One of the deepest weight divisions at the US Nationals, 75 kilograms features talent coming from seemingly every direction. On paper it might look like there is a clear-cut favorite or two, but that’s all talk for now. There are bigger issues at play. Prospects need to be cultivated and in turn, veterans need to be pushed. This time around, that is exactly what this tournament all about. If you like your Greco complete with high-flying throws and wild exchanges during tense moments while also perhaps catching a glimpse at the future of the US program, 75 is where it’s at.
US Nationals Preview – 75 kg
Kendrick Sanders (NYAC-OTS) When Sanders is on, he is beyond dangerous. It doesn’t get any simpler than that. This of course, is not a secret. There is nothing lacking with Sanders on a physical level as he boasts sick power combined with a refined, curated skill-set honed by dropping people on their heads. When we last saw Sanders, he was up a tick at 80 for the Non-Olympic World Team Trials, an effort that saw him fall short in the semis to eventual champ Patrick Martinez (NYAC). At 26, he is entering the prime years of his career and making the most of it should start right about…now. If he isn’t in serious contention on Sunday it’ll be an upset.
Kamal Bey (Sunkist Kids) Widely seen as an Olympic candidate four years from now, Bey is the owner of an exceptionally bright future. Last year, that belief would have had to do with his age-group exploits alone but now that the 18-year old has fully cut his teeth as a Senior, the hype has been ratcheted up. A win at the Farrell last month (his first Senior gold) along with a solid 2-2 performance at the Clubs Cup in Hungary a week ago only increased his profile. Bey is a fast-twitch machine who finds big scoring opportunities from both conventional and rather unconventional positions. He doesn’t discriminate. So long as he can grab you, you’re in trouble.
Dillon Cowan (Army/WCAP) 2015 World Team Trials runner-up Cowan is an absolute master at frustrating opponents. It’s not because Cowan is some over-the-top unorthodox competitor, but he does have a signature style that works for him. Cowan changes levels and varies the speed of his attacks, of which there are several. He can sneak in for arm throws, go high on double overhooks and then drop down for a high-dive, and few have an innate understanding of how to control the center like he does. All in all, there has been improvement, big wins, disappointing losses, and some tales to tell. It’s shaped where he currently stands. Cowan is a capable wrestler who needs to get on a roll.
Jesse Porter (NYAC-OTS) Porter is one of Northern’s most highly-touted prospects. In terms of raw ability alone, Porter is second to no one at this weight. Impressive pop in all of his movements has helped him narrow the learning curve, though other parts of his game are naturally, still a work in progress. Polish is needed but that will come eventually. The foundation has been firmly established. Recent exploits include a bronze medal at Sweden’s Klippan Cup followed by another in New York last month. Wherever Porter competes domestically from now on, he’ll be expected to be in the running somehow and that’s the case with this tournament.
Alec Ortiz (Minnesota Storm) There is something to be said for the willingness to saunter back into the fire. Relenting is the quickest way to get burned, making it imperative to move forward as diligently as you can. That’s Ortiz. An incredibly successful high school career led to Minnesota University where following graduation he broke onto the Greco scene. Hard-nosed is accurate to describe his style. It’s just not about the flash for Ortiz, you won’t be wowed by a bevy of dramatic maneuvers. But he will fight for everything. A third at last year’s Schultz coupled with a win at the Last Chance Qualifiers highlighted his first half of 2016.
JayShon Wilson (Marines) One of the more intriguing competitors here, Wilson has not really announced himself as a consistent threat nationally yet. His skill-set is limited, leading to indecisiveness that has worked against him in matches against sharper opposition. However, Wilson has strength on his side to compliment an unyielding inclination for improvement. Provided he gets more schooling, he’ll wind up being talked about more in the future. Following a bronze at the University Nationals, Wilson went overseas to compete in both the Grand Prix of Germany and the Grand Prix of Spain. He knows what he needs. The question is, will he do more of it?
Michael Donato (NMU-OTS) While you cannot sum up what an athlete is all about based on one match, you can use the albeit tiny sample size to pinpoint what kind of competitor they are. Case in point, Donato versus Sweden’s Liam Kristensson early last month. Frustrated early, Donato was persistent in attacking Kristensson to where in one instance, he practically chased the Swede down to hit a bodylock. You can’t measure aptitude, you can only hypothesize its scope. But you are certainly allowed to come away impressed by a wrestler who is so eager to score he tries to run the other guy down. Truth is, Donato is not expected to do much here and that’s fine. But good luck dealing with the heat because guaranteed, he’s going to bring it.
Corey Fitzgerald (NMU-OTS) Another NMU wrestler who is looking to pick up valuable experience is Fitzgerald, who is still coming along. He’s a few years into serious Greco Roman training and competition, so he needs some time, time he can use to enhance his attacks, improve his footwork, and most of all, become increasingly battle-hardened. You can tell this an athlete who has the desire on the mat. Start there. Coming into this weekend, Fitzgerald earned a silver at the Eduardo Campbell Cup before heading off to Sweden to get some matches in, which included a 1-2 showing at the Klippan Cup.