Junior World Team Trials Preview

Aaron Brooks

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Over the course of the last decade, America has become a force on the World stage at the Junior Division. This weekend a very competitive team we can all get behind will be put together in Raleigh as part of the Trials Challenge Tournament.

Our average finish as a team has been 5.1 in the last ten years; and 2.8 over the last five when we collected 25 individual medals.

For a look at our Junior World Team performance over the last decade, read more here

Aaron Brooks (Silver in '18) will carry the torch as our lone returning medalist still JUNIOR eligible. But that doesn't mean we should expect a dip in performance. If last month's JR Nationals in Las Vegas was any indication, our team will be plenty talented. 

Junior Freestyle will run from preliminaries through challenge tournament finals on Friday with the Best-of-Three series determining our World Teamers on Saturday at 1:30 PM ET.

Below are weight class capsules for all ten weights.

Each weight has the winner of the Junior Nationals sitting in the finals.


57KG - Sitting - Malik Heinselman, CO

The Field: 

Vitali Arujau, NY -  SR Open 4th / U23 Champ

Sam Latona, AL  -  US Open 2nd

Rayvon Foley, MI  -  US Open 3rd

Chris Cannon, NJ   - US Open 4th - NOT YET REGISTERED

Michael Colaiocco, NJ  -  Fargo JR Champ

Wyatt Henson, MO  -  US Open 6th

Justin Cardani, IL  -  US Open 7th

Eric Barnett, WI    -  US Open 8th

Patrick Mckee, MN  -  JR Open DNP

Matthew Ramos, IL  -  2018 Cadet World Champ

Julian Tagg, OH  -  2017 Cadet World Teamer

Sidney Flores, CO  -  2018 US Open 5th

World & Trials Experience:

Heinselman made two Cadet World Teams and made the finals at this tournament last year. Arujau won Silver at Cadet Worlds in 2016 and made the U23 team last year but didn't compete at Worlds. Ramos won a Cadet World title at 51kg last year. Tagg was 7th at Cadet Worlds in '17 and made the Cadet Trials finals last year losing to Robby Howard in the Best-of-3.

In Vegas: 

Arujau wrestled in the SR division at the Open and arguably gave eventual champ Daton Fix his biggest scare. Also winning Akron's U23 bracket last year, Arujau will be a favorite to unseat Heinselman, who made two Cadet World Teams and the JR Trials Challenge bracket last year. Mastrogiovanni will not be in the field as he is wrestling at Pan Ams.

Latona beat Henson and Mastro before losing to Heinselman in the finals. Foley's only loss was to Henson, but he came back for 3rd by beating Tagg, Barnett, Mastrogiovanni and Cannon. 

Arujau will most likely be the top seed with Latona and Foley the 2/3. It will be interesting to see where Colaiocco is seeded. (I have him as the 4.) 

Willie's Picks:  1. Arujau   2. Latona  3. Colaiocco   4. Foley



61KG - Sitting - Gabe Tagg, OH

The Field: 

Roman Bravo-Young    AZ    Open and U23 Runner-Up    

Jevon Parrish    NE    US Open 3rd    

Jaime Hernandez    NC    US Open 4th    

Pat Glory    NJ    US Open 5th    NOT YET REGISTERED

Jordan Decatur    OH    Open DNP / Returning Finalist    

Frankie Tal-Shahar    FL    Cadet Trials Runner Up    

Jarrett Trombley    MI    US Open 6th    NOT YET REGISTERED

Teague Travis    MO    US Open 7th    

Chance Rich    OR    US Open 8th    NOT YET REGISTERED

World & Trials Experience:

Tal-Shahar is a nice addition to the group. He lost in the Cadet Team Trials finals lat year to Josh Saunders. He joins RBY and Decatur - two former World Teamers at the Cadet level - RBY in '16 and Decatur in '17. Both were so close to making teams last year. RBY lost to Arujau in the Best-of-3 U23 finals and Decatur lost to Arujau in the challenge bracket finals in this tournament.

