It was nearly impossible to fully process every aspect of the 2017 U.S. Open as it was happening this past weekend in Las Vegas. There were so many upsets and incredible matches, fascinating storylines playing out, and goals being accomplished.
A few days later and with a clear head, it's time to glance back at the Open, what it meant for each weight, and also look forward to World Team Trials in Lincoln, Nebraska, on June 10.
We're starting this series off at 57kg by going over Open results, listing current trials qualifiers, and projecting the seeds. Complete brackets and archived matches for the Open can be found on FloArena.
57kg Trials QualifiersTony Ramos - Bye to finals
Nico Megaludis - Bill Farrell Champ
Tyler Graff - Dave Schultz champ
Nahshon Garrett - Open placer, 2nd
Nathan Tomasello - Open placer, 3rd
Frank Perrelli - Open placer, 4th
Zach Sanders - Open placer, 5th
Alan Waters - Open placer, 6th
Jesse Delgado - Open placer, 7th
Darian Cruz - NCAA champ
Just like in 2015, Tony Ramos won the U.S. Open in a nail-biter to earn an automatic berth in the World Team Trials finals. Afterward, he said, "I'm just clutch; it's always been a gene that I've got." This is the second time he's had the bye, and the fourth straight year he'll be wrestling in the finals. Ramos spent most of the year after Olympic Trials up at 61kg but appears poised to make his third world team at 57kg.
In typical Ramos fashion, he trailed in his last four matches and had two criteria wins. He's learned how to win the close ones domestically and is continuing to improve his freestyle savviness, such as when he allowed the shot clock to expire before finishing a shot on Nahshon Garrett in the finals.
Ramos will be wrestling on Wednesday, May 17th in his second Beat the Streets event. In his only previous appearance, Ramos lost to Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez of Cuba. He can even his career BTS record with a win over Rinya Nakamura of Japan.
The likely one seed for the challenge tournament is going to be Tyler Graff, by nature of his 10-0 win in the consi semis of OTT over Garrett. Graff has never made a world team and has never wrestled Ramos on the senior level in freestyle. We didn't get to see Graff at the Open, in large part because he was winning Pan Ams the next weekend. Graff did not allow a point in Brazil, accumulating three techs and a 17 second pin.
Garrett should be two seed, just as he was in Vegas, after making the Open finals. There is of course the option he could go up to 61kg in Lincoln, but he would have a worse seed and could be small for the weight on an international level. The Cornell grad stayed on the offensive, putting up 34 points and a pin in his four wins en route to the finals. It appears Garrett is close to realizing the potential many expected him to have when he began transitioning to the senior level.
Nathan Tomasello looked great on his way to a bronze medal in Vegas, with his only loss coming on criteria to Ramos. He won the third-place match on a last-second gut wrench, a new wrinkle in NaTo's arsenal that once cost him a match against Joe Colon. Seeing the gut wrench is an encouraging sign for Buckeyes fans, particularly in a weight in which Graff frequently puts matches away from par terre. The only thing we didn't see from NaTo this weekend was a hi-c to his opponent's back for four points.
This is where potential seeds in June start to get tricky. Nico Megaludis is a question mark for Lincoln; he forfeited out after losing to Tomasello in the quarterfinals. The 2016 NCAA champ was the five seed in Vegas after winning the Bill Farrell and Paris Grand Prix this year, as well as being a part of Titan Mercury's title team at the World Clubs Cup.
If the coaches do not penalize Megaludis too heavily for forfeiting out, Zach Sanders could be the five seed. Sanders beat Jesse Delgado 3-2 in Vegas and was third at the Farrell, with two wins over Frank Perrelli there. Sanders was fifth after Alan Waters did not wrestle in their placing match.
Perrelli has been having one of his best years ever on the senior level, with two international medals. His two losses last weekend came on criteria to Ramos, and that loss mentioned above to Tomasello on the last-second gut wrench. The fourth-place finish puts him in position for the six seed in Lincoln, and every one of his opponents will be preparing for his head pinch and counter-exposure offense.
Waters came in as the three seed and lost to Garrett and Perrelli. He is one of the biggest guys in this weight and has showed he can turn high level guys at this weight with either a gut wrench or a lace. Looking ahead to Lincoln, if Waters can keep matches a little lower scoring and stop them from getting away from him, he can put himself in a position to make the finals.
Jesse Delgado tripled his number of career senior-level freestyle matches this weekend. Meanwhile, over at the Northeast Regional, Darian Cruz won his bracket handily by outscoring opponents 30-1. These two are the most green in terms of senior level experience, but WTT has such small brackets that they will have a top seed right away.
Looking ahead to the last-chance qualifier later this month, the biggest name likely to show up is Thomas Gilman. As the name implies, that is the final opportunity for guys of all weights to earn a spot in the trials.
Projected WTT SeedsTony Ramos - bye to finals
- Tyler Graff
- Nahshon Garrett
- Nathan Tomasello
- Nico Megaludis
- Zach Sanders
- Frank Perrelli
- Alan Waters
- Jesse Delgado
- Darian Cruz
- Thomas Gilman