USA Wrestling Illinois wins Junior...

Illinois wins Junior Men’s Freestyle Wells Fargo Cup for third year in a row, Ayala is sole wrestler remaining in Triple Crown hunt

By Mike Willis, USA Wrestling | July 16, 2019, 6:28 p.m. (ET)

Drake Ayala of Iowa picked up a Junior men's freestyle title this afternoon. He is the only Junior wrestler still in contention 

Fargo, N.D. - Illinois won their third, straight Junior Men’s Freestyle Wells Fargo Cup this afternoon in the Fargodome. In the finals, they earned four individual champions. The fifth Illinois finalist lost to a fellow member of Team Illinois.

Of the four finalists that were still eligible for the prestigious Triple Crown, Iowa’s Drake Ayala was the only wrestler to win a title and stay in contention. In the 113 pound final, he defeated Nico Provo of Connecticut by technical fall, 19-8.

Ayala rushed out to a 5-0 lead to open the match. Provo picked up a takedown and transitioned into a leg lace, earning three turns to make the score 8-5. After that, it was all Ayala. He picked up five takedowns, a step out and a turn to earn the technical fall.

Jace Luchau of California earned the Tournament’s Outstanding Wrestler award. He defeated West Virginia’s John Martin Best in the 152 pound finals, 8-2. Luchau hit a headlock for four points in the first period and a blast double for four points in the second period to cement his win. Luchau defeated two 2018 Junior Nationals champions earlier in the bracket. In the semifinals he took out Junior men’s freestyle champion Keegan O’Toole of Wisconsin, 12-7, and in the quarterfinals he bested Junior Greco-Roman Champion Cael Carlson of Minnesota, 10-0.

West Virginia’s Braxton Amos won the title at 220 pounds without allowing a single point scored against him. In the finals, he defeated Dorian Crosby of Pennsylvania, 10-0. Amos earned six technical falls in six matches, outscoring his opponents 64-0.

Illinois first champion came at 100 pounds where Daniel Sheen defeated Iowa’s Brandon O’Brien, 2-1. Sheen scored a takedown to open the match. O’Brien scored a step out late in the second period, but it wasn’t enough. With his victory, Sheen ended O’Brien’s bid for a Triple Crown.

The next Illinois champion was Anthony Molton at 120 pounds. He defeated 2018 16U champion Jakason Burks of Nebraska in a wild 17-16 match. Molton earned two takedowns and a turn to take a 6-0 lead. Burks scored the next ten points off three takedowns and two turns to take control. The two swapped leads over the next several minutes in wild flurries of action. Trailing 15-13 towards the end of the second period, Molton scored a go-behind takedown for two points followed by a leg lace to make it 17-15. Burks scored a step out in the closing seconds, but Molton took the match 17-16.

Abe Assad was the next wrestler for Illinois to take home a title. He won a loaded bracket at 182 pounds defeating the current No. 1 wrestler in the country Dustin Plott of Oklahoma, 8-2. Assad, a 2018 Cadet bronze medalist, will attend the University of Iowa in the fall.

Illinois was guaranteed a title in the last match of the session when Luke Luffman and Aydin Guttridge wrestled in the 285 pound final. Both members of Team Illinois, Luffman controlled a 4-1 decision. Luffman became a repeat Junior men’s freestyle champion. He was the only wrestler to accomplish that this tournament.

In an impressive display at 170 pounds, No. 1 in the country, Patrick Kennedy of Minnesota defeated No. 3 in the country Gerrit Nijenhuis of Pennsylvania, 10-0. Kennedy used two takedowns, two step outs and two turns to lock up the first period technical fall.

2018 16U champion, Dominick Serrano of Colorado picked up a Junior title this afternoon. He defeated Michael Burnett of Ohio, 10-0, in the 132 pound finals. He ended it in the first period with two takedowns, two turns off a leg lace and a turn off a gut wrench.

In a battle of two highly credentialed wrestlers, 2018 Cadet World Team member Josh Saunders of Missouri defeated nine-time Fargo All-American Ridge Lovett of Nebraska in the 138 pound finals. Lovett, another wrestler in contention for a Triple Crown, held a 3-1 lead in the second period. Saunders was able to get a takedown and a turn off a leg lace to earn a 5-3 victory.

At 160 pounds Padraic Gallagher of Ohio earned a 12-2 technical fall over Cade DeVos of Iowa. Gallagher took an 8-0 lead into the break. DeVos was able to earn a takedown to start the second period, but Gallagher would come back with two takedowns of his own to take the match.

