Ladies and gentlepersons, we have arrived at the final, Final X. Can you believe it!?
Match notes of all of tonight's action from historic Grace Hall on the campus of Lehigh University is contained herein. Please enjoy!
We kick things off with six matches to determine 'true thirds'. These competitors are vying for the last spot on the national team --the top three per weight class and style-- with increased sponsorships and training opportunities on the line. These will be one-off matches, as opposed to the Final X matchups, which will be best two-of-three and will determine who goes to Budapest and competes for Team USA in Budapest.
Willie is hear, so close to his homeland, dressed in what can only be described as rustic business casual and we are just about ready to start the show.
5:00 PM EST: True Thirds
53 kg: Cody Pfau vs Gabriel Weyhrich
1st period: And we're off! Pfau gets a single leg and converts for two after just 30 seconds of clock. Weyrich fires back with a feet-to-back for 4, except its scored two for Pfau, who may have initiated the move. They will review. The challenge was a good one. Weyhrich doesn't get 4 but does get 2, and Pfau gets 1 on the reversal. Another single leg for Pfau and then an arm bar rolls Weyrich over. Pfau looking for the fall. And she gets it! Pfau makes the national team.
59 kg: Kelsey Campbell vs Lauren Louive
1st period: Campbell runs the pike for 2 and draws first blood. Another single leg for Campbell. Runs a variant on the pike but the result is the same. It's 4-0 in the 1st. 2nd period ends 4-0 in favor of Campbell, this year's U.S. Open winner.
2nd period: Louive trying to get on her offense but Campbell is ready for her. Louive can't penetrate Campbell's defense with 1 minute to go, Campbell still up 4-0. Louive get's one of Campbell's legs in the air but time expires and Kelsey Campbell, a 2012 Olympian, makes the national team!
68 kg: Yvonne Galindo vs Alex Glaude
1st period: Glaude gives up a passivity point about 2 minutes into the match. Fierce hand fighting but not much in the way of level changes for either wrestler. Period ends 1-0 in favor of Galindo.
2nd period: Like last period, we open with ferocious hand fighting but few shots. Galindo now gets put on a clock and shoots a sweep single. Glaude counters, stretching Galindo out and spins behind for two to take the lead 2-1. Galindo gets another point but it's moot as Glaude owns the criteria advantage and wins with a 2-2 score. Glaude makes the national team!
57 kg: Tony Ramos vs Zach Sanders
1st period: Ramos trying to get back on the national team. Ramos was on the 2014 and 2015 world team at 57kg. Ramos gives up a shot clock point with about a minute to go. And that's how the period ends, 1-0 in favor of Sanders.
2nd period: Ramos snatches a single leg and bring Sanders down to the mat. He climbs up to cover for 2 and takes the lead, 2-1. Ramos gets put on the clock again. He grabs a single leg again but time expires before he can finish. But Ramos is good trading 2 for 1 and the lead is 4-2 late in the match. That's how it ends and Tony Ramos wins the true third contest!
65 kg: Jaydin Eierman vs Andy Simmons
1st period: Eierman has the youth but Simmons has the experience. Eierman with a standing whizzer. Simmons cranks down on it hard and flips Eierman over for an exposure. Eierman shakes his shoulder as they get back to their feet, that looked painful. 2-0 Simmons. Simmons gets a go behind off of an Eierman shot and extends his lead to 4-0. Now Simmons has a single leg, Eierman defends with a shin whizzer, then a belly whizzer tilt for 2. 4-2 in favor of Simmons with time running out in the 1st. Eierman in short time hits a shrug and then works Simmons down to the mat just in time. It's tied 4-4 with Eierman holding criteria by virtue of the last score.
2nd period: A pair of nifty takedowns by Eierman extends the lead to 8-4. Eierman has figured out Simmons' defense. They trade step outs and Eierman makes the national team by a 9-5 score. He's got two years left of eligibility at Missouri.
86 kg: Pat Downey vs Richard Perry
1st period: These two guys start off scrapping hard. Each wrestler gets a passivity warning. Downey gets put on the clock and gives up the point just as Perry gets a step out. The braided Downey gets a step out of his own just before time expires in the first. Perry leads 2-1.
