The Definitive WTT Challenge Tourney Greco-Roman Recap

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Tim Hands of 5 Point Move breaks down everything that transpired in the Greco-Roman brackets at the 2019 World Teams Trials Challenge Tournament.

Did the people get what they wanted out of the 2019 Greco-Roman World Team Trials Tournament? One would hope so. 

We saw young Cohlton Schultz (130 kg, Sunkist) come of age before our very eyes, as well as three other athletes recently pegged as mere prospects take big steps forward in their respective careers. World Team Trials events, they can be a little unpredictable. But by any reasonable standard, what unfolded in Raleigh exceeded even the loftiest of expectations for a style that so often has its team selection process play out according to script. 

Click here to see all the Final X matchups

We’ll run the finals back in order. It’s a tad early to dissect the Final X match-ups with too much detail and there will be time for that soon enough. For now, here is an overview of each best-of-three pairing along with a quick glance at how they all went down -- and a peek at what lies ahead for the winners. 


55 Kilograms

Brady Koontz (Ohio RTC) def. Dalton Duffield (NYAC/OTS) two matches to none

Duffield was the easy favorite entering the week while Koontz’s presence caught a few folks off-guard. That narrative might have shifted a little once Koontz blitzed to the finals. A lanky 55 who keeps the pressure on can find success, especially from par terre. That was certainly Koontz’s methodology, as that elbow-deep gutwrench was almost singularly responsible for his impressive two-match sweep.

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Final X opponent: Max Nowry (Army/WCAP)

Two-time US Open Champion

Two-time Pan Am Championships gold

2012 University World Champion

Multi-time US National Team member


60 Kilograms

Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP) def. Randon Miranda (NYAC) two matches to none

Hafizov knew Miranda’s style well enough to understand that overzealousness could cost him dearly, so he stayed patient and pounced on every meaningful opportunity that presented itself. Even at 31, Hafizov’s fast-twitch is still a sight to behold, which was witnessed both in his series against Miranda and his semifinal destruction of new National Team member Taylor LaMont. When he detects an opening, no one in this weight class is faster. Or more punishing. 

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Final X opponent: Mike Fuenffinger (Army/WCAP)

2019 US Open Champion

Two-time Junior World Team member


63 Kilograms

Xavier Johnson (Marines) def. Sammy Jones (NYAC/OTS) two matches to none

It was “X Man” versus “Wildman Sam” for what seemed like the umpteenth time over the past two seasons. Johnson benefited greatly from a wrong call in both matches, but more so in Match 2; he was awarded four for a lift despite the fact Jones clearly hadn’t exposed. Still, Jones responded with a front headlock to get back in the thick of things, only to have another in-between call stifle his momentum in the second period. To his credit, for sure, Johnson never stopped pushing the issue. And his ever-developing lift is among the best in the country. Johnson is a very scary and legitimate candidate in the Final X Series, and needs to be seen as such. 

Final X opponent: Ryan Mango (Army/WCAP)

Two-time US Open Champion

2018 Pan Am Championships gold

2016 Hungarian Grand Prix bronze


67 Kilograms

Jamel Johnson (Marines) def. Hayden Tuma (Army/WCAP) two matches to none

Prior to Saturday, Johnson had his struggles with Tuma, mostly due to either par terre or giving up bout-changing scoring sequences. You wouldn’t say Johnson played it close to the vest on Saturday, although he did change up his approach to better deal with his extremely explosive adversary. In short, he fought diligently in the pummel, which proved advantageous late in both matches. That was big. So were Johnson’s two guts in Match 2 that all but punched his ticket to the Final X Series next month. He is making adjustments and sticking with them at the best possible time in the season. 

Final X opponent: Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP)

2012 Olympian

Three-time World Team member

Five-time US Open Champion

Two-time Junior World bronze


72 Kilograms

Alex Mossing (Air Force) def. Michael Hooker (Army/WCAP) two matches to one

There’s not much more you can say about Mossing. If Schultz doesn’t enter the Trials, it’s the Airman who is the talk of the tournament. Mossing not only knocked off reigning World Teamer RaVaughn Perkins, he also came back from a Match 1 tech loss against Hooker to really turn up the jets in the back-end pair of bouts. Mossing, by definition, is a THROWER. This is a sport that welcomes his approach. Hooker had looks of his own, including two arm spins that on any other day might have landed. But not yesterday, as Mossing caught both and countered them into big points. 

