World medalists Figueroa, Facundo back on Cadet World Team; Howard makes third team

AKRON, Ohio -- The first weekend of June saw many of the nation's finest young wrestling talents convene upon Akron, Ohio, for the UWW Cadet Freestyle Nationals. Wrestlers born in 2002, 2003, and 2004 sought to earn one of ten spots on a world team that will compete in Sofia, Bulgaria come late July into early August.

Both returning (age-eligible) Cadet world freestyle medalists qualified for this year's team, though they were both extended to three matches in the best-of-three finals.

Richard Figueroa (Selma, Calif.) -- ranked No. 1 overall in the Class of 2021 -- lost 4-2 in the first match of the finals series against Jordan Williams (Collinsville, Okla.); Williams was able to score a takedown late in the first period to level the score at 2-2, and then late in the bout he scored on a counter takedown off a seemingly forced Figueroa attack.

In the second match of the series, Figueroa dominated to the tune of a 10-0 technical superiority at the 2:32 mark; while the winner-take-all match was a 6-0 shutout victory for Figueroa. He will compete at the 51-kilogram weight class this summer, after earning world silver last year at 48 kilos.

Alex Facundo
Last year a Cadet world bronze medalist at 71 kilograms, it was far from an easy journey for No. 2 overall Class of 2021 wrestler Alex Facundo (Davison, Mich.) to earn a repeat world berth. Facundo needed a step-out with 25 seconds remaining in the bout to outlast Jaxon Smith (Woodland, Ga.) 2-1 in the quarterfinal round, while the match-winning takedown in a 4-3 semifinal victory over A.J. Kovacs (Poly Prep, N.Y.) came with 38 seconds remaining.

Facundo lost the first of three bouts in the championship series to Trevor Mastrogiovanni (Blair Academy, N.J.), who is ranked No. 7 overall in the Class of 2021. Mastrogiovanni made a takedown and a turn inside the first minute of the bout last in a 4-2 victory over Facundo. The second match started well enough as well, as Mastrogiovanni scored the match's first point early on, before six points in the last minute of the bout gave him a 6-1 victory and forced a third bout.

The winner-take-all bout was a decisive 5-0 win for Facundo, who had a 1-0 lead after one period before two takedowns in the second period propelled him to a second straight world team. Those two finals series were the only ones to go the distance.

Also returning to the Cadet World Team in freestyle is Robert Howard (Bergen Catholic, N.J.), who will be make a third straight appearance -- all coming at essentially the same weight class (54 kilograms in 2017 and 55 kilos the last two years. Yet to medal at the world level, the 2020 Penn State verbal commit steamrolled his way to the championship series -- five shutout technical superiorities in five bouts. Howard swept the championship series with 6-0 and 5-2 wins over Jesse Ybarra (Sunnyside, Ariz.), who won a Cadet National freestyle title in Fargo last summer.

Earning a second world team berth on the week was Kyle Haas (Maize, Kansas), who won a Greco-Roman title on Friday to go with the freestyle title, with both coming at 92 kilograms. Navigating a gauntlet of a weight class, he won a back-and-forth bout in the round of 16 with Cadet double All-American Sam Fisher (Fauquier, Va.) by fall in 3:15; the bout was tied 8-8 at the time. His next two victories came over returning Cadet National freestyle champions, 8-4 over Rocky Elam (Staley, Mo.) in the quarterfinal and a 10-0 technical superiority over Noah Pettigrew (Valdosta, Ga./Blair Academy, N.J.) in the semifinal round.

In the other half-bracket, No. 5 overall Class of 2022 Seth Shumate (Dublin Coffman, Ohio) dominated his way to the final as well. It was a 10-0 technical superiority in 2:54 over returning Cadet double finalist Kolby Franklin (St. Joseph's Catholic, Pa.) in the quarterfinal before a pin in 1:10 over returning Cadet freestyle All-American John Poznanski (Colonia, N.J.), a match in which he led 8-0 at the time.

No. 12 overall Class of 2021 wrestler Haas swept the championship series. Haas rallied from a 3-0 deficit with a pair of takedowns inside the last 35 seconds of the bout to win a 4-4 criteria decision in the opening match. Shumate would have a 5-4 lead over Haas in the second match with a minute left before a takedown followed by five turns would yield to Haas winning a 16-5 technical superiority at the 3:57 mark.

The lower weight contingent will be led off by No. 1 overall rising freshman Mark-Anthony McGowan (Blair Academy, N.J.), who will be the representative at 45 kilograms. He swept the championship series over Mac Church, an incoming freshman from Waynesburg, Pa. McGowan won the first bout 6-0 before securing a fall at the 2:31 mark of the second bout to confirm the world team spot.