2nd period: Perry shoots in and gets Downey in a front head lock. Downey muscles up and gets a body lock. They are in a 50-50 position and Downey gets the better of it. He scores 2, and briefly thinks about throwing the challenge brick to get 4 but retracts it. Perry fires back with a powerful double leg to retake the lead. Its 4-3 Perry with 90 seconds to go. Perry gets a step out to make it 5-3. Downey answers with one of his own to make it 5-4. Downey in short time attacking. Perry sprawls and is able to spin behind for what should ice the match. And that's how it ends, 7-4, with Richard Perry winning true third and making the national team!
Intermission time! Sadly no t-shirt cannon. But perhaps I will take my shirt off and throw it into the crowd? No, no I will not do that either.
7:00 PM EST: Final X - Bethlehem
61kg: Joe Colon vs. Nahshon Garrett
1st period: The first match of the final Final X of 2018 is underway! Joe comes out to Enimem, Nahshon to Michael Jackson. Smooth Criminal, classic MJ. Garrett gets a passivity warning, Colon also wanted a hands to the face warning. Hand fighting by the boundary and Garrett ust barely steps out, giving Colon the first point of the match. Colon digging double unders and Garrett wants nothing to do with it. They get to the edge of the mat and now its Colon that steps out tying the score 1-1.
Sweep single attempt and by Colon and it lands. He works his way around to Garrett's back and Nahshon hits the mat and concedes the two. Colon then locks in a tight gut wrench and gets a turn for 2 more. That's how the period ends, 5-1 in favor of Colon.
2nd period: Garrett looking to get on his offense. and with a little over 2 minutes to go in the match Garrett times a double leg attack perfectly and nearly drives Colon into the stand. That cuts the lead to 2, its 5-3 in Colon's favor. 90 seconds to go. Garrett in on a single, working furiously to finish, but Colon sits the corner and gets a crotch lift for 2. It's 7-3 now, 56 seconds on the board.
Garret in on a double but Colon defends with a tight chest wrap and somehow avoids the takedown. Short time now, still 7-3. Garrett hits an ankle pick and converts to make it 7-5 and they go out of bounds with 3 seconds on the clock. Garrett goes right off the restart but he can't connect. Colon takes the first one 7-5. These two did not disappoint, action the entire match!
1st period: Single leg by Garrett, thinking peterson roll, but Colon locks up a cradle, even with Garrett holding the leg, but then Garrett muscles COlon to his back. He's looking for the fall! Doesn't get it, but Garrett does pick up to 2 more with a trap arm. It's 4-0 and I wish this was a best of 7 series. They spend much of the rest of the period in space, some pummelling, and we go to the break with Garrett holding a 4-0 lead.
2nd period: Colon is looking to go upper body. Digs unders, has Garrett's arms bundled. Tries to whip Garrett over at the edge but Garrett recovers and drives Colon out of bounds to get the step out point. Colon very nearly lat dropped Garrett but it was after the whistle at blown. It's 5-0 Garrett with 2 minutes to go. Colon looking to go big but Garrett keeping his distance. Garrett stepping back, getting a verbal warning from the official. Now an official passivity warning and Garrett will go on the clock, but there are only 40 seconds left so that won't pressure Garrett much. Colon tries to apply pressure, however, and picks up a step out, which is ruled a caution and 1 for fleeing. Colon gets that same call again and Garrett has 2 cautions with 10 seconds to go. Garrett hits a blast double and colon tries to chest wrap and catching Garrett as time expires in an exposure. It's ruled 4 for Garrett and 2 for Colon to make it 9-4, but here comes the challenge brick. Might as well at this point. The call is upheld and TOP NEWS WRESTLING FRIENDS, we get a third Garrett v Colon match. How lovely!
1st period: It's bonus wrestling match time! How wonderful for us! And it's Garrett right off the whistle with a single and a big back trip that nearly gets four but it's two, plus a gut wrench for two more and Garrett races out to 4-0 lead. A slick ankle pick and a huge gut wrench means Garrett is now winning 8-0 and not even a minute as gone by. Garrett now changing levels, head faking, looking for the series finishing blast double. And there it is! To the back for four! Nahshon Garrett wins the decisive third match 12-0! Garrett is flexing! He pounds the mat twice and he is excited to be on his first world team!
