Cadet Day 3 Wrap and Day 4 Preview: Ramos grabs gold, Shilson reaches finals


The Fourth of July celebration for the United States at the Cadet World Championships included a near-perfect second session for the Americans in Zagreb, Croatia. Matthew Ramos captured a gold, Alex Facundo and A.J. Ferrari rallied back with late takedowns to bag bronzes and Emily Shilson continued her dominant path through the women’s freestyle bracket at 43 kilograms by rolling up Russia’s Viktoriia Aleksandrova 11-1 in the semifinals. The only loss for the United States in Wednesday’s second session came when Uzbekistan’s Shakhbos Komilov defeated Chance Lamer 10-2 for a bronze at 45 kilograms.



His resume includes four Fargo podium finishes, including a pair of Cadet finals appearances last summer.

His last two trips to the Illinois high school state tournament netted fifth- and third-place finishes.

Matthew Ramos has regularly put himself in the mix to win big tournaments, but he’s never won anything like this. Only a select fraternity of Americans have.

On Wednesday, Ramos became the 41st wrestler in United States history to capture a Cadet men’s freestyle World title.

“I can’t even explain it right now,” Ramos said in an interview with USA Wrestling. “It’s amazing. I wish I could’ve gotten to my offense, but I don’t even care right now. I’m just so excited right now.”

The path to gold was filled with landmines. Ramos needed a late takedown to seal a 5-3 win against Greece’s Ioanis Martidis in his first match of the tournament. He dug himself out of a five-point deficit during a 10-5 quarterfinal win against Mongolia’s Dashhtseren Purvee. He made a two-point tilt stand in a 2-2 criteria win in the semis against Iran’s Seyederfan Jafariangelyerdi and he trailed 5-2 after the break when he cranked Japan’s Kota Takahashi to his back with a bundle-arm stepover for a fall.

“He’s been scrapping all week — all week at training camp,” Cadet freestyle coach Kellen Russell said in an interview with USA Wrestling. “He’s a very unorthodox-type of wrestler and it really works to his advantage in the finals. He was getting in deep, using his funky hips and was able to get that bundle and stepover. I think he got it on that guy four times and the last time he sealed the deal. But he kept wrestling through every position and not giving up easy points.”

The United States topped off the day with two dramatic wins in bronze medal bouts.

Alex Facundo trailed by five with less than a minute remaining, but rallied back to beat Russia’s

Makhmud Magomedov 6-6 at 71 kilograms. Facundo scored four when he tossed Magomedov from a rear-standing position and then snapped the Russian down and spun around to score with 17 seconds left.

Ferrari registered a pair of wins against Asian Cadet medalists Wednesday morning and positioned himself to make the comeback to bronze at 92 kilograms when he took a 1-0 lead into the final minute against Germany’s Johannes Mayer, a European Cadet silver medalist. But Ferrari got put on the activity clock and then gave up a step-out point, forcing him to find points late. He got in on a single and finished with four seconds left to win a 3-2 decision.

The United States concluded the men’s freestyle tournament with six medals — one gold (Ramos), two silvers (Richard Figueroa II and Greg Kerkvliet) and three bronzes (Facundo, Ferrari and Abe Assad) — and finished second to Iran in the team race with 132 points. The Iranians took home three golds, a silver and three bronzes and accumulated 152 points. Russia was third with 116.

Shilson cruised into the Cadet World finals for the second straight year with a dominant run through her side of the bracket. She scored a pin and a technical superiority win Wednesday morning and rolled up Russia’s Viktoriia Aleksandrova 11-1 in the semifinals. She’ll face Azerbaijan’s Shahana Nazarova on Thursday for the 43-kilogram gold. Nazarova won Cadet gold last year at 38 kilograms.

The only other American who survived the tournament’s first day of women’s freestyle action was Tiare Ikei, who got pulled back into the repechage at 49 kilograms, thanks to a semifinal win by Russia’s Polina Lukina.

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Cadet Wednesday morning recap: Ferrari reaches medal round, Shilson rolls into semis

Good morning and Happy Fourth of July, folks. If you’re just getting up, here’s what you missed during the early session on Day 3 of the Cadet World Championships (the full brackets are linked below):

A.J. Ferrari handled a pair of Asian Cadet medalists to reach the bronze medal bout at 92 kilograms. He’s one of four Americans who will wrestle in today’s men’s freestyle medal round, which is scheduled to begin at noon ET after the conclusion of the women’s freestyle semifinals.

