2019 US Open Wrestling Championships

2019 U.S. Open Greco-Roman Lightweight Preview

2019 U.S. Open Greco-Roman Lightweight Preview

Everything you need to know about the lightweight brackets of the senior Greco-Roman wrestling tournament at the 2019 U.S. Open.

Apr 24, 2019 by Timmy Hands
Tim Hands of 5 Point Move breaks down the lightweight senior Greco-Roman divisions of the 2019 U.S. Open.

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Tim Hands of 5 Point Move breaks down the lightweight senior Greco-Roman divisions of the 2019 U.S. Open.

Make no mistake about it -- the road to the Final X Series begins in Vegas, not North Carolina. For the second year in a row, United States Greco-Roman Seniors will require a multi-stage process to seal their spots on the World Team (with the exception of one Mr. Adam Coon), and that leaves plenty of time for each weight class to be turned upside down. 

But will it be that way? Or will the usual suspects still manage to hog the spotlight?

The first four weight classes are packed with nifty technicians and unapologetic bombers that include accomplished stars and promising up-and-comers you may not be aware of just yet. That’ll change. For now, get cozy with this group of projected contenders and then tune into the tournament to give yourself an even more intimate (and entertaining) education. 

55 Kilograms

Max Nowry (Army/WCAP) 

Recent: 2019 Pan Am Championships gold; 2019 Armed Forces gold; 2018 World Team Trials runner-up; 2018 US Open Champion

The most experienced athlete in this weight class by far, Nowry is looking to earn his second-straight Senior National title despite entering this season following a pair of hip surgeries. He performed brilliantly at the Pan Ams last week, notching two of his three wins via tech, and hopes to carry that momentum into Vegas prior to making any necessary adjustments prior to the Final X Series. Most see the Open as Nowry’s tournament to lose, and it just might be. But nothing is a given due to the up-and-comers who appear hot on his trail. 

Watch Nowry win the 2018 Open over Sam Hazewinkel in the video below:


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Dalton Duffield (NYAC/OTS)

Recent: 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial runner-up; 2018 US National Team member; 2018 U23 World Team Trials Champion

Duffield could be the total package if the weight cut doesn’t stop him. A two-time Fargo champ before initially opting for the college folkstyle route, the Oklahoma stud returned to Greco in 2018 and made an immediate impact, first winning the U23 Trials ahead of surging to the #3 spot at the Senior event in his home state. 

Jabari Moody (NYAC)

Recent: 2018 U23 World Team Trials runner-up; 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial 4th

So damn explosive it’s almost scary, Moody has everything you want in a sizzling prospect: instincts, power, and an eagerness to throw. Where he falls short thus far is in positional nuance, which is a nice way of saying he loses ground in tie-ups and that forces him to have to do a whole bunch of extra work just to get right again. That’ll come with time. 

Britain Longmire (NV)

Recent: 2018 World Team Trials bronze; 2018 US Open 5th

When you think of Longmire, who like some here is still new to Senior, observe this fact: between the Open and World Team Trials last year, the only men he has lost to are Sam Hazewinkel and Miranda. He has beaten everyone else, including Moody, who he defeated twice. What you like is the rapid improvement and meanness in which he does his work from inside the trenches. 

Jemone Carter (Marines)

Recent: 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial bronze

Carter was around in 2018 but he was really just getting his feet wet, and as such, his efforts flew under the radar. Though it has only been a single tournament this season, Carter made it a solid one, picking up a couple of nice wins en-route to third at Schultz. A big thrower, his side lift is already a weapon worthy of discussion, but it’s going to be the little things that matter more should he advance in Vegas. 

60 Kilograms

Dalton Roberts (NYAC/OTS)

Recent: 2019 Pan Am Championships 5th; 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial bronze; 2018 World Team member; 2018 US Open Champion

The reigning champ is in the midst of his busiest Senior season yet, having competed at Schultz, two UWW Ranking Series events, and this past week’s Pan Ams. Add all of that European training from February into the mix, and it is reasonable to expect a very sharp and focused Roberts in Vegas. 

Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP)

Recent: 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial gold; 2019 Armed Forces gold; 2018 World Team Trials runner-up

As hinted above, Hafizov presented a fearsome picture at January’s Schultz, eliciting a sigh of relief from WCAP coaches and fans alike. There’s no question -- he’s perhaps the best Greco wrestler in the country not just at this weight, but in the entire program. But can he keep up with Roberts, or the NMU rep just simply a bad match-up for him?

Watch Hafizov win the 2019 Shultz in the video below:


Mike Fuenffinger (Army/WCAP)

Recent: 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial silver; 2018 US Open runner-up

When Fuenffinger defeated teammate Hafizov in the Open semis last year, it was the banner moment of his Greco career, especially since he accomplished the feat via par terre. Roberts overran him in a classic the next night -- but hey, Fuenffinger clipped him back in the Schultz semis three months ago. Those two are now 2-2 against each other, which is sort of significant due to the top-heavy nature of this field. 

Randon Miranda (NYAC/OTS)

Recent: 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial gold; 2018 US National Team; 2018 US Open bronze

A brief yet whimsical flirtation back down to 55 kilograms opened Miranda’s season at the Dave Schultz, and after ramming through a few opponents in the round-robin, he was spent. That was all he needed to re-convince himself 60 is where he belongs, which is a good thing. Miranda is a speedster here and his counter-attacks are deadlier because he can set traps others aren’t familiar with. 

Taylor LaMont (Sunkist)

Recent: 2018 US Open bronze

A six-time age-group World Teamer and Junior World bronze in 2016, LaMont is still perceived as a potential torch carrier for the next generation of lightweights. His ninja-quickness is complemented by a bullheaded competitive streak, and he also doesn’t put himself in too many bad spots. That LaMont is an extremely adept turner from top only adds to his considerable arsenal.  

