Nolf bumps up to 74 kg, plus other interesting stories leading into Raleigh's World Team Trials

By Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling | May 14, 2019, 3:56 p.m. (ET)

While registration for this weekend’s World Team Trials Challenge Tournament won’t close until tonight, here are some interesting story lines leading up to the event, which will feature men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman.

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Nolf Going Up
Jason Nolf, who just wrapped up his college career at Penn State, is one of the most dominant wrestlers in NCAA history, claiming three-consecutive NCAA titles with an impressive bonus-win percentage.

With his folkstyle days behind him, Nolf is focused solely on freestyle.

The Nittany Lion has already showed his strength on the Senior level, making the 2017-18 U.S. Senior National Team at 70 kg, so it was no surprise that he put on a great performance at the U.S. Open just a few weeks ago in Las Vegas.

Finishing third at the 2019 U.S. Open, falling only to two-time World medalist James Green, Nolf showed he is a legitimate contender for a World Team spot this year.

However, this weekend, Nolf will not be competing at 70 kg. As of now, he is registered to compete at 74 kg, where 2019 U.S. Open champion and 2018 Final X runner-up Isaiah Martinez is sitting out until the finals.

The winner of the 74 kg class this weekend will go on to face 2012 Olympic champion and four-time World champion Jordan Burroughs in Final X on June 15 in Lincoln, Neb.

A Man Who Can Do Both
Just a week after making his Bellator debut, Chris Gonzalez, a 2016 World Team member, has registered to compete at the World Team Trials at 72 kg in Greco-Roman.

Gonzalez is now 1-0 in Bellator and 2-0 in MMA after a win by decision against Charlie Radtke over the weekend as part of Bellator 221 in Rosemont, Ill.

In his wrestling career, Gonzalez owns two international medals—a bronze from the 2017 Dave Schultz Memorial and silver from the 2018 Bill Farrell International—and a top-10 finish at the 2016 World Championships.

In December of 2018, Gonzalez announced that he signed with Bellator. The Trials in Raleigh will mark his first Greco competition since March of 2018.

Women’s Youth on the Rise
The 2019 Junior and U23 women’s freestyle World Teams were decided last weekend in Irving, Texas.

14 of those who snagged age-group World Team spots are registered for the 2019 Senior World Team Trials.

Junior Trials champions registered:

  • Alleida Martinez
  • Gracie Figueroa
  • Alex Hedrick
  • Cameron Guerin
  • Michaela Beck
  • Macey Kilty (made both Junior and U23 teams)
  • Jayden Laurent

U23 Trials champions registered:

  • Emily Shilson
  • Dominique Parrish
  • Arian Carpio
  • Abigail Nette
  • Kayla Miracle
  • Maya Nelson
  • Precious Bell

Because of their first-place performances at the 2019 U.S. Open last month, Kayla Miracle and Precious Bell will sit until the best-of-three finals in Raleigh.

Alyvia Fiske, who won spots on the Junior and U23 World Teams over the weekend, has already received a bid to Final X at Rutgers on June 8 because of a championship outing at the Open. (There is not a returning World medalist at the weight class).

Watch Out for 79 kg in Men’s Freestyle
Although it was one of the smallest weights at the U.S. Open, 79 kg in men’s freestyle has three of the strongest athletes in the entire men’s freestyle field as frontrunners to claim the Final X bid.

Leading the way is 2019 U.S. Open champion Alex Dieringer, who is a three-time U.S. National Team member. Because he won the U.S. Open, Dieringer earned a bye to the best-of-three finals.

Since starting his Senior-level career in 2016, Dieringer has medaled in every international tournament he has competed in and has won gold in all but two of those events.

So far in the 2019 season, Dieringer, a three-time NCAA champion for Oklahoma State, owns a gold from the Dan Kolov International and a bronze from the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix, both UWW Ranking Series events.

As a Junior-level athlete, Dieringer was the Junior World runner-up in 2013.

Also registered in the weight is two-time defending NCAA champion Zahid Valencia and 2017 NCAA champion Mark Hall. Neither competed at the U.S. Open.

Last year, Valencia scored a bid to Final X, winning last year’s World Team Trials, where he defeated Dieringer in the best-of-three series. This weekend will be Valencia’s first freestyle event since 2018 Final X.

Valencia also has wins over Hall, coming in the 2018 and 2019 NCAA finals. With Dieringer already in the finals, there’s a strong possibility that we could see a rematch of the NCAA finals at some point this weekend.

A two-time NCAA champion for Arizona State, Valencia is also a Junior World silver medalist, claiming his in 2017.

Hall qualified for the event after rolling through the competition at the Last Chance Qualifier two weeks ago in East Stroudsburg, Pa.

The Nittany Lion has seen plenty of success in freestyle as a two-time Junior World champion and a 2014 Cadet World champion. He was also the 2018 Senior Pan American champion at 79 kg.

Whoever emerges from this impressive weight, which also includes 2018 U23 World Team member David McFadden, will be opposite of 2018 World champion Kyle Dake.

DI Guys Going Greco
Lately, we’ve seen a lot of NCAA talent that have had Greco-Roman success in the past and continue to pursue the world’s oldest style or that have recently decided to pick it up.

There are 13 current Division I athletes registered for the World Team Trials this weekend, including two-time All-American for Oklahoma State Chandler Rogers.

NCAA qualifiers entered are 2016 Junior World bronze medalist Taylor LaMont (Utah Valley), 2018 Pan American champions Cameron Caffey (Michigan State) and Lenny Merkin (Princeton) as well as Haydn Maley (Stanford) and Corey Shie (Army West Point).

Others in DI rooms include 2017 Senior World Team member Mason Manville (Penn State), 2015 Freestyle Cadet World champion Jarod Verkleeren (Penn State), 2017 U23 World Team member Alex Mossing (Air Force Academy), 2018 Junior World Team members Andrew Berreyesa (Cornell) and Barrett Hughes (Oklahoma State), 2018 Junior Pan Am champ in freestyle and Greco Dylan Gregerson (Utah Valley) and Connor Myers (Army West Point).

50 kg Deep
The lightest weight class in women’s freestyle is one of the deepest in the United States.

Four-time Senior World Team member Whitney Conder will be sitting out until Final X at Rutgers on June 8. It will be interesting who will secure the other bid at the weight class.

Looking to advance to Rutgers are several past World Team members, including Erin Golston, Haley Augello, Victoria Anthony, Alleida Martinez, Emily Shilson and Amy Fearnside.

Golston is a three-time Junior World medalist, who most recently took second at the U.S. Open, falling to Conder in the finals. One week before, Golston represented the USA at the Pan American Championships, where she took silver.

At the Open, Golston defeated 2016 Olympian and 2017 Senior World Team member Haley Augello, who is back down at 50 kg after spending the last two years at 53 kg. Augello eventually went on to finish fourth at the U.S. Open.

Beating Augello for third place was two-time Senior World Team member and Final X runner-up Victoria Anthony. In the 2019 season, Anthony has put together three top-five finishes in international tournaments, including bronze at the Ivan Yarygin and bronze at the Grand Prix of Germany. Additionally, Anthony is a two-time Junior World champion.

Martinez is a two-time Cadet World medalist and has earned spots on two Junior World Teams (2018, 2019). Shilson is a 2018 Cadet World champion and Youth Olympic champion and 2019 U23 World Team member. Fearnside is a 2017 U23 World Team member.