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The Trials were awesome. Just awesome. Three days of high-level scrapping for a trip to Worlds (for the Juniors) or Final X.
The fallout will be broken down in a million ways on Flo this week, but until then, here are some quick hitters.
#9) Tyler Graff Won a Major
We often joke (accurately) that Graff is destined to place 2nd or 3rd. It seems he's always the bridesmaid.
Graff got his major title and punched his ticket to Final X where he may keep the march going to Worlds. Just a month removed from losing to Joey Palmer twice at the Open, he looked fantastic. He beat Nico, who looked like the best guy at the weight (in my opinion) at the Open, then Palmer, then threw up 22 on Open Champ Brewer.
All of a sudden, 61kg is now super interesting at Final X.
#8) What A Difference For Ringer
Follow this arc. Ringer came within a hair from knocking off Kyle Dake (who went on to dominate Worlds). But then had no answers for Zahid at the 2018 Challenge tourney losing consecutive matches 7-0, 5-1. Ringer had a a fine tour at international events - winning Kolov, Ukrainian, and Medved and getting Bronze at Yarygin.
But then there was Zahid in his way again on the doorstep to Final X. And Dieringer looked the best we've ever seen him. Not just by the score but in the manner in which he achieved it.
We're now looking at a Final X match between the best version of Alex Dieringer, who has proven to be one of the best in the World, against a reigning World Champ in Kyle Dake who hasn't competed in a year.
#7) Maya Nelson Is the Best American Wrestler No One Talks About
While watching Nelson at the Open, I said to Nomad 'She's jumped levels.' She looked as good as I've ever seen her and I've seen her on the World stage.
A two time Junior medalist, including Gold in 2017, Nelson is the best talent in the United States that isn't spoken of in the same breath as our other emerging talents.
She lost 5-1 to Forrest Molinari in the Open finals and I can't wait for the rematch at Final X.
#6) Cohlton Schultz Proves It In Seniors
Cadet World Champ. Junior Bronze. Schultz won the spot on the Junior team once again last month and ran the gauntlet this weekend to qualify for Final X by beating three guys that have previously made Trials/Open finals - Toby Erickson, Jacob Mitchell, and Robby Smith. Next up, Adam Coon.
#5) Helen Didn't Compete
She's a legend. And her status has been up in the air due to injuries. We have our answer now...she won't be competing this year, which leads me to...
#4) Jenna Burkert Looks Great at 57
Near the top of the ladder for years as she wrestled all different weights, Burkert is now down at 57 and looks like the best version of herself. She'll face Becka Leathers in what should be a highly entertaining matchup at Final X after a US Open final where Leathers came back to win 7-5.
#3) Something Got in To Gable
Was Gable Steveson re-energized? Refocused?
Whatever it was he was re-something.
I wondered to myself after Big Tens and NCAA's what was 'wrong' with Gable. He didn't have the pop, confidence, and activity level we knew he was capable of.
And we saw it this weekend. By God, he was moving Adam Coon around at will.
#2) I Don't Understand the Low Numbers For Juniors
Can someone help me understand why many of our top young talent says 'nah, I'm good. Not interested in making the Junior World Team'?
More bizarre yet are those who went to the US Open and qualified for the Junior trials and then didn't go.
I mean, Anthony Cassioppi SAT IN THE FINALS. And Open Runner-up Seth Nevills didn't go either.
I'll expand my rant on FRL Tuesday, and I know there's this theory that 'they're getting ready for the college season,' but that's hogwash.
#1) Every Match Up Should Be Best-of-3
A boy can dream.
It will never happen, and maybe it's a selfish wish borne out of a mere interest to see more wrestling, but a case could be made that, with just eight guys in the bracket and so much on the line, every matchup should be best-of-3 to advance. Dare I say there are 'fluky' results prior to reaching the finals?