Mark Hall and Nate Jackson will face off in the main event of Summit 1 (Photos/Sam Janicki, SJanickiPhoto.com)
On Friday, the Pennsylvania Regional Training Center will become the latest RTC to host their own event with Summit 1. Headlining the card is a match featuring multiple-time age-group world champion Mark Hall moving up a weight to take on veteran Nate Jackson. The following is a match-by-match preview of the event, which is set to air live via Rokfin.
125 kilograms: Mauro Correnti vs. Lewis Fernandes
Correnti started his collegiate career in 2014 at Lock Haven before transferring to Rider. He started three years at Rider where he was an NCAA qualifier. Last November, Correnti faced off against Nick Nevills on the third NLWC wrestling club show and dropped a 12-2 match.
Fernandes is a freshman at Cornell. He wrestled unattached for the Finger Lakes RTC last season. He won the Princeton Open, Jonathan Kaloust Bearcat Open, Cornell Open and the Edinboro Open. His best result came at the Southern Scuffle where he finished fifth.
This should be a good early test for Fernandes. After a strong high school career, his official college debut has been delayed. Correnti has been around the block, but Fernandes should be able to use his athletic advantage to take this bout.
Prediction: Fernandes VSU1 over Correnti
97 kilograms: Ben Honis vs. Scottie Boykin
Honis exhausted his eligibility at Cornell in 2019. As a senior, he finished eighth to become an All-American for the first time. In order to achieve that accomplishment, he needed to score victories over Greg Bulsak, Jay Auello, Ethan Laird and Thomas Lane at the NCAA tournament.
Boykin was a three-time NCAA qualifier for Chattanooga. He came up short of All-America honors as a senior in 2018, but he did score victories over the likes of Sawyer Root, Jacob Holschlag, Kyle Conel, Chris Weiler, Rocco Caywood and Nathan Traxler. Boykin recently scored a dominant victory over Brandon Williams on the first Spartan Combat card.
97 kilograms has become a rather crowded weight domestically, and these two seem to be currently competing in the same tier. Honis had the better folkstyle results, and so far that has translated well to the freestyle scene. This match will likely be close, but Honis should be able to pull out the victory.
Prediction: Honis VPO1 over Boykin
76 kilograms: Mitch Finesilver vs. Jasmit Phulka
Finesilver was a four-time NCAA qualifier for Duke. During his senior season in 2019, he broke through and finished fourth to become an All-American for the first time. His run through the NCAA tournament that season included victories over Parker Kropman, Cole Martin, Jared Prince, Matt Kolodzik and Pat Lugo. On the international scene, Finesilver represents Israel, and he has already picked up a bronze medal at the 2020 Henri Deglane and a gold medal at the 2017 Maccabi Games.
Phulka represents Canada on the international level. He is a two-time world team member, and he holds a gold medal from the Canada Cup. Phulka scored a bronze medal at the 2019 Pan American Championships. He represented Canada at the Pan American Olympic Qualification tournament, but he finished third and failed to qualify 74 kilograms for the upcoming Games.
Finesilver has been much more active recently and picked up valuable international experience. Phulka appears to be a solid competitor, but he has not shown the ability to score against a quality competitor like Finesilver.
Prediction: Finesilver VPO1 over Phulka
79 kilograms: Dan Vallimont vs. Branson Ashworth
Vallimont started his 2020 at the Senior Nationals where he went 2-2 with victories over Kevin Tao and Dracius McKee. Vallimont also faced off against fellow Penn State alumn Vincenzo Joseph on the first NLWC show and dropped a 5-0 match. In his college days, he was a two-time All-American and NCAA finalist for the Nittany Lions.
Ashworth finished his collegiate career at Wyoming in 2019. He was a three-time NCAA qualifier and left school with a 143-35 career record. As a senior, he picked up signature wins over Zach Finesilver, Thomas Bullard, Demetrius Romero and Joe Smith. Ashworth's transition to freestyle got off to a hot start with a bronze medal winning performance at the 2020 Cerro Pelado.
Vallimont has a pretty sizeable edge in terms of freestyle experience. However, over the years, wrestlers coming right out of collegiate programs have had the edge in matches like this. If Ashworth can avoid ending up on the bottom, he should be able to do enough on the feet to take this one in a slight upset.