Ferrari started his day with an 8-2 win against Asian Cadet silver Yunus Gafurov of Kazakhstan and followed that up with an 8-1 victory against India’s Monu Dahiya, an Asian Cadet bronze medalist. The Texas native will wrestle Germany’s Johannes Mayer for bronze.

Even with Ferrari’s performance, the United States merely held serve with Iran in the team race during Wednesday’s first session. The Iranians, who entered the day with the lead, picked up two wins from Aliakbar Fazlikhalili, who reached the 60-kilogram bronze medal bout.

The first session of women’s freestyle produced a mixed bag of United States results. Emily Shilson reached the 43-kilogram semifinals with two dominant performances, but she was the only American to get through the first session unscathed.

Shilson kicked off her tournament with a fall against Romania’s Ana Maria Gabriela Cristescu and dismantled India’s Simran Simran 10-0 in the quarterfinals. The Minnesota native’s performance resembled her early-round work last September in Greece when she collected a Cadet World silver.

Shilson mowed down everybody in here path to the finals last year before falling to Japan’s Umi Ito in the gold medal bout. Shilson won’t have to go through a Japanese opponent this time to take home gold. Azerbaijan’s Shahana Nazarova handled Japan’s Anna Ueno 9-2 in the opening round at 43 kilograms. It was the only loss of the session for Japan.

The United States experienced a bumpier ride Wednesday morning. The Americans were down one wrestler right off the bat when Cheyenne Bowman forfeited her first bout of the day. Russia’s Valeriia Trifonova downed Tristan Kelly 12-0 in the first round at 73 kilograms.

Tiare Ikei and Kiana Pugh each notched a fall before suffering defeats in the quarterfinal round. Pugh spotted Ukraine’s Oksana Chudyk an 8-0 lead before falling 9-5 at 65 kilograms.

(Photo: Cadet World silver medalist Emily Shilson scored a fall and a technical superiority win in her two bouts Wednesday morning/Richard Immel)

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Cadet Day 2 Wrap and Day 3 Preview: USA claims two silvers and a bronze; Ramos takes aim at gold on Wednesday and women’s freestyle begins




The United States finished the day with four medals in the bag and an opportunity to increase that number to seven when men’s freestyle competition wraps up on Wednesday. Richard Figueroa II and Daniel Kerkvliet dropped decisions in the finals and claimed silver medals, Abe Assad won three matches Tuesday to grab a bronze and Matthew Ramos wrestled his way into Wednesday’s gold medal match at 51 kilograms. Americans Chance Lamer and Alex Facundo will wrestle Wednesday for bronze and A.J. Ferrari needs two wins to reach the medal round.


4:30 a.m. ET — Men’s freestyle repechage at 45, 51, 60, 71 and 92 kilograms and women’s freestyle qualification rounds at 43, 49, 57, 65 and 73 kilograms.

11:30 a.m. ET — Women’s freestyle semifinals at 43, 49, 57, 65 and 73 kilograms.

Noon ET — Men’s freestyle medal matches at 45, 51, 60, 71 and 92 kilograms.


The pendulum was bound to swing back the other way at some point. The United States had been on a men’s freestyle roll at the Cadet World Championships that defied the law of percentages.

The Americans reached the Cadet finals 18 times in the seven years since United World Wrestling reinstated the tournament. They won 16 of those 18 title bouts, including 10 of 11 during the past three years.

Greg Kerkvliet was part of that gold rush. He was one of four American gold medalists last year in Greece when he took home the title at 100 kilograms. But UWW increased the weight limit this year at heavyweight to 110 kilograms, and Kerkvliet — who will wrestle at 97 kilograms in September at the Junior World Championships — ran into a full-grown man with a beard in Tuesday’s heavyweight gold medal bout.

Iran’s Amir Hossein Abbas Zare controlled the center of the mat and stymied Kerkvliet with underhooks, driving the Minnesota native out four times for step-out points, saddling Kerkvliet with two cautions in the process, and tacking on another takedown on the edge to win a 7-4 decision.

Kerkvliet was bidding to become the fourth men’s freestyle repeat Cadet World champ in American history.

“I just got a chance to watch the video again and I don’t know if we underestimated the kid a little bit, but it looked like we underestimated him a little bit,” USA Wrestling freestyle developmental coach Kevin Jackson said in an interview with USA Wrestling. “We have to stay in that handfight. Being able to handfight, being able to defend yourself from distance — head and hands position — that’s a world-class skill, and we just didn’t stay consistent with the handfight, we didn’t stay consistent with addressing the underhook when it happened right now.”

It brought an end to a day when the United States made a charge in the team race but lost critical ground late to the Iranians.

Abe Assad battled back Tuesday with three wins to bag a bronze at 80 kilograms, but Chance Lamer and Alex Facundo dropped semifinal matches and the other American finalist, Richard Figueroa II, fell victim to a four-point takedown in the second period that gave Azerbaijan’s  Alihasan Amirli the lead on his way to a 6-1 win at 48 kilograms and his second Cadet gold.

“It was a tough day — tough session,” Jackson said. “Obviously, we thought we had some opportunities to advance to the finals. We had an opportunity to win a gold medal at 48 kilos and got caught with a four-point move. I like our guy’s effort, there’s just some areas we need to spend more time in, especially at that age group — those handfights, those underhooks, beating those positions and really being able to counter those strong tie-ups. I think we need to get better in those positions. Obviously, our guys are wrestling hard, bringing home some medals, but this was a tough, tough session tonight.”

Assad’s run through the repechage and the performance of Matthew Ramos, another Illinois native, eased some of the sting.

Ramos had to get a late takedown to seal a 5-3 win against Greece’s Ioannis Martidis in his first match of the day at 51 kilograms and rallied back from a 5-0 deficit to post a 10-5 win against Mongolia’s Dashtseren Purvee in the quarterfinals. He made a two-point exposure stand as the difference in the semifinals when he downed Iran’s Seyederfan Jafariangelyerdi 2-2.

“Man, he’s a competitor,” Jackson said of Ramos, who will face Japan’s Kota Takahashi in Wednesday’s gold medal bout. “He’s got some offensive skills I didn’t know he had and I think other people didn’t know he had. He’s been known as a defensive wrestler, but at a World Championship you have to bring your skills, you have to be able to take guys down and get your offense off, and he’s been able to do that.”

Lamer gritted through a pair of matches in Tuesday’s early session, stopping Pavel Sagdy’s go-ahead gutwrench attempt in the closing seconds and holding the Russia on his back for a fall and breaking open a tight match after the break to defeat Japan’s Shusei Yamashita 12-3 in the quarterfinals at 45 kilograms.

The Oregon native, though, ran into a buzzsaw in the semifinals. Armenia’s Rafayel Harutyunyan scored a quick takedown and locked up a gut for four turns to register his third 10-0 tech of the day, bouncing Lamer into the bronze medal bout.

Facundo led 5-2 with less than a minute left in the 71-kilogram semifinals, but India’s Baliyan Gourav scored a pair of takedowns to win a 6-5 decision.

Ferrari got pulled back into the repechage when Iran’s Alireza Abdollahi reached the 92-kilogram gold medal bout. The Texan will try to duplicate what Assad did Tuesday when he reeled off three straight victories to claim a bronze. Assad finished his run with a 7-6 victory against Azerbaijan’s Sagadulla Agaev.

“Abe battled the whole tournament,” Jackson said. “He kind of had to refocus three or four times throughout the course of this tournament. Throughout the course of matches he kind of got down on himself, but then he got it back together and he competed like a champion.

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Cadet Day 1 Wrap and Day 2 Preview: Figueroa and Kerkvliet reach freestyle finals, five Americans to make World debuts Tuesday

Cadet World Championships


Richard Figueroa II and Greg Kerkvliet reached the freestyle finals on the tournament’s first day and will wrestle Tuesday for gold. Abe Assad remains in medal contention and will compete in Tuesday’s repechage. He needs three victories to bag a bronze.


4:30 a.m. ET — Qualification rounds at 45, 51, 60, 71 and 92 kilograms and repechage at 48, 55, 65, 80 and 110 kilograms.

11:30 a.m. ET — Semifinals at 45, 51, 60, 71 and 92 kilograms.

Noon ET — Medal matches at 48, 55, 65, 80 and 110 kilograms.


Richard Figueroa wrecked everybody in his path Monday.

Greg Kerkvliet dusted his first three opponents and did just enough to get past a fourth to complete his return to the World finals.

The United States finished the opening day of the Cadet World Championships with bookend finalists. Figueroa started the semifinal round with a 10-4 victory against Ukraine’s Mykyta Abramov at 48 kilograms and Kerkvliet capped the session with a 2-2 criteria win against Russia’s Sergey Kozyrev at 110 kg to give the U.S. its first two medalists of the week in Zagreb, Croatia.

All five Americans who wrestled Monday registered a victory, but Robert Howard and Carson Manville were eliminated from medal contention. Abe Assad of Illinois will compete Tuesday in the repechage at 80 kilograms and needs to win three bouts to capture a bronze.