50kg: Whitney Conder vs. Victoria Anthony
1st period: Another rematch of the U.S. Open final. Conder won that one. Anthony in on a single and Conder goes rubber knee. Like super rubber knee. I don't know how that's possible. Anyway, it's stalemated. Conder gets a leg next but Anthony defends. A double leg by Conder is finished cleanly and she takes the lead 2-0. In short offense Conder pops her head behind Anthony and she collects 2 more. Conder working on a gut but Anthony won't turn. Period ends, 4-0 in favor of Conder.
2nd period: In short offense, Anthony looks for a go behind but then lands a nifty chin whip and throws Conder to her back. Score is tied but the 4 point move means Anthony holds criteria. Conder trying to work off a Russian tie but Anthony is wrestling tough. Less than a minute to go, still 4-4, but then Conder fires off another double that she finishes clean to take back the lead. Conder then finds success with a high gut wrench, extending her lead to 4. Anthony looking to hit an inside trip and Conder knows it. A 4 pointer would give Anthony the lead. She goes for it! But Conder defends and tacks on 2 more. Final score 10-4, solid win by Conder in the first match.
It's time to throw t-shirts. I'm telling you the people love t-shirts. It is their favorite. They go absolutely wild for them. So much so that as the t-shirt crew walks off the mat they are boo'ed for not having a sufficient number of t-shirts to distribute. Astounding.
1st period: Conder shoots in on a single tight off the whistle and Anthony defends with a limp leg. Repeat that sequence and we're in neutral again. Anthony picks up a passivity warning and we get another single leg attack from Conder that ends in a stalemate. Another shot by Conder but Anthony was ready and she gets an exposure on the pancake attempt. Conder rolls out of danger and into a front headlock but can't score from it so we're on our feet with a minute left, Anthony holding a 2-0 lead. Both wrestles keep their distance until Conder fires off a double that Anthony catches and then tries one of her patented inside trips. Conder was read for it, steps out of danger and goes behind. Anthony defends in a quod-pod but Conder gets her to the mat with a couple seconds to spare. It's 2-2 at the break, Conder with criteria.
2nd period: A minute transpires with attacks from both wrestlers but no scores. Anthony working furiously from a front headlock but COnder thwarts her at every move. Until Anthony makes me eat those words with a throw by that gives her the lead, 4-2. Arm spin by Conder very nearly puts her back in the lead but its stalemated with no points on the board. Conder pushes Anothy out of bounds but they're ruled grounded. One of the table judges held up a caution and one for fleeing but it's white paddled. The match ends 4-2 in favor of Anthony and guess what? More good news! We get a third match from these two warriors as well. Hooray!
1st period: And now, the FINAL, FINAL X MATCH. The rubber match! One minute down and not a lot of action. Conder fires off a single and it connects, but Anthony defends. They're at the edge of the mat and Conder is trying to step over. She finally uses her superior reach and collects the two by a toenail. COnder with the 2-0 leads. Anthony in short offense but can't get anything going. Anthony goes back to the front head lock in short time but it's stalemated and we go back to neutral with 15 seconds remaining in the 1st period. A shot by Anthony but she runs out of time. We go to the break and it's 2-0 Conder.
2nd period: Now we're in the final period of the final match of the final Final X. Anthony in on a shot, but Conder counters for two. It's 4-0 as Conder starts working on a gut wrench. Conder gets two turns with the gut but Anthony's corner wants to challenge saying she stopped momentum and scored on one of those. Challenge is denied and it's 9-0. Conder one point away from getting back on the world team for the first time since 2015. Less than a minute to go. Conder continues to shoot, trying to seal the deal. Anthony running out of time. 15 seconds. And a go behind with 3 seconds means you can put this one in the books! Whitney Conder will return to the World Championships! Folks, we did it, 3 Final X's in three weeks!
92kg: J'den Cox vs. Hayden Zillmer
1st period: A three-time NCAA champ (Cox) vs a one time NCAA All-American (Zillmer) may seem like a mismatch, but Zillmer wrestled Cox tough, losing 3-0 in the Open. And Zillmer strikes first, getting a step out after grabbing a single leg. Cox's defense is insane as he just levitates his other leg out of the way. Cox hit for a passivity warning and he shrugs it off and promptly scores 2 off a single leg after the restart. Cox leads 2-1 with 15 seconds to go. That's how the period ends.
