Nick Suriano at the 2022 World Cup (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
The wait is almost over! The 2023 US Open Senior Men’s Freestyle tournament has to be one of the most anticipated Open’s in many years. Two of the biggest, young names in the sport (Spencer Lee and Gable Steveson) are returning to their freestyle roots in an attempt to make a Senior World Team.
With the current qualification criteria, it has forced wrestlers in most brackets to wrestle in the Open, rather than wait until the World Team Trials. Seven of the ten weights feature a 2022 world medalist, returning at that weight, so they are automatically in Final X. At those weights, the only way to grab the second Final X berth is to win the Open.
In the remaining three weights, the Open champion gets a berth in Final X and others are left to compete at the World Team Trials in a few weeks.
Here’s what to look for in what promises to be a crazy Senior men’s freestyle tournament.
Waiting in Final X: Thomas Gilman
Right away we have one of the most anticipated brackets of the Senior Men’s freestyle tournament. All eyes are on three-time NCAA champion Spencer Lee. The last time we saw Lee in action he was shocked by Matt Ramos in the 2023 NCAA semifinals. The Open marks his first freestyle event since 2019 Senior Nationals. At that event, Lee picked up a win over the mercurial Nick Suriano. Suriano hasn’t been a frequent competitor on the freestyle scene either. When he has wrestled, Suriano has demonstrated that he could be worthy of winning a world team spot. Already in 2023, Suriano has claimed the gold medal at the Henri DeGlane and was fifth in Egypt.
Two of the more talked about competitors in this weight are Lee and Suriano; however, neither is the top seed. That distinction belongs to veteran Zane Richards. Richard was a third-place finisher at the 2019 Open and also had that same placement at the 2022 World Team Trials Challenge Tournament. He was beaten by Vito Arujau, but bounced back to take third. In his final match, Richards edged 2023 NCAA finalist Matt Ramos.
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