Ben Provisor at the 2022 World Team Trials (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
Many consider the differences between folkstyle and Greco Roman to be quite numerous. Despite this many of the Greco competitors set to compete at this Friday's Final X event previously competed, or are currently competing, in folkstyle on the collegiate level such as Brady Koontz, Jesse Thielke and Cohlton Schultz. Another Final X contestant made his return to folkstyle this past season despite already qualifying for multiple World/Olympic events in Greco.
In late April 2021, news broke that Ben Provisor signed a letter of intent to attend and wrestle for Grand View. The then-30-year-old competitor was already a two-time Olympian and one of the best domestic Greco Roman wrestlers in the United States. Since he had never wrestled collegiately, he would have four years of eligibility for the NAIA school while he worked towards his degree.
Despite signing on to the folkstyle squad, Provisor remained committed to competing in Greco. The day after the announcement was made, he won yet another senior-level national title in Greco. He followed that up with a gold medal at the 2021 Pan American Championships in May and a trip to the 2021 World Championships in October.
About two months after the senior-level World event, Provisor made his folkstyle debut for Grand View. Interestingly enough, that debut came in perhaps the team's most difficult tournament of the year, the Reno Tournament of Champions.
Reno Tournament of Champions (12/20/2021)
He entered the tournament at 184 pounds and got a bit of an early start as he was drawn into an opening-round match. Provisor faced off against Caden Gerlach of Cal Baptist. Gerlach was the Lancers' starter at 184 pounds for the entire season and finished the year with a 16-9 record.
Gerlach started the scoring with a takedown about a minute into the match. After years of focusing on Greco, it was quickly clear that the top and bottom style of folkstyle would be a challenge. Provisor ended up spending the rest of the period on the bottom while Gerlach hunted for a cradle.
Provisor's issues with mat wrestling continued in the second period. He began on top and tried to ride a leg but quickly ended up back on the bottom via a reversal. After Gerlach locked hands and acquired 3:10 of riding time, Provisor finally escaped back to his feet and cut the lead to 4-2.
After taking neutral to start the third, Provisor evened the match at 4-4. He scored a takedown in a scramble as Gerlach tried to sneak behind. After an escape, Gerlach seemingly put the match out of reach with a takedown off a slip throw from Provisor. The Olympian found himself down 7-4 and once again in the bottom position. Despite his early issues on the bottom, he easily worked his way into an escape. Provisor was then rewarded with a stall point and then finally with only four seconds left hit a takedown to go ahead 8-7. Gerlach had already locked up the riding time, so the match went to sudden victory.
Unfortunately for Provisor, the comeback came up short in the extra period. Within the first minute, Gerlach scored a shot, and Provisor attempted to defend with a chin whip. He ended up on his back, and Gerlach advanced with a 14-8 victory.
Provisor dropped into the consolation round, where he picked up his first win of the season over Trillyon Fils-Aime of Southeastern. The Greco pedigree was on display early in this one. Provisor claimed an underhook early in the bout, transitioned into a headlock for a takedown and four back points. After an uneventful second period, Provisor chose to go down and escaped in only 39 seconds. He finished with a 7-0 decision victory to stay alive in the bracket.
That trek through the bracket came to an end in the next round. The Grand View representative faced off against Jett Jones of Montana State Northern. The two-time Montana state champion scored an early takedown off a single leg and entered the third period with a 3-1 lead. Provisor escaped early in the final period to cut the lead to 3-2. He pushed hard for the takedown, but Jones scored on a reshot and held on for the 6-2 victory with riding time.
NUWAY Combat College Open (1/6/2022)
Following the Reno event, Provisor stayed out of action until entering the NUWAY Combat College Open in early January. This was likely Provisor's best folkstyle event of the year. He won four matches before receiving a forfeit in the finals and taking home the tournament title.
Provisor started the day with a 6-0 decision over Luke Smith of Indiana Tech. He advanced to the next round where he found himself in a somewhat unlikely match.
His opponent in the second round was Samy Moustafa. Moustafa represents Egypt on the international scene and is a four-time African Games/Championships medalist in freestyle. His best finish came in 2017 when he won gold. The open tournament allowed for two specialists from the Olympic styles to face off in folkstyle.
After a scoreless first period, Provisor took bottom. Moustafa seemingly did not understand folkstyle rules and got hit for stalling twice while trying to implement a leg lace. He then cut Provisor who held a 2-0 lead. The American then scored a takedown by spinning behind after a shot. The third period started on the feet. Provisor extended his lead to 6-0 with another takedown. He then locked in an armbar and turned Moustafa for the fall.
Provisor advanced to the quarterfinals where he faced off against Ashland's Nate Barrett. It was a tight match, but Provisor escaped with a 4-3 decision. In the semifinals, Provisor's opponent was Roman Bushek of Baker. This turned out to be one of his most dominant performances of the season. About a minute into the contest, he turned an underhook into a headlock and secured the fall in only 86 seconds.
After receiving a forfeit from Sam Schroeder of Bellarmine in the finals, Provisor took home the tournament title.
Grand View vs. Graceland (1/14/2022)
During his first year at Grand View, Provisor only wrestled in one dual, but he certainly made the most of the opportunity. Against Graceland, he got the start at 184 pounds. He faced off against Trey Graves and scored the fall in only 30 seconds. It was his quickest finish of the season, and Grand View went on to win the dual by a 52-0 score.
Missouri Valley College Invitational (1/21/2022)
Provisor's last match of the folkstyle season came at the Missouri Valley College Invitational. He defeated Baron Gaunt of Vanguard via a 3-1 decision. However, he then medically forfeited out of the event.
Provisor finished the season with an 8-2 record. Grand View went on to reclaim its spot as the top team in the NAIA. They won the national championship with 206.5 points, well ahead of their new rival Life University, who finished with 194 points. Grand View was represented at 184 pounds, Provisor's weight, by Ben Lee who entered as the number-one seed and finished second after coming up short against Eric Vermillion of Indiana Tech in the finals.
In an interview following the Bill Farrell, Provisor would say that his "folkstyle season didn't even really kick off." He also explained that he was dealing with a variety of injuries including a torn RCL and a shoulder issue. Despite this, he considers himself "blessed to have ended up at Grand View."
This past April Provisor returned to the Greco scene. He won the Bill Farrell and the U.S. Open while also making the finals of the World Team Trials Challenge tournament to secure the spot in Final X. Across those three events, he has outscored his opposition 38 to 7. The run includes a pair of victories over Spencer Woods, who will be Provisor's opponent in Final X. Despite the pair of victories by Provisor, Woods was the only competitor to notch a two-point score against the Grand View representative.