On the night before the NCAA Division I wrestling tournament, apparel company Rudis will host Super Match. The pay-per-view event, which is only available via RUDIS+, will feature the long-awaited match between Kyle Snyder and J'den Cox. The card also features a variety of World medalists, NCAA championships and next-level high school prospects. The following is a match-by-match preview of the event.
97 kg: Kyle Snyder vs. J'Den Cox
The match that many expected to be the highlight of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials will finally happen. Cox planned to move up to 97 kg for the Olympics, but "missed weight" per USA Wrestling and was removed from the bracket. Snyder, who was already sitting in the finals, scored a pair of victories over former college teammate Kollin Moore to qualify for his second Olympic Games.
Snyder made the finals in Tokyo, but dropped a 6-3 match against rival Abdulrashid Sadulaev. The former Ohio State wrestler got another shot at Sadulaev in the finals of the 2021 World Championships. The Russian once again took the victory, this time by a 6-0 score. Since that loss, Snyder has won gold medals at the 2021 Russian International tournament and the 2022 Ivan Yariguin. For his career, he is now a seven-time World/Olympic medalist and a three-time gold medalist. On the college level, Snyder was a four-time NCAA finalist and a three-time champion.
For the 2016 Olympics, Cox fought his way down to 86 kg and won a bronze medal. When the weights expanded, he eventually found a new home at 92 kg. After the Trials incident, Cox moved back up for the 2021 World Championships. He had little trouble at the Trials as he outscored his opposition 28-0. He then added a bronze medal at the World tournament, with his only loss coming against Kamran Ghasempour.
Cox is now a five-time World/Olympic medalist, and he won gold medals at both the 2018 and 2019 World Championships. In college at Missouri, Cox was a three-time NCAA champion and a four-time All-American.
This match features two of the most accomplished and gifted wrestlers currently competing for the country. It could easily become one of the biggest rivalries as well. Cox will need to rely on his trademark defense in this match. Snyder has had trouble in the past when he is not able to get out to an early lead. This contest is also the only one on the card that will be decided by a best-of-three series. That likely favors Cox. His defensive style opens the door for a match to get away from him, which happened in the 2016 Olympic Trials finals against Kyle Dake. The extra match gives him a bit of room for error. On the other hand, Cox has a limited resume at this weight, and Snyder winning this match should surprise no one.
Prediction: Cox over Snyder (2-1 in the best-of-three series)
53 kg: Sarah Hildebrandt vs. Ronna Gross
Hildebrandt has really started filling her trophy case. She is already a six-time gold medalist at the Pan American Championships/Games. Her first Senior-level World medal came in 2018, where she won a silver medal at 53 kg. For the Olympic year, she dropped down to 50 kg and won bronze in Tokyo. Hildebrandt returned last year for the World Championships, where she added another silver medal. At this rate, it is not hard to imagine multiple World titles in her future.
Gross stayed at 53 kg for the Olympic year and made the finals of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. She came up short and dropped two-straight matches against Jacarra Winchester in the best-of-three series. Gross bounced back later in the year and earned a spot on the U23 World team.
The size factor is interesting here. Hildebrandt certainly seems to be her best work down at 50 kg. With that being said, she only really needs to land one takedown in this match. Hildebrandt has one of the best leg laces in the country. She can quickly turn one opportunity on top into a match-ending sequence, and she is routinely the country's most prolific scorer in international tournaments.
Prediction: Hildebrandt VSU over Gross
70 kg: Zain Retherford vs. James Green
Retherford was a three-time NCAA champion and a four-time All-American during his college days at Penn State. While still in school, he defeated Jaydin Eierman, Nick Dardanes, BJ Futrell and Frank Molinaro to make the 2017 World team that brought home the team title. Retherford would return to the World Championships in 2019 after an extended series against Yianni Diakomihals, but he is still looking for his first World medal on the senior level. Earlier this year, Retherford had a dominant run through the Dan Kolov International and brought home a gold medal.
