Fargo Day 6 preview (7/18): Koontz v Cronin U23 Wrestle-off, 16U Greco finals, Junior Greco gets going

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | July 17, 2019, 10:09 p.m. (ET)
Photo of Liam Cronin by Sam Janicki. Photo of Brady Koontz by Tony Rotundo.

WHAT’S NEW: Junior Greco-Roman has three champs back, and nine 2019 freestyle champs in the draw

With 968 entries in the pre-registration, the Junior Greco-Roman event is large and talented. Expect fireworks for sure.

2018 Junior National Greco-Roman champions who are back this year include Ridge Lovett of Idaho (138), Cael Carlson of Minnesota (152) and Jace Punke of Illinois (220). Punke is back at the same weight, while Lovett is up from 132 and Carlson is up from 145.

Runners-up in the 2018 Junior Greco-Roman Nationals who will enter include Ryan Rowland of Florida (106), Chayse Lajoie of Michigan (120), Delon Kanari of Illinois (138), Christopher Foca of New Jersey (182), Guillermo Escobedo of California (220) and Luke Luffman of Illinois (286). Lajoie is the only one at the same weight as last year. Rowland is actually down one weight from 113 last year. Kanari is up from 132, Foca is up from 170, Escobedo is up from 195 and Luffman is up from 220.

An impressive nine 2019 Junior Freestyle champions are also entered in Greco-Roman: Daniel Sheen of Illinois (100) , Andre Gonzales of California (106), Anthony Molton of Illinois (120), Dominick Serrano of Colorado (132), Joshua Saunders of Missouri (138), Anthony Echemendia of Arizona (145), Jace Luchau of California (152), Braxton Amos of West Virginia (220) and Luke Luffman of Illinois (285).

Ironically, the only athlete who was eligible for the Junior Triple Crown after the first two legs (folkstyle, freestyle) is Drake Ayala of Iowa, who did not enter the Greco-Roman.

There are seven 2018 Cadet Greco-Roman champions who have moved up to Junior Greco-Roman this year: Sheldon Seymour of Pennsylvania (113), Haiden Drury of Washington (132), Brayden Roberts of West Virginia (145), Adrien Cramer of Illinois (170), Greyden Penner of Missouri (170), Braxton Mikesell of Washington (285) and Alex Coleman of Ohio (285).

Last year, Illinois was the Junior Nationals team champion in both Greco-Roman, followed by Washington, California, Iowa and Minnesota. At the 2019 Junior National Duals in Greco-Roman, Illinois won the team title, beating Minnesota in the finals, followed by California, Oklahoma and Washington..

U23 MEN’S FREESTYLE SPECIAL WRESTLE-OFF: Brady Koontz vs. Liam Cronin

A Special Wrestle-off for the 55 kg spot on the 2019 U.S. U23 Greco-Roman World Team between 2019 U23 World Team Trials champion Liam Cronin (Orange, Calif./Hoosier WC) and 2019 Final X runner-up Brady Koontz (Plover, Wis./Ohio Regional Training Center) will be held on Thursday, July 18 in Fargo, N.D.

The best-of-three series will take place during the 16U Greco-Roman finals at 2:00 p.m. and will be broadcast live on FloWrestling. The winner of this Special Wrestle-off will represent the United States at the 2019 U23 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, Oct. 28-Nov. 2.

Koontz competes for Ohio State. He was a 2019 Senior World Team Trials Challenge Tournament champion, and has been a member of the 2015 Cadet World Team and the 2018 Junior World Team. Cronin competes for the University of Indiana. Cronin was third in the 2018 U23 World Team Trials in Greco-Roman and was also fourth in the 2017 UWW Junior Freestyle World Team Trials.

WHAT FINISHES: 16U Greco-Roman champions are crowned

The 16U Greco-Roman Nationals will get finished on Thursday, with semifinals in the 9:00 a.m. morning session and finals at the 2:00 p.m. session. Only two 2018 16U Greco-Roman champions have advanced to the semifinals, Robert Perez III of California (145) and Kolby Franklin of Pennsylvania (220).

Of the 2019 16U freestyle champions who entered, those still alive in the semifinals are Franklin, plus Cael Hughes of Oklahoma (94), Jore Volk of Minnesota (100), John Wiley of Oklahoma (138), Leonard Pinto of Pennsylvania (170), Seth Shumate of Ohio (195) and Hayden Copass of Illinois (285). Only Copass remains eligible for the Triple Crown.

THURSDAY SCHEDULE
9:00 am – 12:00 noon - 16U Greco-Roman: Session III Semi-Finals and Consolation
9:00 am – 1:00 p.m. - Junior Greco-Roman: Session I - Preliminaries and Consolations
2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. - 16U Greco-Roman: Session IV Finals, Medal Matches & Awards
2:00 p.m. – conclusion - U23 55 kg Greco-Roman Final X series – Koontz vs. Cronin
4:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. - Junior Greco-Roman: Session II – 1/8 Championship, and Consolations