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  • Photo: Sam Janicki

    Photo: Sam Janicki

    2023 U20 and U23 WTT's by the Numbers

    With Final X coming up this weekend many eyes are looking forward. However, last weekend’s U20 and U23 events featured multiple spectacular tournaments and some strong individual performances. The following looks at some of the top statistical performers across all four of the different tournaments.

    U20 Freestyle Point Differential (Points per Minute minus Point Against per Minute)

    Christian Carroll 125 kg (12.37)

    It was only two matches, but Christian Carroll was absolutely dominant in his performance. He secured the heavyweight spot on the U20 World Team with a pair of 10-0 victories over challenge tournament champion Aden Attao. Both of the wins came in a combined 97 seconds, and he did not surrender a single point. Carroll averaged 12.37 points per minute, allowed zero points and therefore finished with the highest point differential across the entire tournament. As you can see in the following chart nobody was particularly close to the future Oklahoma State freshman.


    Carroll was nearly as dominant this past April as he ran through the field at U20 Nationals. In that event, he outscored his opposition 61-7 to earn a spot in the best-of-three finals this past weekend. He now heads to the U20 World Championships in August. The event should be a good primer for his first season of college wrestling in the Big 12, which might not be a walk in the park.

    U23 Freestyle Point Differential

    Wyatt Hendrickson 125 kg (8.30)

    If Carroll wanted to see what kind of opposition he should expect next season, he simply needed to wander over to another part of the gym. Air Force’s Wyatt Hendrickson, who finished at last year’s NCAA tournament, dominated his way through the heavyweight bracket of the U23 division. Along the way, he averaged 9.06 points per minute, allowed only 0.77 points per minute and therefore finished with an 8.30 differential.

    No other competitor in the U23 freestyle tournament even came close to Hendrickson in terms of this metric. The wrestler with the next best point differential was Princeton’s Luke Stout, who finished with a 3.82 differential at 92 kg.

    Hendrickson disposed of his first two opponents, Jason Guadarrama and Ryan Catka, by a combined 23-0 score in only 61 seconds. In his quarterfinal and semifinal matches, he did allow six points, but he still managed to terminate both matches to advance to the best-of-three final. There he scored a pair of 10-0 matches over Illinois’ Luke Luffman to win the tournament title. Luffman redshirted this past season but previously qualified for the NCAA tournament twice.

    With the graduation of Michigan’s Mason Parris, Hendrickson is expected to be one of the top contenders for the NCAA crown at heavyweight. This past college season, he lost only two matches with one coming against fellow returner Greg Kerkvliet (Penn State) at the NCAA tournament.

    U23 Greco Roman Point Differential

    Kaleb Reeves 130 kg (6.38)

    The trend of heavyweight dominance continued into the Greco ranks. At 130 kg on the U23 level, NCAA Division III runner-up Kaleb Reeves finished with the highest point differential. He averaged 8.12 points per minute and allowed only 1.74. This resulted in a 6.38 differential, which was the highest across the board in the style.

    Reeves did not allow a single point on his path to the finals. He defeated Johnny Black, Tony Caldwell, and Nick West by a combined 16-0 score, and he needed only 72 seconds to win all three matches. In the best of three finals, his opponent Spencer Trenary did manage to score some points, but both matches ended via first-period falls, so there was little dent to his statistics.

    While Carroll and Hendrickson eclipsed the field by a wide margin in terms of point differential, the race for the crown in U23 Greco was actually quite close. Reeves had the highest point differential, but Payton Jacobson down at 77 kg was right behind him. He averaged 6.29 points per minute and did not allow a single point on his way to the title. All six of Jacobson’s matches, including his pair over Michigan State’s Caleb Fish in the finals, ended as shutout match termination victories.

    U20 Greco Roman Point Differential

    Derek Matthews 77 kg (4.96)

    Thanks to winning the U20 national tournament, Derek Matthews was sitting in the finals waiting for an opponent. Interestingly enough, that opponent turned out to be his Northern Colorado teammate Ayden Rix-McElhinney. Perhaps the familiarity came in handy as he dispatched Rix-McElhinney in two-straight matches. Both of the bouts were 10-0 match-termination victories in the first period. Those performances equated to a 4.96 point differential, which was the highest in the division.

    During this past college season, the two wrestlers actually faced off in a pair of opponent tournaments under folkstyle rules. Their first meeting came in early December with Rix-McElhinney taking a 13-8 decision victory. Their rematch came at Western Colorado Open in January. This time, Matthews won by first-period fall.

    Most Match Time

    Yusief Lillie 55/57 kg (54:56)

    It is quite rare on the senior level for competitors to compete in both styles. However, it is somewhat common at the age-group level. Utah Valley’s Yusief Lillie had the opportunity to enter both the U23 Greco and freestyle tournaments, and took full advantage of that opportunity. His best performance came on the Greco side where he won the tournament title at 55 kg. All five of his matches went the full six minutes, and he needed all three matches to edge Davian Guanajuato in the finals.

    Over on the freestyle side, Lillie entered the 57 kg bracket as the second seed but finished short of placing. He still got in five full matches. He lost against Cornell’s Brett Ungar in the round of 16, but continued to wrestle on the backside.

    In the end, Lillie finished with 54:56 match time, which was the most across the entire event. Interestingly enough, the wrestler with the second-most match time only competed in a single style. Oklahoma wrestler Jared Hill wrestled nine matches in the 70 kg freestyle bracket and finished with 50:49 on the way to a fourth-place finish.


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