“I’d say overall the performance has been solid,” Cadet freestyle coach Lee Pritts said in an interview with USA Wrestling. “I don’t think we’ve performed up to our capabilities yet. But I also remember last year at this time after that first round we were going, ‘Oh man, we’re in trouble.’ And then (USA Wrestling freestyle developmental coach Kevin Jackson) brought the team in and had a conversation and next thing you know they pulled together as a unit and started firing on all cylinders and ended up with a great tournament.”

The Americans left Greece last September with four freestyle golds, including Kerkvliet’s at 100 kilograms. The Minnesota native who’s committed to Oklahoma State is up against bigger opponents this go-round with the heavyweight limit pushed up to 110 kg this year.

He got through a full-sized heavyweight in Monday’s semifinals when he used a second-period takedown to defeat Kozyrev, a European Cadet champion.

“I could be wrestling better,” Kerkvliet, who opened the tournament with three shutout technical superiority wins, told USA Wrestling. “We’ll find out tomorrow. The tournament’s not done yet and I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Kerkvliet’s bid to become the third repeat Cadet champion in American history goes through Iran’s Amir Hosse Zare, who outscored his three opponents by a combined 32-0 count Monday.

Figueroa was nearly as dominant Monday during his run to the 48-kilogram final. The California state champ pinned China’s Xiaolong Ye in 54 seconds to start the tournament, dismantled Russia’s Valerii Androsov 10-0 in the quarterfinals and took out Ukraine’s Abramov in the semis. Figueroa will wrestle Azerbaijan’s Alihasan Amirli, a 2018 European Cadet bronze medalist, in Tuesday’s gold medal bout.

“He came out firing,” Pritts said of Figueroa. “First match, first World Championship and all of a sudden he’s got his headphones on and he’s bobbing and I’m like, ‘Look at this dude. He’s ready.’ And Izzy Martinez was here and Kellen Russell and we were watching him and I said, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen, but this dude is about to bring heat.’ And he went out in his first match and just lit the gym up. When he came off, I was like, ‘Everybody else in the weight class is in trouble because he is coming hard.”


Five more Americans will make their Cadet World debuts on Tuesday during the second day of men’s freestyle competition.

Chance Lamer of Oregon, Matthew Ramos of Illinois, Josh Saunders of Missouri, Alex Facundo of Michigan and A.J. Ferrari of Texas received their draws on Monday. All five have wrestled in the Fargo Cadet freestyle finals and Saunders, Facundo and Ferrari won titles last summer.

Here are the draws:

45 kilograms — Chance Lamer (Oregon) vs. Pavel Sagdy (Russia) — Lamer is an Oregon state champ who reached the Fargo finals last summer. Sagdy is a Russian Cadet Nationals champion.

51 kilograms — Matthew Ramos (Illinois) vs. Ioannis Martidis (Greece) — Ramos was a Fargo Cadet freestyle finalist last year. Martidis placed fifth this year at the European Cadet Championships. Martidis placed 15th and 12th in two previous trips to the Cadet World Championships.

60 kilograms — Josh Saunders (Missouri) vs. Benedikt Huber (Austria) — Saunders, a two-time Missouri state champ and Fargo Cadet freestyle champion, has had an impressive 2018, performing well against Junior-level opponents in the U.S. Huber dropped a 12-2 tech against Ukraine’s Vladyslav Ostapenko in his only bout at last year’s Cadet World Championships. A Saunders win would set him up for a bout in the second round against India’s Ravinder Ravinder, an Asian Cadet champ this year.

71 kilograms — Alex Facundo (Michigan) vs. Damian Dan Korbus (Poland) — Facundo, one of the top prospects nationally in the 2021 class, won a Fargo Cadet title last year before his freshman year in high school. This is Korbus’ first major international tournament.

80 kilograms — A.J. Ferrari (Texas) vs. Banzragch Munkhbat (Mongolia) —  Ferrari, a two-time Texas state champ and Fargo Cadet freestyle champion last year, is one of the top wrestlers in the 2020 class. Munkhbat placed fifth this year at the Asian Cadet Championships.

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Ex-MSU wrestler, UFC champ Evans retires from MMA

Rashad Evans, former UFC light heavyweight champion and “The Ultimate Fighter 2” winner, is now a former mixed martial arts fighter.

Evans, a high school and collegiate wrestler who made his pro MMA debut 14 years ago, revealed his decision to retire from MMA on ESPN’s “Ariel Helwani’s MMA Show” Monday.

