In the upcoming Coach Lindland’s Report due out this week, US National Team head coach Matt Lindland confirmed the US roster for the 2020 Pan American Championships next month. For those who have been closely following the dynamics of the Senior season thus far, none of the names will come as a surprise.
The USA lineup for this year’s Pan Am Championships was always intended to be filled out by the 2019 World Team. And that is indeed the case in eight of ten weight classes. At 60 kilograms, two-time US National champ Mike Fuenffinger (Army/WCAP) is replacing reigning World Teamer Ildar Hafizov; and at 63 kilos, Xavier Johnson (Marines) is stepping in for Ryan Mango (Army/WCAP, world #7).
According to Lindland, Hafizov wants to take the Pan Am Championships off simply because he is set to compete the following week at the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier and feels the added rest will enhance his chances. Ellis Coleman (67 kg, Army/WCAP) is included on the roster, but his status as of now would be considered tentative. Coleman, who is coming off of making three World Teams in consecutive years, injured his triceps in October and has been rehabbing ever since. Even if Coleman does not enter the Pan Am Championships, he is still expected to be back on the mat for the proceeding week’s Olympic qualifying tournament.
The Pan Am Championships take place March 6-7 in Ottawa, Canada and can be streamed live in the US on Trackwrestling (subscription required).
TEAM USA ROSTER
*Competing the next week at the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier (also in Ottawa).
55 kg: Max Nowry (Army/WCAP, world #3)
60 kg: Mike Fuenffinger (Army/WCAP)
63 kg: Xavier Johnson (Marines)
*67 kg: Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP)
72 kg: Ray Bunker (Marines)
*77 kg: Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm)
82 kg: John Stefanowicz (Marines, world #15)
*87 kg: Joe Rau (TMWC/Chicago RTC, world #15)
*97 kg: G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist, world #13)
*130 kg: Adam Coon (NYAC/Cliff Keen, world #13)
Armed Forces Arrives This Month
The annual US Armed Forces Championships is understood as perhaps the most intense domestic wrestling event available, and there is an added stipulation this year that should raise its profile even further. Olympic Trials qualification will be on the line in all ten weight classes, not just the six Olympic categories. The top-2 placewinners in each weight (if not already qualified) punch their tickets to State College, PA in April.
That last part is the most important — if not already qualified. There is no drilldown past the top-2, which naturally increases the stakes in each round of the event, particularly for Navy and Air Force athletes. Most of the (Greco) wrestlers from Army/WCAP and the All-Marine team locked up Trials spots previously, although there are a few weight categories athletes from both squads have yet to secure.
The featured match of the 2020 Armed Forces is easy to point out: Lucas Sheridan (97 kg, Army/WCAP) versus Daniel Miller (Marines). It all began at last year’s Armed Forces, when Miller, now a two-time National champ, defeated Sheridan 2-1. They met in the US Open two months later, a win for Sheridan; Sheridan next defeated Miller two matches to one in their thrilling finals series at the ’19 World Team Trials; Sheridan headlocked and pinned Miller this past November in Sweden, and then Miller downed Sheridan at the Nationals two months ago.
We aim to explore this matchup further as part of our Armed Forces coverage, but there is no doubt that right now, Sheridan/Miller is United States Greco’s best rivalry.
The 2020 Armed Forces Championships are scheduled for February 22 from Naval Base Kitsap in Washington.