Green has been the best U.S. wrestler at 70 kg for some time. He won a bronze medal at the weight in 2015 and added a silver two years later in 2017. During his college days at Nebraska, Green was a four-time All-American who finished third as a junior and senior. Last month, he took a silver medal at the Yasar Dogu after dropping the finals match against Amir Mohammad Yazdani.
On the domestic scene, Green rarely loses matches at 70 kg. When he cuts down to 65 kg, things get a bit dicey. These two faced off at the 2016 Olympic Trials, and Retherford dominated the match via a 9-2 score. However, this match will likely be a different story. Green is a different wrestler when he is not depleted physically by the cut. Retherford could make things interesting with his savvy tactics and underrated scrambling, but it is hard to pick against Green at this weight.
Prediction: Green VPO1 over Retherford
70 kg: Jordan Oliver vs. Alec Pantaleo
Oliver won the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, but Team USA had not yet qualified the weight for the Tokyo Games. The former Oklahoma State wrestler traveled to Bulgaria for the final Olympic qualifier and, despite winning three matches, came up short of qualification. Oliver moved up to 70 kg for last year's World Team Trials, but fell in the semifinals against James Green. During his collegiate days, Oliver was a two-time NCAA champion and a four-time All-American. On the senior level, he is a four-time Senior Nationals finalist and one-time champion.
Pantaleo was a three-time All-American at Michigan, with his best finish coming in 2019 when he finished third at 157 pounds. He had a strong 2021 on the senior level that saw him win a gold medal at the 2021 Pan American Championships and finish second at Senior Nationals. In January, Pantaleo traveled to Russia for the Ivan Yariguin tournament, but he dropped his only match against Alan Kudzoev by 4-4 on criteria.
This match has a pretty interesting dynamic in terms of weight. Oliver is moving up from his Olympic weight of 65 kg, while Pantaleo is moving down from 74 kg after campaigning there during the Olympic year. Oliver is the much more credentialed wrestler, but time is certainly not on his side. He has a tendency to slow down the pace of matches when his offense is not readily available. That will likely spell trouble against Pantaleo, who is extremely hard to move out of position. Look for the former Michigan wrestler to keep this one close and pull out the low-scoring upset.
Prediction: Pantaleo VPO1 over Oliver
86 kg: Myles Martin vs. Mark Hall
Martin won an NCAA title as a true freshman in 2016. He then finished his career at Ohio State as a four-time All-American. Since exhausting his collegiate eligibility, Martin has been a regular on the domestic freestyle circuit. In 2019 he finished second at Senior Nationals with signature victories over Nick Heflin and Alex Dieringer. The following year, he won Flo's 8-Man Challenge tournament thanks to wins over Drew Foster, Nate Jackson and Taylor Lujan.
Hall also won an NCAA title as a true freshman for Penn State. He also finished as a four-time All-American but missed out on his final NCAA tournament due to the pandemic. Before ever finishing his collegiate career, Hall was a three-time age-group World champion, but he has failed to make a team on the senior level. Last year, he was unable to qualify for the Olympic Trials, but bounced back with a first-place finish at the 2021 Senior Nationals.
The former Nittany Lion seems intent on wrestling at 86 kg on the senior level. He wrestled in college at 174 pounds, and his best results in freestyle always seemed to come around 74 kg. Hall is skilled and athletic enough to be highly competitive with some of the best in the country, but he does seem to get overpowered at times. Martin certainly has the game to impose his will, but look for Hall to escape a close match here.
They wrestled at the 2021 Matteo Pellicone. In that match, Hall was able to consistently get to legs and eventually pinned Martin in a scramble.
