United States Greco athletes who were entering the Nationals this weekend, by and large, had one of two goals — qualify for the Olympic Trials; or if already qualified, put together a strong performance that will translate into a favorable seed for said Trials.
Winning in the semifinal would help either cause, and six wrestlers managed to accomplish both.
The semifinal round of the 2019 US Nationals began at 4:00 CT from the Fort Worth Convention Center in Fort Worth, Texas and aired live on FLOWrestling.
Olympic Trials Qualifiers
In order to qualify for the Olympic Trials at the 2019 US Nationals, wrestlers have to place in the top-five, thus making finals berths here all the more important.
2019 National champ/Final X runner-up Mike Fuenffinger (60 kg, Army/WCAP) defeated occasional domestic rival Dalton Roberts (NYAC/OTS) 4-1. Roberts earned the first passive to snare an early 1-0 lead, but Fuenffinger converted on a four-pointer in the second to surge ahead, and he never looked back. Roberts had a look at a last-gasp front headlock as time was running out, but Fuenffinger avoided danger. With the win, Fuenffinger guarantees his third appearance in a National final in consecutive seasons. Tomorrow evening, he will meet Sammy Jones (NYAC/OTS), who was the recipient of an injury forfeit over ’19 World Team member Ryan Mango (Army/WCAP, world no. 6).
Calvin Germinaro (Minnesota Storm) had been a key figure all day long, and that didn’t change Thursday afternoon. Facing off against Michael Hooker (Army/WCAP), Germinaro erased a 4-0 deficit to eventually inch ahead 5-4. In the second, a twisting headlock try provided another opportunity. After Hooker defended the hold, Germinaro reset and attacked the body, resulting in a step-out. Now needing to score, Hooker had to make a go of it, and did so by locking for a throw. Germinaro saw it coming and landed on top, giving him some more breathing room as he moved on 10-4.
At 34 years of age, Jake Fisher (77 kg, Curby 3-Style) appeared strong and crisp as he fought his way to a semifinal match-up with RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC). But once there, he had even more left in the tank. Fisher received the first passivity of the bout, and used the chance to pull Perkins over with a reverse lock. The hold garnered four, but another batch of points would soon enter the equation. Following a reset, Perkins stalked Fisher towards the boundary; as Perkins tried to get around back, Fisher countered with a arm throw. The call on the mat was four. Perkins opted for a challenge, it was denied, and Fisher had earned himself a remarkable victory that not only punches his ticket to State College in April, but gives him his first US National finals appearance in six years.
Jon Anderson (Army/WCAP) scored one point via step-out to draw first blood in his meeting with Chandler Rogers (TMWC), but Rogers responded with a beautiful level-change to come up with a takedown. Thing was, Anderson wanted to score again, too. As the opening period began winding down, Anderson clamped around Rogers — who halfway looked for a counter-throw — and threw-by for a takedown of his own. A quick gutwrench from Anderson tacked on two more, and he walked into the break enjoying a 5-2 lead. There was no further scoring in the bout, though not for lack of trying. Anderson, back as a full-time athlete and training at West Point, makes his third National final and first since ’15.
Both the #1 and #2 seeds at 97 kilos needed this tournament to assure themselves spots in the Trials, and they both got it done. Even better, they also just so happen to comprise the best rivalry in the country this season.
Lucas Sheridan (Army/WCAP) did not require much time to dispose of ’19 Junior World Teamer Nick Boykin (Sunkist). How did he do it? That headlock. Sheridan angled and prodded, as soon as he could, he nailed Boykin with one headlock for four — and then after a reset, he did it again. It was 8-0 for Sheridan against one of the better young talents in the country in short order. On the bottom side of the bracket, Daniel Miller (Marines) was up 5-1 on Eric Twohey (Minnesota Storm) late in the second period when he got behind for a takedown and rotated one gut to end the bout just ahead of the buzzer.
Sancho & Bey
Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP) had to break out some heavy artillery to get past the surging Nolan Baker (NYAC), and what that looked like in their 67-kg semi was a booming arm throw. Another Sancho throw attempt soon after led to a scramble that saw Baker scamper around back. He wanted two and asked for a challenge, but was denied, giving Sancho one more point in what eventually became a 5-0 decision.
