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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    2021 Senior Nationals Greco-Roman Preview


    This Friday, many of the top stars in the Greco-Roman world will be in action from Coralville, Iowa, as 2021 Senior Nationals takes place. The entire Greco tournament will be held on Friday. Even though the Olympics will be held later this summer, there will also be a World Championship event from Oslo, Norway, in early October. This event is the first step towards qualification for the World Championships. The top-five wrestlers from Senior Nationals will lock up a place at the World Team Trials in September. Anyone who competed at the Olympic Trials already has punched their ticket, as well.

    With the Olympics only having six weight classes (boo!), plenty of wrestlers had to make significant cuts to find a weight class. Now that we're focusing on the World Championships, with ten weight classes in contention, there are plenty of men that will be testing out new weight classes in Coralville.

    Here is a preview of the action that will go down on Friday, along with picks for the top-two finishers. Entries are as of Tuesday afternoon and could be subject to change.

    55 kg

    There should be a distinct favorite at 55 kg as 2019 World Team member Max Nowry is among the entrants. During his first Senior World appearance, in 2019, Nowry wrestled for a bronze medal, but ended up short. Nowry was forced to move up to 60 kg for the Olympic Trials, where he ended up taking fourth in the Challenge Tournament. 55 kg has been Nowry's best weight as he has three Pan-American Championships under his belt here. One of the top contenders has to be Dalton Duffield. Dalton was a U23 World Team member in 2018 and took silver at the Dave Schultz Memorial in early 2019. Another key player in this bracket is Brady Koontz. Brady has made World Teams at the Cadet, Junior, and U23 levels. Duffield and Koontz met in the 2019 World Team Trials, a series won by Koontz, which allowed him to face Nowry at Final X.

    Prediction

    Max Nowry over Brady Koontz


    60 kg

    Dalton Roberts is the most seasoned competitor in this bracket on the Senior level, but he still will get pushed by some young talent. Roberts competed at the Senior World Championships while he was only 22 in 2018. He also has made a pair of Junior and U23 World Teams. His best stretch came in 2018, before World's when he was top-three at the Cerro Pelado, the Bill Farrell, and the Grand Prix of Germany. One of the more pleasant surprises on the Greco front from 2020 was Nebraska's national qualifier, Alex Thomsen. Thomsen was seeded ninth at Senior Nationals and knocked off Taylor LaMont in the second round, before grabbing two more wins and the tournament title. The Husker was not quite as successful at the Last Chance Qualifier, where he finished fourth, but was unable to lock in a spot at the Trials. A semifinalist at Senior Nationals, on the other half of the bracket, was Dylan Koontz. He ended up sixth and then went 1-2 at Last Chance. A young competitor to watch at this weight is King Sandoval. He was a Fargo Junior finalist in 2018 and earned a Cadet Pan-American bronze medal in 2017.

    Prediction

    Dalton Roberts over Alex Thomsen


    63 kg


    Here's another example of notable wrestlers changing weight post-Trials as Randon Miranda is up from 60 kilos at the Trials. He was held without a win in a very deep weight. Miranda is trying to make his first Senior World Team after earning a spot on two Junior and one U23 squad. He was also the second seed in the Senior National bracket that was turned on its head by Thomsen. Miranda ended up fifth. While it may be difficult to foresee anyone in the field challenging Miranda, some other notables include David Stepanian and Matthew Floresca. Stepanian notched three wins at the Last Chance Qualifier and Floresca won two at Senior Nationals in 2020. Also, don't discount Lillashawn Coleman of the Army WCAP. Coleman was seventh in a deep 60 kg weight class at Senior Nationals in 2019.

    Predictions

    Randon Miranda over Lillashawn Coleman


    67 kg

    The next two weight classes are two of the deepest and most wide open in the entire Greco-Roman portion of the tournament. Of the bunch, Nolan Baker progressed the deepest into the Olympic Trials, as he was fourth in the Challenge Tournament. The former Northern Illinois wrestler can end a match instantly with his headlocks and has been busy over the last year. He was also fifth at Senior Nationals and fourth at U23's in 2020. Another Trials participant here is Alston Nutter. The 2019 Junior World bronze medalist garnered a win before getting eliminated by Baker. Colton Rasche also competed in the Trials, though he was held without a win. Earlier this year, Rasche traveled to France and was in action at the Henri Deglane. A pair of capable competitors that participated in the Last Chance Qualifier, but were not able to clinch a spot in Forth were Hayden Tuma and Jessy Williams. Tuma has been a part of the Cadet and Junior World teams on two occasions. He also has made the Bill Farrell finals twice. Williams made the LCQ finals and was sixth at Senior Nationals after losing by fall to Baker in his final bout. Morgan Flaherty also won three matches at the LCQ, but suffered losses to Tuma and Benji Peak.

