USA Greco

Cadets Next In Line to Boost USA Greco Stock

2016 us cadet national team
Photo: John Sachs

Last week, it was the Juniors. Now it’s the Cadets’ turn.

The US squad is currently gearing up for the Cadet World Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia next week and similar to the age group above, is hoping to improve on previous years’ performances. It’s a fresh bunch this time around– there are no athletes on the roster leftover from 2015.  However, this Cadet World Team isn’t short on either talent or savvy, and there are several wrestlers who are certainly capable of earning medals in Georgia.

Both the approach and attitude regarding Greco Roman in the US are changing in concert with each other, which makes this World tournament all the more interesting. The Cadet age group, particularly in Greco, always showcases plenty of promising athletes domestically. It isn’t hard to miss the ability of these youngsters on display each year at Fargo or the national duals. This is the pipeline, the future. And if the litany of prospects taking the mat in Tbilisi are any indication, that future could be very bright.

2016 US Cadet National Team

42 kg – Andrew Chambal (Michigan)

Chambal took second at the UWW Nationals to Wisconsin’s Jalen Spuhler, losing two straight matches. He also didn’t have the best run of his life at the Cadet National Duals, dropping a few bouts there, as well. But just a couple of weeks later, Chambal represented the US at the Pan Am Championships and dominated right through his bracket on his way to gold. So what does this all tell you? That Chambal not only learns, but he’s also a fighter. It’s this type of competitor who can turn some heads at a World tournament.

46 kg – Mosha Schwartz (Colorado)

The eminently gifted Schwartz stands as one of the hottest wrestling prospects in the country and wouldn’t you know it, but he loves Greco. It shows, too. Schwartz unveils superb confidence in his transitions and is an enthusiastic scorer. He’s in one spot, then another, and then another. The athletes overseas play a little bit of a different game but that could work in his favor. Schwartz has won or performed well at virtually every meaningful tournament he has shown up at (for practically years), so a Cadet World medal would seem fitting here.

50 kg – Malik Johnson (Missouri)

One thing that works for Johnson is that he’s just such a cool customer. He doesn’t get rattled, doesn’t panic, doesn’t waste a lot of energy. Plus, when Johnson gets on a run, he is crazy hard to stop. He won’t want to be too composed in this event though, where biding your time against more experienced international competitors can mean giving up big points in a hurry. Johnson won Fargo last year, won the UWW Nationals this year, and has taken out impressive stateside opposition everywhere he’s been lately. If he can chain together a couple of wins in Georgia and starts getting confident, look out.

54 kg – Real Woods (Illinois)

Another super-talented US wrestler, Woods demonstrates a smooth game in each phase. He’s got drags and slide-by’s, he has a pretty lock-tight gutwrench, and he also knows how to exploit an opportunity as soon as it presents itself. Woods does have a habit of extending his arms and reaching from a distance, which could be an issue against foes who might look for arm throws. Then again, he counters so fast, it might not be that big of a deal since he controls angles so well. Woods is a highly-decorated athlete who seems intimately aware of what he is capable of, making him a can’t-miss entrant.

58 kg – Jack Davis (Pennsylvania)

Guts. That’s what comes to mind first when Davis is brought up. He isn’t the flashiest guy on this team and he also doesn’t own the most hardware. But over the past two years, few have improved as much as Davis and there is no one tougher. This is a kid who was 7th at Fargo in 2015 and then the next year is a World Team member. Just to make this US Cadet National team, he had to endure a semi-lopsided loss to Jack Karstetter (OK) before coming back to shut him down in the third and final match of the series. Blue-collar grit and unyielding desire can take a man to far places.

63 kg – Peyton Omania (California)

Omania, like everyone else on the US Cadet team, might be active in other styles, but he’s a “Greco guy.” He wrestles like one and he stalks like one. The best part is, Omania hasn’t even come close to his potential yet as an age-group athlete, which is saying something considering how successful he has been in the style. Most recently, he trucked through the Cadet National Duals with the exception of dropping a bout to superstar Mitchell McKee (Minnesota). It happens. Other than that hiccup, he has been on a tear, even taking out some Junior international opponents in Concord a few months ago.

69 kg – Max Wohlabaugh (Florida)

An equally calculated and intuitive competitor, Wohlabaugh can put attacks together with transitions so clean, you wonder what it is you’re watching. He has worked hard to get to this level and was rewarded with a Fargo victory in 2015. He won the Trials for this event by sticking to his instincts and allowing his pressure to carry him the rest of the way. Wohlabaugh didn’t fare so well in the 2016 Fargo finals, as he was in control against Anthony Mantanano till the closing moments before it slipped away. No time for looking back now, there are bigger things to occupy his time.

76 kg – Clay Lautt (Kansas)

One of those wrestlers they invented whistles for, Lautt doesn’t like to stop once he hits the upper gears and is a positively punishing counter-wrestler if the situation calls for it. He’s someone you would say is “in the cut” — Over the past year, Lautt has made himself available for competition at every available opportunity, even putting it on the line at the Junior Greco World Duals like Omania (and 100 kg rep Cohlton Schultz). Lautt was a monster at the UWW Nationals but hasn’t won Fargo yet. So what? He comes to these things to get in a fight and by gosh, you love to see that.

85 kg – Brandon Whitman (Michigan)

Whitman is a constantly evolving athlete who keeps adding weapons to his Greco arsenal. His hip level in the ties and ability to score from top have put more punch in his game since last year’s Fargo, where he took third. Illinois stud Jake Warner defeated Whitman in two straight back in June, though he looked plenty good before that. This year’s trip to the Fargo Dome wasn’t a home run for the Michigan wrestler either, so there is little doubt he is locking onto this World tournament as a chance to show exactly what he’s made of.

100 kg – Cohlton Schultz (Colorado)

Along with Nick Boykin, Cohlton Schutlz represents the US’s future in the upper-weights. A committed Greco Roman competitor, Schultz is where he wants to be — on a World team. You can see why if you check out some of his highlights. Big kids don’t usually toss around other big kids, and this big kid enjoys doing so to what is perhaps an immeasurable degree. Most figured the 2016 Fargo Nationals were going to be a sort of stomping ground for the upstart, but it didn’t turn out that way, as Tyler Curd (MO) upset him in the quarters. To be fair, Schultz sure didn’t have any trouble at the UWW’s, and the US is banking on that performance being more inline with what fans will see in a few days.

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