Several interesting matches and eyebrow-raising surprises this morning at the 2018 US Greco-Roman World Team Trials have resulted in a slate of semifinals that fans will have no problem sinking their teeth into. In most cases, the studs expected to perform well have, and a few athletes who were previously overlooked are in the running, as well. Day 1 of the Senior Greco Trials began at 10:00am in Tulsa, Oklahoma and aired live in the US on FloWrestling.
2016 Olympian Jesse Thielke (63 kg, NYAC/LOG) put together one of the most highlight-worthy sequences fans will see this year. Working against newcomer Christen Hunt (505 WC), Thielke executed a waterfall of an arm throw, converted two gutwrenches, and capped it off with a lift. It’s not the moves Thielke hit why it was so startling; it was that he seemed to do it all in one motion. Opposing Thielke in the semifinal will be U23 World Team member Travis Rice (NMU/OTS), who downed tough Marine prospect Taylor Zippe via fall in his first bout of the day.
At 67 kilograms, Austin Morrow (NYAC/OTS) has been extremely effective. In the round-of-16, WBC’s Chris Anderson, for the second tournament in a row, represented the Northern athlete’s first opponent with Morrow sailing away with an 8-0 tech. The quarterfinal offered another familiar face — 2018 US Open runner-up Jessy Williams (NYAC). Williams’s run in Vegas was his strongest yet, but he never got going against Morrow, who picked up a takedown before using two lifts to end that match-up prematurely. Aside from being former teammates, Morrow and Williams have a competitive history dating back several years. The last time they faced off, Morrow defeated Williams two matches to none in the 2016 University National finals.
2017 Senior World Team member Mason Manville (Army/WCAP), competing for the first time in the US since last year’s Trials, hastily got behind Brandon Mueller (505 WC) in their 77-kilogram quarterfinal and quickly transitioned into a gutwrench to go up 4-0. The scoring bogged down after that. Mueller tried to press forward while Manville stalked for much of the second period. In the end, it was a 5-0 triumph for the Penn State student, who next meets up with Cody Pack (NYAC/LOG) in the semis.
On the opposite side of Manville’s bracket is two-time U23 World Teamer Jesse Porter (NYAC/OTS), an athlete who may require some dental work when he gets back to Marquette. Porter eased past stablemate Corey Fitzgerald to ignite his march through the tournament. Up next was 2016 World Team member Chris Gonzalez (NYAC, and who is up at 77 for this event). In what was a back-and-forth battle, Porter prevailed 8-6 — although, Gonzalez did come awfully close to stealing the match as time expired. But before any of that, the wrestlers got tangled up at the edge and crashed off the mat. Porter took the brunt of the impact and appeared to have broken a tooth. The trainers conducted a brief checkup and Porter was good to go pretty quickly.
Should they meet (and there is certainly no guarantee), Manville versus Porter is not a new match-up. But it is a relevant one. Porter was Manville’s most notable victim on the latter’s run to the Trial finals in 2017. Then again, surging Marine Peyton Walsh has a say in all of this. Walsh and Porter fought it in one of the most captivating bouts of April’s Nationals with Walsh emerging via criteria.
Sam Hazewinkel (Sunkist) defeated Sean Sesnan (WBC) in short order to make the 55-kilogram semifinal where he will see Britain Longmire (Team Nevada). Hazewinkel and Longmire also clashed in the Nationals’ round-of-16 with Hazewinkel prevailing via tech. U23 World Team member Dalton Duffield and Kyndall Rutz comprise an all-NMU semifinal on the bottom half of the 55 bracket.
One of the bigger stories leading up to Thursday was Jon Jay Chavez‘s (NYAC/FLWC) decision to drop all the way down to 72 kilograms. You say “all the way down” simply because Chavez competed at 82 as recently as March. So far, so good for Chavez, as he turned back the talented Brett Bye (Legends of Gold) via tech.
The two semifinal match-ups at 60 kilograms offer four athletes who all have a great shot at making the best-of-three opposite National Champion Dalton Roberts (NYAC/OTS). On the top half, Roberts’s runner-up Mike Fuenffinger (Army/WCAP) goes up against 2016 Junior World bronze medalist Taylor LaMont (Sunkist), and in one of the marquee bouts of the evening, 2008 Olympian and returning World Team member Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP) takes on 2018 U23 World Team member Randon Miranda (NYAC/OTS).
It’s a subjective term. After all, what is perceived as an upset to some might not come at all surprising to others, specifically the athletes who get their hands raised. But still, James Souza (87 kg, Army/WCAP) knocking off 2016 Senior National runner-up Khymba Johnson (NYAC/OTS) the way he did had to catch many off guard. Souza was ahead 4-0 in the second period when a caution on Johnson widened the gap to 6-0. Then in the midst of a melee, Souza caught Johnson on his back, adjusted to head-and-arm, and held on for the fall. Craziness.
U23 Trials runner-up David Orndorff (130 kg, UVRTC) served Donny Longendyke (Minnesota Storm) with a surprising setback. Orndorff nailed one helluva arm throw in the first period and from then on out consistently found himself in solid position as he worked to set up tie-ups that cleared lanes to Longendyke’s torso. Longendyke did have a chance on top in the second frame and managed to turn Orndorff for two. But it would not be enough, and Orndorff moved onto the semis with a 6-3 win few would have predicted.
The semifinal round of the 2018 US Greco-Roman World Team Trials begins at 5:00pm (CT) with consolation rounds continuing into the evening. Challenge tournament finals follow at 6:30pm. Look for our recap after the finals are all wrapped up.
2018 US Greco-Roman World Team Trials Challenge Tournament Semifinals
Sam Hazewinkel (Sunkist) vs. Britain Longmire (Team Nevada)
Kyndall Rutz (NMU/OTS) vs. Dalton Duffield (NMU/OTS)
Mike Fuenffinger (Army/WCAP) vs. Taylor LaMont (Sunkist)
Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP) vs. Randon Miranda (NYAC/OTS)
Jesse Thielke (NYAC/LOG) vs. Travis Rice (NMU/OTS)
Xavier Johnson (Marines) vs. LilShawn Greedy (Army/WCAP)
Alex Sancho (NYAC) vs. Jamel Johnson (Marines)
Hayden Tuma (Army/WCAP) vs. Austin Morrow (NYAC/OTS)
Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) vs. Colin Schubert (NYAC/OTS)
Jon Jay Chavez (NYAC/FLWC) vs. Isaac Dukes (Army/WCAP)
Mason Manville (Army/WCAP) vs. Cody Pack (NYAC/LOG)
Peyton Walsh (Marines) vs. Jesse Porter (NYAC/OTS)
Cheney Haight (NYAC) vs. Terrence Zaleski (Marines)
John Stefanowicz (Marines) vs. Barrett Stanghill (Minnesota Storm)
Patrick Martinez (NYAC) vs. Rich Carlson (Minnesota Storm)
Kevin Radford (Sunkist) vs. James Souza (Army/WCAP)
G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist) vs. Kevin Beazley (Cliff Keen WC)
Micah Burak (TMWC) vs. Lucas Sheridan (Army/WCAP)
Adam Coon (Cliff Keen WC) vs. Toby Erickson (Army/WCAP)
Malcolm Allen (Minnesota Storm) vs. David Orndorff (UVRTC)