It is a very exciting time at USA Wrestling because of the elite up-and-coming talent being developed in our freestyle program. In addition to a Senior Men’s Freestyle World Team Title in 2017, we also won a Junior World Team Title and finished runner-up in Cadets.
In order to qualify for the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament (part of the Final X qualification process), wrestlers need to meet one of several criteria:
1. 2017 Senior Men’s Freestyle World Team Member
2. November 2017 Dave Schultz Memorial International - the highest placed Men’s Freestyle USA athlete per weight category winning a medal who has yet to qualify will earn a spot in the 2018 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament
3. March 2018 Bill Farrell Memorial International - the highest placed Men’s Freestyle USA athlete per weight category winning a medal who has yet to qualify will earn a spot in the 2018 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament.
4. 2018 NCAA Division I Champions
5. 2018 Senior Men’s Freestyle U.S. Open Championships - top 7 place finishes per weight class
Therefore many of our younger competitors (if they did not win the NCAA tournament) haven’t had the opportunity to qualify for the Challenge Tournament due to focusing on the NCAA folkstyle season. Their last opportunity to do so is at the US Open, April 27-28, in Las Vegas. The top seven placers will then have the opportunity to participate at the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament in Rochester, MN, May 19. Here are 10 wrestlers who wrestled in college last season that we would like to see competing at the Open to qualify for the Challenge Tournament.
Already Qualified NCAA Champion- Spencer Lee
Daton Fix redshirted this year for Oklahoma State where he was undefeated in limited competition. Fix’s freestyle resume speaks for itself. He has earned World bronze on the cadet and junior level and was a 2017 Junior World Champion. Fix has already proved he can hang with the best 57 kg domestically, beating National Team member, Nathan Tomasello, to make the U23 world team earlier this year. Despite not winning a match at U23s, Fix is a threat to not only place at the open, but win the whole thing.
Tomasello is already a member of the National Team, and will almost certainly be at the Open this year. Last year he placed third and followed it up with a third place performance at the 2017 World Team Trials. Tomasello wrestled his final season for Ohio State this year, ending his illustrious collegiate career with his fourth All-American honors. He is another wrestler who has a strong chance to win the entire tournament.
Already Qualified- NCAA Champions- Seth Gross
Michigan’s Stevan Micic is coming off a runner-up finish at NCAA’s to SDSU’s Seth Gross. No stranger to freestyle, Micic earned a bronze medal at the 2015 Junior World Championships. With no clear front runner for Team USA at 61 kg, Micic is a sleeper pick that could make some noise.
Already Qualified NCAA Champions- Zain Retherford (149) Yianni Diakhomihalis (141)
Ohio State’s Joey McKenna is coming off a third place performance at the NCAA tournament. The Stanford transfer now is rolling with the Ohio Regional Training Center, one of the most successful RTCs in the country. McKenna was an alternate behind Ohio RTC teammate, Logan Stieber, at the 2018 World Cup. He also earned a U23 World Bronze this year and was a 2014 Junior World Silver Medalist.
Already Qualified NCAA Champion- Vincenzo Joseph
Martinez, a four-time finalist and two time NCAA Champion at Illinois, was the alternate behind Jordan Burroughs at the 2018 World Cup. Martinez competed at the U23 World Championships, falling one short of earning a medal.
Although Richie Lewis did not earn All-American honors for Rutgers as he fell in the round of 12 of a loaded 165 bracket at the NCAA tournament, he is still a threat to place high on the podium at the Open. Lewis was a U23 World Champion at 70 kg, but will most likely be moving up to 74 kg if he competes.
Marsteller is one of the best comeback stories of the year, taking 4th place at the NCAA tournament for Lock Haven when not too long ago it was uncertain if he would every compete on the mat again. Last year Marsteller took 7th at the Open and will be looking to improve upon his finish.
Already Qualified NCAA Champion-Zahid Valencia
Hall is a two-time Junior World Champion, one-time Cadet World Champion, and one of the brightest freestyle prospects in the country. Hall’s world titles were down a weight at 74 kg, but the new weight that he will be competing at 79 kg, is equivalent to his college weight class of 174 lbs. Hall will have a bracket loaded with superstar talented including four time NCAA Champion, Kyle Dake, three-time NCAA Champion, Alex Dieringer, and Junior World Silver medalist, Zahid Valencia, who defeated Hall twice in folkstyle this year.
Already Qualified NCAA Champion- Michael Macchiavello
Moore took bronze at last year’s Junior World Championship at 96 kg (211 lbs), but with his training partner World and Olympic Champion, Kyle Snyder, at 97 kg, and 92 kg (202 lbs) being much closer to his college weight class of 197 pounds, it is a safe bet that if he competes he will be down a weight. Look for Moore to be hungry after a disappointing 4th place performance at NCAAs.
Already Qualified NCAA Champion- Kyle Snyder
Coon is highly qualified in both freestyle and Greco-Roman, earning Junior level bronze medals in both styles, as well as a Cadet Freestyle gold. He is a force to be reckoned with, and if he goes, will be considered one of the favorites to face returning World Bronze Medalist, Nick Gwiazdowski at Final X.
*Bonus- Gable Steveson
Gable is currently in his senior year of high school, but is already wrestling at a level where it is plausible that we see him trying his hand at the senior level. He won a Cadet World title two years ago, and last year won a Junior World title after petitioning to wrestle up an age group (he still had cadet eligibility). Gable has not wrestled in any senior level events, and his debut would be one of the most anticipated events of the tournament.