The spotlight on the USA Greco-Roman age-group wrestlers continues to shine today in Lima, Peru with the start of the 2017 Junior Pan Am Championships. It’s a busy week for Greco in America, to be sure. On Wednesday night at Northern Michigan University’s Superior Camp, a team of US wrestlers made up mostly of Juniors took on a Swedish squad in a featured dual and pulled out a 7-6 win. This weekend, the US Seniors, led by seven of the eight World Team members, will be competing at the prestigious Tbilisi Grand Prix in Tbilisi, Georgia. And of course, the University Nationals and Cadet World Team Trials wrapped up last Saturday in Akron, Ohio.
But for today, it’s all about the Juniors in Peru. The Junior World Team Trials from April provides the context for the roster. One champion (Dalton Young, 60 kg, WA), five runner-ups, and two bronze medalists represent the firepower the Americans are walking into the arena with and that doesn’t figure to be an overstatement. At 84 kilograms is Tommy Brackett (TN), the high schooler who entered the US Senior Open in December and made waves by defeating multiple-time National Team member Courtney Myers (Army/WCAP) in his first bout. Brackett finished sixth at that tournament. At April’s Junior Trials, Brackett fell to fellow future star and Missouri grappler Wyatt Koelling (UT) in a hard-fought final.
96 kilos sees Haydn Maley (OR), who is an interesting case. Maley won the Fargo Nationals last year and is ticketed for Stanford. There aren’t a whole lot of discernible holes in Maley’s game and he possesses the capability to bring a frightening blend of offense and stamina. He can score or wear you out, either way. The same can be said of Lenny Merkin (66 kg, NY). Another wrestler with a big-time folkstyle background, Merkin comes forward and opens up. When he gets on top, he is one who tries to lift, so there is no settling down
Young had himself a huge day at the Junior Trials. After tech’ing his way to the finals, he put together two impressive performances against Wesley Dawkins (NE) to seal up his spot for the World Championships. Young has also been a major player at Fargo, coming in second last year and third in 2015. Prior to the main event later this summer in Finland, Young can use his time at the 2017 Junior Pan Am Championships to get the feel against international opposition he needs to make the kind of adjustments that will aid in his offensive prowess being at the ready. Because when Young gets going, he usually doesn’t stop, and that could be a very good sign for Team USA.
Gabriel Townsell (Ill) enters the fray at 55 kilograms after having lost out to now-two-time Junior World Team member Randon Miranda (CA) in their best of three out in Vegas. You already know the deal with Townsell. Just like most of the others here, Townsell is on the verge of a very promising collegiate career and has found a way to translate the scholastic style to Greco. He can be very explosive and in his Greco history has not been shy about breaking out big moves if he gets the chance. Townsell is definitely a competitor who is fun to watch.
The 2017 Junior Pan Am Championships will be available to view in the US live on Trackwrestling.com starting at 11:00am EST.
2017 Junior Pan Am Championships US Greco-Roman Roster & Draws
50 kg: Brandon Kaylor (WA)
Ferley Barrientos Castaneda (COL)
Alejandro Tineo Del Leon (DOM)
Erick Zaldumbide Torres (ECU)
Edward Cortez Arcela (PER)
55 kg: Gabriel Townsell (Ill)
Ricardo Quinonez Rosado (ECU)
60 kg: Dalton Young (WA)
Agustin Destribats (ARG)
66 kg: Lenny Merkin (NY)
David Brooks Bodden (HON)
74 kg: Mason McDaniel (WA)
Andre Ramos Pinto (BRA)
84 kg: Tommy Brackett (TN)
Carlos Espinoza Castro (PER)
Jhony Gonzalez Charry (COL)
Gregory Reasco Angulo (ECU)
Gino Avila Dilbert (HON)
96 kg: Haydn Maley (OR)
Leo Santana Heredia (DOM)
120 kg: Anthony Cassioppi (Ill)
Rafer Crystello Madeira Filho (BRA)
Ronny Medina Ocon (PER)
Jose Diaz Ponciano (GTM), 2016 Junior Pan American silver medalist
Diego Almendras Rodriquez (CHL)