In Vegas: 

Tagg looked like a man reborn, wrestling aggressively and with a high motor. The final with him and RBY was a dandy and you have to think we see it again. 

RBY didn't have a close match until meeting Tagg. He teched Glory in the first period.

Parrish was the big surprise. He lost first round then pinned Decatur and teched Travis on his way back to 3rd.

Decatur is the real wild card here. He's a freestyle phenom but didn't look good in Vegas. He's likely to be on the same side of the bracket as RBY, making for some Day I heat.

Willie's Picks:  1. Bravo-Young   2. Tagg   3. Decatur   4. Parrish



65KG - Sitting - Yayha Thomas, IL

The Field: 

Andrew Alirez    CO    Open Runner-Up

Jacori Teemer    NY    Cadet World Bronze / US Open 5th @ 70

Real Woods    NM    US Open 3rd

Joshua Saunders    MO    Cadet WTM / US Open 4th

Victor Voinovich    OH    US Open 5th

Peter Ogunsanya    IL    US Open 6th

Keegan O'Toole    WI    US Open 7th

JoJo Aragona    NJ    US Open 8th

World & Trials Experience:

Teemer struck Cadet World Bronze in 2017 after beating Sasso in the Cadet Trials finals. He was 3rd at both the Open and the Trials last year.

Saunders was on two teams last year - the Cadet team and then the Junior Team after Trials winner Austin Gomez pulled out.

Alirez has been close. He took 3rd at the Open and 2nd at the Trials at the JR level last year.

In Vegas: 

Saunders, who wrestled on both the Cadet and Junior World teams last year, lost to Woods and Thomas. while beating Abas and Voinovich. Voinovich lead Alirez in the quarters 6-0 at the break but it was all Alirez in the 2nd, winning 14-6. He then teched Woods, giving him his only loss.

After the performance Alirez had at the Schultz, , he came into Vegas as the man to beat. But Yayha turned in a sterling performance with wins over Saunders, Fargo Champ O'Toole, and then 4-0 over Alirez. 

But there's a curveball. Jacori Teemer has moved down. He was 3rd at the Open last year, 3rd at the Trials, and 5th in this year's Open - all at 70kg. If he makes the weight without any lingering effects, he's probably the odds-on favorite.

Willie's Picks:  1. Teemer   2. Thomas   3. Alirez  4. Woods



70KG - Sitting - Sammy Sasso, PA

The Field: 

Brayton Lee    IN    US Open 2nd    

Peyton Robb    MN    US Open 3rd    

Quincy Monday    NC    US Open 4th    NOT YET REGISTERED

Anthony Artalona    FL    US Open 6th    NOT YET REGISTERED

Kendall Coleman    IL    US Open 7th    NOT YET REGISTERED

Jaden Van Maanen    WI    US Open 8th    

Brock Mauller    MO    2017 US Open 7th    

Jared Franek    ND    2x Fargo Finalist    

World & Trials Experience:

Despite the depth and star-studded-ness of this weight, none in the field have ever made a World Team. The closest was Sasso, who lost in the Cadet Best-of-3 to Teemer in '17.

In Vegas: 

Sasso struggled early with Monday in a Round 1 match but made it look too easy with a pin of Robb and techs of Fargo Champs Artalona and Lee.

Brayton, last year's Fargo champ, sent Teemer to the backside after an awesome 9-9 bout. Robb's only loss was to Sasso in a scoreless match prior to the fall. He teched Teemer in just over a minute. I consider him and Lee the two favorites to get to Sasso.

The best weight in Vegas will likely still be the best weight in Raleigh despite a few that still aren't registered and with Teemer going 65.

Mauller is also a nice addition to the field after not competing in Vegas.

