2021 Cadet World Championships

Cadet Worlds Predicts USA's Future Stars

Cadet Worlds Predicts USA's Future Stars

A look back at the Cadet World teams in men's freestyle since 2011. See how current American wrestling stars performed at Cadet Worlds.

Jul 8, 2021 by Jon Kozak
Cadet Worlds Predicts USA's Future Stars
The 2021 Cadet World Championships will go down in Budapest, Hungary July 19-25 . Since 2011, team USA has sent a team to the Cadet World Championships every year. This age level competition gives wrestling fans a first-look at the best wrestlers in the world under 17 years old. In this article, we’ll explore how current American wrestling stars fared at the Cadet world championships (in men’s freestyle), ultimately predicting their success at the collegiate level.

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The 2021 Cadet World Championships will go down in Budapest, Hungary July 19-25 . Since 2011, team USA has sent a team to the Cadet World Championships every year. This age level competition gives wrestling fans a first-look at the best wrestlers in the world under 17 years old. In this article, we’ll explore how current American wrestling stars fared at the Cadet world championships (in men’s freestyle), ultimately predicting their success at the collegiate level.

Watch the 2021 Cadet World Championships LIVE on FloWrestling

Monday, July 19th - Sunday, July 25th - Wrestling starts at 5:30AM (ET)

Cadet Medalists = NCAA Success

Since 2011, Team USA has sent 90 representatives to cadet worlds on the men’s freestyle side  and brought home 34 total medals (18 golds, 4 silvers, 12 bronze). 29 wrestlers are represented in those 34 cadet world medals considering Spencer Lee, Yianni Diakomihalis, Daniel Kerkvliet, Kurt McHenry, and Alex Facundo medaled twice. 17 of the 29 have already gone on to earn All-American honors at the division 1 level. On top of that, 6 of the 29 have won NCAA titles. Take a look at the wrestlers who medaled at Cadet Worlds and have gone on to experience success on the NCAA scene.

WrestlerYear At Cadet WorldsFinishCollegeNCAA Finishes

Years of Eligibility

Adam Coon2011GoldMichigan3X AA - 2nd, 3rd, 2nd0
Sammy Brooks2011BronzeIowa2X AA - 4th, 8th0
Zain Retherford2012GoldPenn State4X AA - 5th, 3X NCAA Champ0
Spencer Lee2013/2014DNP/GoldIowa3X NCAA Champ1
Mark Hall2014GoldPenn State1X NCAA Champ, 2X 2nd0
Jordan Wood2014BronzeLehigh1X AA - 4th 1
Daton Fix2014/2015DNP/BronzeOklahoma State2X NCAA Runner-Up3
Yianni Diakomihalis2015/20162X GoldCornell2X NCAA Champ2
Gable Steveson2015/20162X GoldMinnesotaNCAA Champ, 3rd2
Vito Arujau2016SilverCornell1X AA - 4th 3
David Carr2016BronzeIowa StateNCAA Champ 3
Travis Wittlake2016BronzeOklahoma State1X AA - 4th 3
Jacob Warner2016BronzeIowa2X AA - 7th, 4th 2
Jacori Teemer2017BronzeArizona State1X AA - 4th 3
Aaron Brooks2017GoldPenn StateNCAA Champ 3
Daniel Kerkvliet2017/2018Gold and SilverPenn State1X AA - 7th4
AJ Ferrari2018BronzeOklahoma StateNCAA Champ4


Recent grads Adam Coon, Zain Retherford, and Mark Hall were dominant in college but were first bursting onto the scene at cadet worlds. More recent world team members are NCAA's current stars in AJ Ferrari, Spencer Lee, and Yianni Diakomihalis (among others). Most notable, Gable Steveson will be representing team USA on the highest stage at the Olympics but was a cadet world champ in 2015 and 2016. It’s safe to assume the next generation of stars will begin to show themselves at this year’s Cadet World Championships.

