2023 Ironman Wrestling Tournament

Potential Forrest-Lilledahl Round 4 Matchup at Ironman 126 lbs

Potential Forrest-Lilledahl Round 4 Matchup at Ironman 126 lbs

The Ironman Wrestling Tournament bracket at 126 lbs is loaded with 6 top-20 ranked wrestlers and has the potential for a Forrest-Lilledahl rematch.

Dec 6, 2023 by Mason Lindenmuth
Potential Forrest-Lilledahl Round 4 Matchup at Ironman 126 lbs

126 pounds is one of the marque weights to watch at the 2023 Ironman Wrestling Tournament. This weight class is one of the deepest in high school wrestling currently and here we have a bracket with six top-20-ranked wrestlers, including two top-10 pound-for-pound ranked guys, so you can expect there to be fireworks. Here's everything you need to know about the 126-pound bracket at Ironman. 


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2023 Ironman Wrestling Tournament


The Favorites

#2 Jax Forrest, Bishop McCort, PA (uncommitted)

#3 Luke Lilledahl, Wyoming Seminary, PA (Penn State) 

Jax Forrest and Luke Lilledahl are unquestionably two of the best wrestlers in high school right now. We’ve seen these two gunslingers hit three times since last September, with Forrest leading the series 2-1. However, Lilledahl did win in the Ironman 120-pound final last year over Forrest, 3-1 in SV in an absolute chess match of a battle. That win is what likely earned Lilledahl the #1 seed at 126 pounds for this weekend. 

Luke Lilledahl's 2022 Ironman final victory over Jax Forrest

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These two hit once again just a few weeks later last year in the Powerade finals, with Forrest winning the one-takedown battle this time, 3-1 off a slide-by and rideout in the second period. That win is what earned Forrest the #2 ranking in the country at 126 pounds over Lilledahl.

Jax Forrest's 2022 Powerade final victory over Luke Lilledahl

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Both Forrest and Lilledahl are age-level world medalists and were even teammates on the 2022 U17 world team. Forrest won U17 silver in 2022, while Lilledahl won U17 silver and gold in 2021/2022 and finished silver at U20 worlds this past summer. 

Most recently, Forrest has been competing in college open tournaments and came away with a fifth-place finish in a loaded 125-pound bracket at the Clarion Open and won the Shorty Hitchcock Memorial Open. Lilledahl made his senior-level debut at the Bill Farrell a few weeks ago and impressively came away with a bronze medal with his only loss coming to Spencer Lee.  

Lilledahl is the top prospect in the Class of 2024 Big Board and is heading to Penn State next season. Lilledahl's path to the final is very navigable, as he will likely hit the winner between Porter Matecki and Phoenix Contos in the quarters, a match that Lilledahl will be heavily favored in. His semifinal could be very interesting, however, as he will likely get the winner between Seth Mendoza and Jayden Raney, two guys who are very familiar with big stages and will be game to take out Lilledahl. 

Forrest is the top prospect in the Class of 2026 Big Board and is currently uncommitted as just a sophomore, but is certainly one of the top recruits in high school. Forrest will likely get either Gage Walker or Thomas Verrette in the quarterfinals, which could set up a rematch with another familiar foe in the semifinals. Forrest and JJ McComas have hit twice in the last five months in both the Fargo and Super 32 finals, with Forrest coming away with two late victories over McComas in down-to-the-wire matchups. Following two heartbreaking losses on huge stages, you can imagine McComas will be poised to get this one back over Forrest if these two were to hit again. 

Jax Forrest's Fargo final victory over JJ McComas

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Jax Forrest's Super 32 final victory over JJ McComas

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The Contenders

#5 JJ McComas, Stillwater, OK (Oklahoma State)

#6 (120 lbs) Jayden Raney, Union County, KY

#8 Seth Mendoza, Mt. Carmel, IL 

#13 Sebastian Degennero, Jensen Beach, FL (Oklahoma)

As mentioned above, Oklahoma State commit JJ McComas has been right there with Jax Forrest in the past two matchups at both Fargo and Super 32 and is certainly the top contender to challenge Lilledahl and Forrest at 126 pounds. 

Jayden Raney and Seth Mendoza met at this tournament a year ago for seventh place down at 113 pounds, with Mendoza coming away with the 4-2 victory. Both of these guys have competed on some of the biggest stages at tournaments like Fargo, Super 32, Ironman, and World Team Trials and are certainly seasoned for deep runs in this bracket. Sebastian Degennero is another guy who placed seventh here a year ago. Don't be surprised to see the Oklahoma commit make a run for a higher placement this weekend. 

Sleepers & Darkhorses

Gage Walker, Bixby, OK

Porter Matecki, Whitfield, MO

Phoenix Contos, Toldeo Waite, OH

Thomas Verrette, Ponderosa, CO

Colin Martin, Staunton River, VA

Geronimo Rivera, Layton, UT

Andrew Binni, Canon-McMillan, PA

Chirstian Belford, Edmond North, OK

Aiden Allen, La Salle, OH

Josh Vazquez, Montini Catholic, IL

Despite all of the heavy hitters in this bracket, you can't overlook some of the lower-seeded guys at 126 pounds who will be looking to land on the podium. 

Gage Walker was a Fargo All-American this summer and made a deep run at the U17 World Team Trials. Thomas Verrette won a 16U Greco Fargo title up at 138 pounds this summer and was third in freestyle, so he has shown the ability to navigate deep fields and come out high on the podium. 2023 Pennsylvania state finalist Andrew Binni has an extremely high pace and ferocious hand fight, which has helped him knock off some of the best wrestlers in the country. All-in-all, you can expect some dark horses in this field to make strong runs to the podium. 

126 lbs Pre-Seeds

Complete Ironman pre-seeds for every weight are available here.

1. Luke Lilledahl - Wyoming Seminary, PA

2. Jax Forrest - Bishop McCort, PA

3. JJ (Rogers) McComas, Stillwater, OK

4. Seth Mendoza - Mt. Carmel, IL

5. Jayden Raney - Union County, KY

6. Sebastian Degennero - Jensen Beach, FL

7. Gage Walker, Bixby, OK

8. Porter Matecki - Whitfield, MO

9. Phoenix Contos - Toledo Waite, OH

10. Thomas Verrette - Ponderosa, CO

11. Colin Martin - Staunton River, VA

12. Geronimo Rivera - Layton, UT

13. Andrew Binni - Canon-McMillan, PA

14. Christian Belford - Edmond North, OK

15. Aiden Allen - La Salle, OH

16. Josh Vazquez - Montini Catholic, IL

Prediction

1) Luke Lilledahl 2) Jax Forrest 3) JJ McComas 4) Seth Mendoza 5) Sebastian Degennero 6) Jayden Raney 7) Andrew Binni 8) Thomas Verrette