The Ultimate U23 Men's Freestyle Preview & Predictions
The Ultimate U23 Men's Freestyle Preview & Predictions
After this weekend, our U23 World Team will be set. Check out everything you need to know before the action gets underway.
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With Cadet and Junior World Teams in place, Team USA is looking to fill out its U23 roster. Some of the nation's top college wrestlers will battle for those spots this weekend in Lincoln, Nebraska. Check out the top contenders and see our top four predictions for each Men's Freestyle weight.
Brandon Courtney, Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club
Taylor LaMont, Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club
Patrick Glory, New Jersey RTC
Patrick McKee, Gopher Wrestling Club - RTC
Matthew Ramos, Gopher Wrestling Club - RTC
Nico Provo, South Side Wrestling Club
Jace Koelzer, Northern Colorado Wrestling Club
Justin Cardani, Illinois
All-Americans Brandon Courtney, Pat Glory, Pat McKee, and Taylor LaMont headline this list and give us a glimpse of some of the nation's top NCAA talent at 125 lbs. Because of the Ivy League's cancelation of winter sports, Pat Glory didn't get to test himself against this field this season, so this is a great chance for him to get his hands on this group that includes three of the top 8 from the 2021 NCAA Championships, including NCAA finalist Brandon Courtney.
Glory and LaMont have skills that translate across styles, and both have freestyle-specific tools that should come in handy. Both Courtney and McKee had wins over LaMont at NCAAs, but LaMont will look to get the upper hand this weekend.
Brandon Courtney's NCAA semifinal victory over Taylor LaMont
The group behind the All-Americans includes Cadet World Champ Matt Ramos, Cornell commit Nico Provo, Northern Colorado's Jace Koelzer, and Illinois' 2020 NCAA qualifier Justin Cardani (who actually had a win over Brandon Courtney at the 2018 Midlands). All four are dangerous and could cause serious problems.
- Pat Glory
- Pat McKee
- Taylor LaMont
- Brandon Courtney
Michael DeAugustino, Wildcat Wrestling Club
Sammy Alvarez, Scarlet Knights Wrestling Club
Chris Cannon, New Jersey
Alex Thomsen, Nebraska Wrestling Training Center
Dylan Ragusin, Cliff Keen Wrestling Club
Jesse Mendez, Bulldog Premier Wrestling Club
Jaime Hernandez, Tar Heel Wrestling Club
Michael McGee, Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club
Michael Colaiocco, Pennsylvania RTC
Anthony Madrigal, Oklahoma Regional Training Center
Carter Young, Cowboy Wrestling Club
The depth at 61kg makes it one of the most exciting weights in Lincoln. NCAA All-Americans Chris Cannon and Michael McGee are joined by a slew of solid freestylers who make this bracket tough to predict.
Dylan didn't have the NCAA tournament he wanted, but his run to the Senior Nationals finals in October went through Sean Russell and Darian Cruz, so he's clearly a title contender. Alex Thomsen is also skilled in the international styles and won a Senior Nationals Greco title in October.
Northwestern has a triple threat in this bracket with the aforementioned Cannon alongside round of 12 finisher Michael DeAugustino and incoming recruit Carter Young who just made the Junior Trials finals against a rock solid Jesse Mendez who is also in this field.
Sammy Alarez is a bit of a surprise at 61kg as he had trouble making 133 lbs at the Big Ten Championships, but if he's back to full strength at the lighter weight, he presents real problems for this field. Throw in rock solid guys like Jaime Hernandez, Michael Colaiocco, and Anthony Madrigal, and this bracket is anyone's guess.
- Dylan Ragusin
- Sammy Alvarez
- Jesse Mendez
- Chris Cannon
65 kg - Allan Hart, Tiger Style Wrestling Club
65 kg - Joshua Saunders, Spartan Combat RTC
65 kg - Domonick Demas, Oklahoma Regional Training Center
65 kg - Chad Red, Nebraska Wrestling Training Center
65 kg - Mosha Schwartz, Northern Colorado Wrestling Club
All-Americans Dom Demas and Chad Red are the highest profile entries here, and despite having occupied the same weight class for years, they've only met once during their NCAA careers. We could see a best of series this weekend.