2nd period: Cox shoots a sweep single and has Zillmer hopping just a few seconds into the 2nd period. Cox will settle for a step out and the score is 3-1 Cox. Zillmer getting heavy with the hands. Cox shoots in a double but Zillmer sprawls hard. Zillmer looking for a head pinch but Cox powers through it and ends up with 2 more. It's 5-1 Cox with a minute to go. Zillmer collects another leg from Cox but J'Den seems comfortable hopping on just one. Zillmer settled for a step out. It's 5-2, 15 seconds to go. A desperation arm spin is ruled a slip and that's how it ends, 5-2. Cox wins round 1 (or two, if you count the Open, which you shouldn't, because it doesn't count).
1st period: Zillmer warned for passivity but not a lot of action after a minute. And thankfully I have inspired J'Den into action and he hits a pretty single leg for two. Cox transitions into a leg lace and whips Zillmer around for an exposure and then keeps going. A tornado of laces gives Cox the 10-0 victory and we have our first world team member from Final X - Bethlehem. Cox is fired up! He tells Bryan Hazard in the post match interview that Team USA is going to be pretty freaking awesome this year. I concur! Well done J'Den!
53kg: Sarah Hildebrandt vs. Haley Augello
Unsure what the song Sarah is walking out to but it has some pretty singing involved. Haley walks out to hip-hop. I consult Mr. Ryan Holmes and he thinks he knows it but is not sure so we will not guess.
1st period: Augello gets tripped up, looks like by accident, right off the whistle, and Hildebrandt capitalizes to take the lead 2-0 early in the match. Augello shoots in and Hilde nearly has a go behind but Augello fights out of it. Sweep single by Hildebrandt and Augello tries to lip leg out of it. Instead, Hilde will power through and extend her lead to 4. 1st period ends 4-0.
2nd period: Augello struggling to get to her ties, Hildebrandt not letting her get to her offense. 2 minutes remain. Augello fires off a doiuble but Hildebrandt catches her and looks for a go behind. Then thinks ankle pick before Augello fights back to neutral. Another shot by Augello but this time Hildebrandt spins behind for 2. It's 6-0 now, 30 seconds left in the match. That's how the match ends, Hildebrandt takes the first one 6-0.
1st period: Tough hand fighting but no scores after a minute. Both wrestlers now with passivity warning. Hildebrandt dives for an ankle and they start scrambling. After a lot of effort Hildebrandt comes out on top and earns the 2-0 lead with a minute left in the first. It stays 2-0 as we go to the break.
2nd period: More hand fighting and it's Augello who gets hit with another passive so she goes on the clock. Augello can't score so Hilde gets another point. A shrug gives Hildebrandt two more and an exposure as Augello tries to defend gives her 2 more. Augello challenges the exposure from that sequence and is denied. It's 8-0 in favor of Hildebrandt with 40 seconds to go. Augello keeps coming after Hildebrandt for the rest of the match but it's to no avail. Sarah Hildebrandt becomes the first woman to make the world team here in Bethlehem! Congrats to Sarah Hildebrandt!
65kg: Julia Salata vs. Forrest Molinari
1st period: Two friends, one pupil and one coach, now pitted against each other with a world team spot on the line. Salata, a few years the elder of Molinari, won the U.S. Open. Molinari will look to reverse that result. Lots of collar ties but no scores yet. Now Salata gets a leg, nearly converts and they go out of bounds but both wrestlers had already been grounded so no points. It's 0-0 with 1:11 on the clock as Salata goes on the shot clock. With time running down on the shot clock, Molinari gets one of Salata's legs in the air. The shot clock expires, the point for Molinari goes on the board, then Forrest gets a big front side trip that sends Salata head over heels and gives Molinari a 5-0 lead. That's what the scoreboard reads as we head to the break.
2nd period: A minute into the 2nd and Molinari pounces with a snap down after a half shot by Salata. Julia manages to defend and they're back in neutral. 90 seconds to go. Molinari contenues to frustrate Salata, who cannot get to her offense. 30 left on the clock. A desperation fireman's by Salata is caught by Molinari and stalemated. And that's how the first match ends. Molinari indeed flips the U.S. Open result and takes the advantage in the best of three series.