Prediction: Hall VPO1 over Martin
62 kg: Kayla Miracle vs. Emma Bruntil
After making only one previous World team, Miracle defeated Macey Kilty in the finals of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. She won only one match at the Olympic Games, but returned later in the year at the 2021 World Championships. Miracle started the tournament on a run and made the finals for a silver medal. She recently returned to action at the Bout at the Ballpark and held on for a 6-5 victory over Ana Paula Godinez.
Bruntil made the finals of the 2021 World Team Trials, but dropped the three-match series against Forrest Molinari. This year, she got off to a strong start with a gold medal performance at the Ivan Yariguin tournament that included a victory over Molinari in a rematch. Bruntil then placed third at the Yasar Dogu tournament. In that event, she ran into Molinari once again and was unable to best her recent rival.
Over this past year, Bruntil has gained some invaluable international experience. She could easily find herself on multiple World teams over the next few years. However, this match might be a little bit too much at this point. Miracle's performance at the last World Championships showed that she took a step forward, and fans can expect to see that domestically this year.
Prediction: Miracle VPO1 over Bruntil
79 kg: Isaiah Martinez vs. Alex Dieringer
Martinez was a four-time NCAA finalist and two-time champion during his time at Illinois. He lost only three matches in his collegiate career that ended in 2018. Martinez has twice made Final X. In 2018, he dropped a two-match series against Jordan Burroughs. The two rematched in another best-of-three series in 2019. This time Martinez was able to get a match off Burroughs but still came up short in his bid for a World team.
Dieringer was a four-time All-American and three-time champion for Oklahoma State. As a senior in 2016, he went undefeated and took home the Dan Hodge trophy. He has continued to pile up the accolades on the international scene as he has won gold medals at the 2020 Matteo Pellicone, 2019 Bill Farrell, 2019 Yasar Dogu and 2019 Yasar Dogu, to name a few.
These two have wrestled three times on the domestic freestyle circuit, with Dieringer winning all three matches. Their most recent bout came in the semifinals of the 2021 World Team Trials. Dieringer was in control throughout the contest and finished with a 6-1 victory. Martinez is probably best down at 74 kg, and Dieringer will likely have the physical edge again in this bout.
Prediction: Dieringer VPO1 over Martinez
97 kg: Kollin Moore vs. Nate Jackson
Moore had three top-five finishes at the NCAA tournament leading up to his senior year. In his final year, he went 27-0, won the Big Ten tournament and was the clear number-one seed going into the 2020 NCAA tournament. Unfortunately, that tournament never happened, and he never got another shot at an NCAA title. In 2021, Moore made the finals of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials and the 2021 World Team Trials. Along the way, he scored victories over the likes of Trent Hidlay, Michael Macchiavello and Braxton Amos.
Jackson was a two-time All-American at Indiana who finished his eligibility in 2017. Last year he qualified for the Olympic Team Trials with a second-place finish at the Last Chance Qualifier. To earn that spot, he picked up victories over Drew Foster, Mark Hall and Max Dean.
This bout will be a rematch from the semifinals of the 2021 World Team Trials. The two traded early takedowns before Moore took an extensive injury timeout with the score tied at 4-4. The action restarted, and Jackson scored a takedown in the final 30 seconds of the first period to move ahead 6-4. That score held until there were 38 seconds left in the match. Moore evened the score at 6-6 with a takedown. He then added another takedown and a pair of gut wrenches to run away with the 12-6.
While the match was much closer than the final score would indicate, Moore was still the one coming forward and pressing the action. Jackson is at his best when he can rely on his defense. While that strategy got him close in their last meeting, Moore's pace and forward pressure will likely lead him to another victory here.
Prediction: Moore VPO1 over Jackson
72 kg: Kennedy Blades vs. Victoria Francis
Blades announced her presence to the wrestling world by making the finals of the U.S. Olympic Trials, and she is still only 17 years old. At that event, she defeated Forrest Molinari, Alexandria Glaude and Rachel Watters before eventually falling against Olympic gold medalist Tamyra Mensah-Stock in the finals. Blades then followed that performance with her own gold medal at the 2021 Junior World Championships. After a high-profile recruiting saga, she and her sister Korina recently announced they would attend Arizona State and train at the Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club.
