The first-ever US U23 Greco-Roman World Team Trials begin this Saturday at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota and there is a good feeling surrounding the event. Why? Because the United States Greco-Roman program’s biggest overall strength at the current moment resides in its youth. U23 may be seen as an internationally sanctioned “age group” due to it now having a World Championships to look forward to, but make no mistake about it — this is Senior territory, and the US boasts plenty of talented Greco prospects with experience at that level and below. As of today, registered competitors comprise (at least) nine previous Junior World Team members (including this year’s champ, Kamal Bey), a few Fargo National titles, and countless other medals both domestically and abroad. Not bad.
Starting off with the first four weight classes (though they will not be contested in order this weekend), we have a good number of Greco-Roman athletes who can claim full-time status. This is also the case for the heavier weights, but since there are nearly two dozen wrestlers who will be representing either NMU, NYAC, Minnesota Storm, or the Marines, that little piece of data is too hard to ignore when it comes to 59-75 kilos. So we begin…
2017 U23 Greco-Roman World Team Trials Preview Part 1
Note: This list may be updated to include late entrants.
NMU’s Dalton Roberts and Randon Miranda lead what will inevitably look like a very packed field by the time all of the registrants are accounted for. Roberts scored a couple of nice medals overseas last year and won his second-straight University National title last June. Miranda picked up gold in Austria during the spring before winning both the Junior World Team Trials and his second gold at the Junior Greco World Duals. He also put on absolutely jaw-clenching gritty performance in a loss to 2015 Cadet World Champion Turabek Tirkashev (UZB) at the Junior World Championships. In fact, both Roberts and Miranda are two-time Junior World Team members. Detect a pattern here? These two wrestlers have not only been flag-wavers for Northern Michigan, but also for the rebirth of this sport in the country as a whole.
Trying to keep up with the tandem of Roberts and Miranda will be up-and-coming high schooler Luis Hernandez, who is now out at the Olympic Training Center as one of the country’s early faces of the new Elite Athlete Accelerator Program. Wisconsin’s Ty Pelot (X-Factor Elite) is tough, experienced, and had himself a very strong day at the University Nationals, where he wound up second to Wesley Dawkins (GEWC). Northern Michigan is cramming no less than five wrestlers to go along with the rest of the 59 kilo bracket, but it’s the two stars mentioned at the top most expect to be gunning for the World Team spot.
There is every reason to believe that following the competition on Saturday, Alex Sancho (NYAC/OTS) will have locked up his very first shot at a World medal. And really, should Sancho prevail and make the team, he absolutely will be seen as a worthwhile candidate to make the podium in November. The reasoning is simple: Sancho is not only the most seasoned competitor at this weight, but he also has a recent track record that suggests he knows how to perform against foreign opponents (see: Zagreb in March or Tbilisi in June). Toss in the fact he’s a three-time Senior Trials finalist right in there with his continuous overall improvement, and it’s too tough to picture him slipping on a banana peel at this thing.
That doesn’t mean he won’t be tested, however. He could be. Sahid Kargbo (Patriot Elite) was a University World Team member in 2015 and pushed Sancho enough in their quarterfinal meeting at the World Team Trials to where the latter was forced to bust out and make a comeback. Rudy Guillen (Minnesota Storm) showed a ton of promise last year with a bronze at Schultz and although he wound up not reaching his goals, still displayed a lot to like at both the Junior and Senior Trials. 2015 Junior World Team member and Illinois product Travis Rice (NMU/OTS) had a full slate of competition last year that included a trip to Finland, so he’s back in gear. He might not be ready to challenge Sancho just yet, but is certainly someone to watch as the day unfolds.
Following a breakout performance at the Senior Trials where he took an impressive fourth in a stacked weight, Colin Schubert (NYAC/OTS) is the man who will be getting all the pub at 71. He’s one of the most “purposely aggressive” Greco-Roman wrestlers in the country and as he’s developed, confidence has followed. This weight class is just tailor-made for him, his style, his build, his skill-set. But he’s not the only surging potential future star hanging around this way. You also have Alex Mossing (Air Force). Mossing did not have had the same kind of day Schubert did out in Vegas, but it was hard to miss how offensively-minded he was. The kid went for throws at virtually every available opportunity and considering his collegiate background, that was both surprising and enlightening.
Mossing then went on to engage in one of the most memorable finals matches out of any weight and any age group of the entire year. At the University Nationals, he and 2015 University Nat’ls champ Anthonie Linares (NYAC/OTS) seemed intent on putting on a show, only it was Mossing who got to take a bow at the end. Mossing threw Linares several times to rack up an unexpected technical fall, and that was after he practically tech’ed his way to the finals in the first place (minus Austin Morrow). Schubert rolled Mossing right out of town when they met in April, but that shouldn’t mean too much this weekend if a rematch is in the cards. Ray Bunker (Marines) has usually been at 66 kilograms, but is coming up for this. Bunker, no hyperbole intended, is one of the meanest, most intense competitors in the country who looks to outhustle everyone. Now that he is growing his skill-set, he’s becoming even more of an issue for opponents and a win at the University Nationals in June is proof of that.
Could it be Jesse Porter‘s (NYAC/OTS) time to shine? The very stout and very quiet Porter goes about his business with a workmanlike approach that offers a nice contrast to the blitzing power he is capable of unleashing. He has obviously been linked to Bey a whole ton. Four runner-up finishes will do that. But Porter may soon realize he is actually every bit as dangerous and there is a ton of evidence, visually and numerically, to back that up, such as a pile of wins over some of the nation’s best. We all are aware of this, his gifts are unmistakable. Only, Porter is not the lone big name at 75, as one Mr. Jon Jay Chavez (NYAC) will also be back down after shooting up to 80 for the University Nationals and the Tbilisi Grand Prix.
Chavez is just as much of a top prospect as Porter at this stage, but his recent wins over the OTS wrestler (in the consolation round of the Senior Trials and in the semis of the University Nationals, respectively) suggest there is a match-up issue here maybe more than a skill-based one. Chavez brings some slickness to the game while Porter can be more of a slugger still. Chavez also might be a little more deft at getting turns from top. No matter, if these two wind up locking up again, it will be must-see theater for everyone. NMU’s Corey Fitzgerald just picked up a silver medal at the Campbell Cup last weekend, his second such placing at that event, and he also garnered some additional relevant experience overseas in 2016. There aren’t many looking at him, or stablemate Ryan Cummings, as contenders in Rochester, but they’ll certainly be there to try and make an impression.
2017 U23 Greco-Roman World Team Trials Schedule
Saturday, October 7th — 66 kg, 75 kg, 85 kg, 98 kg
Sunday, October 8th — 59 kg, 71 kg, 80 kg, 130 kg
Watch the action live on Trackwrestling.com
CLICK HERE TO DONATE TO THE USA GRECO-ROMAN PROGRAM