Just two weeks ago, the 38-year-old Evans was the victim of a knockout in the first minute of the first round to Anthony Smith at UFC 225 at the United Center in Chicago on June 9. It was his fifth straight loss.

In his pro career which he launched in April 2004, Evans compiled a 19-8-1 record competing primarily for the UFC. He joined the promotion as a top prospect after emerging as the heavyweight winner of TUF 2, though he immediately dropped down to light heavyweight (205 pounds) following the conclusion of that tournament. In his first eight UFC fights, Evans came out the victor over some of the top talent in that weight class at the time, including Michael Bisping, Chuck Liddell, and Forrest Griffin.

In fact, it was that third-round TKO of Griffin at UFC 92 in December 2008 that made Evans the UFC light heavyweight champion. Evans lost that title in his first defense against Lyoto Machida but came back with four big-time wins over opponents such as Quinton Jackson and former Penn State champ — and future Bellator titlewinner — Phil Davis.

Prior to entering the Octagon, Evans crafted an impressive amateur wrestling career. He was a two-time New York state wrestling championships finalist for Niagara-Wheatfield High School. Evans then enrolled at Niagara County Community College, where he was a two-time National Junior College Athletic Association All-American, winning the 165-pound title at the 2000 NJCAA Wrestling Championships. Evans then headed west to Michigan State, where he became a two-time NCAA Division I Wrestling Championships qualifier at 174 pounds. One of Evans’ greatest amateur accomplishments: being one of only four wrestlers to defeat Greg Jones, three-time NCAA champ for West Virginia University.

Former UFC champ Johny Hendricks announces MMA retirement

Former UFC welterweight champion Johny Hendricks today announced his retirement from MMA.

Hendricks (18-8 MMA, 13-8 UFC) made the announcement on today’s edition of MMAjunkie Radio and will hang up his gloves after more than 10 years of MMA competition.

“I’m done. I’m retiring. I’m getting out of the MMA world,” Hendricks told MMAjunkie Radio. “I’ve been thinking about this long and hard for a while. I’m going to get back to my roots. I’m going to start coaching at All Saints (Episcopal School in Fort Worth, Texas). I coached a little bit of high school last year, but I’m going to make the move over to All Saints and start doing those things.”

Hendricks said being away from training for a fight the past seven months helped lead to his decision.

“One of the things that’s nice is being home the last seven months, spending time with the kids, not worrying about what I needed to do,” Hendricks said. “I looked at my wife and said, ‘Do we really want to do this. I know I’m the one who has to do it, but do we want to do it? Do we want to go through the grind that I used to do, be gone for long periods of time, put my family second, do those kinds of things?’ Right now, I can’t really say that.

“I made this decision two weeks ago, but I prayed about it and wanted to make sure I was going to be OK with it.”

And the 34-year-old said his retirement won’t be one like others in the MMA world that have seen fighters quit, only to come back soon afterward. Instead, he plans to put his efforts into coaching wrestling – and only the most lucrative dream return would lure him back.

“Even if you threw Georges St-Pierre at me, the world knows (I beat him),” Hendricks said. “Realistically, I’m satisfied unless they say, ‘Johny, here’s a million-dollar payday. Come fight this dude.’ You can’t turn that down. That would be stupid. But everything I set my mind to, I achieved it. That’s the gist of what I’m feeling at this moment and what I’ve been feeling the last month.

“… I’ll call the UFC and tell them I’m done. I’ll call USADA and tell them I’m done. It’s never a honeymoon phase with me. My goal is to get (high school) wrestlers into national champions. I want to get wrestlers better than I was, better than I could ever be. … For me to do that, I have to put the past in the past and start moving forward.”

Hendricks’ shining moment in the UFC came at UFC 171 in March 2014, when he won the vacant welterweight title against Robbie Lawler. That fight came four months after Hendricks lost a split decision against Georges St-Pierre in a title fight that many, including UFC President Dana White, believed he did enough in to win.

Hendricks’ title fight with St-Pierre came on the heels of a six-fight winning streak that included four post-fight bonuses, including three “Knockout of the Night” awards and a “Fight of the Night” decision win over Carlos Condit in a title eliminator. His KOs in that stretch were all in the first round, including a 12-second KO of Jon Fitch and a 46-second KO of Martin Kampmann.

But after he won the title against Lawler in a close “Fight of the Night” battle, he lost it his next time out at UFC 181 in a rematch. He rebounded against Matt Brown at UFC 185, but then went into a rough stretch more than two years ago that has seen him drop five of his final six fights.