Willie's Picks:  1. Sasso   2. Lee   3. Robb   4. Mauller



74KG - Sitting - David Carr, OH

The Field: 

Danny Braunagel    IL    US Open 2nd    

Shane Griffith    NJ    US Open 2nd   @ 79kg

Nelson Brands    IA    US Open 3rd    NOT YET REGISTERED

Julian Ramirez    FL    US Open 4th    NOT YET REGISTERED

Travis Wittlake    OR    US Open 5th    

DJ Shannon    IL    US Open 6th    

Jarrett Jacques    MO    2017 US Open 3rd    

Philip Conigliaro    MA    US Open 7th    

Josh Kim    CA    US Open 8th    NOT YET REGISTERED

World & Trials Experience:

Carr and Wittlake won back-to-back Bronze at Cadet Worlds in 2016 at 69kg and 76kg, respectively. In 2017, Wittlake made the Cadet World Team by beating Aaron Brooks but had to pull out of Worlds with injury. Brrooks went on to win World Gold.

Ramirez was runner-up at the trials lat year to Abe Assad who took Bronze at Worlds.

In Vegas: 

Carr went 7-0 and teched Braunagel, last year's Fargo champ, in the finals. But he had some close ones along the well - three 2-pt. wins. He gave Brands his only loss. Brands had a phenomenal tourney beating Ramirez, Wittlake and Conigliaro.

Braunagel beat Mocco, Ramirez, and Wittlake.

Like Teemer from 70 to 65, Griffith is a huge X factor in going from 79 to 74. Relatively speaking, he's a freestyle rookie. But he made the finals at 79, losing only to Brooks and beating Plott. 

Willie's Picks:  1. Carr   2. Griffith   3. Braunagel   4. Wittlake



79KG - Sitting - Aaron Brooks, MD

The Field: 

Dustin Plott    OK    US Open 3rd

Parker Keckeisen    WI    US Open 4th

Tyler Dow    WI    US Open 5th

Jake Allar    MN    US Open 6th

Michael O'Malley    NJ    US Open 7th

Jake Hendricks    PA    US Open 8th

Jackson Turley    VA    Fargo 6th

World & Trials Experience:

Two-time World medalist Brooks might be the most seasoned freestyler in the tournament. He won Cadet Worlds in 2017 and backed it up with a Silver in Juniors last year. 

In Vegas: 

Brooks beat Griffith, who has dropped to 74, in the finals. Plott's only loss was to Griffith, 12-6. Keckeisen lost to Brooks and then Plott, who also gave him his only loss in last year's Fargo.

Turley wasn't in Vegas and should be an interesting guy to watch as he'll be a good sized 79 and capable of knocking off some of the Vegas placers.

Willie's Picks:  1. Brooks   2. Plott   3. Turley   4. Keckeisen



86KG - Sitting - Trent Hidlay, PA

The Field: 

Zach Braunagel    IL    US Open 2nd    

Abe Assad    IA     US Open 3rd    NOT YET REGISTERED

Cameron Caffey    IL    SR Open Blood Round    2018 JR Open 6th

Gavin Hoffman    PA    US Open 4th    

Victor Marcelli    OH    US Open 5th    

Tommy Penola    IN    US Open 6th    NOT YET REGISTERED

Peter Acciardi    NJ    US Open 7th    

Jack Jessen    IL    Open DNP / Fargo Champ    

Christopher Foca    NJ    Fargo 7th    

World & Trials Experience:

Assad was Bronze in last year's Cadet World Championships. Hoffman was Bronze at Cadets the year prior.

Hidlay was 3rd at the JR Trials last year losing only to Mikey Labriola.

In Vegas: 

Marcelli beat top seed Kordell Norfleet and ultimately placed 5th after losing to Braunagel and Assad. Norfleet is now up at 92. 

Hidlay was outstanding; he outscored his opponents 42-6 where his closest win was 7pts. with head-to-heads over Braunagel, Assad, and Hoffman. 

There are two guys in the field that are threats that weren't in the JR bracket in Vegas - Caffey, who wrestled Seniors, and Foca. 

