Phase II World Team Trials Preview

Phase II World Team Trials Preview

Bonus Bracket Breakdown: Now that the brackets are out (and man are they juicy), I’m going to go through the challenge tournament and give you the match by match winners with a few interesting tidbits.

70KG

Round 1:
Dustin Schlatter v. Adam Hall-I like Dustin here, but can anyone really say what we’re getting with DS who I don’t believe has competed since the 2012 Olympic Trials?
Jason Welch v. Chase Pami-I like Welch here, but he’ll give up some points along the way.
Jason Tsirtsis v. Frank Molinaro-I don’t think Tsirtsis will be quite ready for Frank. He can handfight with Frank, but ultimately G-Hulk will be too much.. Not expecting a terribly competitive match.
Kellen Russell v. Dan Vallimont-College 141 v. a college 165 meeting at 70. Who’d a thunk it? Anyways, I think Kellen is better overall, I don’t know how the size disparity will impact, so I’m not factoring it in. Give me Kellen.

Quarters:
Moza Fay v. Dustin Schlatter-Give me Fay. 32% confident in this one…
James Green v. Jason Welch-Dang. 10-10 last time these two hit. Give me Greezy. I think he’ll avoid the flurries here.
Frank Molinaro v. Kevin LeValley-Tough call here. I’ll go Frank, I think he’ll be ready.
Kyle Ruschell v. Kellen Russell-Another tough one, but I love Ruschell. I’m stickin with him.

Semi’s:
Moza Fay v. James Green-Close to a coin flip here. I like Green but I’m not very confident as Moza will present problems for James.
Frank Molinaro v. Kyle Ruschell-These two had some battles in college. Ruschell had some success as did Molinaro. Ruschell gave Frank problems on top, but those worries are gone for Frank from a folkstyle sense. I think Ruschell is just darn tough to take down. He impressed the heck out of me at World Team camp. Another tough call, but I think Ruschells amazing scrambling ability and length get it done.

Challenge Finals:
James Green v. Kyle Ruschell-
Ruschell had the win at that US Open. I don’t think this is a great match up for Green who basically had the most difficult draw imaginiable to this point. I picked Green to win the challenge coming into this, but I never thought he’d have to face Welch, Fay and Ruschell in 3 straight matches. Oh well, sticking with my guns against all conventional wisdom. Give me Green.

61KG

Round 1:
Andrew Hochstrasser v. Connor Beebe-I like Hoch by lots and lots here.
Reece Humphrey v. Brad Pataky-Pataky will look for his cement job early and often, because he’s completely outmatched here. Reece by a ton.

Semi’s
Coleman Scott v. Andrew Hochstrasser-Coleman will methodically pick Hochstrasser apart. Won’t be a tech as Hoch’s got too much hustle and grit, but it won’t be close.
Reece Humphrey v. Joe Colon-Two throwers with some serious firepower, but in the end, this is Reece Humphrey we’re talking about. He’s got this.

Challenge Finals:
Coleman Scott v. Reece Humphrey-Already mentioned that I like Reece here. A little more detailed explanation below. 


We’ve got two extremely interesting weights with very differing storylines. The story at 61 is the big three and everyone else. Can anybody in that field break through and challenge Coleman Scott, Jimmy Kennedy or Reece Humphrey?

Conversely 70KG makes you feel like you could be just as accurate picking these guys out of a hat. 4 NCAA Champions enter the field with most regarded as relative underdogs (Frank Molinaro, Kellen Russell, Jason Tsirtsis and Dustin Schlatter). We’ve got a handful of NCAA Finalists as well with Dan Vallimont, Chase Pami and Jason Welch. Combine that with a handful of guys with multiple All American finishes- James Green, Kyle Ruschell, Kevin LeValley and we’ve got a dandy of a weight! Oh yeah, the favorite in all of this madness is probably Nick Marable with Moza Fay being the guy the rest of the field is possibly chasing.

70KG-The Contenders:

Nick Marable-Nick will be sitting in the finals as a result of his victory at the US Open. Huge for 70KG Marable brings unbelievable power and positioning. Combine that with timely leg attacks and he’s a problem that will be very difficult for anyone to solve once, let alone twice in a best two out of three setting. At the US Open, he wrestled 5 matches giving up a total of 2 points while scoring 41 (That’s good).