Francis made the finals of the Olympic Trials challenge tournament at 76 kg, before coming up short against Kylie Welker. She had a very active February that saw her compete at the Bout at the Ballpark and the Yasar Dogu tournament. Francis has been a member of two World teams, with her best finish coming in 2019. That year she made the bronze medal match but came up short against two-time Asian Championships gold medalist Paliha of China.
Francis has the experience edge in this match, but that has been the case for many of Blades' victories. She appears to be a prodigious talent, and that is likely to be on display here. Look for this one to turn into a showcase bout.
Prediction: Blades VSU over Francis
125 kg: Derek White vs. Amar Dhesi
White started his collegiate career at Nebraska before transferring to Oklahoma State. He spent one year with the Cowboys at 197 pounds before moving up to heavyweight. In 2019, White made it all the way to the NCAA finals before falling against Penn State's Anthony Cassar. White has dabbled with 97 kg on the freestyle circuit, but once again, it appears as if he has found his home at heavyweight.
Dhesi represents Canada on the international scene, but he spent his collegiate days at Oregon State. With the Beavers, he was a four-time NCAA qualifier and a three-time NCAA All-American. His highest finish came during his junior season, where he went 25-3 and his only loss at the NCAA tournament came against Adam Coon. In freestyle, Dhesi won the 2014 Junior World Championships. He qualified for the last Olympics by finishing second at the Pan American Olympic Qualification Tournament.
White might have the higher finish at the NCAA tournament, but many believe Dhesi's best style has always been freestyle. If Dhesi is able to score an early takedown, he should be able to turn to his defense and hold on for a score. His experience against some of the best in the World will likely help him defend in par terre and hold onto the lead.
Prediction: Dhesi VPO1 over White
65 kg: Evan Henderson vs. Seth Gross
Henderson was an active competitor on the local circuit during the pandemic period, where most action was shut down. That actively likely provided momentum in 2021 as he won the Last Chance Qualifier with impressive victories over Shayne Van Ness, Kizhan Clarke and Pat Lugo. After failing to make the Olympic team, Henderson returned at the 2021 World Team Trials, where he finished third and defeated the likes of Dean Heil and Luke Pletcher.
Gross was a two-time NCAA finalist and champion for South Dakota State before transferring to Wisconsin for this final season of collegiate wrestling in 2020. Since college Gross has been a regular on the domestic freestyle circuit and finished fourth at last year's World Team Trials at 61 kg. At the event, he scored victories over Ethan Lizak, Daniel DeShazer and Joe Colon.
While Gross does compete with some regularity at higher weights, his best results in freestyle have almost always come down at 57 kg. When he has moved up as high as 65 kg, he has struggled. On the undercard of Burroughs vs. Taylor last year, he was dominated by Joey McKenna and dropped a 10-0 match. Henderson may not be the most dynamic scorer, but he will likely be able to control this match physically and take the victory.
Prediction: Henderson VPO over Gross
50 kg: Emily Shilson vs. Erin Golston
Shilson recently won the NCWWC title at 109 pounds for Augsburg. She outscored her opposition 38-0 on her way to the title. Despite still competing collegiately, Shilson is already a three-time World champion with victories at the 2018 Cadet World Championships and the 2021 editions of both the Junior World Championships and U23 World Championships.
Coming into last year, Golston was a three-time runner-up at the U.S. Open. In 2021, she picked up victories over Chloe Kresbach, Hannah Michael and Natalie Reyna-Rodriguez to claim the 50kg title. Golston is also a three-time medalist at the Junior World Championships with bronze medals in 2011 and 2012, as well as a silver medal in 2013.