Ty Pelot (X-Factor Elite)

Recent: 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial 4th; 2018 US Open 4th

Pelot has been suitably active since returning from a serious injury, and opened some eyes with his fourth at the ‘18 Nationals. The Trials didn’t pan out for him, and that’s okay.. A breakout performance in Vegas would entail garnering a win over an athlete he’s maybe not supposed to hang with just yet. He’s qualifying material as is. Everything else you’ve got here projects as a prime contender later on. 

63 Kilogram

Ryan Mango (Army/WCAP)

Recent: 2019 Pan Am Championships silver; 2018 World Team Trials runner-up; 2018 US Open Champion

With Jesse Thielke not coming to party, some of this weight’s luster might be lost for some. Mistake. Mango can carry this bracket in terms of excitement and the best part is he’ll have plenty of help. A tear in his arm sidelined Mango until the Pan Ams, and well, he looked fine, although he is undoubtedly dissatisfied with taking second. You know what you’re getting here, which is to say maybe the most electrifying Greco athlete in the US.

Watch Mango take out Thielke in the semis of last year's Open:


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Hayden Tuma (Army/WCAP)

Recent: 2019 Armed Forces gold; 2018 US National Team

When he’s on, Tuma is a walking stick of dynamite out on that mat. All of his lifts, all of his par terre work, is technically sound, explosive, and efficient. This weight class is right in his wheelhouse provided he has managed the cut appropriately. Will be in the running for the crown and a 2016 Open final rematch against Mango would make for some awfully compelling theater. 

Xavier Johnson (Marines)

Recent: 2019 Armed Forces silver; 2019 Grand Prix Zagreb bronze; 2018 US National Team

Consider this: Johnson is still relatively fresh on the scene, with only two legit seasons under his counting the current one -- and he is already beholden to one of the best side lifts in the nation. In Greco, the side lift for an athlete is akin to a mid-90’s fastball for a pitcher, you can’t win without one, not on the main stage. There are improvements still to be made, and par terre bottom is one area Johnson can be vulnerable. Hardly a unique situation, and this is a unique talent. 

Sammy Jones (NYAC/OTS)

Recent: 2019 Thor Masters 7th; 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial gold; 2018 US Open runner-up

“Wildman Sam” scored the biggest win of his career last month when he bombed World/Olympic bronze Stig-Andre Berge in Denmark, but that victory didn’t translate to a medal later on in the event. Still, it was a sight to see, and moreover, proof that Jones’ penchant for going right after foes in hopes of tossing them around can work at the highest level. 

Travis Rice (IRTC)

Recent: 2019 Grand Prix Zagreb Open 5th; 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix 5th; 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial runner-up; 2018 U23 World Team

Rice’s 2017-18 campaign was his best yet. He made the Open semis and won the U23 Trials, in the latter defeating Johnson on the strength of two incredible comebacks to sweep the series. There was a lot to like about the Schultz and that final opposite Jones, as well.  Rice has been active since then and will be more than prepared to try and one-up everything he achieved 12 months ago. That task begins in Vegas. 

67 Kilograms

Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP)

Recent: 2019 Pan Am Championships silver; 2019 Armed Forces gold; 2018 World Team; 2018 US Open Champion

You start off Ellis Coleman’s candidacy with the phrase “in spite of”. Try it like this -- in spite of...a career derailed by injury multiple times; dealing with an oft debilitating immunity disorder; and teetering into his prime, Coleman is the best pound-for-pound competitor the US has to offer. And he’s getting better. Coleman is still improving on the finer points and has recently made an adjustment to his lift that may prove to be game-changer. The Pan Ams final against Borrero saw his movement plenty sharp, just not his decision-making with a front headlock. It’s undeniable that he’s favored to earn his fifth title, and for good reason. 

Check out Coleman's gold-winning match at the 2018 US Open:


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Jamel Johnson (Marines)

Recent: 2019 Armed Forces silver; 2019 Dave Schultz gold; 2018 Haparanda Cup silver; 2018 Lavrikov Memorial bronze; 2018 Grand Prix of Spain silver

The only explanation for why Marine Johnson doesn’t get enough attention is because of a forced hiatus from the sport following his exit from WCAP. It’s a shame, because what he brings to the table is exemplary. Johnson blends a workhorse grinding style with some thrilling offense from top, making him one wrestler you’ll definitely want to watch. 

Austin Morrow (NYAC/OTS)

Recent: 2019 Thor Masters 17th; 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial bronze

Morrow’s work ethic is unmatched, and it has to be that way given the multiple shoulder injuries he’s had to contend with over the past few years. He is healthy now, and at Schultz he torched an up-in-weight Thielke to the surprise of many. Rest assured, he’ll be in the argument at this thing, he just might not be quite ready to assume the throne. 

Jessy Williams (NYAC/FLWC)

Recent: 2019 Thor Masters 15th; 2018 US Open runner-up

An extended training camp in Sweden last year led to Williams surging to the Open final, and what’s more, he executed some brilliant attacks on his way there. It fell apart at the Trials, and his past two events were also downers. But guess what? Williams just returned from Europe ahead of this year’s tournament. Maybe that means something. 

Anthonie Linares (NYAC/LOG)

Recent: 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial bronze; 2018 US Open 5th

You could debate the point, but does “Twinkie” have something to prove? It would seem that he does. The NMU product had a very solid showing at the Schultz in what was a tough (but compressed) field. It has been like this -- he performs well, but he’s even better than what he shows. A sleeper competitor at the moment, Linares could use a big two days in Vegas to remind everyone exactly who he is.