    Predictions

    Nolan Baker over Hayden Tuma


    72 kg

    There's a large group of competitors that could come away with the title at 72 kg. Both Jamel and Xavier Johnson are US Marine Corps teammates that made Final X in 2019. Xavier was at 63 kg and Jamel was at 67. Both were in the 67 kg bracket at the Olympic Trials in early April. Xavier advanced to the Challenge Tournament semifinals before losing to Ellis Coleman. He regrouped to take third. During the consolations, both were slated to meet, though Jamel ended up forfeiting. The Marines have two contenders, so we need to have one from the Army in Michael Hooker. Hooker teched Nolan Baker in his opening match at the Trials, but proceeded to drop his next two. He was also sixth in a 2019 Senior National weight that included both Johnson's. He downed Jamel on the front side, but lost to both in the consolations. This bracket also includes Austin Morrow, who competed at the Trials at 77 kg. He clinched a spot by winning the Last Chance Qualifier and defeating the eventual Trials Champion, Jesse Porter, in the finals. Collegiate fans will be familiar with Purdue national qualifier Griffin Parriott. Parriott was a Fargo Junior champion in Greco and came from the famous PINnacle school in Minnesota.

    Predictions

    Xavier Johnson over Austin Morrow


    77 kg

    There's a little more uncertainty at 77 kg, but Alec Ortiz and Britton Holmes could be two of the men to beat. The pair squared off in the quarterfinals of the Last Chance Qualifier. Though losing at the time, Ortiz was able to secure a fall and advance. He fell in his next bout and was unable to qualify for the Trials. Ortiz was also third at Senior Nationals in 2020, with his only loss coming to teammate Pat Smith in the semifinals. Holmes ended up reeling off four straight wins after his LCQ loss to Ortiz, though it was not enough to punch a ticket to Fort Worth. A name that has found the top-eight at most recent events is Fritz Schierl. Fritz was seventh at Senior Nationals and fifth at U23's in 2020. Also placing at both tourney's were Ryan Epps and Eddie Smith. The most unusual entry for this bracket is two-time Lock Haven All-American Chance Marsteller. Chance has a Fargo Greco title to his name but hasn't competed in the discipline in almost a decade.

    Predictions

    Alec Ortiz over Fritz Schierl

    82 kg

    After a move down to 77 kg for the Olympic year, it looks as if we'll see Ben Provisor back at 82 kg. He seems like a strong favorite here and has an extraordinary list of credentials. Provisor made the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Teams and was a World team member in 2017. He also has a pair of Pan-American Championships to his credit, one of which came in freestyle in 2018. But, the opponent who stopped Provisor at the Olympic Trials this year, Peyton Walsh, is among the field. Walsh had quite the run teching Provisor, 12-4, and edging Jacob Fisher to earn a place in the Trials finals. Also in the field is George Sikes, who was a 2018 U23 World Team member. Sikes is coming down to 82 after competing at 87 kg and finishing third at last year's U23 tournament.

    Prediction

    Ben Provisor over Peyton Walsh

    87 kg

    The only participant in this bracket from the Olympic Trials is Spencer Woods, who fell in a tight first-round bout, but battled back for third in the challenge tournament. Woods had a 2019 that saw him make the finals at the Bill Farrell Memorial. Some others that could challenge Woods include Tommy Brackett, the winner of the 82 kg bracket at U23's last year. Brackett picked up four wins at the Last Chance Qualifiers, but still came up shy of a Trials bid. Other names to remember from strong programs are Joel Nivar of the Marine Corps and Lukas Poloncic of the Minnesota Storm. Poloncic won four bouts at the LCQ, while Nivar had one. Also entered in both styles is NC State's 197 lb NCAA qualifier Nick Reenan. Reenan has always been known for having a nasty headlock and good hips, so he could be a wild card.

    Prediction

    Spencer Woods over Tommy Brackett

    97 kg

    While Dan Miller is the most accomplished Greco practitioner of this group, he has a host of other credible entrants to worry about. For most of the last quad, Miller has gone back and forth with Lucas Sheridan, for second at this weight, behind Olympian G'Angelo Hancock. Miller was a Senior National champion in 2019 and was a runner-up at the World Team Trials that same year. At the Olympic Trials, Miller fell to Sheridan for third place in the Challenge Tournament. The 2020 Senior National champion is here as well, with Nicholas Boykin. Boykin was a Challenge Tournament finalist and lost to Sheridan for a place on the National Team. He was also a Junior World Team member in 2019, before taking fourth at Senior's. Arizona State's Chad Porter is another Junior World Teamer at this weight. He also made the U23 team in 2019. Porter was denied a shot at the Trials after losing to veteran Jake Clark in the semis of the Last Chance Qualifier. James Souza, the third-place finisher in that bracket, has entered here, too.

    Predictions

    Dan Miller over Nicholas Boykin

    130 kg

    We could see a rematch from the semifinals of the Last Chance Qualifier at 130 kgs. At that event, Thomas Helton edged Lee Herrington, 1-1. Helton would later need to win a true second-place bout to secure his spot at the Trials. While he went 0-2, Helton gained valuable experience against Olympian Adam Coon in his opening bout. Herrington was the winner in 2020 at the U23 event after ending his finals bout with a first-period fall. There are also a couple of former DI national qualifiers in this bracket with Rider's Mauro Correnti and North Dakota State's Brandon Metz.

    Predictions

    Thomas Helton over Lee Herrington

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