Moza Fay-I'd love to see Green go at it but both will have a long road to get to one another. I think he’s a safe bet, he has beaten Ruschell who was 3rd in the Open (beating Green) as well as wrestling Marable as close as anyone domestically has at 70KG. Moza has a variety of leg attacks from low ankles to a powerful double.

James Green-Been a Green fan from jump street. Part of me wants to be all bold and say James is going to take it. He’s been getting great experience this Summer as he has been training and wrestling with the best since the college season ended. A few things play against James that prevent me from picking him. I still am not convinced he’s a full sized 70. Against someone like Marable, that matters. Green is amazing with re-attacks and go behinds. Marable is going to give you exactly zero opportunities for those. Also, Marable is extremely difficult to open up. Breaking his head hands defense requires something that I’m not sure James or anyone else at this weight has. He’s made strides in Par Terre, however, I’m always going to be wary of those big move guys against James. James finds himself in a lot of flurries, most of them he comes out on top, but on the few he comes out on the short end of the stick, he can find himself in real danger.

Kyle Ruschell-Another guy I’ve always been a huge fan of. Very difficult to score on, even when you’re on his legs. He’s a tad unorthodox, but has a diverse arsenal. Ruschell is a good fit at 70 as he is probably too big for 65 now. He will capitalize off your mistakes and is good at exposing off of your own shot. Kyle will struggle with stronger and more gifted finishers of shots as his head hands defense can be quite lax due to his ability to counter when guys are on his legs. He can be a little scary from underneath as well.

Jason Welch-He’s been a nice surprise and a real budding prospect for Freestyle. I originally was unsure about how Welch would transition giving his funky style, but he’s been good. He lost a 10-10 classic to James Green. He’s dangerous as well as an underrated athlete. I think he will struggle to wrestle from behind, but if he can find a way to score early and create flurries he can be in the mix to make the finals.

Kevin LeValley-Another guy who has benefited from the move up to 70, I like LeValley a lot. It’s not a secret what he wants to do, he loves working from a Russian tie. His ability to wrestle from the tie effectively is what put his name on the map originally when he had a match to one point with Metcalf when Metcalf was blowing out practically everyone. Of course he went on to be much more than just a guy who tested Metcalf. He’s a threat to most guys, but ultimately I’m unsure he has the necessary offense to score with the best.

Kellen Russell-No clue how to evaluate what Kellen will be at 70. Hard to believe it wasn’t that long ago he was wrestling at 60, now he’s up at a weight over 20 pounds higher. I was disappointed (and surprised) with Kellen’s performance at the World Team Trials. I think that was a bad tournament that highlights what Kellen’s issues will be if he doesn’t open up and look to score. Look for a wide open Kellen Russell with nothing to lose, because he doesn’t. Expectations aren’t terribly high from most, even though he’s as accomplished as they come.

Frank Molinaro-The arrow continues to point up for Frank. He’s continuing to add layers to his game and is coming off a Bronze Medal performance at the Pan Ams. Pretty hard to believe he’s going to turn around and wrestle again a little over a week later, but he’s a competitor. Though Frank is as strong as they come, it’s hard for me to believe he’s going to be a full sized 70, especially compared to the competition.

Dustin Schlatter-If he is in the form he was in back in 2009 when he made the World Team at 74, then he’s got a real shot. I don’t think that’s terribly realistic, however. He’s been out of the mix for sometime and has defaulted out of several tournaments when he has competed. When he’s on and healthy he’s lethal. Great ducks and leg attacks combined with tremendous power and positioning. However, I just don’t see him being the Dustin of old. He could finish anywhere from challenge tourney finalist to DNP and you couldn't be surprised at either in my opinion.

Adam Hall-Hall has been on the scene for awhile now and though he’s always been super tough, I think he’s a peg behind some of the best contenders.

Dan Vallimont-Vallimont has been active on the scene as well for awhile now, though he hasn’t broken through yet. He could place top 5 or DNP, who really can know for sure?

Chase Pami-Pami is a tremendous athlete who has always been quality, but his results haven’t been terribly consistent and he’s been down at 65. My expectations aren’t super high for Chase.

