2021 US Marine Corps Junior and 16U National Championships

PA, IL, IA, MN, & More - This Year's Fargo Team Race Will Be Crazy

PA, IL, IA, MN, & More - This Year's Fargo Team Race Will Be Crazy

An in-depth look at who will be competing for the Junior freestyle Fargo team title this year.

Jul 15, 2021 by JD Rader
125. Fargo Preview

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The Fargo team race heated up a little bit this year when Iowa came out on top of Illinois and Oklahoma for their first Junior Duals title since 2005. Fargo can either be a chance for Iowa to ride that momentum to first Junior freestyle title since 2008, Illinois to reclaim its spot atop the Junior freestyle ladder and win its fourth-straight title in the process, or another state to claim the title of best in the country.

I only mentioned Illinois and Iowa in the opening paragraph, but there is a very good chance that one of the other traditional power states ends up winning. Pennsylvania, Minnesota, Michigan, and Georgia are all bringing solid teams that will be fighting for top-five spots. Below I’ll break down each team. Stay on the lookout for the complete junior freestyle preview where I’ll give my offical pick for team champion.

It’s important to how Fargo is scored before taking a look at individual teams. States get 8 points for a champion, 7 points for a runner-up finish, etc until 1 point for an 8th place finish. No bonus points and no points for any sort of non AA finish. Meaning, unlike the NCAA tournament, it doesn’t matter how many wrestlers a state puts into the bloodround if they don’t win those matches and make it onto the podium.


Lead by the #1 wrestler at 132 lbs and #5 pound-for-pound, Nic Bouzakis Team PA might be the safe pick to win it all this year. While they’re lacking a bit in the upper weights (outside of Caden Rogers and Kolby Franklin), their middleweights are great. Jackson Arrington, Paniro Johnson, and Tyler Lillard all seem like locks to AA.

Title Contenders

132 - Nic Bouzakis

160 - Rocco Welsh

AA Threats

113 - Cael Nasdeo

120 - Jaden Pepe

126 - Mac Church

132 - Gregor McNeil

138 - Jude Swisher

145 - Jackson Arrington

145 - Kelvin Griffin

152 - Erik Gibson

160 - Paniro Johnson

170 - Tyler Lillard

195 - Caden Rogers

195 - Kolby Franklin

Watch Nic Bouzakis win Fargo 2019 while competing for Team Florida below.


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Illinois’s Fargo roster will be quite a bit better than their Junior Duals one. The addition of title contenders Vincent Zerban, Michael Caliendo, and Brayden Thompson could be enough to get them back on top. Take “title contender” lightly, however. None of the five wrestlers I listed are the favorites at their weight and it seems more likely that Illinois comes home with zero titles than two. As usual, though, the Illinois Army will be rolling deep.

Title Contenders

113 - Ben Aranda

120 - Kannon Webster

152 - Vinny Zerban

160 - Michael Caliendo

170 - Brayden Thompson

AA Threats

113 - Gylon Sims

113 - Sammy Hayes

126 - Vincent Robinson

132 - Nasir Bailey

160 - Adam Thebeau

170 - Bradley Gillum

182 - DeAnthony Parker

285 - Ryan Boersma


A couple of the lighter weights will either be wrestling 16U or at the Cadet World Championships, but form 126 on, this is the team that won Junior Duals. Meaning, if they all perform well, Iowa will give themselves a good shot at winning. Drake Ayala and Caleb Rathjen are two graduated seniors who will be attending the University of Iowa in the fall that stuck around this summer because this means something to them. Ayala is probably a slight favorite, but will have a big test in New Jersey's Dean Peterson. Rathjen is a bit more of a long shot for the title with guys like Daniel Cardenas, Jordan Williams, Jackson Arrington, Henry Porter, and more in his bracket. However, it's all about who performs when it matters most.

Title Contenders

126 - Drake Ayala

145 - Caleb Rathjen

160 - Aiden Riggins

AA Threats

132 - Ryder Block

138 - Joel Jesuroga

170 - Tate Naaktgeboren

182 - Adam Ahrendsen

182 - Griffin Grammell

195 - Wyatt Voelker

220 - Ben Kueter

220 - Kalob Runyon

285 - Gabe Greenlee

Watch Drake Ayala take out Nico Provo in the 2019 Fargo finals below.


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Minnesota’s been a little down the past two Fargos, placing 8th and 9th. That’ll change this year. They’ll be back to a top-five team for sure and possibly contending for the title. Bennett Berge and Jore Volk were both 16U Fargo champs in 2019. Alan Koehler made the finals. And while 5th is the best Bennett Tabor has finished at Fargo, he did win Super 32 this year. Not a bad squad.

Title Contenders

113 - Caleb Thoennes

113 - Alan Koehler

170 - Hunter Lyden

182 - Bennett Berge

220 - Bennett Tabor

AA Threats

106 - Brandon Morvari

126 - Jore Volk

132 - Derrick Cardinal

138 - Maxwell Peterson

152 - Cael Swensen

195 - Quayin Short

195 - Jacob Meissner

220 - Dominik Vacura


Michigan isn’t a traditional power like Illinois, Pennsylvania, Minnesota, and Iowa, and they don’t have the deepest team either. However, what they do have is a sneaky good lineup this year with a handful of hammers that should end up high on the podium. If the five guys I have listed as title contenders ball out, Michigan could place top three. Manny Rojas is Michigan’s best shot at finishing at the top of that podium. He made the Fargo finals in 2019 at 152 lbs. Now, he’s actually coming down from 189 lbs where he competed during the Michigan regular season to try and capture his first Fargo title.

Title Contenders

113 - Braeden Davis

120 - Caden Horwath

138 - Casey Swiderski

160 - Josh Barr

170 - Manny Rojas

AA Threats

132 - Dylan Gilcher

Watch Braeden Davis win an 88 lbs Fargo title below.


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It’s a stretch to call Georgia a title contender this year, but if they really can pull off two champs and four other decent AA finishes, that will easily set the Peach State up for just its 3rd ever top-ten finish and possibly even its first-ever top-five finish! Caleb Henson and Chase Horne will be leading the way. Henson is a Super 32 champion and Horne is currently ranked #1 in the country.

Title Contenders

152 - Caleb Henson

285 - Chase Horne

AA Threats

120 - Cole Hunt

152 - Michael Kilic

160 - RJ Weston

220 - Noah Pettigrew

So, who do you think takes the team title?