Prediction: Ashworth VPO1 over Vallimont
63 kilograms: Shelton Mack vs. Ethan Lizak
Mack had a strong 2019 where he won the Last Chance Qualifier and then placed fourth at the World Team Trials. He carried that momentum into 2020, but the results were more mixed. He finished eighth at Senior Nationals with wins over Gabriel Gray, Justin Portillo and Sklar Petry. Mack then faced off with some top collegiate stars in freestyle matches, but dropped the bouts against Roman Bravo-Young and Sebastian Rivera.
Lizak went 2-2 at Senior Nationals with wins over Michael Jaffer and Earl Hall, but he failed to place. The former three-time All-American at Minnesota then had a tough run on some RTC cards as he dropped back-to-back matches against Micky Phillippi and Kamal Bekaguv. However, he got back on track in his last match with a 10-0 technical superiority over former NCAA champion Matt McDonough.
Lizak's somewhat unconventional ability to score from the top in freestyle will likely give Mack a lot of trouble. It will be interesting to see who has the advantage in the neutral positions since Lizak has struggled there at times recently. However, in the end, this is his match to lose.
Prediction: Lizak VPO1 over Mack
150 pounds: Anthony Artalona vs. Evan Henderson
Artalona joined Penn for the 2019 season. He started as a true freshman and went 29-7 at 149 pounds and nearly became an All-American. At the NCAA tournament, Artalona went 3-2 with wins over Matt Zovistoski, Michael Sprague and Cole Martin but ultimately lost in the round of 12. This past season, Artalona moved up to 157 pounds and went 14-6 before missing the second half of the season with an injury. In the international styles, Artalona was third at the 2019 U23 Nationals in Greco and seventh in freestyle.
Henderson had a strong 2020 that saw him make the finals of Senior Nationals. He picked up victories over Doug Zapf, Ian Parker, Rob Mathers and Jaydin Eierman before ultimately coming up short against Andrew Alirez in the finals. In addition to that tournament, Henderson has also recently picked up victories over Anthony Echemendia and Hai Siu on some one-off cards.
Artalona's return from injury will come against a very tough opponent. Henderson has performed above expectations at 65 kilograms recently, and he should be a big favorite in this match. It might be closer than some expect, but Henderson should be in control throughout this one.
Prediction: Henderson VSU1 over Artalona
205 pounds: Chandler Rogers vs. Ben Darmstadt
Rogers finished his collegiate eligibility at Oklahoma State in 2019. Despite coming off back-to-back All-American seasons, he was not selected to represent the team at the NCAA tournament. Following the season, he represented the U.S. at the Pan American Championships where he brought back a gold medal. After that tournament, Rogers transitioned to Greco Roman where he finished third at the U.S. Open, and second at U23 Nationals. This will be his first competitive freestyle action since the April of 2019.
Darmstadt returned from injury and wrestled for Cornell during the 2020 season. He went 28-6 and qualified for the NCAA tournament after winning the EIWA tournament at 197 pounds. During the year, he picked up key victories over Sam Colbray, Tanner Sloan, Sam DePrez and Patrick Brucki. Darmstadt returned to freestyle action on the first Spartan Combat Wrestling show where he scored a 50-second fall over Khalil Shakur.
Darmstadt deserves to be the favorite in this match. Rogers appeared to be focusing on Greco until recently. On top of that, there may be a meaningful size difference in this match. Rogers wrestled collegiately at 165 pounds, while Darmstadt qualified last year at 197 pounds. Look for that size and reach to play an advantage here.
Prediction: Darmstadt VPO1 over Rogers
71 kilograms: Skylar Grote vs. Enas Ahmed
Grote had a strong 2020 that saw her win the U23 Nationals and finish second at the senior-level version of the event. Grote was recently drafted by Victoria Francis to be part of Team Francis for the upcoming Captains' Cup. The event will feature teams drafted by some of the sport's top stars and will compete in a dual event next month.
Ahmed competes internationally for Egypt. She represented her country at the 2016 Olympic Games where she finished fifth. Ahmed is also a two-time African champion with her most recent title coming in 2015.