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Final X opponent: Ray Bunker (Marines)

2018 US Open Champion

2018 Bill Farrell Memorial gold

2019 Dave Schultz Memorial gold

2017 University National Champion


77 Kilograms

Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) def. Mason Manville (NLWC) two matches to none

Here’s the thing: former World Teammates Smith and Manville have now shared mat space in four matches and their combined point total is 16-5 in favor of Smith, including passives. But because the energy they bring is utterly ridiculous, and because that energy has not waned once, their bouts have all been extremely entertaining. The difference is that Smith really pours it on in the trenches. He has constantly been able to use his legs to create angles from the pummel and get Manville on his heels. That was the key in January at Schultz, at the Open last month, and in the finals on Saturday. 

Final X opponent: Kamal Bey (Sunkist)

2017 Junior World Champion

Three-time US Open Champion

Two-time Junior World Team member

Two-time Dave Schultz Memorial gold

Two-time Bill Farrell Memorial gold


82 Kilograms

John Stefanowicz (Marines) def. Cheney Haight (NYAC) two matches to none

Even though Stefanowicz had been banging around on the Senior level for some years, it was really only in 2017 when he began to assert himself as a top competitor. But even with that, he had been unable to solve Haight, who knows how to grind with the best of them. We’re talking the ‘17 Trials finals, the ‘18 mini tournament finals...a decent enough sample size to suggest Haight was just a problematic match-up for him. Stefanowicz ignored that line of thinking apparently, because he aggressively sought out scores and seemed to capture all of the momentum he needed early in Match 1 when he picked up four off of an arm throw. There were other points that mattered in their two bouts, but they weren’t as meaningful to the eventual outcome. 

Final X opponent: Kendrick Sanders (NYAC/OTS)

Two-time US Open Champion

Two-time Dave Schultz Memorial gold

Two-time Bill Farrell Memorial gold


87 Kilograms

Ben Provisor (NYAC/NLWC) def. Patrick Martinez (NYAC) two matches to none

You kind of have to dismiss Match 1, which ended with Provisor winning via 1-1 criteria. It’s not that “Big Ben” doesn’t deserve credit for the victory, it’s that the result failed to represent why he remains such a powerful and dangerous athlete to do business with. The better example arrived in Match 2, when Provisor roped double overhooks and yielded two for a correct throw. It was only one technique, but an important reminder of what can happen when Provisor gets his clutches on someone and decides to make them pay. Couple that with how great his conditioning looked, and Saturday’s performance delivered a suitable taste of what Provisor is still capable of. 

Final X opponent: Joe Rau (TMWC/Chicago RTC)


97 Kilograms

Lucas Sheridan (Army/WCAP) def. Daniel Miller (Marines) two matches to one

It’s not easy to battle back after the loss Sheridan took in Match 1. He had been in control for the first 5:58 until Miller plowed forward holding an over/under that netted four points and the win. A different Sheridan bounded onto the mat for the next round and he right away sent a message by flinging Miller over with an arm throw, which represented perhaps the first time Sheridan used the technique as a Senior. In Match 3, Sheridan’s big break came when he stepped over a Miller gut and then capitalized further with a push-out. Again, it’s those little moments that make a big difference in high-leverage bouts, and on Saturday they belonged to Sheridan. 

Final X opponent: G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist)

Two-time US Open Champion

2016 Junior World bronze

Two-time World Team member

2019 Hungarian Grand Prix gold

2019 Grand Prix Zagreb bronze


130 Kilograms

Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist) def. Robby Smith (NYAC/Chicago RTC) two matches to one

By Saturday night, people were left trying to explain how young Mr. Schultz was able to somehow take two straight matches from a guy who just a few years ago was robbed out a World bronze medal. There are two main reasons why Schultz prevailed -- 1) he never stopped trying to keep Smith’s feet moving, an important note because when Smith goes static, he’s a bear in the pummel and extremely adept at moving in an instant to set traps as well as the tempo; 2) Schultz didn’t budge under Smith’s front headlock. If anything, it was Smith’s insistence on going back to the well after coming up short previously that led to his downfall. So you see, this wasn’t youthful exuberance, or not just. It was more proof of how savvy Schultz is at such a young age, and a glistening example of the competitive maturity he wields no matter how bright the lights are.  

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Final X opponent: Adam Coon (Cliff Keen/NYAC)

2018 World silver

2019 Pan Am Championships gold

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