During that run, he was knocked out by Stephen Thompson, Tim Boetsch and, most recently, Paulo Costa at UFC 217 this past November, and dropped decisions to Kelvin Gastelum and Neil Magny.

His lone win in that stretch was a decision over Hector Lombard at in February 2017 in a middleweight bout, the division he turned to for the final three fights of his career. Hendricks missed the welterweight limit on the scale for his losses to Gastelum and Magny, and had struggled with making that weight limit as far back as his first fight with Lawler.

But the down-to-earth personality, as well as a hard-hitting style that could turn into a slugfest at any moment, always seemed to endear him to MMA fans. The Oklahoman won two NCAA Division-I wrestling titles at 165 pounds at Oklahoma State in 2005 and 2006 and was a four-time All-American wrestler there. He was a four-time state champion in wrestling in high school.

“Bigg Rigg” started his pro MMA career in 2007 with a trio of stoppages on the regional scene. Then he caught on with the WEC and won a pair fo fights before his UFC debut at UFC 101 in August 2009.

“I’ve been blessed with people around me to help me get there,” Hendricks said. “What have I done with my life to be satisfied with where I’m at right now? As soon as I started doing that, I knew it was time for me to start doing something else. I’ve been very blessed to accomplish everything I’ve wanted to. Anything I’ve put my mind to, I’ve done it.

“I remember getting on (MMAjunkie Radio) nine years ago saying, ‘I’m going to be the champ.’ Everybody was probably like, ‘Who’s this joker saying he’s going to do this?’ And right now, I know what I have to do to get back to where I want to be. I got the taste of the family life, I got the taste of the normal life, and right now … I’m completely satisfied with everything that’s going on. That’s why I wanted to give it to you first, the MMAjunkie world – is because you guys have been there from the very beginning.”

Gwiazdowski, Conder, Cox, Hildebrandt, Garrett, Molinari make World Team with wins at Final X at Lehigh

Nick Gwiazdowski celebrates his victory over Adam Coon at Final X in Lehigh. Photo by Geoff Riccio.

BETHLEHEM, Pa. – Six more spots on the U.S. World Team in men’s and women’s freestyle were determined in an exciting night of action at Final X at Lehigh, which was held in Grace Hall on the campus of Lehigh University on Saturday night.

2017 World bronze medalist Nick Gwiazdowski of the Titan Mercury WC needed just two matches to stop 2018 Greco-Roman World Team member Adam Coon of the New York AC at 125 kg in men’s freestyle.

Gwiazdowski was in control in both matches. In the first match, Gwiazdowski scored three leg attack takedowns, while Coon forced a stepout, on the way to a 6-1 victory. The second match ended with the same score, 6-1, as Coon scored first on a stepout, then Gwiazdowski scored a pair of takedowns and a turn for the victory.

Coon won his Greco-Roman team spot on Friday in Tulsa, Okla., got immediately on a plane, flew to Pennsylvania and weighed in Saturday afternoon to face Gwiazdowski. He was attempting to be the first U.S. athlete to make the Senior World Team in both styles since 1982, when Greg Gibson competed in both styles at the World Championships.

Gwiazdowski was asked about Coon’s Greco-Roman success as well as his size.

On Greco-Roman

“Different style. Different rules. He had an opportunity in both. He is a tough dude. He is going to come at you and turn it into a fight,” said Gwiazdowski.

On Coon’s size

“That is like part of the job description. These guys are going to be big. You have the weight limit and he made the weight limit, and that’s that. I have done it my entire life. Whenever they are that heavy, I know I’ve wrestled guys taller than him and heavier than him,” said Gwiazdowski.

Gwiazdowski was a two-time NCAA champion and three-time finalist for NC State, and also was an NCAA All-American as a freshman for Binghamton. Coon, a three-time All-American for Michigan, was the 2018 U.S. Open champion in freestyle and the runner-up in Greco-Roman. In 2014, Coon won Junior World bronze medals in both styles.

The event determined the 2018 U.S. Senior World Teams in men’s and women’s freestyle wrestling in six weight classes. The winner earned a spot on Team USA at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, October 20-28.

Making her fourth World Team, but needing all three bouts to clinch her spot, was Whitney Conder of the U.S. Army WCAP, who got past two-time World Team member Victoria Anthony of the Sunkist Kids at 50 kg.

Conder won the first match, 10-4. Conder went up 4-0 at the break on a pair of takedowns, but Anthony tied it up at 4-4 early in the second period on a throw. Conder closed it out with a double leg takedown, a gut wrench and another takedown.