1st period: Pretty sure that's Jay-Z Forrest is running out to. I hear the word 'snowflake' in the lyrics and that is what Molinari is about because she says she has 'ice in her veins'. Alas, I cannot recognize Julia's music. Julia fires off a single early but Molinari uses matrix speed to disappear and reappear behind Salata for two. Heavy heavy hand from Molinari and Salata needs a second. Thought we might see an injury stoppage, perhaps some cold spray? but Salta shakes it off and goes right back to the center. The period ends and Molinari is still up 2-0.
2nd period: Some pummelling but no scores. Molinari has Salata's leg in the air but can't finish. There are 90 seconds left in the match. Molinari trying to make her first senior world team. Salata looking to go big with an upper body tie. They're on the egde of the mat but it's Molinari who throws Salata to the mat for four big points. Salata firing off all sorts of attacks, Molinari countering, but now Salata has Molinari in trouble. Molinari on her back, Salata looking for a pin. But Molinari fights off her back and Salata looks spent. They go back to the center, a desperation shot gives Molinari 2 more and she wins 10-2. Forrest Molinari is pumped up to make this world team! She tells Mr. Hazard that she loves wrestling. Ditto! I am excited to see what Forrest can do in Budapest.
125kg: Nick Gwiazdowski vs. Adam Coon
1st period: This is a big one, both literally and figuratively. Coon just won the Greco world team spot yesterday. YESTERDAY. Gwiazdowski won the bronze medal at last year's worlds in Paris. Gwiz, showing how fearless he is goes underneath COon early to grab a single, then cracks him back the opposite direction and collects 2 points. He transitioned into a leglace and stood up with Coon's legs but could not get a turn. Now their back in neutral. Gwiz showing off his superior speed, shoots a head inside sweep single, comes up with one of Coon's legs, then climbs up and drives Coon to the mat to make it 4-0.
Coon, showing off superior size, digs an underhook and drives Gwiz right off the mat to cut the lead to 3. It's 4-1 in shortime. And Gwize will take his 3 point lead into the half way point.
2nd period: Lots of big guy hand fighting. Now Gwiz again goes underneath for a single, and reattacks with a double when Coon stuffs his first shot. Gwiz runs his feet and shows off incredible strength finishing that takedown to make it 6-1. Again Gwiz transitions into a lace but can't get the turn. A minute to go, 6-1 Gwiz.
Coon will dig in an underhook and move Gwiz around but Gwiz is able to pummel out of it and it's 6-1 with less than 10 to go. That's how the first match ends, with an impressive 6-1 win by Gwiazdowski.
1st period: The big dudes are at it again. Coon on a snatch single. Drives Gwiz right out of bounds and towards the production table. USA Wrestling personnel have their lives flash before their eyes but no damage is done to any civilians. Gwiz now in on a couple shots that he finished in the first match but he can't land them here in the second. It's 1-0 Coon with a minute to go in the first. A shot from Gwiz is nearly countered by Coon but Gwiz spins out of his grasp. Time expires and it's still 1-0, but the crowd appreciates the action and applaud these two active heavies.
2nd period: This time Gwiz finishes his single leg and takes the lead. A leg lace adds to more but Coon stops the bleeding with the score 4-1. I thought Gwiz might tire out from going under Coon so many times but he finishes another pretty sweep single cleanly and it's 6-1. Another shot is stalemated with 59 seconds left in the match. Coon has been unable to get to his over-under body lock that he used to pin RobbySMith and earn a Greco-Roman world team spot. More good head and hands defense from Nick Gwiazdowski and he goes back-to-back and makes two consecutive world teams. Gwiz will try to improve on his world bronze medal in Budapest this October!
And now Whitney Conder took the third match from Victoria Anthony we can put a bow on Final X! Helen Maroulis and Alex Hedrick still have a match wrestle at a time and date TBD but Final X 2018 is done.
Thanks for being here with us. You are all the raddest and coolest and smartest and best looking wrestling fans in the world! Apologies for the typos, we will do better next time. See you all soon!