Dom Demas and Chad Red's lone meeting during their NCAA careers came in 2019
NCAA six-seed Allan Hart, Cadet and Junior World Teamer Josh Saunders, and Senior Nationals Greco runner-up Mosha Schwartz each have the kinds of skills that could land them in the finals as well.
- Dom Demas
- Chad Red
- Josh Saunders
- Allan Hart
Yahya Thomas, Wildcat Wrestling Club
Harold 'Brock' Mauller, Tiger Style Wrestling Club
Jacori Teemer, Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club
Mike Vanbrill, Scarlet Knights Wrestling Club
Jonathan Millner, Blue Ridge RTC
Anthony Artalona, Pennsylvania RTC
Brayton Lee, Gopher Wrestling Club - RTC
Ridge Lovett, Nebraska Wrestling Training Center
This bracket is full of guys with a wealth of age level World Team experience. Brayton Lee and Yahya Thomas were teammates on the 2019 Junior World Team at 70kg and 65kg respectively, while Jacori Teemer and Ridge Lovett were on the 2017 Cadet World Team. Lovett was on the greco side while Jacori won a freestyle bronze medal.
There are no guarantees that any of those four make this squad as All-Americans Brock Mauller and Jonathan Millner present serious challenges. Mike Vanbrill and Anthony Artalona are also NCAA qualifiers with strong resumes who could serve as landmines for any of the top dogs.
- Brayton Lee
- Yahya Thomas
- Jacori Teemer
- Brock Mauller
Jarrett Jacques, Tiger Style Wrestling Club
Julian Ramirez, Spartan Combat RTC
Quincy Monday, New Jersey RTC
Peyton Robb, Nebraska Wrestling Training Center
Danny Braunagel, Illinois Regional Training Center/Illini WC
Both Julian Ramirez and Quincy Monday were forced to take the NCAA season off as a result of the Ivy League's decision to cancel winter sports, but both took advantage of the opportunity by focusing on freestyle. At America's Cup, Ramirez and Monday both had strong showings on the senior level, and while neither was perfect, they both looked like they had made senior level strides.
Jarrett Jacques, Peyton Robb, and Danny Braunagel were all NCAA qualifiers this year and have strong freestyle experience. Jacques hasn't wrestled either competitor, but Robb and Braunagel actually split matches this season.
It feels like the freestyle focus of Ramirez and Monday will put them in position to make the finals, but they'll have tough tests along the way.
- Julian Ramirez
- Quincy Monday
- Jarrett Jacques
- Peyton Robb
Michael Labriola, Nebraska Wrestling Training Cente
Donnell Washington, Indiana RTC
Anthony Mantanona, Oklahoma RTC
Patrick Kennedy, Hawkeye Wrestling Club
Michael O'Malley, Pennsylvania RTC
Gerrit Nijenhuis, Boilermaker RTC
Jackson Hemauer, Northern Colorado Wrestling Club
Three-time NCAA All-American Michael Labriola headlines the field that also has Junior world team member, Donnell Washington, two-time NCAA qualifier Anthony Mantanona, and top-five recruit in the class of 2020, Patrick Kennedy.
Labriola topped Washington twice during the NCAA season by four and six points, respectively. The Cornhusker standout also spoiled Kennedy's collegiate debut on the opening night of the college season when the blue-chip recruit filled in for Michael Kemerer.
If you're looking for someone who could get hot and make a run, it's Anthony Mantanona. He's had plenty of success in both international styles and is always must-see TV no matter who or what style he's wrestling. Earlier this spring, his brother, Beau, went on an incredible run to make the Cadet World Team. Can big bro make it two world teams for the Mantanona family?
- Mikey Labriola
- Patrick Kennedy
- Anthony Mantanona
- Donnell Washington
John Poznanski, Scarlet Knight Wrestling Club
Christopher Foca, Spartan Combat RTC
Travis Stefanik, New Jersey RTC
Max Lyon, Boilermaker RTC
Darrien Roberts, Oklahoma RTC
Kyle Haas, Cowboy Wrestling Club
This is a fun weight full of young stars. While at first glance NCAA fourth-place finisher, John Poznanski might be the favorite, don't sleep on Chris Foca. Since March, Foca knocked off NCAA finalist Max Dean and All-American Devin Skatzka at the Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier and was third at the Junior World Team Trials, only losing to the eventual champion, Colton Hawks, by a point.
