Just a little bit of turnover here, as 2016 Olympic Trials champion and 2014 Open winner RaVaughn Perkins is both currently injured and moving up in weight to 71 kilos. Bryce Saddoris (Marines) and the man who upset him at the Trials, Michael Hooker (Army/WCAP), are both out, as well, the latter with an injury. That’s three major players not appearing this weekend, but fret not: 66 is still going to provide some knockout match-ups.
US Nationals Preview – 66 kg
Alex Sancho (NYAC-OTS) Sancho is a cool customer who takes things as they come, at least in a wrestling sense. Don’t get it twisted — he is a ferocious competitor, so that isn’t the easygoing side of him. But when it comes to walking on the mat and getting in a fight Sancho is casual, and he should be. It’s something he loves to do. The 22-year old has come in second at two World Team Trials events in consecutive years but if he keeps progressing, it certainly seems his time is going to come eventually.
Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP) 2012 Olympian Coleman, one of the most dynamic athletes in the sport, was a heavy favorite at last month’s Non-Olympic Trials but lost to Sancho in the semifinals. In fact, it was the second time in a row Sancho had defeated him, going back to the 2016 Olympic Trials consolation finals. There is zero question that if Coleman is healthy and “correct” he is one of the best guys in the country at this weight. Word is he’s doing just fine so if that’s the case, be on alert: Coleman may be coming into this thing with a point to prove.
Dmitry Ryabchinskiy (NYAC) Up in weight here is Ryabchinskiy, who recently wrapped up his collegiate education at Northern Michigan. It isn’t completely surprising to see a jump up to 66 here if only because Ryabchinskiy wasn’t a tiny 59’er. Hardcore fans know exactly who this wrestler is but for those who don’t, this is an entertaining dude. Ryabchinskiy, for better or worse, actually tries to score offensive points. That means headlock attempts, arm throws, and whatever else he can reach out and grab.
Travis Rice (NMU-OTS) Popular Northern athlete Rice is badly in need of competition. The 2015 Junior World Team member is just coming off wrestling at both the Vantaa and Malar Cups, but before that was a five and a half month break. As a living, breathing, physical athlete, Rice is probably one of the quicker guys at this weight, though he has to take better advantage of his speed if he is going to score meaningful points. Just 21, he clearly still has a lot of highway in front of him, but a nice showing here could do wonders.
Jayson Ness (Minnesota Storm) 2010 NCAA champion Ness is coming over to Greco following a stint on the freestyle national stage. Younger brother Dylan, another significantly talented prospect, has been at this weight but is currently recovering from shoulder surgery. Ness, like fellow former Gopher Zach Sanders, is an interesting entrant based on his physical prowess alone. And like Sanders, Ness getting geared up by the Storm people means he is going to be prepared to put on a show.
Jamal DeArmond (NMU-OTS) You watch 2016 Junior World Team member DeArmond and all of the possibilities flood your brain. The strength, the dynamics, the sweet cutting angles into transitions, he’s got all of that. What he misses might be some decisiveness. DeArmond can get caught “in between” and like a lot of younger guys, that is something he will likely overcome eventually. When he does, that next step he takes could be a really big one. But he has to figure that out for himself first.