77 kilograms offered an intriguing match between 2017 Junior World Champion Kamal Bey (Sunkist) and Corey Hope (NYAC), two athletes who know each other very well thanks to their time together at the Olympic and Paralympic Training Center. But, they never locked horns in a high leverage bout before Friday. Hope grinded and chopped Bey in the ties to come up with the first passivity, though Bey held firm from bottom. The passivities flipped in the second, with Bey latching a reverse lock. This is usually when the points arrive in droves — however, Hope defended.
Bey crashed in and dipped levels to force Hope off the line, but not before getting credit for four by virtue of Hope going to his back. A headlock try was ruled a slip for Bey, so Hope wanted a challenge. It didn’t hold, providing Bey with another point. He wouldn’t need any help soon enough. Bey zipped inside for a takedown, locked, loaded, and planted Hope for one more big bunch of points to wrap it all up via 14-1 tech.
Schultz Makes First Senior Nat’l Final
Cohlton Schultz (130 kg, Sunkist) is already the owner of a Trials berth, but he was one of 11 pre-qualified wrestlers to enter the fray in Fort Worth, and so far, it’s looking good. That doesn’t mean he can be on autopilot, of course. West Cathcart (IRTC) — who has looked better and better since returning to competition last year — scored two off of a beautiful arm spin attempt to break the scoreless tie. Schultz did not remain dormant for too long. He picked up his own takedown and transitioned to an immediate gut and climbed out in front 4-2. With just over a minute remaining in the period, Schultz countered a Cathcart headlock with a four-point lift and added three turns, resulting in a 14-2 tech.
Schultz is paired with Jacob Mitchell (Army/WCAP) in tomorrow night’s heavyweight final. At the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament in May, Schultz pinned Mitchell in the semifinal.
2019 US GRECO-ROMAN NATIONALS/OLYMPIC TRIALS QUALIFIER
December 20-21 — Fort Worth, Texas
Mike Fuenffinger (Army/WCAP) def. Dalton Roberts (NYAC/OTS) 4-1
Sammy Jones (NYAC/OTS) over Ryan Mango (Army/WCAP) via inj. default
Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP) def. Nolan Baker (NYAC) 5-0
Calvin Germinaro (Minnesota Storm) def. Michael Hooker (Army/WCAP) 10-4
Kamal Bey (Sunkist) def. Corey Hope (NYAC) 14-1, TF
Jake Fisher(Curby 3-Style) def. RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) 10-0, TF
Patrick Martinez (NYAC) def. Carter Nielsen (Minnesota Storm) 2-1
Jon Anderson (Army/WCAP) def. Chandler Rogers (TMWC) 5-2
Lucas Sheridan (Army/WCAP) def. Nick Boykin (Sunkist) 8-0, TF
Daniel Miller (Marines) def. Eric Twohey (Minnesota Storm) 9-1, TF
Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist) def. West Cathcart (IRTC) 14-2, TF
Jacob Mitchell (Army/WCAP) def. Toby Erickson (Army/WCAP) 6-1
CONSOLATION SEMIFINAL PAIRINGS
(Saturday morning at 10:00am CT)
Joseph Palmer (Cyclone RTC) vs. Ryan Mango (Army/WCAP)
Taylor Lamont (Sunkist) vs. Dalton Roberts (NYAC)
Jamel Johnson (Marines) vs. Nolan Baker (NYAC)
Xavier Johnson (Marines) vs. Michael Hooker (Army/WCAP)
Peyton Walsh (Marines) vs. Corey Hope (NYAC)
RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) vs. Andrew Berreyesa (NYAC/FLWC)
Chandler Rogers (TMWC) vs. Rich Carlson (Minnesota Storm)
Carter Nielsen (Minnesota Storm/OTS) vs. Barrett Stanghill (Minnesota Storm/OTS)
Eric Twohey (Minnesota Storm) vs. Khymba Johnson (NYAC)
Nick Boykin (Sunkist) vs. Orry Elor (NYAC)
Toby Erickson (Army/WCAP) vs. Donny Longendyke (Minnesota Storm)
West Cathcart (IRTC) vs. Tommy Helton (SIRTC)