Oklahoma Sooner Darrien Roberts also had success at the Junior World Team Trials making the best of three finals at 86kg before eventually falling to Hawks in consecutive matches. To make the finals, Roberts knocked off incoming Oklahoma State Cowboy, Kyle Haas. Haas, who will finish his high school career #18 on the Class of 2021 Big Board, finished sixth at Junior World Team Trials.
There will also be a slew of top 25 ranked 184-pounders including, Princeton's Travis Stefanik, who has wins over Nelson Brands and Anthony Montalvo, and Max Lyon, who has collegiate wins over Cam Caffey, Zach Braunagel, and more.
- Chris Foca
- John Poznanski
- Max Lyon
- Travis Stefanik
Nino Bonaccorsi, Pittsburgh Wrestling Club
Rocky Elam, Tiger Style Wrestling Club
Benjamin Darmstadt, Spartan Combat RTC
Jakob Woodley, Oklahoma RTC
Cameron Caffey, Michigan Wrestling Club
Thomas Penola, Boilermaker RTC
Gabe Christenson, Hawkeye Wrestling Club
Luke Stout, New Jersey RTC
Quite simply, this is the toughest weight in Lincoln. Three of this year's NCAA All-Americans at 197, a former All-American in Ben Darmstadt, and several other hammers capable of beating anyone in the bracket.
Nino Bonaccorsi was, of course, the runner-up this year at 197, Rocky Elam was fifth, and Jakob Woodley was sixth this March in St. Louis. Now, throw in Ben Darmstadt who is an NCAA All-American and Fargo champion and Cam Caffey, who was in the bloodround, and has made a Junior World Greco team.
Nino Bonaccorsi and Jake Woodley met in the 2021 NCAA semis
Last October, Elam beat Max Dean, David McFadden, Brett Pfarr, and CJ Brucki at the Senior Nationals and a month later was the Junior Nationals runner-up to eventual NCAA champion, AJ Ferrari. Because of this, despite the loaded field, I believe Elam is the favorite to make the world team.
- Rocky Elam
- Ben Darmstadt
- Nino Bonaccorsi
- Cam Caffey
Jay Aiello (Cavalier Wrestling Club
Brandon Whitman (Tar Heel Wrestling Club
Gavin Hoffman (Ohio RTC
Compared to the previous weight, 97kg is much smaller in terms of entries and weaker in terms of depth. Virginia's Jay Ailleo is the runaway favorite at the weight. Aiello was ranked as high as #3 this NCAA season at 197 and owns a win over Jacob Warner, and is 3-0 all-time against Brandon Whitman. Outside of Aiello and Whitman, the rest of the field has never qualified for the NCAA D1 Championships.
- Jay Aiello
- Gavin Hoffman
- Brandon Whitman
- Austin Cooley
Anthony Cassioppi, Hawkeye Wrestling Club
Jordan Wood, Lehigh Valley Wrestling Club
Zach Elam, Tiger Style Wrestling Club
Josh Heindselman, Oklahoma RTC
Luke Luffman, Illinois RTC
Lewis Fernandes, Spartan Combat RTC
Lucas Davison, Wildcat Wrestling Club
Zachary Knighton-Ward, Blue & Gold Wrestling Club
Things heat back up with the big boys. The field is headlined by All-Americans Anthony Cassioppi and Jordan Wood, who also has a Cadet World silver medal. Missouri's Zach Elam also has a Junior World silver medal when he filled in for the injured Greg Kerkvliet.
Josh Heindselman recently made the finals of the Junior World Team Trials before falling to Wyatt Hendrickson in three matches, and Luke Luffman made the Junior World Greco-Roman team. I'm very interested to see what Lewis Fernandes looks like as he was ranked top 20 to start the year before the Ivy League pulled the plug on the season. Finally, Lucas Davison is also very intriguing. At Junior World Team Trials, Davison, who has wrestled 197 the past two seasons at Northwestern, bumped up to heavyweight and took seventh.
- Anthony Cassioppi
- Jordan Wood
- Lewis Fernandes
- Zach Elam
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