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|Hunter Marko, Aaron Pico, Bo Nickal, Lance Benick capture Cadet Triple Crowns
Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
Texas’ Bo Nickal was named Outstanding Wrestler of the Cadet Nationals freestyle tournament. John Sachs photo.
FARGO, N.D. – Just nine wrestlers had won prestigious USA Wrestling Triple Crowns in the Cadet division entering this season.
That number jumped considerably this year.
Wisconsin’s Hunter Marko (94 pounds), California’s Aaron Pico (132), Texas’ Bo Nickal (160) and Minnesota’s Lance Benick (195) completed Triple Crowns by winning Cadet Nationals freestyle titles Friday afternoon at the Fargo Dome.
Those wrestlers won Cadet Nationals titles in Folkstyle and Greco-Roman wrestling earlier this year.
Prior to this season, only nine wrestlers had won a combined 10 Triple Crowns in Cadets. Michigan’s Taylor Massa won the Triple Crown twice.
Marko swept Nick Lukanich of Illinois 1-0, 4-0 in the championship match.
“Winning a Triple Crown was a really big goal of mine,” Marko said. “I’ve been working for this for a long time. It’s great to win this, but you can’t be satisfied. I need to keep striving for excellence.”
Pico looked dominant in defeating Indiana’s Cody LeCount 4-0, 4-0 in the finals.
“My mindset going into every tournament is to win it,” Pico said. “I wrestle to win and I try to dominate my opponent. It feels great to win a Triple Crown. That’s why I went to Iowa for the Folkstyle Nationals. It was worth it.”
Nickal finished his Triple Crown by downing Utah’s Kimball Bastian 1-1, 1-0 in the finals at 160. Nickal won Cadet Nationals in Greco at 152 while Bastian won a Cadet Greco title at 160 earlier this week.
Nickal was named Outstanding Wrestler of the Cadet freestyle tournament.
“I didn’t want to drag my body down too much with all the weigh-ins, so I moved up a weight for freestyle,” Nickal said. “I knew I could do well here if I wrestled to my potential. I enjoy wrestling all three styles – they all mix together and it helps me a lot.”
Benick swept Michigan’s Landon Pelham 7-0, 6-0 in a rematch of the Cadet Greco finals.
“I just went out there and did what I had to do,” Benick said. “It feels great to win a Triple Crown. I need to build on this. I’m picking out things I don’t do well and trying to get better at those things.”
Pennsylvania won the team title with Illinois placing second and Michigan third.
Pennsylvania’s Devin Schnupp became a double Fargo champion after pulling out a dramatic win over Maryland’s Michael Doetsch in the finals at 88 pounds.
Schnupp scored a two-point turn in the closing seconds to prevail 1-2, 2-1, 4-2. Schnupp won a Cadet Nationals Greco-Roman title earlier in the week.
Utah’s Roy Nash became a double Fargo champion by capturing a Cadet Nationals freestyle winner at 220. Nash downed Oklahoma’s Kyler Childers 4-1, 4-0 in the finals after winning a Cadet Greco title earlier in the week.
Oregon’s Wyatt Spears became a double Fargo champion after blanking Nicky Allegretti of Illinois 2-0, 4-0 in the finals at 285. Spears won a Cadet Greco title earlier in the week.
Minnesota’s Seth Gross reversed the outcome of the Greco-Roman finals when he outlasted Michigan’s Cole Weaver 0-2, 4-4, 4-3 in the finals at 126. Gross won his second straight Cadet Nationals freestyle title.
Ryan Christensen avenged a loss from the Cadet Greco-Roman finals by sweeping Washington teammate Chandler Rogers 3-1, 2-1 in the finals at 170.
Miguel Silva of Illinois earned a hard-fought win over New Jersey’s Kyle Bierdumpfel in the finals at 100. Silva won 4-1, 1-5, 3-1 to capture the title after placing second in this event last year. Bierdumpfel was a finalist in both freestyle and Greco-Roman in Fargo.
Pennsylvania’s Scott Parker climbed the top step of podim after topping Oklahoma’s Kaid Brock 1-0, 1-4, 4-0 in the finals at 106. Brock was a Cadet Nationals finalist in Folkstyle and freestyle this year.
California’s Zahid Valencia capped a superb tournament by sweeping New Jersey’s Charles Tucker 1-0, 1-0 in the finals at 113.
Valencia’s brother, Anthony, followed suit after downing Pennsylvania’s Pat Duggan 1-0, 5-1 in the finals at 138. Anthony Valencia placed third in the Cadet Nationals last year.
Missouri’s Michael Pixley capped an impressive season by defeating Georgia’s Chip Ness 2-1, 5-3 in the finals at 182. Pixley won Cadet Nationals in Folkstyle and was second in Greco-Roman this year.
Ohio’s Matthew Kolodzik defended in the clinch in the first period before taking control in the second period to defeat Okahoma’s Joe Smith 3-0, 6-0 in the finals at 120.
Kolodzik also won a Cadet Nationals Folkstyle title this year. Smith, son of Oklahoma State coach John Smith, reached the Cadet finals in freestyle this year after falling short of placing in this event last year.
Florida’s Fox Baldwin dropped the opening period before storming back to defeat Minnesota’s Mason Manville 0-3, 5-1, 5-3 in the finals at 145. Manville had won a Cadet Greco title.
Michigan’s Mark Hall, who has spent time at the U.S. Olympic Training Center, took two straight periods from New Jersey’s Myles Martin 1-0, 3-1 in the finals at 152.
Cadets are wrestlers who are ages 15 and 16.
Devin Schnupp (Pennsylvania) dec. Michael Doetsch (Maryland), 1-2, 2-1, 4-2
Hunter Marko (Wisconsin) dec. Nick Lukanich (Illinois), 1-0, 4-0
Miguel Silva (Illinois) dec. Kyle Bierdumpfel (New Jersey), 4-1, 1-5, 3-1
Scott Parker (Pennsylvania) dec. Kaid Brock (Oklahoma), 1-0, 1-4, 4-0
Zahid Valencia (California) dec. Charles Tucker (New Jersey), 1-0, 1-0
Matthew Kolodzik (Ohio) dec. Joe Smith (Oklahoma), 3-0, 6-0
Seth Gross (Minnesota) dec. Cole Weaver (Michigan), 0-2, 4-4, 4-3
Aaron Pico (California) dec. Cody LeCount (Indiana), 4-0, 4-0
Anthony Valencia (California) dec. Pat Duggan (Pennsylvania), 1-0, 5-1
Fox Baldwin (Florida) dec. Mason Manville (Minnesota), 0-3, 5-1, 5-3
Mark Hall (Michigan) dec. Myles Martin (New Jersey), 1-0, 3-1
Bo Nickal (Texas) dec. Kimball Bastian (Utah), 1-1, 1-0
Ryan Christensen (Washington) dec. Chandler Rogers (Washington), 3-1, 2-1
Michael Pixley (Missouri) dec. Chip Ness (Georgia), 2-1, 5-3
Lance Benick (Minnesota) dec. Landon Pelham (Michigan), 7-0, 6-0
Roy Nash (Utah) vs. Kyler Childers (Oklahoma), 4-1, 4-0
Wyatt Spears (Oregon) dec. Nicky Allegretti (Illinois), 2-0, 4-0