Willie's Picks:  1. Hidlay  2. Caffey   3. Hoffman  4. Braunagel



92KG - Sitting - Lucas Davison, IN

The Field: 

Jakob Woodley    PA    US Open 2nd    

Brandon Whitman    MI    US Open 3rd    

Kendall Norfleet    IL    US Open 8th @ 86   

Joel Shapiro    IA    US Open 4th    NOT YET REGISTERED

Dakota Howard    OH    US Open 5th    

Jacob Cardenas    NJ    US Open 6th    NOT YET REGISTERED

Conner Corbin    IA    US Open 7th    NOT YET REGISTERED

Tyrell Gordon    IA    US Open 8th    NOT YET REGISTERED

World & Trials Experience:

Norfleet lost in the Best-of-3 finals at last year's trials to Louie DePrez at 86kg. Woodley lost in the Challenge tourney finals last year to John Borst.

In Vegas: 

Norfleet wrestled 86 in Vegas but had a rough outing. He was the top sed and lost to Victor Marcelli in the quarters. He won another match but then defaulted out. 

Woodley beat Gordon and Shapiro - a Fargo Runner-up lat year - before losing to Davison in the finals, 6-3. It was the only close bout for Davison who had three first-period techs in his other bouts.

Keep an eye on Whitman, whose only loss was to Davison, and Cardenas, who could make some jumps as he learns this whole freestyle thing.

Willie's Picks:  1. Davison   2. Woodley   3. Norfleet   4. Whitman



97KG - Sitting - Sam Schuyler, NY

The Field: 

Tanner Sloan    IA    US Open 2nd    

Austin Harris    OK    US Open 3rd    NOT YET REGISTERED

Aric Bohn    WI    US Open 4th    NOT YET REGISTERED

Kyle Lightner    NJ    US Open 5th    NOT YET REGISTERED

Wyatt Hendrickson    KS    US Open 6th    NOT YET REGISTERED

Tony Andrade    CA    US Open 7th    NOT YET REGISTERED

Tyler Bagoly    PA    US Open 8th    

Jake Boyd    MO    2017 Trials 3rd

World & Trials Experience:

This weight lacks long-term freestyle success and international-level experience. The Vegas finalists - Schuyler and Sloan - had never placed at a major USAW event previously.

Boyd was 3rd at the Junior Trials last year.

In Vegas: 

From Buffalo, Schuyler was without a doubt the biggest surprise at the Open. He went just 1-2 at the same event a year ago but beat Midlands runner-up Tanner Sloan to win the title.

Boyd came in as the top seed and was ousted by Austin Harris in the quarters. Hendrickson's only loss was to Slaon in the semi's. He defaulted after that.

Willie's Picks:  1. Sloan   2. Schuyler   3. Hendrickson   4. Harris



125KG - Sitting - Anthony Cassioppi (Not Yet Registered)

The Field: 

Seth Nevills    CA    US Open 2nd    

John Borst    VA    US Open 3rd    

Mason Parris    IN    Fargo 3rd  

Trent Hillger    MI    2018 Trials 3rd    

Austin Emerson    MI    US Open 4th    

Jon Spaulding    OH    US Open 5th    NOT YET REGISTERED

Kayne Hutchinson    KS    US Open 6th    NOT YET REGISTERED

Zachary Knighton-Ward    NY    US Open 7th    

Josh Heindselman    OK    US Open 8th    NOT YET REGISTERED

World & Trials Experience:

Cassioppi was the Challenge tourney runner-up to Gable Steveson last year. Hillger was 3rd losing only to Gable. Borst lost in the Best-of-3 at 92 to Jacob Warner. 

In Vegas: 

Nevills had a really good tournament beating Borst and Emerson but Cassioppi dominated the final. 

Parris and Hillger are nice twists that weren't in the field in Vegas.

Willie's Picks:  1. Hillger   2. Nevills   3. Parris   4. Borst


 

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