Anthony Echemendia of Arizona was a virtual unknown coming into the tournament. A year ago Echemendia defected from Cuba. He won a state title this past high school season, and earned a National title this afternoon defeating Ohio’s Victor Voinovich, 10-4, in the 145 pound finals.

Another unexpected champion was California’s Jonovan Smith at 195 pounds. Smith was a state runner-up this season. He defeated Pennsylvania’s Cole Urbas in the finals, 11-5.

Another champion for California was Andre Gonzales at 106 pounds. Gonzales, the No. 5 wrestler in the country, earned a pin over Minnesota’s Blake West, the No. 6 wrestler in the country. Leading 15-7, Gonzales put West to his back to pick up the fall with five seconds left in the match.

Angelo Rini of Ohio took home the title at 126 pounds. He defeated Ethan Miller of Missouri, 14-4. Rini got out in front with a 6-0 lead, but Miller battled back to cut the score to 6-4. In the second period, Rini picked up a takedown which he transitioned into a leg lace. Three turns later, he was the champion.

This was the last day of men’s freestyle Action. Tomorrow will feature Cadet Greco-Roman and Junior women’s wrestling. It can be watched live on Flowrestling.


100 pounds

1st - Daniel Sheen (Illinois) dec. Brandon O’Brien (Iowa), 2-1

3rd - Cael Keck (Missouri) dec. Samuel Hayes (Illinois), 6-2

5th - Andrew Dalrymple (Alaska) pin Cameron Hines (Connecticut), 3:38

7th - Robert Gardner (Pennsylvania) tech. fall Noah Savageau (North Dakota), 13-2, 3:00


106 pounds

1st - Andre Gonzales (California) fall Blake West (Minnesota), 19-7, 5:55

3rd - Eli Griffin (Oklahoma) tech. fall  Kelly Dunnigan (New Jersey), 10-0, 0:43

5th - Kenny Sailas (Colorado) pin Caleb- Coyle (Nebraska), 3:57

7th - Elijah Rivera (New York) dec. Quade Smith (Utah), 8-4


113 pounds

1st - Drake Ayala (Iowa) tech. fall Nico Provo (Connecticut), 19-8, 4:44

3rd - Jeremiah Reno (Missouri) pin Yusief Lillie (Washington), 3:00

5th - Joziah Fry (Rhode Island) tech. fall Aedyn Concepcion (Alaska), 12-0, 1:59

7th - Cruz Aguilar (Oklahoma) tech. fall Angelo Lozado (Colorado), 10-0, 1:43


120 pounds

1st - Anthony Molton (Illinois) dec. Jakason Burks (Nebraska) 17-16

3rd - Chayse La joie (Michigan) tech. fall Destin Summers (Idaho), 11-1, 5:23

5th - Jackson Cockrell (Oklahoma) dec. Joseph Thompson (Minnesota), 10-8

7th - Cooper Flynn (Tennessee) dec. Richard Sandoval (California), 6-5


126 pounds

1st - Angelo Rini (Ohio) tech. fall Ethen Miller (Missouri), 14-4, 4:05

3rd - Wyatt Henson (Missouri) tech.fall Kyle Burwick (North Dakota), 17-6 5:50

5th - Cameron Johnson (Illinois) tech. fall Jayden Gomez (California), 14-3 3:56

7th - Carter Young (Oklahoma) tech. fall Camden Russell (Nebraska), 10-0 0:59


132 pounds

1st - Dominick Serrano (Colorado) tech. fall Michael Burnett (Ohio), 10-0, 2:58

3rd - Cael Happel (Iowa) tech. fall Nathaniel Pulliam (Missouri), 11-1 2:01

5th - Mosha Schwartz (Colorado) dec. Domenic Zaccone (Illinois), 11-5

7th - Trey Crawford (Missouri) tech. fall Drew Roberts (Washington), 12-1 3:20


138 pounds

1st - Joshua Saunders (Missouri) dec. Ridge Lovett (Idaho), 5-3

3rd - Lachlan Mcneil (Pennsylvania) dec. Samuel Hillegas (Pennsylvania), 10-3

5th - Caleb Henson (Georgia) no contest Caden Mccrary (Georgia)

