Two-time Junior National champion Joshua Barr (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
Earlier this week, the Junior Men's freestyle tournament in Fargo concluded with a great set of finals. Those matches provided some surprising outcomes and, as a result, some history was made. Just how much? We have found some "firsts" and notable facts and trends associated with the tournament, its champions, All-Americans, and teams.
As with anything historical pertaining to Fargo, this couldn't be possible without Jason Bryant's Fargo Almanac, which is an incredible resource.
For the first time in Junior freestyle, two Idaho natives met in the championship finals. Mack Mauger defeated Kolter Burton for the title at 106 lbs.
Speaking of Idaho, they had multiple champions for the first time since 2006. Mauger and Aden Attao (285) were victorious this year. 2006 marked the last time more than one Idaho wrestler claimed a stop sign. They were Adam Hall (152), Kirk Smith (171), and Clayton Foster (189).
Four Idaho natives made the finals, which is a feat the state had never achieved previously. Along with Mauger, Burton, Attao, Rylan Rogers also made the finals at 195 lbs.
Two wrestlers came away with their second stop signs in Junior Freestyle. Hunter Taylor (113 lbs) and Joshua Barr (170 lbs).
For the second consecutive year, a representative from Michigan won the Junior freestyle title at 170 lbs. Barr did so this year, after Manny Rojas won in 2021.
Looking at Barr's 2021 title run; the wrestler he defeated in the finals, Aiden Riggins, went on to win Junior's this year. His semifinal opponent was Braeden Scoles, who finished third at 160 lbs this year. The third place finisher from that bracket was Rocco Welsh, who Barr faced in this year's finals.
Cory Land's title at 132 lbs made him only the second Alabama native to win Junior freestyle. The first was Sam Latona (106) in 2017.
Cody Chittum became the second wrestler from Tennessee to grab a title in Junior freestyle. The only other one was by Elijah Oliver (113) in 2013.
Traditional power, Illinois, failed to produce a champion for the first time since 2009. They did have three wrestlers in the finals who suffered losses. Deion Johnson (113), Kannon Webster (132), and Dillan Johnson (285) all finished second.
Webster was the only returning Junior freestyle champion that lost in the finals.
A pair of wrestlers from Missouri's Liberty High School won Junior freestyle titles. Taylor at 113 and Kyle Dutton at 145 lbs.
Iowa's Waverly-Shell Rock had two, as well. Ryder Block (138) and Aiden Riggins (160). Both will be teammates at the University of Iowa.
The Liberty wrestlers gave Missouri multiple titles for the first time since 2008. That year, Ryan Mango (112), Justin Forrest (119), and Matt Lester (145) were all champions.
Kyle Dutton's title marked the first Junior national championship for a Little Rock signee.
Team Iowa had four national champions; Nate Jesuroga (120), Block (138), Riggins (160), and Hill (220). The last time Iowa had four in a single year was 1983. Those include: Mark Schwab (105.5), Corey Mills (114.5), Royce Alger (154), and Mike Van Arsdale (165).
Two wrestlers from Team Iowa squared off at 220 lbs. The last time that Iowa had two wrestlers meet in the finals was in 1987 with Bart Chelesvig defeating Greg Butteris at 178 lbs. This time, Bradley Hill edged Kolby Franklin. Both will wrestle together at the University of Iowa.
Iowa finished with the team title and 13 All-Americans. You actually don't have to go back very far to find the last time they hit that figure. 2018. The difference was this team had four champions and a runner-up, along with four third-place finishes. That squad had one champ, two runner's-up, and three-thirds.
With Tyler Garvin's title at 100lbs and TJ Stewart's at 182 lbs last year, Maryland had back-to-back years with Junior champions for the first time since 1980 and 1981. Those titles were won by Louis Chiapparelli (154 - 1980) and Rico Chiapparelli (154 - 1981).
Kansas had three All-Americans; Easton Taylor (138 - 4th), Tucker Cell (138 - 5th), and Blake Jouret (182 - 8th) for the first time since 2010. Those AA's were Taylor Moeder (135 - 4th), Brandon Charbonneau (135 - 6th), and Kyle Caylor (215 - 7th). Moeder and Charbonneau also represent the last two Kansas natives who AA'ed in the same weight class, before Taylor/Cell.
Max Agresti took fourth at 220 lbs and gave Delaware its first All-American since 2013. In both 2012 and 2013, Brent Fleetwood was fifth at 113 lbs.
Jeremiah Price's eighth place finish at 152 lbs made him North Carolina's first Junior AA since 2013 when Kacee Hutchinson was fourth at 220 lbs.
Surprisingly, New York had multiple All-Americans for the first time since 2016. Max Gallagher (126 - 5th) and Casper Stewart (138 - 8th) accounted for the two AA's this year.
Florida had three All-Americans; Brendon Abdon (160 - 7th), Sawyer Bartelt (220 - 3rd), Ethan Vergara (285 - 3rd). The last time Florida had three was in 2011 when they had five.
The University of Michigan had five recruits earn All-American status. Two pairs of them competed in the same weight class. Beau Mantanona was the runner-up at 145 lbs, while Dylan Gilcher was sixth. At 195 lbs, Rylan Rogers was a finalist and Hayden Walters was fourth.
The Ironman award for Junior Freestyle belongs to New Jersey's Lorenzo Norman. Norman lost in the opening round to Arizona's Dalton Loyden (10-0), then reeled off 11 consecutive wins to take third place! As you would expect, his final three wins came over All-Americans, but prior to that, he defeated four top-150 recruits (3 top 100's).
Only five of the 15 weights were won by graduated seniors. 132 (Land), 145 (Dutton), 152 (Chittum), 160 (Riggins), 220 (Hill).
The only state that put a wrestler on every step of the podium was California.
There were two states which had three All-Americans at the same weight. The all-Idaho finals at 106 lbs also had Dedrick Navarro in fifth place. Three representatives from Iowa got on the podium at 100 lbs with Jayden Rinken (3rd), Tyler Harper (4th), and Reid Foster (7th).