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  • Photo: Sam Janicki

    Photo: Sam Janicki

    Ten Weights to Watch at the 2022 World Team Trials

    Yianni Diakomihalis (left) and Joey McKenna at the 2022 World Team Trials (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)

    This weekend the Senior World Team Trials take place in Coralville, Iowa. Wrestlers competing in this event had to qualify from various domestic and international tournaments over the past year. The stakes are a berth in Final X and these athletes will move one step closer to a berth on the world team.

    Normally, at an event like this, the stakes are “win and you're in.” But that's not always the case. Fans will have to pay attention to each weight class. If there's a returning world medalist competing at Final X at the same weight, they have automatically advanced to Final X. If the US did not medal at a particular weight, or the medalist is not returning, then the World Team Trials semifinalists move on to Final X.

    In men's freestyle, all but three (65, 70, 125) weights will have their winners move to Final X.

    In women's freestyle, all but four (53, 59, 72, 76) weights will have winners move to Final X.

    Conversely, in Greco-Roman, all semifinalists will advance to Final X except at 97 kg, where only the winner goes.

    Before the action starts Saturday, here are ten weight classes, across all three styles, to focus on.

    65 kg Men's Freestyle

    This weight has been a thorn in the side for the US for a few quads now. There have been some extremely talented competitors, but no world/Olympic medals since 2006. This bracket is extremely deep and has a number of wrestlers who could compete for world medals. The top seed belongs to Kendric Maple who came out of retirement to win the open. That puts two of the perceived favorites, Yianni Diakomihalis and Joey McKenna, on the other half of the bracket. The pair wrestled for a spot on the world team last year. Possibly stopping Maple from a finals appearance could be a combination of Nick Lee, Matt Kolodzik, or even Evan Henderson.

    The finalists here will move to Final X.

    70 kg Men's Freestyle

    Since the retirement of James Green, there has been plenty of speculation about who succeeds Green as the dominant figure atop the weight. In reality, any number of entrants could earn the world team berth. The top half of the bracket could feature US Open champion Alec Pantaleo taking on two-time world team rep, Zain Retherford. The bottom half has Ryan Deakin and Jordan Oliver as the second and third seeds. Deakin made Final X in 2018 and Oliver was the Olympic Trials winner at 65 kg.

    The finalists here move to Final X.

    79 kg Men's Freestyle

    At the Open, we were treated to perhaps the best match of the tournament in the 79 kg finals between David McFadden and Vincenzo Joseph. Will it happen again? With Alex Dieringer, Carter Starocci, Isaiah Martinez, and more in the field, there are plenty of potential roadblocks. Action here will be even more intense, as only the winner moves on to Final X to meet Jordan Burroughs. Could it be a Penn RTC battle between Burroughs/McFadden? Another matchup with Burroughs/IMar? A battle of Hodge Trophy winners with Burroughs/Dieringer? There are so many great possibilities.

    125 kg Men's Freestyle

    Like the other weights, the Open winner, Hayden Zillmer, assumes the top seed. He'll have his new rival, Dom Bradley, along with veteran Ty Walz in his way blocking a possible finals appearance. An imposing 2 vs. 3 bout on the bottom half of the bracket features two-time World bronze medalist Nick Gwiazdowski and 2021 U23 World champion Tony Cassioppi. Also of note, long-time 97 kg contender Kyven Gadson is entered here and seeded sixth. If the weight is not a factor, he could make a finals run.

    The finalists here move to Final X.

    53 kg Women's Freestyle

    At the Open, we saw Felicity Taylor turn in one of the best performances of her career, as she teched World bronze medalist Alyssa Lampe in the championship bout. She'll have the top seed here. Will she make the finals and earn her place at Final X? She has quite the road to the finals with Dom Parrish and Alisha Howk assuming the fourth and fifth seeds, respectively. Parrish is competing at 53 kg for the first time and is fresh off a title at the Pan-American championships. She is a three-time U23 World Team member, while Howk has wrestled for a medal at Junior Worlds. Ronna Heaton would be the favorite on the bottom half of the bracket. The former Cadet World Champion, Heaton, is seeking to make her first Senior-level world team, just a year after losing in the finals of the Olympic Trials and 2021 WTT's.

    The finalists here move to Final X.

    59 kg Women's Freestyle

    59 kg is another weight where we have a US Open winner, Nanea Estrella, as the top seed; however, she may not be the favorite. The future Hawkeye, Estrella, will be competing right down the road from Carver-Hawkeye Arena and should have some fans on her side. To get to the finals, Estrella will need to get past Lexie Basham, the opponent who defeated her in the NAIA national finals this year. On the other half of the bracket, you have two-time U23 World Team member Abby Nette as the two and Michaela Beck as the three. Beck has made a U23 and Junior team.

    The finalists here move to Final X.

    72 kg Women's Freestyle

    This weight class isn't particularly large or deep, but it'll be interesting to see how Amit Elor fares on the Senior level. To earn a spot in Final X, Elor will likely have to go through 2022 US Open runner-up Marlynne Deede.

    The finalists here move to Final X.

    76 kg Women's Freestyle

    With Adeline Gray out of the picture, this weight class is wide open and deep. For top-seeded Dymond Guilford to make it into the finals, and clinch a spot in Final X, she'll have to go through two-time World Team member Victoria Francis. Francis now trains locally out of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. The other half of the bracket features Guilford's longtime friend and occasional opponent, Precious Bell, as the second seed. She'll likely have to face Yelena Makoyed in the semis.

    The finalists here move to Final X.

    77 kg Men's Greco-Roman

    Most of the top Greco-Roman matchups we won't see this weekend because they'll end up happening at Final X. 77 is different though because it features four interesting contenders. 2022 Pan-American bronze medalist RaVaughn Perkins gets the top seed. For him to make the final, he'll have to get through US Open champion Britton Holmes. On the bottom portion of the bracket, Olympic Trials winner Jesse Porter probably advances to face 2018 World Team member Kamal Bey.

    The finalists here move to Final X.

    97 kg Men's Greco-Roman

    With G'Angelo Hancock sitting in Final X, 97 kg is the only Greco weight where the champion will advance. This bracket looks pretty good, but when you consider that only one of these top-notch competitors will move on, the stakes are even higher. A Pan-American bronze medal a few weeks ago, gives Nicholas Boykin the top seed. That sets up a semifinal bout with him and either Khymba Johnson or Haydn Maley. The pair finished second and third, respectively, at the Open. The Open champion, Lucas Sheridan, checks in as the third seed, behind Olympic Trials finalist Braxton Amos. That sets the stage for an excellent showdown between Amos and Sheridan.

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