2016 Junior National freestyle champion Anthony Artalona (Photo courtesy of John Sachs; Tech-Fall.com)
For years the U.S. Junior Nationals, affectionately known as Fargo, has been a proving ground for the top collegiate wrestling prospects. With the tournament quickly approaching, let's take a look back at the freestyle champions from the 2016 edition and see how those wrestlers panned out on the college level.
100 Malik Heinselman
In many ways, Fargo was a second home for Heinselman. He was a multiple-time champion winning titles in both freestyle and Greco. In 2016, he outscored the field by a combined 46-6 score and surrendered only a single point until the finals. In the first-place bout, Heinselman defeated fellow Colorado native Brandon Garcia via a 15-5 superiority score.
Heinselman eventually signed with Ohio State and joined the squad for the 2018-19 season. It appeared as if he was going to redshirt his first season, but his shirt was pulled after the first semester and he qualified for the NCAA tournament. Heinselman is now a three-qualifier and will be a favorite to become an All-American this upcoming season.
106 Jason Holmes
Holmes is the only Fargo freestyle champion from 2016 to not wrestle on the Division I level yet. He defeated a few who did go on to wrestle on that level, including Brandon Kaylor (Oregon State) and Rayvon Foley (Michigan State).
Following high school, Holmes did go on to wrestle for North Idaho College at the NJCAA level. He competed during the 2017-2018 season, but it does not appear that he wrestled in the NJCAA tournament.
113 Nic Aguilar
Aguilar won the title at 113 pounds with match termination victories in four of his six matches. In the finals, he knocked off current Ohio State wrestler Dylan D'Emilio. The California state champion then signed with Rutgers. After redshirting his first season on campus in 2019, he joined the starting lineup for the 2020 season. He went 24-11 on the year and qualified for the NCAA tournament after finishing ninth in the Big Ten. This past year, Aguilar struggled through a limited schedule but is expected to be a player in the conference this upcoming year.
120 Gavin Teasdale
On his way to the 120-pound title, Teasdale picked up key victories over Michigan's Drew Mattin and Arizona State's Brandon Courtney. After initially committing to Iowa, Teasdale eventually signed with Penn State. However, after not taking the mat as a freshman, Teasdale transferred to Iowa. During the 2020 season, he went 9-4 in open tournaments, with victories coming over Caleb Gross (South Dakota State) and Cayden Rooks (Indiana) at the Midlands. After one season, Teasdale left the Iowa program. Earlier this year, news broke that he was involved in a serious car accident, and he is still working his way back.
126 Austin Gomez
Gomez made the 126-pound final with victories over Bryce West (Northern Illinois) and Paul Bianchi (Little Rock). Once in the final bout, he scored a first-period fall over Paul Konrath, who has gone on to wrestle at both Wisconsin and Indiana. Gomez selected Iowa State for college. After a strong redshirt year, he became a starter for the 2019 season. He went 24-7 and finished one bout short of All-American status. Since that tournament, Gomez has dealt with injuries and been out of action.
This past winter, Gomez announced that he was retiring from the sport due to assorted medical issues. However, in April, he walked back that retirement and transferred to Wisconsin. He is expected to move up to 141 pounds and will likely have two years of eligibility remaining.
132 Ian Parker
Parker had match termination victories in five of his six matches on his way to the finals. Along the way, he defeated future Iowa wrestlers Max Murin and Brock Rathbun. Parker then edged Utah Valley's Taylor Lamont in a tight 3-2 match in the finals. Parker continued his rivalry with Iowa on the collegiate level as he attended Iowa State.
Even though Parker has already wrestled four years and a redshirt year, he will get another shot this upcoming season. He is a three-time NCAA qualifier who has picked up victories over the likes of Dom Demas (Oklahoma), Josh Heil (Campbell), and Chad Red (Nebraska).
138 Nick Lee
Lee knocked off three wrestlers who would eventually wrestle in the Big Ten on his way to the Fargo championship at 138 pounds. He defeated Carter Happel (Iowa), Mitch McKee (Minnesota) and Kanen Storr (Michigan). Lee has always had a motor and that was certainly on display as he averaged 11.29 points per match in the tournament.
After moving up to the college level, Lee has continued to make strides. He finished fifth at the NCAA tournament in his first two years on campus, but broke through last season and won an NCAA title at 141 pounds. In the finals, he avenged his only loss on the season and defeated Jaydin Eierman (Iowa) via a 4-2 score in sudden victory.
