The 2019 edition of the annual classic Who's #1 will showcase perhaps the most incredible array of high school wrestling talent in the event's short but illustrious history. Below, we provide a breakdown of every fire matchup going down in Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, IA.
Sat. Oct. 5 | 5 PM Eastern
132: Mendez/Jack vs Serrano/Van Ness
132: #1 Jesse Mendez, IN, #2 Dom Serrano, CO, #3 Shayn Van Ness, NJ, and #4 Ryan Jack, CT
Jesse Mendez will ascend to #1 by virtue of winning the Cadet World Team Trials in Akron in June and with the confirmation of current #1 Beau Bartlett moving to 138.
Mendez won a FloNationals bracket in April with six of the top 20 wrestlers at the weight. Akron presented even more of a challenge as 16 wrestlers that are now ranked were in the field, including then-#2 Shayne Van Ness.
Mendez beat four former Akron or Fargo finalists en route to his Trials title including Caleb Rathjen, who had beat Van Ness in Round 1.
Also in the field was Dom Serrano, who at the time was #3 at 138. Serrano had already made two Fargo finals and won FloNationals. He awaited Mendez in the semis after beating two-time Fargo finalist Ryan Franco in the quarters.
What they gave us was a 7-7 thriller won by Mendez on his highlight reel five-pointer.
Serrano reached his third straight Fargo final on Monday and on Tuesday he secured back-to-back crowns. As he went unscathed, he remained the top contender to Mendez for the #1 moniker.
And though it's early (we haven't yet announced a date or location) we made it official last night as a no-brainer.
Let’s have some fun and let’s put on a show!— Dominick Serrano (@Dominick8888) July 18, 2019
For the fourth time in the history of WNO, we'll have a four-man mini-tournament. Three of those have been at 132lbs.
Jack, an NHSCA champ out of Connecticut who wrestles for Danbury and trains with Empire Wrestling Academy, beat both Serrano and Mendez en route to the Super 32 finals in October. There he lost to Van Ness, a rising junior at Blair Academy.
Van Ness' ledger is impressive, having wins over former Who's #1 wrestlers Jordan Decatur and Nick Raimo, as well as Beau Bartlett, who is on this year's card. Between Ironman and Beast, he was victorious over two-time Fargo finalist Mick Burnett and Akron finalist Frankie Tal-Shahar. He entered Akron ranked first, but lost in the first round before defaulting out.
The rules are simple: #1 Mendez will face #4 Jack, and #2 Serrano will square off against #3 Van Ness, with an added twist this year. The higher-ranked man will get to choose the style for the match.
Mendez, who just wrestled at the Cadet world championships in Bulgaria, has already declared his intention to make it a freestyle match. If Van Ness beats Serrano, he may be clamoring for it to be folkstyle.
I want in! Why don’t we make this a round robin?— Shayne Van Ness (@shayne_finesse) July 18, 2019
@PhenoMendez you have already won the world team spot in freestyle if you really want to prove you are number one beat me in a folk style match.— Shayne Van Ness (@shayne_finesse) July 19, 2019
Sorry but I won’t be at super32 this is your one and only chance, take it or leave it. October is preseason for folk style anyway.— Shayne Van Ness (@shayne_finesse) July 20, 2019
120: #1 Jesse Ybarra, AZ vs #2 Jakason Burks, NE
Nebraska standout Jakason Burks will challenge Arizona star Jesse Ybarra for the #1 ranking at 120 pounds.
Burks will be making his second straight appearance at Who's #1, and will once again be the underdog when he faces top-ranked Ybarra.
The match has all the makings of a potential future college rivalry, as Ybarra is committed to Iowa while Burks will be joining the Oklahoma State Cowboys. The future Hawkeye beat Burks 4-1 in the Akron semis back in June.
In addition to making this year's Akron finals, Ybarra won Fargo last July. A two-time Arizona state champ for Sunnyside, Ybarra also has a previous win over Dom Serrano, who will also be competing at WNO.
Training out of MWC, Burks was a Cadet world teamer in Greco and Fargo champ last year. Then last month, he finished second in freestyle and third in Greco at Fargo.
Both are rising seniors and top-20 recruits in their class. Ybarra is #16 and Burks is #20 on the latest 2020 Big Board.
113: #1 Richard Figueroa, CA vs #2 Stevo Poulin, NY
Figueroa is making his second straight appearance at WNO after beating Jacob Decatur last year. That match avenged one of Figueroa's last losses to an American, as he went from a December 9, 2017, defeat to Logan Agin in the third-place match at Ironman until he dropped a match to Jordan Williams this year in Akron.
Included in Richie Figs run was his Super 32 title last year; Figs won at 113 and Stevo won at 106. Figs not only earned his first Super 32 belt, but he also beat Greg Diakomihalis in the finals, who had just won at Who's #1 a few weeks prior, making Richie #1 at two different weights.
Poulin wrestled for bronze in his first appearance at Cadet worlds and has been on a similar run like Figs domestically. In the latest pound-for-pound, Stevo comes in at #14 and Figueroa is all the way up at #4.