This should be an interesting test for Grote. She will get an opportunity against someone with experience competing at the highest levels of the sport. With that being said, Ahmed has not been overly active since 2016, and Grote should be able to control this match from start to finish.
Prediction: Grote VPO1 over Ahmed
88 kilograms: Myles Martin vs. Max Dean
After winning an NCAA title as a true freshman in 2016, Martin appeared to be well on the way to his second during his senior season in 2019. He entered the NCAA tournament undefeated. However, in the semifinals, he ran into Dean and dropped a 5-4 upset. Martin ended up finishing third to become a four-time All-American. He converted well to freestyle as he finished second at the 2019 Senior Nationals. Since last summer, Martin has gone 3-1 on domestic shows with victories over Drew Foster, Taylor Lujan and Nate Jackson. His only defeat during the stretch came to David Taylor.
After besting Myles, Dean went on to finish second at the 2019 NCAA tournament. He then took an Olympic redshirt year for the 2020 season. This year, the Ivy League has canceled competition, so Dean's Cornell squad is not participating in the college season. Dean wrestled at the 2020 Senior Nationals where he went 3-2 with a victory over Mickey Labriola. He also picked up victories over C.J. Brucki and Khalil Shakur on one-off shows.
It is hard to imagine that Myles has not been searching for this rematch. His recent freestyle results have been strong, and he should be the favorite to win this bout. It will be interesting to see how he handles the mental aspects of once again taking on someone who handed him a historic upset.
Prediction: Martin VPO1 over Dean
79 kilograms: David McFadden vs. Vincenzo Joseph
Last fall, McFadden won the championship at the U23 Nationals with key wins over Jake Allar and Nelson Brands. In addition to that tournament, the former Virginia Tech wrestler has been active on the domestic freestyle circuit. Since the start of 2021, he has dropped a match against world champion Kyle Dake and picked up a victory over former Wisconsin wrestler Evan Wick.
Joseph has not been particularly active since the end of his collegiate career. Last season, he finished up his senior year with a 15-1 record. His only defeat came against rival Alex Marinelli of Iowa. Joseph won the regular season meeting, but Marinelli took a 3-2 victory in the finals of the Big Ten Championships. Joseph still earned All-America honors despite the cancellation and finished his career as a four-time All-American, three-time finalist and two-time champion. His last competition came on the first NLWC show back in September where he scored a 5-0 decision over fellow Penn State alumn Dan Vallimont.
These two met in the 2018 NCAA tournament. Joseph won that match via a 3-1 score, and despite the different style, that result probably says a lot of this meeting. Joseph is strong defensively and controls the mat well. McFadden likes to come forward with pressure, but expect Joseph to neutralize a lot of that with his ties. Joseph should be the favorite to win a close match.
Prediction: Joseph VPO1 over McFadden
88 kilograms: Mark Hall vs. Nate Jackson
Hall will return to action for the first time since wrestling in the 2020 Big Ten tournament. During his senior season at Penn State, he went 24-1. His lone defeat came during the regular season against Iowa's Michael Kemerer. Hall got revenge over Kemerer in the finals of the Big Ten tournament where he took an 8-5 decision. Hall was set to return to action and move up to 86 kilograms on the first Wrestling Underground show last August. However, he pulled out with an injury. In freestyle, Hall is a three-time age-group world champion and holds a gold medal from the Pan American Championships.
Jackson has been one of the most active domestic freestyle competitors since the onset of the global pandemic. In addition to finishing second at the 2020 Senior Nationals, Jackson has also wrestled 11 matches on various one-off events and smaller tournaments. During the run, he has picked up victories over the likes of Sammy Brooks, Drew Fosters and Brett Pfarr. In his last match, the two-time All-American at Indiana dropped a 6-1 match against J'den Cox on the undercard of the Burroughs vs. Taylor event.
The weight is a real wild card in this match. Hall wrestled collegiately at 174 pounds, which is roughly 20 pounds lighter than 88 kilograms. On top of that, Jackson is not small for 86 kilograms and has wrestled recently as high as 215 pounds. In theory, Hall should be able to control this match with his defense and perhaps win a few scrambles to take a close victory. However, it remains to see how he will handle the size and defensive prowess of Jackson.
Prediction: Hall VPO1 over Jackson