Shilson and Golston have met multiple times previously, with their most recent match coming at the 2021 World Team Trials. In that bout, Golston got out to a 3-1 lead thanks to a stepout point and a takedown; however, Shilson did the rest of the scoring and came away with a 10-3 victory. Both wrestlers seem capable of scoring takedowns, but Shilson's ability to score from the top position might end up being the difference.
Prediction: Shilson VPO1 over Golston
79 kg: David McFadden vs. Mitch Finesilver
McFadden was a four-time All-American for Virginia Tech, with his last season coming during the pandemic shortened 2020 season. That season he picked up wins over current number-one ranked wrestler Evan Wick (Cal Poly) and national finalist Jake Wentzel (Pittsburgh). On the international circuit, his best result is a silver medal performance at the 2021 Matteo Pellicone. McFadden recently went 1-2 at the Yasar Dogu tournament with a victory over 2014 World champion Khetik Tsabolov (Serbia).
Finesilver finished fourth at the 2019 NCAA tournament, as a senior, to become an All-American. He left Duke as a four-time NCAA qualifier. On the international circuit, Finesilver represents Israel. Last year, he won a somewhat unlikely bronze medal at the European Championships with victories over Davud Alizalau (Belarus), Malik Amine (San Marino), and Valentin Borzin (Moldova). Last month, the former Duke wrestler was part of the international all-star team at the Bout at the Ballpark and dropped an 11-0 match against Jason Nolf.
Even though both of these competitors were contemporaries in the ACC, they never met on the collegiate mats. McFadden spent his college days at 165 and 174 pounds, while Finesilver never went higher than 157. That size difference will likely be on display here. Not only is McFadden a long wrestler for 79kg, but he does a good job utilizing a reach advantage when he has it. Finesilver is certainly game, but this will be a tough contest for him.
Prediction: McFadden VPO over Finesilver
152 lbs: Caleb Henson vs. Hunter Garvin
Henson was the 16th recruit on the MatScouts 2022 Senior Big Board and has a very strong 2021. In that year, he won the Super 32 tournament and a Fargo title. He will attend Virginia Tech next season. He got a taste of college action earlier this season as he won the Southeast Open back in November.
Garvin recently won his third Iowa state high school championship for Iowa City West. He was ranked 24th on the Big Board and will attend Stanford in the fall. Per Cody Goodwin of the Des Moines Register, Garvin is the highest-rated Iowa high school wrestler to leave the state for college since Alex Thomsen in 2018.
Like many of the future college wrestlers coming out of Georgia, Henson is a physical presence who is fundamentally sound in a variety of positions. Garvin will be in a tough spot, as he will likely struggle to score and deal with the forward pressure of Henson.
Prediction: Henson VPO1 over Garvin
145 lbs: Jesse Mendez vs. Casey Swiderski
Mendez recently won his fourth-straight Indiana state high school championship. He has also been extremely successful on the national freestyle scene with gold medal performances at the 2019 Cadet World Team Trials and 2021 Junior World Team Trials. He was the number-one recruit on the MatScouts 2022 Senior Big Board and will attend Ohio State.
Swiderski accomplished the rare accomplishment of winning four Michigan state high school championships and adding four state team titles. Fittingly enough, one of the other wrestlers to accomplish this in Michigan was former Hodge Trophy winner Brent Metcalf, who will help lead Swiderski through his collegiate career at Iowa State. Swiderski was a Fargo champion and ranked eighth on the Big Board.
These two met at the 2021 Who's Number One event, where Swiderski famously pulled off the upset. This match will be the only one on the card contested under collegiate folkstyle rules. Swiderski was the much more dynamic wrestler in the WNO match, and he won the takedown battle against the more seasoned freestyle competitor. With that being said, Mendez should benefit from time away from that match and the opportunity to come in with a better gameplan. It is also entirely possible Mendez was still dealing with an injury suffered in the finals of the U23 World Team Trials only six months prior to that match.
Prediction: Mendez decision over Swiderski