145: #1 Victor Voinovich, OH vs #2 Jesse Vasquez, CA
Vasquez is undoubtedly one of the most talented wrestlers in the Class of 2020 (#10 on the Senior Big Board), and no matter what happens in Carver-Hawkeye Arena on October 5, he'll still be a highly sought-after recruit. Oh, and he's shooting to become just the fourth male wrestler to win four CIF state titles in his career.
Iowa fans are going to love getting an up-close and personal look at Vasquez, who is also being recruited by Arizona State, Michigan, Cornell, and Ohio State. It will also be his first big match in some time, as he missed Ironman and wrestled seniors at the Open instead of Junior level. But he has made two straight Super 32 finals and has career wins over fellow WNO competitors Josh Saunders and Robbie Howard.
Voinovich won a big school state title in Ohio as a freshman and was third this past year for Brecksville. The #11 recruit out of this rising Junior class, Voinovich is being recruited by Oklahoma State, Cornell, and Ohio State, among others. After getting third in Fargo two years, he was runner-up earlier this summer. He had a very solid Open, beating older guys like JoJo Aragona, Peter Ogunsanya, and Lucas Revano, not to mention he had a 6-0 lead on Andrew Alirez.
65kg: Josh Saunders, MO vs Anthony Echemendia, AZ
In a unique match the likes of which we've never seen before at Who's #1, Josh Saunders will wrestle Anthony Echemendia in freestyle.
The 65kg bout will be between Saunders, a rising senior at Christian Brothers College in Missouri, and the recently graduated Echemendia. We have Saunders as the #8 prospect on the 2020 Big Board and he is committed to Cornell.
Echemendia, who is originally from Cuba, spent his senior season at Sunnyside high school in Arizona. It is the same program that produced Roman Bravo-Young, who twice wrestled at WNO, and Jesse Ybarra, who is also on this year's card.
Saunders won Fargo at 138 and is currently ranked second at that weight, but will soon be removed from the rankings as he will be spending the majority of his senior year at the OPTC. Meanwhile, Echemendia burst onto the scene at Fargo, doubling up and winning both styles at 145. There, he beat fellow WNO competitor Victor Voinovich, as well as Oklahoma State commit Chance McLane, #12 Chase Warden, #13 Derek Fields, and #19 Luke Odom.
While he has not officially signed with them, Echemendia plans on becoming a part of the U.S. Army WCAP and trying to eventually represent America on the senior level. It is unclear which RTC he will end up with, but he has a few suitors at this point.
Hey Anthony, congrats on EVERYTHING! I asked Flo if we can do battle at WNO! Champ vs Champ ???— Joshua Saunders @ CBC HS / Cornell University (@teamjoshua01) July 24, 2019
It will be interesting to see Saunders' freestyle schedule for the upcoming season. He wrestled at both Cadet and Junior worlds last year, and will likely be making his senior-level debut in either November at the Bill Farrell or December at the Senior Nationals Trials qualifier.
This will be Saunders' second straight appearance at WNO after falling to Jordan Decatur last year. It is slated to be the sixth match on the card at Caver-Hawkeye Arena, which will be the largest in the event's seven-year history.
152: #1 Sonny Santiago, CA vs #2 Travis Mastrogiovanni, NJ
Santiago was ranked 18th on the latest 2020 Big Board. The senior at St. John Bosco was sixth in the CIF as a sophomore and is looking to finish off his career as a two-time state champ. Training out of the Sunkist Kids Monster Garage, Santiago is committed to Arizona State.
After suffering a concussion at Ironman to open his season, he missed most of the year but was able to return for the postseason. Included in his state title run was a semifinal win over Jace Luchau, who wrestled at WNO last year.
Mastrogiovanni is a rising junior at Blair Academy in New Jersey and is ranked #4 on the 2021 Big Board. He is uncommitted as of now but his brother Trevor (who is also wrestling at WNO) is going to Oklahoma State.
A two-time National Prep finalist, he won the title this year. He was also third at Ironman and second at Beast of the East this past season for Blair. In Akron, he took the first match of the best-of-three series from fellow WNO competitor Alex Facundo.
160: #1 Paddy Gallagher, OH vs #2 Keegan O'Toole, WI
Paddy Gallagher and Keegan O'Toole will square off for the top spot at 160 pounds in a few weeks at Who's #1.
O'Toole, the #5 overall recruit in the 2020 Class, is making his second straight appearance at WNO. He majored Jaden Abas last year at 138 and then lost to JoJo Aragona in the final of the four-man mini bracket. The Missouri commit would avenge his loss to Aragona in the seventh-place match at the U.S. Open for Juniors.
A Wisconsin native, O'Toole made the Junior Trials finals, including a win over another Who's #1 wrestler Andrew Alirez in the semis. He then finished third in Fargo, with his only loss coming to graduated senior and former WNO competitor Jace Luchau.
Gallagher won his first Fargo stop sign last month, teching his way through save for his quarterfinals match. A shortened sophomore season ended undefeated with his first Ohio big school state title, after finishing third last year for St. Ed's.
With O'Toole coming up in weight and based on their Fargo finishes, it will be Gallagher defending his #1 ranking. As the higher-ranked man, he chose for the match to be in freestyle.