Watch Gable win Cadet World Gold in 2016:

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The Medalists Who Haven’t Found NCAA Success...Yet

Of the 12 remaining wrestlers who haven’t earned All-American status yet, all but 2 have multiple years of eligibility left in college. In fact, 5 have all four years of college eligibility left - Kurt McHenry, Richard Figueroa, Matt Ramos, Alex Facundo, and Marc-Anthony McGowan. Considering how successful past world medalists have been in college, it won’t be surprising if most (or all) of the remaining cadet world medalists go on to earn All-American status. 

It’s also worth noting 2 of the wrestlers a part of this list have experienced athletic success outside of NCAA Division 1 wrestling. Aaron Pico made the finals of the 2016 Olympic trials and has since transitioned to an MMA career. Pico is currently working his way up the ranks in Bellator’s organization and is 8-3 as a professional MMA fighter. Also, Mason Manville made a senior level Greco-Roman world team for Team USA in 2017 and went 1-1 at those world championships.

Take a look at the wrestlers below who medaled at Cadet Worlds but haven’t earned All-American status or have yet to wrestle in college:

Cadet Medalists Who Haven't AA'dYearCadet Worlds FinishCollegeNCAA Finishes

Years of Eligibility

Aaron Pico2013Gold---
Mason Manville2014GoldPenn StateNone3
Jarod Verkleeren2015GoldPenn State/VirginiaNational Qualifier2
Owen Webster2015BronzeMinnesotaRound of 120
Kurt McHenry2016/20172X GoldMichigan-4
Will Lewan2017GoldMichiganRound of 163
Gavin Hoffman2017BronzeOhio StateNone3
Richard Figueroa2018SilverArizona State-4
Matt Ramos 2018GoldMinnesota-4
Alex Facundo2018/20192X BronzePenn State-4
Abe Assad2018BronzeIowaNational Qualifier3
Marc-Anthony McGowan2019GoldHigh SchoolStill in high school4


Watch Alex Facundo's dramatic bronze medal match in 2018:

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Those Who Didn’t Medal

While it’s clear success at Cadet Worlds is an early indicator of collegiate success, many who make the cadet world team are young and continue to improve. In the list below, you’ll see a variety of wrestlers who came up short as cadets but earned All-Amercan honors in college. Bo Nickal, Seth Gross, and Roman Bravo-Young all failed to medal at Cadet Worlds but would go on to reach the top of the podium at NCAAs. Maybe more impressive, Stevan Micic and Thomas Gilman didn’t bring home a cadet medal but will be traveling to Tokyo to compete in the Olympics this summer.

Take a look at the All-Americans, NCAA Champs, and Olympians who failed to medal at Cadet Worlds:

WrestlerYear At Cadet WorldsCollegeNCAA Finishes
Thomas Gilman2011Iowa3X AA - 4th, 2nd, 3rd
Zane Richards2011Illinois2X AA - 7th, 4th
Mitch McKee2012Minnesota1X AA - 6th
Tommy Thorn2012Minnesota1X AA - 8th
Joey McKenna2012Stanford/Ohio State3X AA - 3rd, 3rd, 2nd
Seth Gross2012South Dakota St./WisconsinNCAA Champ, 2nd
Chance Marsteller2012Oklahoma St/Lock Haven2X AA - 4th, 3rd
Jon Jay Chavez2013Cornell1X AA -7th
Bo Nickal2013Penn State4X AA - 3X NCAA Champ, 2nd
Stevan Micic2013Michigan3X AA - 4th, 2nd, 3rd
Roman Bravo-Young2016Penn State2X AA - NCAA Champ/8th


The Cadet World Championships will give wrestling fans a first look at future NCAA All-Americans, Champions and Olympians. Whether the athletes of Team USA bring home a medal from Hungary this summer, they are sure to be in the spotlight for many years to come.


Get to know Team USA’s 2021 cadet team here