Jason Tsirtsis-I was excited to see Tsirtsis enter. I was borderline shocked with his University performance. He’ll get some good mat time against quality guys, but I’m not sure he’s got the size or offense to hang with the best guys. His defense is superb, but I think the level required here will be a bit more than Tsirtsis can handle.

CP’s Predictions-This is one of the biggest challenges I’ve had prediction wise. Freestyle presents so many unknown variables. You go weeks or months between times you’ve seen guys wrestle. You’ve got guys at different weights, some are wrestling two competitions very close to one another (Green and Molinaro come to mind). Combine that with the fact that it is difficult to predict these guys based on skill alone in a vacuum. Ultimately, I just don’t see anyone coming in and beating Marable twice. He is the immovable object and I don’t see an unstoppable force in this field. I think Green and Fay are a coin flip with Ruschell being the 3rd guy in the challenge bracket who could realistically make the finals.

1. Nick Marable-In 2 matches
2. James Green
3. Moza Fay
4. Kyle Ruschell
5. Jason Welch
6. Kevin LeValley
7. Frank Molinaro
8. Kellen Russell


61KG - The Contenders:

Jimmy Kennedy-The story for Jimmy continues to be written as he has continued to improve and improve rapidly. He looked like the class of 61 at the open, and I’m not sure what is going to change. He’s really just accentuated all the areas that made him a great college wrestler. Areas where he was a 7 or 8, he is now a 9 or 10. He’s got quick and powerful leg attacks, tremendous positional discipline, great hand fighting ability as well as underrated athleticism. He may have been an also-ran at 60KG for a few years, but those days are gone for now. He is the guy to beat, and even though there was a time Reece had the advantage, I’m thinking those days may be gone. The Cliff Keen Wrestling Club has been doing good things, and Jimmy Kennedy is Exhibit A for their program in my opinion from a development standpoint.

Reece Humphrey-Though the field wouldn’t admit it in a million years, somewhere in the depths of their soul, the competition was like “ah crap” when Reece announced he was headed back to 61. He brings a level of experience, athleticism and mat savvy that few can match. Many may wonder how he’ll adjust down at 61, but I don’t anticipate to much of an issue. He’s known (I assume) since early June he was coming down, and he wasn’t an enormous 65. He can throw, duck, attack legs and turn you on top. I think he is the biggest threat to Kennedy out there. To get there he’ll likely have to renew his rivalry with Coleman Scott. The two have gone back and forth historically, but more times than not, it’s been Reece coming out on top.

Coleman Scott-When Coleman is all the way on, there’s not many guys who compare offensively. An amazing technician who’s level changes and fakes are so believable even spectators start to downblock. As he’s transitioning to a new role at UNC, I wonder if he is able to squeeze in the quality training necessary to knock off a guy like Humphrey who continues to exclusively train at ORTC.

Joe Colon-If anyone is going to break into this top 3, It’s going to be Colon. Maybe a guy like Hochstrasser would, but I just love the upside with Colon. He’s far from a finished product and needs work, but he’s got the strength, athleticism and attitude to compete. He loves his underhooks, specifically double underhooks. The challenge for Colon will be to diversify. He’s going to need to find additional sources of offense to get it done. In another year, don’t be surprised if it’s a very different story for Colon. I think his future is bright.

Andrew Hochstrasser-Hoch has bounced around from 61 to 57. He’s coming off a phenomenal performance at Pan Am’s where he won Gold. Hoch’s motor and top game are what make him so dangerous. He’s not the most refined or crisp attacker of legs, but he’s very strong and a solid hand fighter. He is probably a touch better than Colon right now, but in a little more time, it could be another story. An additional variable for Hochstrasser, like Molinaro will attempt to turn around from wrestling at Pan Am’s just over a week ago. The grind of international travel, weighing in and wrestling an entire tournament can take its toll. His (and Frank’s) ability to recover and be fresh will be pivotal for their success.

CP’s Predictions-Not near the crapshoot that 70 was, however, the final was a tough one to call. I just don’t see anyone beating Kennedy twice. This is his year.

1. Jimmy Kennedy-In 3 Matches
2. Reece Humphrey
3. Coleman Scott
4. Joe Colon
5. Andrew Hochstrasser




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