of Pennsylvania (132), Sara Sulejmani of Illinois (138), Sydney Manos of Illinois (144) and Katja Osteen of California (164).

California won the 2018 16U Cadet National women’s freestyle team title followed by New York, Illinois, Washington and Pennsylvania.

For the third straight year, will be announcing state team rosters prior to Fargo as they are received, to give fans a chance to see what star wrestlers plan to be in Fargo and what teams should be strong this time around. Check each day this week for more rosters.

The U.S. Marine Corps Junior Nationals and the 16U Nationals brings together hundreds of wrestling volunteers, including referees, pairing officials, coaches, state leaders and tournament operation workers, all who provide the opportunity for more than 4,000 athletes to pursue their dreams.

All of the matches on all of the mats from the 2019 U.S. Marine Corps Junior & 16U Nationals will be broadcast live on Flo Wrestling.

For updated articles, features and results from Fargo, visit (

Sunday, July 14 – 16U Women’s Freestyle Finals at 1:30 p.m. CT
Monday, July 15 – 16U Men’s Freestyle Finals at 1:00 p.m. CT
Tuesday, July 16 – Junior Men’s Freestyle Finals at 1:00 p.m. CT
Wednesday, July 17 – Junior Women’s Freestyle Finals at 1:30 p.m. CT
Thursday, July 18 – 16U Greco-Roman Finals at 1:30 p.m. CT
Friday, July 19 – Junior Greco-Roman Finals at 2:00 p.m. CT