Anthony came back strong in the second bout, coming out with a 4-2 win. Anthony got the first takedown, but Conder answered late in the first to tie it at 2-2. In the second period, Anthony converted a front headlock to a spin-behind takedown for the win.

In the deciding third match, Conder scored first with a takedown on the edge early. She added another takedown for a 4-0 lead, then scored a pair of turns on high gut wrenches. Anthony challenged the call and was denied, making the score 9-0. Conder scored a takedown with two seconds left for the 11-0 technical fall.

“There have been a lot of changes in my life since I made my last World Championships. I went down a weight class. I have been changing my lifestyle. I love everything that I am eating. I am doing more cardio. Every day I am working out more. I am fighting more, finding ways to score more points. I have new techniques that my coaches have been on me about. I have been training as hard as possible and finding new partners to get in the room and train as hard as we possibly can,” said Conder.

Both are past Junior World champions, with Conder winning in 2007 and Anthony claiming Junior World titles in both 2009 and 2010. Conder was a 2015 Pan American Games champion. Anthony won four WCWA national titles for Simon Fraser.

2016 Olympic bronze medalist and 2017 World bronze medalist J’den Cox of the Titan Mercury WC made his third straight U.S. World or Olympic team with a two-match sweep over 2018 U.S. Open runner-up Hayden Zillmer of the Minnesota Storm at 92 kg.

Cox won the first match, scoring two takedowns and forcing a stepout, winning 5-1. In the second match, after a quick takedown, Cox secured an ankle lace and hit four straight turns, getting a 10-0 technical fall for the sweep.

“I knew what I was capable of. I knew that I have done the things to commit myself more to the sport. I am making my goals so I know what I want to accomplish. I made the move to Colorado. I knew I paid the price to do what I had to do to get here. I will do whatever it takes to get where I want to be in the future,” said Cox.

Cox won three NCAA titles and was a four-time All-American for Missouri. Zillmer, a North Dakota State All-American, has made the Senior National Team in both freestyle and Greco-Roman.

2016 World Team member Sarah Hildebrandt of the New York AC won a two match sweep over a former teammate, 2016 Olympian and 2017 World Team member Haley Augello of the New York AC at 53 kg.

Hildebrandt shut out Augello in both matches, not giving up a single point. In the first match, Hildebrandt won 6-0, then added to her dominance with an 8-0 win in bout two.

Hildebrandt talked a bit about the 2017 World Team Trials, where she injured her elbow severely and could not complete her matches in the finals.

“It was a matter of putting it behind me and pushing me as well. I did a little bit of both. I couldn’t put it in front of me, where it was crippling me and making me afraid. I put it behind me to where I said, ‘look, it is time for you to get the job done.’ I doesn’t matter what happened before. Right now is your time,” she said.

Hildebrandt won their battle at the 2018 U.S. Open, 6-1. Both were stars for King University, with Augello winning three WCWA titles and Hildebrandt winning two WCWA golds.

Cornell NCAA champion Nahshon Garrett of the Sunkist Kids at 61 kg made his first World Team with a three-match victory over 2018 U.S. Open champion Joe Colon of the Titan Mercury WC.

Colon struck first in bout one, winning a close 7-5 win. Garrett rebounded to win the second bout, 10-5.

The third bout was all Garrett. He scored a takedown and a turn for a 4-0 lead, then did it again with another takedown and turn for an 8-0 lead. He finished it off with a big four-point throw to get a 12-0 technical fall.

“My first match, I came out slow. The thing is, I can’t wrestle slow against him. He is too good in his positions. So, every match, I had to pick it up, a little bit more, a little bit more. That is what I meant to do that first match. I didn’t want to over-wrestle, but I think it was just more that constricted aggressiveness. Just get to him. Clean shots, clean finishes, get to his legs and take him down and finish it,” said Garrett.

Garrett earned four All-American honors for the Big Red and is a past University Nationals freestyle champion. Colon was an All-American for Northern Iowa and NJCAA champion for Iowa Central.

In another battle of past teammates, Forrest Molinari of the Titan Mercury WC avenged a loss in the 2018 U.S. Open finals to Julia Salata of the New York AC and come away with a two-match sweep at 65 kg.

In the first match, Molinari shut down Salata for a 5-0 victory. In the second match, she ran off to an 8-0 lead, getting a four-point takedown and two other takedowns. Salata came from underneath to reverse Molinari to her back to make it 8-2, but Molinari scored a final takedown for a 10-2 win.

