Five college wrestlers aiming to make their first Men’s Freestyle National Team

By Mike Willis | May 15, 2019, 1:41 p.m. (ET)

Mark Hall has an extensive freestyle resume and is looking to make his first National Team.

The National Team is made up of the three highest-placing wrestlers per weight class at World Team Trials. These wrestlers receive funding and support for international tours as well as invitations to National Team training camps at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.

Below are five college wrestlers who aim to make their first National Team this weekend at the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament in Raleigh, NC.

Jack Mueller- 57 kg, Jr. at Virginia
Mueller concluded his junior year by earning his second All-American honors for the University of Virginia, with a runner-up finish at NCAAs to Iowa’s Spencer Lee. Mueller has noteworthy freestyle credentials, representing Team USA at the 2018 U23 World Championships and placing fifth. With Daton Fix waiting in Final X after winning the U.S. Open and 2017 World silver medalist Thomas Gilman in the challenge bracket, Mueller has little room for error to make the team.

Hayden Hidlay- 70 kg, RS So. at North Carolina State
Last year, Hidlay made the finals of two major Senior-level tournaments, the 2018 U.S. Open and the 2018 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament. At the Open, he lost in the finals to No. 2 on the 2018 National Team ladder Jason Chamberlain, and in the Challenge Tournament finals he fell to No. 3 Frank Molinaro. After finishing essentially one spot away from National Team status, Hidlay faces a similar situation this year. Ryan Deakin has already earned his National Team spot after defeating two-time World medalist James Green in the 2019 U.S. Open finals. Hidlay beat Deakin last year to make the U23 World Team. The two-time North Carolina State All-American will have to go through a Challenge Tournament bracket that includes the aforementioned Green and Chamberlain.

Anthony Valencia- 74 kg, RS. So. at Arizona State

Valencia showed he had Senior-level freestyle chops while he was still Junior eligible. Fresh off competing at the 2014 Junior World Championships, Valencia took third at the 2015 U.S. Open, defeating Tyler Caldwell 10-0 in the third-place match. Since then, Valencia has not quite reached the lofty expectations he earned for himself, missing All-American honors in his first two seasons at Arizona State. After missing the entire 2018-2019 collegiate season due to injury, Valencia took third at the 2019 U.S. Open with his only loss coming to Tommy Gantt, 11-5, in the semifinals. In order to make the National Team, Valencia will have to navigate a talented field including, Gantt, 2019 U.S. Open runner-up at 79 kg and two-time Lock Haven All-American Chance Marsteller, U23 World Champion Richie Lewis and former National Team member at 70 kg and three-time NCAA Champion Jason Nolf. Current No. 2 Isaiah Martinez sits in the best-of-three finals, and all-time great Jordan Burroughs waits for the winner in Final X.

Mark Hall- 79 kg, Jr. at Penn State
Mark Hall has the best freestyle credentials of any wrestler on this list. He is a two-time Junior World champion, and a one-time Cadet World champion. He also won the 2018 Senior Pan Am Championships. He is a three-time NCAA finalist and 2017 national champion for Penn State. Both of his defeats at NCAAs have come to Zahid Valencia, who is also in this bracket. Valencia is the current No. 2 at the weight, and beat the No. 3, Alex Dieringer, in two-straight matches last year. Dieringer is sitting in the best-of-three finals after winning the U.S. Open and is currently ranked No. 7 in the world. Returning World champion Kyle Dake sits in Final X.

Gable Steveson- 125 kg, Fr. at Minnesota

After winning a Junior World championship while still Cadet eligible, Steveson failed to place at Junior Worlds last year. He also owns two Cadet World titles. Coming off a third-place NCAA performance as a true freshman for Minnesota, Steveson looks to contend for a National Team spot. Last year Steveson made his first foray into the Senior level. He took fourth at the 2018 U.S. Open, losing to current No. 2 (No. 1 in Greco-Roman) Adam Coon and multi-time National Team member Dom Bradley. He avenged his loss to Bradley at the Challenge Tournament a month later before falling to current No. 3 Tony Nelson in the Challenge Tournament finals, 4-4. Nelson will be in the Challenge Tournament bracket as well as Bradley and 2019 NCAA runner-up Derek White. Adam Coon sits in the best-of-three finals, and two-time World bronze medalist Nick Gwiazdowski waits in Final X.