The 48-kilogram representative will be Stevo Poulin (Shenendehowa, N.Y.), who is ranked No. 22 overall in the Class of 2021. He had four technical superiorities in four bouts to reach the championship series, where he would face off with Greco-Roman representative Cory Land (Moody, Ala.). That series was similarly non-competitive to Poulin's preliminary matches, as the world spot was confirmed for Poulin by a pin in 1:32 and a 10-0 technical superiority at the 1:14 mark.

Continuing his revenge tour in 2019 is Jesse Mendez (Crown Point, Ind.), who is the No. 7 overall Class of 2022 wrestler nationally. In 2018, Mendez failed to place at this tournament, Cadet freestyle in Fargo, and the Super 32 Challenge -- though he was very close to podiums in each event. This year he was an undefeated state champion in high school, won a Cadet National folkstyle title, and was named Outstanding Wrestler of this tournament after winning the 60-kilogram weight class.

A shutout technical fall and a dominating fall, each within a minute, placed Mendez into a round of 16 match against returning Cadet National freestyle runner-up Mick Burnett (Elyria, Ohio). Mendez would dominate from start-to-finish in a 13-5 victory. He then dominated his quarterfinal match against yet another returning Cadet National freestyle runner-up, this time scoring a 13-1 technical superiority in 3:23 over Caleb Rathjen (Ankeny, Iowa).

The semifinal match was a barnburner against returning Cadet National freestyle champion Dominick Serrano (Windsor, Colo.). Mendez made a five-point throw during the first period last in a 7-7 criteria victory, as Serrano lost in this round for a second straight year. That would set up a finals series against Anthony Ferrari (Allen, Texas), who had very narrow wins in his round of 16, quarterfinal, and semifinal against very tough opposition. With 9-4 and 1-1 (criteria) victories, Mendez relegated Ferrari to a second straight runner-up finish in this tournament.

Ryan Sokol (Simley, Minn.), who is ranked No. 20 overall in the Class of 2021 steamrolled his way to the spot at 65 kilos. The Iowa verbal commit reached the finals series with three shutout technical falls and a dominant pin, while needing to rally from a 6-4 deficit with 70 seconds remaining to beat two-time state champion Bryce Hepner (St. Edward, Ohio) in the round of 32. Sokol would sweep Derek Fields (Brunswick, Ohio), a returning Cadet freestyle All-American to earn the spot; an 11-5 decision in the first match before using a front headlock turned into a cradle to secure a pin in 1:34 despite trailing 6-0 before that sequence.

Rounding out the Cadet world team are a pair of wrestlers from the Keystone State, Clayton Ulrey (Line Mountain) at 80 kilograms and Hunter Catka (Sun Valley) at 110 kilograms.

Finals results

41-45 kg: Marc-Anthony McGowan over Mac Church, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: McGowan dec. Church, 6-0
Match 2: McGowan pinned Church, 2:31

48 kg: Stevo Poulin over Cory Land, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Poulin pinned Land, 1:32
Match 2: Poulin tech. fall Land, 10-0 1:14

51 kg: Richard Figueroa over Jordan Williams, 2 matches to 1
Match 1: Williams dec. Figueroa, 4-2
Match 2: Figueroa tech. fall Williams, 10-0 2:32
Match 3: Figueroa dec. Williams, 6-0

55 kg: Robert Howard over Jesse Ybarra, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Howard dec. Ybarra, 6-0
Match 2: Howard dec. Ybarra, 5-2

60 kg: Jesse Mendez over Anthony Ferrari, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Mendez dec. Ferrari, 9-4
Match 2: Mendez dec. Ferrari, 2-1

65 kg: Ryan Sokol over Derek Fields, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Sokol dec. Fields, 11-5
Match 2: Sokol pinned Fields, 1:34

71 kg: Alex Facundo over Travis Mastrogiovanni, 2 matches to 1
Match 1: Mastrogiovanni dec. Facundo, 4-2
Match 2: Facundo dec. Mastrogiovanni, 6-1
Match 3: Facundo dec. Mastrogiovanni, 5-0

80 kg: Clayton Ulrey over Rylan Rogers, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Ulrey dec. Rogers, 8-4
Match 2: Ulrey dec. Rylan Rogers, 9-4

92 kg: Kyle Haas over Seth Shumate, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Haas dec. Shumate, 4-4
Match 2: Haas dec. Shumate, 16-5 3:57

110 kg: Hunter Catka over Braxton Mikesell, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Catka dec. Mikesell, 7-1
Match 2: Catka dec. Mikesell, 8-0


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Juliarenareal (1) about 3 months ago
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