We made it. The Junior and Senior World Team Trials are upon us. At the junior level the two toughest brackets are clearly 60kg and 66kg. Not all the brackets have the same depth, but the power is certainly there.
Let's take a look at some of the best early round matchups.
55kgSitting in the finals: Daton Fix
At 55kg Patrick McKee and Liam Cronin will be meeting in the first round. This is certainly one that can come with some excitement. But the match to watch here is in the semis where Brian Courtney and Alex Thomsen will meet. Both guys have high motors and can score lots of points so this one should be good. Bianchi, who was second at the Jr national tournament, is up top and shouldn't have any issue making it to the challenge finals. However, in the end I believe it will be Thomsen making it out to meet Daton Fix who has a bye to the best-of-three finals.
60kgSitting in the finals: Mitch McKee
Like I said, 60kg is the second toughest weight here next to 66kg. Top-seeded Vito Arujau is a lot to handle. I'm looking at a potential semifinal between him and NCAA All-American Jack Mueller. On the other side you've got Luke Pletcher and Austin Gomez who will be headed for each other in the other semifinal.
Ultimately, I believe we will get a Vito vs Pletcher challenge tournament final. I originally picked Pletcher to make it out, but after further review the call on the field has been overturned to Vito Arujau. Arujau will get his rematch with McKee, but I still see McKee coming out on top in the end.
66kgSitting in the finals: Ryan Deakin
Ok, 66 is a monster bracket with incredible depth. Storr gets the top seed here but didn't get done any favors as he draw Brayton Lee for his first match followed by fellow Michigan native Ben Freeman. Storr will pass that test, but waiting for him in the quarters will most likely be Chad Red. This is going to be an absolute slugfest. On the other side we are looking at quarterfinal matchups between Jarod Verkleeren and David Carr, who met a few years back at Ironman, But the big one on this side is Brady Berge vs Griffin Parriott. That's going to really bring some serious flames. A sleeper here is the quarter between O'Connor and Lugo. It's a sneaky good match for sure. Literally it's anyone's game here with Ryan Deakin sitting in the finals waiting for whoever arises from the ashes that is is this intense bracket.
74kgSitting in the finals: Mark Hall
This bracket is sneaky good. And I know that everyone is ready to throw the Mark Hall card on the table with him sitting in the finals awaiting the challenge champion, but these bouts are going to be very entertaining. Right out the gate you've got Alex Marinelli vs Zander Wick. Wick causes problems for guys with his incredible length. A Marinelli win over Wick would mean a rematch with All-American David McFadden. The bottom half gives you great matchups as well from Austin Kraisser and Hayden Hidley who will meet in the first round. I think that Marinelli comes out of the bracket with a win over Hidlay in the finals to meet Hall again.
84kgSitting in the finals: Zahid Valencia
There is a lot of depth here at 84kg. A lot of these guys have the potential to make it out and head to the finals against Zahid Valencia. A good early round match to keep an eye on is Canten Marriott vs Nick Reenan along with Owen Webster vs Max Dean. I mostly want to see what Webster's got after not seeing him compete for a quite some time.
Taylor Venz and Reenan have a little bit of a history where things got a bit heated at an all-star match, so be on the lookout for a good competition if they meet in the semifinals.
96kgSitting in the finals: Andrew Marsden
We may get a glimpse into the Ohio State wrestling room if Kevin Snyder can get by Sammy Colbray and make it to top-seeded Kollin Moore in the semis. But don't sleep on that Snyder vs Colbray match. In the quarters on the bottom half Nathan Traxler, who has a bye in the first round, could possibly see Ben Darmstadt. The winner of that bout would be looking to face Cadet medalist Jacob Warner. I don't see Warner get by Moore, but that match will be good in the finals. Andrew Marsden is awaiting the winner who I believe will be Moore when it's all said and done.
120Sitting in the finals: Gable Steveson
Not very much to say here, honestly. The challenge bracket is Jordan Wood's world. I don't see him having too much trouble making it back to the finals against Gable Steveson.