182: #1 Dustin Plott, OK vs #2 Rocky Elam, MO
In one of the toughest Fargo brackets in recent memory, Plott and Elam were the highest placing non-graduated seniors. Two-time finalist Plott will carry the #1 ranking into the event on October 5, and fourth place Elam will be the challenger ranked second.
A rising senior at Tuttle high school, we have the two-time state champ from Oklahoma rated as the second-best prospect in the Class of 2020. The Oklahoma State commit is also #5 in the pound-for-pound rankings.
Elam was a Class 4 state champ this year for Staley high school in Missouri and is #13 on the senior Big Board. He was a Cadet champ last year in Fargo and was third at 92kg in Akron.
Both wrestled in Super 32 last year, with Plott winning the 170lb weight over fellow WNO competitor Patrick Kennedy in the finals. Meanwhile, Elam finished third up at 182, losing to Abe Assad in the quarterfinals, who wrestled in Who's #1 last October.
126: #1 Robbie Howard, NJ vs #2 Trevor Mastrogiovanni, NJ
Two of New Jersey's best wrestlers will renew their rivalry dating back to childhood when Robbie Howard takes on Trevor Mastrogiovanni at Who's #1.
Howard, currently ranked #1 at 120lbs because he is wrestling 55kg at Cadet worlds, will be moving up to 126 during the regular season for Bergen Catholic. This will be his third time representing Team USA at worlds, plus his Youth Olympic Games gold last year.
Mastrogiovanni, a rising senior at Blair Academy, is ranked #1 at 126 and is a three-time National Prep champ. He was the highest placing 57kg high schooler in Vegas at the Junior Open, beating Patrick McKee, Eric Barnett, Cevion Severado, and Wyatt Henson.
The last time these two met was in Akron 2018, with Howard winning 5-1 in the quarterfinals. As the higher-ranked man, he made the call that the match will be freestyle. The contested weight will be 126, with no allowance.
Yeah not like I’m going to make 121 in 2 weeks. I’ll take the match. And it’s going to be freestyle.— Robert Howard (@Robbie__Howard) July 19, 2019
138: #1 Beau Bartlett, PA vs #2 Ryan Sokol, MN
Two of the most electric wrestlers at any weight have agreed to meet at 138lbs for the #1 spot in the country.
Penn State commit Beau Bartlett wrangled the top spot by beating then-#1 Shayne Van Ness in a 20 point outburst in National Prep finals.
Most recently, Bartlett became the only high schooler to place in the Senior division of the US Open.
He spent his entire career at or near the top of the rankings — from the time he was the #1 Junior High prospect until today where he's ranked as the #7 overall recruit in the Class of 2020.
Like Bartlett, Sokol came firing out of the gates and was highly ranked coming into high school. He blew us away in 2017 at his first Fargo appearance, winning the stop sign by beating teching Reece Witcraft, Trevor Mastrogiovanni, and Dom Serrano in succession. All of them would eventually be ranked #1 or #2 in the country.
After a long lay off due to injury, Sokol returned to form in Akron this year where he was once again exceptional. He made the Cadet World Team and will represent the U.S. at the Cadet World Championships in Sofia. Bulgaria at the end of the month.
A future Iowa Hawkeye, Sokol was ranked 16th in the Class of 2021 prior to Akron. That ranking will certainly be going up.
As such, the duo becomes the undisputed #1 and #2 wrestlers in the country. Now it's time to decide top honors at Who's #1 where they'll meet at 138lbs with no allowance.
With Fargo causing a stir on social media with Who's #1 speculation, Sokol and Bartlett began the dialogue at 138 before Flo reached out to confirm the matchup.
👍🏾— Beau Bartlett (@BeauBartlett_) July 18, 2019
170: #1 Alex Facundo, MI vs #2 Patrick Kennedy, MN
Facundo is coming off a bronze medal at the Cadet world championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. It was his second straight medal at Cadet worlds, putting him in elite company with guys like Yianni Diakomihalis, Gable Steveson, and Kurt McHenry, all of whom have also wrestled at Who's #1.
The rising junior at Davison high school in Michigan is looking to join four other WNO alumni as two-time winners of the event. Meanwhile, Iowa commit Kennedy is making his first appearance.
The #6 overall recruit in the Class of 2020, Kennedy has won three Minnesota state titles for Kasson-Mantorville. He just missed teching his way through Fargo, only giving up points in his semi and winning by 10 or more in six of his seven matches.
The match will present an excellent clash of styles, as Facundo is dominant on top, excellent defensively, and has a world-class duck under. Kennedy meanwhile is leg attack heavy and will cut a guy to build his lead, but has worked to improve his top game over the years.
Facundo was the Super 32 champ at 160 last year and Kennedy the runner-up at 170. Back in 2017, Facundo won a Fargo stop sign and Kennedy grabbed himself a Super 32 belt.
As the higher-ranked wrestler, Facundo has chosen the match to be wrestled folkstyle. Facundo is the #1 ranked prospect in the Class of 2021 but has not yet committed to a college.