RALEIGH, NORTH CAROLINA — “The Bad Guy” is back.
Geordan Speiller (Florida Jets) returned to Senior Greco-Roman competition earlier this morning at the 2019 World Team Trials, surprising a weight class that had already entered the week as one of the most intriguing of the tournament. In his lone bout thus far, the reigning 82-kilogram World Teamer blew past Armed Forces champ Vlad Dombrovskiy (Army/WCAP) via fall. In the semifinals later this afternoon, Speiller will meet John Stefanowicz (Marines), who was behind Open bronze Chandler Rogers (CRTC) by a point when he picked up a takedown shortly before time expired.
Speiller, an Olympic Trials finalist in ‘16 and long understood as an exceptionally talented athlete, had intimated a desire to walk away from Greco this past fall in large part to pursue a career in MMA, so his presence at weigh-ins caught plenty of folks off-guard. Now that he’s once again in the mix, and facing Stefanowicz on top of it, the semifinals at 82 stand as a must-watch proposition.
The other 82-kilo semifinal is equally as provocative with two-time World Team member Cheney Haight (NYAC) set to battle ‘18 Junior World silver Andrew Berreyesa (NYAC/FLWC). As is seemingly almost always the case at domestic events, Berreyesa has been called upon to get through a gauntlet.
The round-of-16 ushered in familiar face Tommy Brackett (NMU/OTS), who like Berreyesa, is considered an important part of USA Greco’s future. They’ve also banged heads plenty the past two years, including in the finals of last year’s Junior Trials. And, it was another tight one, with Berreyesa notching a passivity point and turn to come away with the 3-0 decision.
The task wasn’t any easier for Berreyesa in the next round. US Open runner-up Spencer Woods (NYAC/OTS) sent shockwaves through the sport three weeks ago in Vegas, and appeared poised for another potential breakout on Friday. The tight grinding struggles, they’re right in Berreyesa’s wheelhouse. Woods, an exceptional wrestling athlete in his own right, was unable to navigate his way into opportunistic positions — or goad Berreyesa into making a mistake. When the dust cleared, it was another 3-0 win for the native Nevadan as he now attempts to make his first Senior Trials final.
As for Haight, he enjoyed a bye to the quarters where he outpointed Terrence Zaleski (Marines) 6-2.
Mossing surprises RaVaughn; script going accordingly elsewhere
Alex Mossing (72 kg, Air Force RTC) delivered the biggest upset of the morning, catching returning World Team member RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) to secure a shocking fall. Perkins had put Mossing on his back and then attempted to re-roll his position when Mossing reversed and clamped a headlock. Perkins fought and fought and fought, but eventually the signal for the pin arrived.
At 60 kilograms, the four athletes who were favored to comprise the two semifinals all advanced — although Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP) and Dalton Roberts (NYAC/OTS) both received byes. ‘16 Junior World bronze Taylor LaMont (Sunkist) defeated Liam Cronin (Hoosier WC) via tech and Randon Miranda (NYAC) got himself a :40 pin over Bruce Hrynciw (Marines)
Where does this leave us? With two incredible match-ups, one of which was bandied about on this platform last night. Hafizov versus LaMont has the potential to be a show-stopper if their initial clash from ‘17 is any indication; and Roberts and Miranda, whose latest pairing took place in the third/fourth match at the Open with Roberts winning, have met over half a dozen times the past two years, including in the U23 Trials finals in ‘17 and last year.
US Open runner-up Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) did his part this morning, and it didn’t take very long. A :47 tech at the expense of newcomer Eddie Smith (Dubuque) now sets up another must-see match-up we highlighted yesterday.
And it’s all because Peyton Walsh (Marines) pulled out an extraordinarily exciting finish against ‘18 U23 World Teamer Jesse Porter (NYAC/OTS). Like his teammate Stefanowicz, Walsh was behind with time running out. Porter was up 5-2 and seemingly on his way to the semis when the Marine scored four off the edge. A lengthy challenge from the NMU side followed but the call was upheld.
The story at 87 kilograms is not two-time Olympian Ben Provisor (NYAC/NLWC), who tech’ed out Jaimie Miranda (Marines) in under a minute. And although Barrett Stanghill (Minnesota Storm) took command against Junior World Team member Barrett Hughes (CRTC) en-route to a 7-2 decision, it’s not him, either.
Instead, the moment belongs to Vaughn Monreal-Berner (Marines).
Monreal-Berner fell to James Souza (Army/WCAP) at Armed Forces but was able to eek out a tight one against the WCAP stud last month at the Open. This morning, it felt like another tense fight was in the making until Monreal-Berner caught Souza and flattened him midway through the first period. This afternoon will be the Marine’s first appearance in a World Team Trials semifinal.
Heavyweight on the come-up
Second-seeded Toby Erickson (Army/WCAP) got the job done against former Illinois age-group standout Tommy Helton (SIRTC) by coming up with a pin late in the first period. Who is Erickson’s semifinal opponent? None other than 2017 Cadet World champ Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist), who is making his domestic Senior debut today. Schultz defeated Ike Okoli (INWWTC) via tech in under a minute. Stanford’s Haydn Maley (CARTC) earned himself a big win Friday morning, as well, with the former Fargo champ turning back NMU alum West Cathcart (IRTC) 10-2 in a bout he dominated up to its conclusion.
2019 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament
May 17th-18th — Raleigh, North Carolina
Dalton Duffield (NYAC/OTS) vs. Britain Longmire (NV)
Brady Koontz (ORTC) vs. Ibrahim Bunduka (INWWTC)
Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP) vs. Taylor LaMont (Sunkist)
Dalton Roberts (NYAC/OTS) vs. Randon Miranda (NYAC/OTS)
Sammy Jones (NYAC/OTS) vs. Lilleshawn Coleman (Army/WCAP)
Travis Rice (IRTC) vs. Xavier Johnson (Marines)
Hayden Tuma (Army/WCAP) vs. Jarod Verkleeren (NLWC)
Jamel Johnson (Marines) vs. Austin Morrow (NYAC/OTS)
Alex Mossing (Air Force RTC) vs. Nick Tarpley (NYAC)
Michael Hooker (Army/WCAP) vs. Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP)
Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) vs. Peyton Walsh (Marines)
Mason Manville (NLWC) vs. Corey Hope (NYAC)
Cheney Haight (NYAC) vs. Andrew Berreyesa (NYAC/NLWC)
Geordan Speiller (Florida Jets) vs. John Stefanowicz (Marines)
Ben Provisor (NYAC/NLWC) vs. Vaughn Monreal-Berner (Marines)
Barrett Stanghill (Minnesota Storm/OTS) vs. Kevin Radford (Sunkist)
Lucas Sheridan (Army/WCAP) vs. Khymba Johnson (NYAC/OTS)
Daniel Miller (Marines) vs. Eric Twohey (Minnesota Storm)
Jacob Mitchell (UA) vs. Haydn Maley (CARTC)
Toby Erickson (Army/WCAP) vs. Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist)