With the 2017 Cadet and Junior National Championships taking place at Fargo next week, we thought it was a good idea to provide a look at how the current US World Team members performed at the tournament back when they were still battling it out on the age-group level. Perhaps begrudgingly, we also included freestyle results if for nothing other than painting a clearer picture. After all, this is the United States of America, where most wrestlers grow up participating in all three styles. And that is what Fargo is partly about, anyway — mass participation. A high number of matches, the country’s best representatives from each state…it’s almost like a holiday for the American wrestling community. And despite our willingness to include freestyle results, there aren’t a lot of them here. Only Robby Smith (130 kg, NYAC) and Mason Manville (75 kg, Army/WCAP) ring in with placings in the other style.
So go ahead and take a stroll down memory lane for a minute. Maybe you were around for a few of these performances. Maybe you competed against one of the 2017 Greco-Roman World Team members. Or maybe you are getting ready to lace them up in the Fargodome yourself and want some inspiration. There is one lesson to learn with these results — seven of the eight World Teamers gave it a run in their day (and the only reason 59 kilo rep Ildar Hafizov didn’t is because he grew up in Uzbekistan). Wrestling at Fargo matters, maybe even more so than the result. It’s a rite of passage and one that continues to shine with importance.
Results found in the Mat Talk Online Fargo All-American Almanac
66 kg — Ellis Coleman (Illinois)
2006 Cadet Greco-Roman — 4th place, 112 lbs
2007 Cadet Greco-Roman — champion, 119 lbs
2008 Junior Greco-Roman — runner-up, 130 lbs
2009 Junior Greco-Roman — champion, 135 lbs
Those impressive Junior World performances, the Olympics, and now two Senior World Team appearances? Fargo is where a lot of that groundwork was laid. Plus, there’s the added bonus of a funny story about Coleman and RaVaughn Perkins from after the former picked up his first win there in 2007. The Army athlete has come a long way in more ways than one. Numerous injuries and time off the mat have helped Coleman rediscover his passion for the sport. He might be known for the “Flying Squirrel” and that’s great. But he’s also an extraordinarily talented individual who is becoming a leader everyone in the lineup can rely on.
71 kg — Patrick Smith (Minnesota)
2008 Junior Greco-Roman — 4th place, 140 lbs
2009 Junior Greco-Roman — 6th place, 145 lbs
No, Smith never won Fargo. Big deal. Neither did Andy Bisek and he turned out just fine. After his time at the University of Minnesota wrapped up, Smith instantly became an elite contender on the Senior circuit, finishing as a runner-up in both the World and Olympic Trials before finally breaking through this year. No one — no one puts more pressure on opponents and you can bet whoever is standing across from him in Paris would probably rather it be anybody else.
75 kg — Mason Manville (Minnesota/New Jersey/Virginia)
2012 Cadet Greco-Roman — champion, 145 lbs
2013 Cadet Greco-Roman — champion, 145 lbs
2015 Junior Greco-Roman — runner-up, 152 lbs
Doesn’t it make sense that a cat like Manville would go to Fargo and do his best to get his money’s worth? If there was a belt-wrestling division available, he would have probably entered it. He just loves to wrestle, so the ginormous amount of matches is something you’d expect him to do well with. Manville is currently gearing up for his first Senior World Championships after putting together the kind of age-group career that always seems to translate into big-time success. Following the summer, he will be enrolled at Penn State University to continue his secondary education. And also wrestle for the deepest collegiate program in the country.
80 kg — Cheney Haight (Utah)
2000 Junior Greco-Roman — 3rd place, 98 lbs
2002 Junior Greco-Roman — champion, 140 lbs
2003 Junior Greco-Roman — 4th place, 152 lbs
32 pounds in two years. That’s quite a jump. Haight would later go onto Northern Michigan University and turn himself into one of the most hardcore competitors in the country, advance to an Olympic Trials final series, and make two World Teams. Robby Smith is the voice of the US program, for sure. But Haight is the lead-by-example kind of guy every team needs. He goes about his work with ferocity and the fire he takes the mat with has made him a cult hero.
85 kg — Ben Provisor (Wisconsin)
2005 Cadet Greco-Roman — 3rd place, 119 lbs
2006 Cadet Greco-Roman — champion, 140 lbs
2007 Junior Greco-Roman — 3rd place, 160 lbs
Provisor parlayed his days under the lights in the Dome to what is already an incredible career. Two Olympic Team appearances, two Senior National titles, and he’s still only 27. If you check out pictures of what Provisor looked like a decade ago, it almost doesn’t make sense. He is huge. But behind that power is a ton of experience he was able to accrue during his youth and Fargo was where he went to test all that out.
98 kg — G’Angelo Hancock (Colorado)
2014 Junior Greco-Roman — 4th place, 220 lbs
2015 Junior Greco-Roman — 3rd place, 220 lbs
Think about it this way: just two years ago, Hancock, a green pug at the time, took third. Third. He’d take third again nine months later in another marquee US event — the Olympic Trials. Today, he’s a 19-year-old star in the sport with a Junior World medal to his name and a few Senior titles. Oh, and he’s on both the Junior and the Senior World teams in 2017. The sky, it’s in reach. Remember that.
130 kg — Robby Smith (California)
2002 Cadet Greco-Roman — runner-up, 215 lbs
2003 Cadet Greco-Roman — champion, 215 lbs
The flag-carrier for the Community Youth Center in Concord, California always gravitated towards the international styles and as you can see, was pretty successful. Now 30 years of age, Smith stands as the captain of Team USA, a trusted voice and motivating force behind the program. Twice fifth in the World and an Olympic Team member in 2016, the 30-year-old is getting ready to participate in his fourth World Championships.