Six secure spots on World Team with wins in opening session of Final X: Rutgers

Ellis Coleman lifts Jamel Johnson (Photo/Juan Garcia)

PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Six wrestlers secured spots on the 2019 U.S. World Team with victories in Saturday's first session at Final X: Rutgers. All six wrestlers needed just two matches to claim their best-of-three victories.

The opening session saw four Greco-Roman weight classes contested and two women's wrestling weight classes contested.

Greco-Roman winners included Max Nowry (55 kilograms), Ellis Coleman (67 kilograms), John Stefanowicz (82 kilograms) and Joe Rau (87 kilograms).

The two winners in the women's wrestling competition were Jenna Burkert (57 kilograms) and Victoria Francis (72 kilograms).

Nowry and Coleman are both Greco-Roman wrestlers for the U.S. Army WCAP program.

Max Nowry made the World Team for the first time in his career (Photo/Juan Garcia)

Nowry, now a five-time U.S. National Team member, broke through to make his first World Team at 55 kilograms. He topped 20-year-old Brady Koontz in two straight matches.

The 29-year-old Nowry blanked Koontz 3-0 in the first match. Koontz came out fast in the second match, racing out to a 5-2 lead. But Nowry battled back to take a 6-5 lead before using a five-point throw to break the match wide open. He would take the second match 11-5.

"This is my tenth year, my tenth try to make the team and it finally happened," said Nowry. "Last year I got caught up in the moment. This time I just tried to go out there and do what I do every day."

Coleman, a 2012 Olympian and five-time U.S. Open champion, will compete at the World Championships for the fourth time in his career after two dominant victories over Jamel Johnson at 67 kilograms.

Coleman scored a 9-1 technical fall in the first match before earning a 6-0 shutout in the second match. He will be looking for his first Senior world medal after winning two world medals at the Junior level.

Coleman scored with six gut wrenches, which he developed from a young age training under Bryan Medlin in Illinois.

"I just wanted to get on top," said Coleman. "I told myself I would push the pace on my feet and just need one opportunity on top. If I get on top one time, I'm going to win the match. I got on top one time and finished the match."

Rau came through to make his second World Team by defeating two-time Olympian Ben Provisor in two straight matches at 87 kilograms.

The 28-year-old Chicago native came from behind in the first match, scoring a step out with four seconds remaining, to defeat Provisor 2-1. In the second match, Rau came out strong, scoring first off a passivity and then used two gut wrenches to grab a 5-0 lead at the break. He held on to win 5-1.

Rau had previously trained with the Minnesota Storm but recently moved back home to train at the Chicago RTC. He works closely with 2016 Olympian Robby Smith.

"Robby works his butt off with me," said Rau. "He has done so much for me this year. I have a personal coach now. There's no one else at the RTC that's doing Greco. All the focus is on me. We've just been working out the kinks."

John Stefanowicz after beating Jamel Johnson at Final X (Photo/Juan Garcia)

Stefanowicz, who competes for the U.S. Marines, made the World Team for the first time in his career, beating U.S. Open champion Kendrick Sanders in two straight matches -- 8-5 and 3-2 -- at 82 kilograms. Stefanowicz placed fifth at the U.S. Open before coming back to win the World Team Trials Challenge Touranment and defeat Sanders at Final X.

Jenna Burkert celebrates after beating Becka Leathers (Photo/Juan Garcia)

Burkert made her third World Team by defeating 2017 world medalist Becka Leathers in two straight matches at 57 kilograms. Burkert, who moved down a weight class this season, took the first match 4-2. She controlled the second match from start to finish, scoring a step out and takedown in the first period before adding a second-period takedown to win 5-0.

"I knew if I kept going forward, I knew she wasn't going beat me," said Burkert. "I knew I had it in me. I beat myself up. If I lose, I feel genuinely it's not because the person is better than me. I think I beat myself up. After I lost at the Open, I punished myself."

Victoria Francis gets interviewed after beating Alyvia Fiske at Final X (Photo/Juan Garcia)

Francis earned her spot on the World Team at 72 kilograms by defeating Alyvia Fiske in two straight matches, avenging a loss from the U.S. Open finals.

Francis had to come from behind in both matches on Saturday. In the first match, Fiske scored the opening takedown and led at the break. Francis used a big second period -- which included a four-point move -- to take the match 7-2. In the second match, Fiske once again controlled the early part of the match, scoring a takedown in the first period to lead 2-0 at the break. Francis, though, made it happen again in the second period. This time she threw Fiske to her back and secured the fall. Francis was U.S. Olympic Team Trials runner-up in 2016 and World Team Trials champion in 2017.

The second session of Final X: Rutgers is scheduled to begin at 6 p.m. ET.

Greco-Roman results

55 kilograms: Max Nowry over Brady Koontz, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Nowry dec. Koontz, 3-0
Match 2: Nowry dec. Koontz, 11-5

67 kilograms: Ellis Coleman over Jamel Johnson, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Coleman tech. fall Johnson, 9-1
Match 2: Coleman dec. Johnson, 6-0

82 kilograms: John Stefanowicz over Kendrick Sanders, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Stefanowicz dec. Sanders, 8-5
Match 2: Stefanowicz dec. Sanders, 3-2

87 kilograms: Joe Rau over Ben Provisor, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Rau dec. Provisor, 2-1
Match 2: Rau dec. Provisor, 5-1

Women's wrestling results

57 kilograms: Jenna Burkert over Becka Leathers, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Burkert dec. Leathers, 4-2
Match 2: Burkert dec. Leathers, 5-0

72 kilograms: Victoria Francis over Alyvia Fisk , 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Francis dec. Fiske, 7-2
Match 2: Francis pinned Fiske, 3:30


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