7th - Marcos Polanco (California) pin Luke Sloan (Texas), 1:37


145 pounds

1st - Anthony Echemendia (Arizona) dec. Victor Voinovich (Ohio) 10-4

3rd - Manzona Bryant (Ohio) pin Chance Mclane (Montana), 12-3 5:10

5th - Joseph Zargo (New Jersey) tech. fall Maxx Mayfield (Nebraska), 12-1 1:33

7th - Joshua Ogunsanya (Illinois) tech. fall Gabe Miller (Pennsylvania), 19-9 5:40


152 pounds

1st - Jace Luchau (California) dec. John Martin Best (West Virginia) 8-2

3rd - Keegan O'toole (Wisconsin) tech fall Chase Saldate (California), 14-3 5:51

5th - Daniel Manibog (Texas) tech. fall Legend Lamer (Oregon), 11-0 1:57

7th - Derek Gilcher (Michigan) tech. fall Cael Carlson (Minnesota), 17-6 6:00


160 pounds

1st - Padraic Gallagher (Ohio) tech fall Cade Devos (Iowa) 12-2, 2:20

3rd - Baylor Fernandes (Illinois) tech. fall Colby Njos (Minnesota), 14-2 5:22

5th - Dajun Johnson (Wisconsin) tech. fall David Rubio (Oregon), 11-0 2:36

7th - Luke Surber (Oklahoma) tech. fall Bilal Bailey (Illinois), 10-0 1:47


170 pounds

1st - Patrick Kennedy (Minnesota) tech. fall Gerrit Nijenhuis (Pennsylvania) 10-0. 2:20

3rd - Nevan Snodgrass (Ohio) tech. fall Gavin Kane (Georgia), 10-0 4:44

5th - Alex Cramer (Illinois) dec. Lance Runyon (Iowa), 11-4

7th - Connor Oneill (New Jersey) forfeit Trent Munoz (California)


182 pounds

1st - Abe Assad (Illinois) dec. Dustin Plott (Oklahoma) 8-2

3rd - Parker Keckeisen (Wisconsin) dec. Rocky Elam (Missouri), 6-2

5th - Luke Stout (Pennsylvania) dec. Zach Glazier (Minnesota), 13-9

7th - Christopher Foca (New Jersey) tech. fall John Poznanski (New Jersey), 12-2 1:55


195 pounds

1st - Jonovan Smith (California) dec. Cole Urbas (Pennsylvania) 11-5

3rd - Ethan Hatcher (Ohio) tech. fall Isaac Trumble (Nebraska), 10-0 0:38

5th - Vincent Baker (Georgia) tech fall Matthew Cover (Ohio), 11-0 3:55

7th - Samuel Mitchell (Wisconsin) pin Michael Baker (Ohio), 1:04


220 pounds

1st - Braxton Amos (West Virginia) tech. fall Dorian Crosby (Pennsylvania) 10-0, 2:23

3rd - Cade Lautt (Kansas) tech fall Konner Doucet (Oklahoma), 10-0 1:12

5th - Gabe Christenson (Iowa) pin Daniel Striggow (Minnesota), 5:59

7th - Cody Fisher (Iowa) dec. Cabe Dickerson (Oklahoma), 5-4


285 pounds

1st - Luke Luffman (Illinois) dec. Aydin Guttridge (Illinois) 4-1

3rd - Nash Hutmacher (South Dakota) dec. Spencer Trenary (Iowa), 13-4

5th - Joshua Heindselman (Oklahoma) inj. dft Roberto Pena (Illinois)

7th - Braxton Mikesell (Washington) tech. fall John Wiese (Oklahoma), 10-0 1:08


Outstanding Wrestler – Jace Luchau (California)

Most Falls – Alex Coleman (Ohio)


Team Standings

1. Illinois, 51

2. Ohio, 42

3. Iowa, 40

4. Missouri, 37

5. Pennsylvania, 34

6. Oklahoma, 32

7. California, 31

8. Minnesota, 30

9. Nebraska, 19

10. Wisconsin, 18

11. West Virginia, 15

12. (tie) Colorado and New Jersey, 13

14. (tie) Georgia and  Idaho, 12    

16. Connecticut, 10

17. (tie) Arizona, Michigan and Washington, 8

20. Alaska, 7

21. (tie) Kansas, North Dakota, Oregon and South Dakota, 6

25. (tie) Montana and Texas, 5

27. Rhode Island, 4

28. New York and Tennessee, 2

30. Utah, 1