Junior World Team Trials Preview

Tony Rotundo Zahid Valencia

The Junior World Team Trials has no shortage of show-stopping matchups in store for Friday in Lincoln, NE, including a pair of weight classes stacked with hammers at 60kg and 66kg.

Last year, the U.S. juniors brought back two gold medals from Spencer Lee and Mark Hall as well as a bronze from Daton Fix. Both Fix and Hall are returning and are sitting in the finals awaiting the challenge tournament winner as they look to make another world team.

Cadet medalists Gable Steveson, a two-time world champ, and Jacob Warner will be competing in the junior trials for the first time. Warner will look to fight through the challenge tournament to get a shot at the spot, while Steveson gets the bye after winning the title the Junior National tournament a little over a month ago. This is certainly going to be an amazing way to gear up for the senior trials the following day. So let's check out the field.

Only registered wrestlers are included in each weight breakdown.

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50kg

Sitting out until finals: Malik Heinselman, CO

Contenders
Cevion Severado, MO
Cody Phippen, MO

Commentary: At this point, Severado and Phippen are the only two guys registered, with Heinselman getting the bye to the finals after winning the Jr. National tournament. I don't see Heinselman getting taken out here. I'm looking for him to come out on top and become the world team rep.

Holmes' pick: Heinselman


55kg

Sitting out until finals: Daton Fix, OK

Contenders
Alex Thomsen, IA
Andrew Alirez, CO
Brandon Courtney, AZ
Paul Bianchi, ND
Derek Spann, NY

Commentary: Paul Bianchi came out of the other side to meet Fix in the finals in Las Vegas, but I'm not taking him to make it through the challenge tournament to get another shot at the two-time world medalist. I'm looking at Thomsen to get through the bracket and meet Fix in the best-of-three finals here. Ultimately though, Fix is too much for anyone who makes it out.

Holmes' pick: Fix


60kg

Sitting out until finals: Mitch McKee, MN

Contenders
Vito Arujau, NY
Austin Gomez, IL
Jack Mueller, TX
Luke Pletcher, PA
Montorie Bridges, WY
Tariq Wilson, NC

Commentary
: Pletcher coming down to this weight after competing at 63kg at Jr. Nationals makes things very interesting. The return of Austin Gomez is something to keep an eye on as well. Gomez was sidelined for a bit, but you know he's coming in hot. Mueller impressed many with how he performed during the NCAA season, as he finished as an All-American with the most tech falls of the entire season. Arujau and McKee, who is the Jr. Nationals champ sitting out until the finals, had a serious battle in the finals of the Open. Although the field is smaller here than at the Open, it's going to be tougher. Pletcher won at 63kg, and I like him to come out of the challenge tournament to meet McKee. I think that this will be the first best-of-three final to go all three bouts, and I'm going to take McKee.

Holmes' pick: McKee


66kg

Sitting out until finals: Ryan Deakin, NU

Contenders
Chad Red, IN
Austin O'Connor, IL
Alex Lloyd, MN
Ben Freeman, MI
Brady Berge, MN
Brayton Lee, IN
Carter Happel, IA
David Carr, OH
Griffin Parriott, IN
Kanen Storr, MI
Pat Lugo, FL
Jarod Verkleeren, PA

Commentary: Hands down this is the most stacked bracket of the entire tournament. This list of contenders is ridiculous, and in my mind it's anyone's game. It's going to be a tough cut for Carr. He is very big for this weight. Parriott is coming down too after winning the 70kg title at Jr. Nationals, and I consider him to be one of the four guys who can come out of the challenge tournament to meet Deakin. My other top guys here besides Parriott are Berge, Red, and Storr. This bracket is seriously loaded. Any one of these guys can win it, but I'm going with Chad Red.

NOTE: Two-time cadet world champ Yianni Diakomihalis will not be competing at the World Team Trials due to illness.

Holmes' pick: Red

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74kg

Sitting out until finals: Mark Hall, NLWC

Contenders
Alex Marinelli, IA
Austin Kraisser, NC
David McFadden, VA
DJ Shannon, MO
Evan Wick, WI
Hayden Hidlay, NC
Jake Allar, MN
Mike D'Angelo, NJ
Zander Wick, WI

Commentary: Very tough field here. Marinelli was on the other side of things against Hall at Jr. Nationals and could certainly be the guy to do it again. Interesting additions here with McFadden, who was on a redshirt this year, and DJ Shannon. Evan Wick seems to have Hayden Hidlay figured out and could make a push for the best-of-three finals against Hall. But naturally, this is Hall's world. He's the returning world champ at this weight, and it's going to take a serious grenade to remove him from the spot.

Holmes' pick: Hall


84kg

Sitting out until finals: Zahid Valencia, ASU

Contenders
Canten Marriott, MO
Keegan Moore, OK
Kevin Parker, NJ
Nick Reenan, NC
Owen Webster, MN

Commentary: This is a well-versed group of freestyle wrestlers. Each one of them has been on the Fargo stage at some point, with Webster and Parker meeting there a few years ago. Nonetheless, I'm calling for a finals rematch with Reenan and Valencia. Reenan mowed down the field in Vegas, and a repeat performance is in store for this weekend. But I will say that with Webster in the field, it could shake things up for sure.

Holmes' pick: Valencia


96kg

Sitting out until finals: Andrew Marsden, OK

Contenders
Kollin Moore, OH
Andrew Davison, IN
Ben Darmstadt, NY
Jacob Warner, IL
Kevin Snyder, MD
Nathan Traxler, CA
Sammy Colbray, IA
Josh Roetman, MD

Commentary: So far I've leaned more toward the automatic finalists as our overall winners. This is one that I'm not completely sold on. Jacob Warner has put on some size, and I believe he fits in nicely with this weight class as he comes up from the cadet level with a world bronze medal to compete in his first junior-level tournament. Chase Singletary has yet to register, so I'm not sure if he will be in the field or not. But if he is, I consider him to be another contender along with Nathan Traxler, who shut out Singletary when they met at the Jr. National tournament. Colbray made a mistake that cost him the match against Roetman, who, to his own credit, is extremely tough. But in all honesty, it's all Kollin Moore. He's the guy to beat here.

Holmes' pick: Moore


120kg

Sitting out until finals: Gable Steveson, MN

Contenders
Jordan Wood, PA
Carter Isley, IA
Shawn Streck, IN
Brandon Metz, ND
Christian Lance, MO
Christian Rebottaro, CA
Youssif Hemida, MD

Commentary: It's going to be another high-action match between Wood and Steveson in the best-of-three finals. These guys have met a few times, and each time Steveson got the best of Wood. Steveson will be looking to repeat his performance at the Cadet World Championships at this year's Junior World Championships, and I don't see anyone stopping him.

Holmes' pick: Steveson

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