Little Rock signee Kyle Dutton in the Junior freestyle finals (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
The 2022 edition of 16U and Junior Nationals, known affectionately by wrestling fans as Fargo, has come and gone. As always the Junior brackets featured some of the top wrestlers in the country who will soon be plying their trade at the college level. The following article takes a look at some of the top performers in that tournament and who finished with the highest scoring match.
Future Little Rock wrestler Kyle Dutton was dominant on his way to the title at 145 pounds. Along the way, he won eight matches and finished with the highest match point differential of any wrestler in the bracket.
Dutton averaged 5.69 points per minute, allowed only 0.28 per minute and therefore finished with a +5.41 differential. Six of his eight matches were finished via superiority without surrendering a single point, and he allowed only four points combined across all matches.
His 5.69 points per minute rate ranked 10th among all competitors in Junior freestyle, and his 0.28 points allowed per minute ranked seventh. Dutton's toughest match came in the semifinals. He faced off against Minnesota's Zach Hanson. He was able to build a 6-0 lead about halfway into the second period, but Hanson scored the final three points. In the end, Dutton was able to advance to the finals where he scored a first-period 10-0 victory over Beau Mantanona of California.
In the round of 64, Dutton accomplished the somewhat rare VSU victory while scoring over 10 points. He bested Renso Montalvo via a 13-0 score. Dutton scored a four-point throw 49 seconds into the first period. He was leading 8-0 at the time, so it pushed his lead to 12-0. After a failed challenge by his opponent, he walked away with the 13-0 victory. This was one of only 14 matches in junior freestyle that ended in VSU with the winner scoring 13 or more points. Wisconsin's Ryan Badgett managed to score a 14-0 VSU over Chad Mairano in the 170-pound bracket.
Cody Chittum finished with the second highest point differential of +4.70. One could argue that he was even more dominant than Dutton on his path to the title at 152 pounds. He won six of his seven matches by superiority, and his closest match was a 14-5 victory over Boeden Greenley of North Dakota in the quarterfinals.
Top Five Point Differentials
145: Kyle Dutton (Missouri) +5.41
152: Cody Chittum (Tennessee) +4.70
132: Cory Land (Alabama) +4.70
285: Austin Foye (Florida) +4.51
138: Tucker Cell (Kansas) +4.32
Thanks to four champions and 13 placers Iowa won the junior freestyle tournament. The squad also had the best match point differential collectively. Iowa finished with a +0.72 point differential. Second place Pennsylvania finished with +0.57 differential.
The biggest contributor to Iowa's success in terms of point differential was Nate Jesuroga. He won the tournament at 120 pounds and finished with a +3.97 differential. He won all of his matches by VSU or VSU1 and allowed only two points in the entire tournament. His 0.11 points allowed per minute rate was the best of the entire tournament.
Iowa's representative also won a title at 160 pounds. Aiden Riggins finished with a +3.14 differential after winning all eight of his matches. He scored over 10 points in five of his eight bouts.
Top Five Team Point Differentials
New Jersey +0.53
An Iowa team member also spent more time on the mat than any other competitor. Joel Jesuroga lost in the round of 32 and dropped into the consolation bracket. There he went on quite the streak and made it all the way back to a fourth-place finish at 145 pounds. Across his 11 matches, he spent 56:46 on the mat, which was more time than any other competitor. New York's Max Gallagher, who finished fifth at 126 pounds, had the second most time on the mat with 46:16.
Most Mat Time
145: Joel Jesuroga (Iowa) 56:46
126: Max Gallagher (New York) 46:16
170: Lorenzo Norman (New Jersey) 46:12
170: Omaury Alvarez (Georgia) 45:46
145: Gavin Drexler (Wisconsin) 44:28
Scores in freestyle can really add up when two action-oriented wrestlers hit the mat. That is even more true at Fargo. This year's highest-scoring match in junior freestyle belonged to Dailey Jennings (Oklahoma) and Gavin Hilyar (Minnesota). The two met in the round of 128, and Jennings eventually took the bout via a 29-18 match termination victory.
Hilyar started the scoring with a four-point throw inside the first 10 seconds of the match. Jennings then reversed the situation and added two turns to go up 6-4. The two continued to trade positions, and the match went to the break with Hilyar holding a 16-13 lead. The second period was an entirely different story.
Jennings started the second with a takedown and two turns with a leg lace. They returned to their feet, and Hilyar scored a takedown to cut the lead to 19-18. However, that would be his last score of the contest. Down the stretch, Jennings would score two takedowns and three turns to take the victory.
Highest Scoring Matches
138: Dailey Jennings (Oklahoma) vs. Gavin Hilyar (Minnesota) 29-18
195: Jarrett Stoner (Texas) vs. Mason Christian (Montana) 24-21
182: Payton Thomas (Oklahoma) vs. Dominic Thebeau (Illinois) 26-19
170: Owen Heiser (Wisconsin) vs. Christian Moder (Florida) 25-20
126: Vinnie D'alessandro (Ohio) vs. Tyson Peach (Wisconsin) 24-21
120: Zach Tihen (Missouri) vs. Cantril Nielson (Idaho) 28-17
106: Cale Tucker (Alabama) vs. Kaleb Ambrose (New Jersey) 26-19