Jason Nolf (right) against Keegan O'Toole in the 2023 US Open semifinals (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
Tonight, the finals of the 2023 US Open Senior Men's Freestyle will be held. Because of the revamped world team qualification procedures, a heavy emphasis was on the Open. This was most evident in the men's freestyle tournament as seven returning world medalists sit in Final X. After Friday night, ten more wrestlers will punch their tickets to Final X and move one more step closer to a world team berth.
Below are the matchup for tonight's finals along with how each wrestler made it to the championship match, along with any past history between the two competitors.
57 kg: #1 Zane Richards vs #2 Nick Suriano
Perhaps the biggest story of Thursday's semifinal round wasn't who won, but who wasn't in attendance. A much-ballyhooed matchup between Nick Suriano and Spencer Lee did not materialize after Lee pulled out via injury. That takes Lee out of the running for the 2023 World Team.
Focusing on the wrestlers who will be competing Friday night, Zane Richards did what he does and turned in a workmanlike win over 2021 Open champion Jakob Camacho in the semifinals, 8-4. Though he's been a staple on the Senior level since his college career concluded in 2017, Richards has never won an Open. Despite having so much mat time, it seems as if Richards might be hitting his peak right now. In the last six months, he's won the Bill Farrell, went 2-0 at the World Cup, and was fifth at the Zagreb Open.
The same may be said for Suriano too, as he picked up a win at the World Cup and claimed gold at the Henri Deglane this year. Like Richards, Suriano hasn't necessarily blown away the competition, but at the same time, he hasn't been threatened seriously in this tournament.
These two have a limited history and you have to go back to 2019 to find their most recent results. Twice in 2019, the pair met and on both occasions, Suriano prevailed via tech.
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