“This is very different than the usual Trials process. It was hard, but I am so glad I got to go to all three. I got to experience it all, and know my teammates. It has been an awesome year, going to all of these tournaments, helping my teammates out, and finally making that Senior team,” said Molinari.

Salata won two WCWA titles for King (2014, 2015), while Molinari was a 2016 WCWA champion. Salata won their showdown in the 2018 U.S. Open finals, 5-0.

USA Wrestling also held six National Team True Third Place wrestle-offs, which determined the No. 3 spot on the National Team. A true-third wrestle-off occurs when the overall runner-up and third-place finishers from the Freestyle World Team Trials Challenge Tournament did not meet in the bracket.

Winning their true third bouts for the men were Tony Ramos of the Sunkist Kids at 57 kg, Jaydin Eierman of the Titan Mercury WC at 65 kg and Richard Perry of the New York AC at 86 kg. Also advancing with a forfeit win was Ty Walz of the Titan Mercury WC at 97 kg.

Women winners in the True Third bouts were Cody Pfau of the Titan Mercury WC at 53 kg, Kelsey Campbell of the Sunkist Kids at 59 kg and Alex Glaude of the McKendree Bearcat WC at 68 kg.

FloWrestling provided exclusive live and on-demand coverage of the three-event Final X series. Watch the events across all screens by downloading the FloSports app on iOS, Roku, or Apple TV 4, as well as on desktop or mobile web via

Saturday, June 23 at Grace Hall, Bethlehem, Pa.

The Main Card

Men’s freestyle 61 kg
Nahshon Garrett, Tempe, Ariz. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Joe Colon, Fresno, Calif. (Titan Mercury WC/Valley RTC), two matches to one
Bout One – Colon dec. Garrett, 7-5
Bout Two – Garrett dec. Colon, 10-5
Bout Three – Garrett tech. fall Colon, 12-0

Women’s freestyle 50 kg
Whitney Conder, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Army WCAP) dec. Victoria Anthony, Tempe, Ariz. (Sunkist Kids), two matches to one
Bout One – Conder dec. Anthony, 10-4
Bout Two – Anthony dec. Conder, 4-2
Bout Three – Conder tech. fall Anthony, 11-0

Men’s freestyle 92 kg
J’den Cox, Columbia, Mo. (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Hayden Zillmer, Crosby, Minn. (Minnesota Storm), two matches to none
Bout One – Cox dec. Zillmer, 5-2
Bout Two – Cox tech. fall Zillmer, 10-0

Women’s freestyle 53 kg
Sarah Hildebrandt, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC) dec. Haley Augello, Lockport, Ill. (New York AC), two matches to none
Bout One – Hildebrandt dec. Augello, 6-0
Bout Two – Hildebrandt dec. Augello, 8-0

Women’s freestyle 65 kg
Forrest Molinari, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Titan Mercury WC/OTC) dec. Julia Salata, Bristol, Tenn. (New York AC), two matches to none
Bout One – Molinari dec. Salata, 5-0
Bout Two – Molinari dec. Salata, 10-2

Men’s freestyle 125 kg
Nick Gwiazdowski, Raleigh, N.C. (Titan Mercury WC/Wolfpack RTC) dec. Adam Coon, Fowlerville, Mich. (New York AC/Michigan RTC), two matches to none
Bout One – Gwiazdowski dec. Coon, 6-1
Bout Two – Gwiazdowski dec. Coon, 6-1

Women’s freestyle
53 kg – Cody Pfau (Titan Mercury) pin Gabrielle Weyhrich (McKendree Bearcat WC), 1:45
59 kg: Kelsey Campbell (Sunkist Kids) dec. Lauren Louive (New York AC/Hawkeye WC), 4-0
68 kg: Alex Glaude (McKendree Bearcat WC) dec. Yvonne Galindo (Aries WC), 2-2
Men’s freestyle
57 kg: Tony Ramos (Sunkist Kids) dec. Zach Sanders (Minnesota Storm), 4-2
65 kg: Jaydin Eierman (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Andy Simmons (New York AC), 9-5
86 kg: Richard Perry (New York AC) dec. Pat Downey (Titan Mercury WC), 7-4
97 kg: Ty Walz (Titan Mercury WC) by forfeit over Austin Schafer (New York AC)


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Maturity, discipline and focus helped Nick Gwiazdowski take out Adam Coon in two straight matches

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Jesse Thielke Gets Another Shot On The International Stage

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Dan Gable Returns To His High School Alma Mater To Speak To Campers


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