It's freestyle season! The US Open is LIVE on Flo next weekend, with every weight starting at 9am sharp on Friday, April 28th. Pacific time of course since it is in Vegas.
We've been rolling out one preview a day to get you guys up to speed on who the contenders are at each weight. Today's weight is 70kg, which has been manned by James Green for the past two years.
U.S. Open Previews: 57kg | 61kg | 65kg | 74kg | 86kg | 97kg | 125kg
A world bronze medalist in 2015, Green dropped down to 65kg for the Olympic year and went 0-2 in Iowa City at the Olympic Team Trials. Back up at 70 a few months later, he won the non-Olympic WTT but was unable to medal in Budapest at the world championships.
FloZone returns the Friday of the Open and will be in action all day. Remember, registration is publicly available on FloArena. On to the full preview.
The ContendersJames Green, Titan Mercury/NWTC
Jason Chamberlain, Titan Mercury/Valley RTC
Nazar Kulchytskyy, Titan Mercury
Jason Nolf, Nittany Lion WC
The Dark HorsesDylan Ness, Minnesota Storm
Chase Pami, Sunkist Kids/Penn RTC
Tommy Gantt, Titan Mercury/Wolfpack WC
Alec Pantaleo, Michigan RTC
Jason Welch, Titan Mercury/Chicago RTC
It's been Green's weight for two years, and that doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon. He will walk in as the one seed, and is the heavy favorite to walk out with a bye to the finals in his home gym in June.
So that means us prognosticators are tasked with guessing who will be the top seed in the challenge tourney in Lincoln, Nebraska in June. The guy walking in with the two seed should be Jason Chamberlain, who is now training and coaching at Fresno State. Chamberlain was fourth at the Farrell in November, with Jordan Oliver and Jimmy Kennedy finishing ahead of him, but dropping back down to 65kg.
The former Boise State wrestler was also second at the Dave Schultz, including a win over Olympian Boris Novachkov, as well as a fifth-place finish in Ukraine. One of the hardest wrestlers to score on, Chamberlain does an excellent job controlling elbows and in turn, controlling the pace of the match.
Nazar Kulchytskyy is the guy who seems to be the eternal bad draw. He had Green down 6-0 in the first period at the 2015 trials, and was third at the Schultz. Kulchytskyy's ability to go upper body is what makes him so dangerous, especially with correct throws and fives being back.
Speaking of throwers, Dylan Ness is transitioning back from Greco where he spent some time after his folkstyle career was over. Ness's previous freestyle tournament was the last chance OTT Qualifier up at 74kg. This is the best weight for Ness, who walks in (if healthy) as one of the best athletes in the bracket.
Tommy Gantt had a tough Farrell, losing to Kevin LeValley and Kulchytskyy, but seems like a reasonable shot to go top seven in this field. Pantaleo is a massive wildcard. He hasn't wrestled in months, but he did make the junior world team at 66kg last year. Welch is making his return to the mat and is always good for at least one highlight move per tournament.
Chase Pami is a grizzled vet who might love practice and being in the room more than just about anyone still actively competing. His gold in Paris was a good reminder that he can continue to compete at this level.
The one guy we're still waiting on is Jason Nolf. He hasn't signed up yet, but indicated at FloNats he would be in the field. We've never seen Nolf up in the senior field, though he has had some success at the junior level domestically. He hasn't made a world team, but he has been in the same weight as his world champ teammate Mark Hall.
No one can question Nolf's dominance on the collegiate level, or ability to be creative and put up video game numbers in folkstyle. What I'm waiting to see is if some of the shots he hits can turn into quick leg laces. At this time, he seems likely good enough to go with top 6 guys on his feet, but can he be a frequent par terre nightmare?
This weight seems like it will come down to experience. Green has been going to senior opens for years, as has Chamberlain. Would it be a complete shocker if Nolf made the finals or upset Green? Not terribly, but I'm being conservative for now. A third place match between Nolf and a properly motivated and healthy Nazar could see 30 points on the board.
- James Green
- Jason Chamberlain
- Jason Nolf
- Nazar Kulchytskyy
- Dylan Ness
- Chase Pami
- Jason Welch