145 Anthony Artalona
In a final between wrestlers who would go on to compete for Pennsylvania colleges, Artalona defeated eventual Penn State wrestler Jarod Verkleeren via a 2-1 score to take the 145-pound title. The title was the first of two at the Junior freestyle level for Artalona. He had another as a Cadet. Artalona would go on to wrestle for Penn. He went right away as a true freshman and made the Round of 12 at 149 pounds. Artalona moved up to 157 pounds the following year and went 14-6 before suffering a season-ending injury. He sat out last year after the Ivy League made the decision to not compete due to the pandemic. Artalona is expected back down at 149 pounds this upcoming season.
152 Griffin Parriott
Parriott outscored his opposition by a combined score of 69-2 on his way to the title at 152 pounds. In the finals, he bested Zander Wick with a 10-0 stoppage in less than two minutes.
Parriott would then move on to Purdue. After a redshirt season, he took over the starting spot at 157 pounds in 2018. He qualified his final three seasons in the lineup for the Boilermakers, but he was never able to make it on the All-American podium.
160 Jake Allar
While Allar's victory at 160 pounds was impressive at the time, it might be even more impressive in hindsight. On his way to the finals, he knocked off both Trent Hidlay, who was an NCAA finalist for NC State this past season, and Evan Wick, who is already a two-time All-American.
Allar signed with Minnesota and started at 165 pounds as a true freshman in 2019. This past season, he qualified for the NCAA tournament for the first time after moving up to 174 pounds. During the year, he picked up key victories over Jackson Turley (Rutgers), DJ Shannon (Indiana) and Drew Hughes (Michigan State).
170 Canten Marriott
On his way to the title, Marriott picked up key victories over Anthony Mantanona (Oklahoma) and Andrew McNally (Wisconsin). In the finals, he defeated Owen Pentz (North Dakota State), who went on to shock number-two seed Eric Schultz (Nebraska) at this past NCAA tournament.
Marriott joined the Missouri wrestling team in 2017. After a redshirt year, he qualified for the NCAA tournament during the 2018 season and finished with a 26-8 record. Marriott has remained a solid member of the Tiger squad, but he has yet to return to the NCAA tournament. He will have one season of eligibility left this year.
182 Owen Webster
Webster's Fargo winning campaign at 182 pounds included a 3-0 victory over Jake Woodley (Oklahoma). He then went on to defeat Kevin Parker in the finals via a 10-0 score. Webster took a circuitous route to Minnesota as he spent his freshman year at Division III Augsburg. He finished third at the Division III NCAA tournament before transferring to Minnesota.
With the Gophers, he finally rounded into form during the 2020 season. He went 22-12 and qualified for his first NCAA tournament. Last year, he finished one match away from All-American status as he fell in the bloodround. During the year, Webster scored signatures over Max Lyon (Purdue), Jeremiah Kent (Missouri) and John Poznanski (Rutgers).
195 Ben Darmstadt
Darmstadt won the Fargo title at 195 pounds with victories over multiple wrestlers who would go on to be standouts on the Division I level. He defeated the likes of Andrew Davison (Michigan), Patrick Brucki (Michigan) and John Borst (Virginia Tech).
After spending a grey shirt year wrestling with the Finger Lakes RTC, Darmstadt started at Cornell in 2018. He finished sixth to become an All-American in his first year. He missed the following year with an injury but bounced back in 2020 with a 28-6 record and an EIWA title. Darmstadt missed last season when the Ivy League did not compete. He is expected back in the lineup for Cornell next year under new coach Mike Grey.
220 Sam Colbray
Before going on to wrestle for Iowa State, Colbray defeated a pair of wrestlers who would join him in the Big 12 conference Ashton Seely (Utah Valley) and Keegan Moore (Oklahoma State/Northern Iowa/Oklahoma).
Colbray has wrestled four different weight classes for the Cyclones and qualified for the NCAA tournament three times. He came closest to All-American status as a sophomore when he went 28-8 and came up just short in the Round of 12.
285 Gannon Gremmel
Iowa State recruits had a strong performance at the 2016 edition of Fargo. Before joining Colbray in Ames, Gremmel also brought home the title at heavyweight. In the finals, he knocked off future Iowa heavyweight Anthony Cassioppi.
After a redshirt year, Gremmel started four-straight years for Iowa State. After qualifying as a sophomore and junior, he finally broke through last season and became an All-American with a fifth-place finish.