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|Strong field expected at ASICS/Vaughan Junior and Accelerade Cadet Nationals in Fargo, N.D.|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
FARGO, N.D. - Every year, the nation's best young wrestlers come together for the world's largest wrestling competition, the ASICS/Vaughan Junior and Accelerade Cadet Nationals at the FargoDome in Fargo, N.D.
This competition produces great stories of champions, many who go on to glory in college wrestling, and ultimately at the World and Olympic levels.
The tournament is scheduled for July 21-26 and is expected to feature outstanding wrestlers in every weight class.
The ASICS/Vaughan Junior Nationals features high school wrestlers in grades 9-12. This year, the Junior division could be one of the strongest in many years, featuring numerous talented athletes who are proven winners.
In fact, there are 23 individual champions from the 2006 ASICS/Vaughan Junior Nationals for men who are eligible to return to Fargo this year to defend their titles. Ironically, none of these champions were double titlists last year, meaning nobody in the field this year was able to capture both the freestyle and Greco-Roman gold medals last summer.
2006 Junior National freestyle champions who are eligible to return are John Prezzia of Pennsylvania (98), Ben Sergent of Ohio (105), Conner McDonald of Delaware (112), Zachary Sanders of Minnesota (119), Mike Mangrum of Washington (125), Kellen Russell of New Jersey (130), Jamal Parks of Oklahoma (135), Luke Ashmore of Texas (140), Albert White of Illinois (145), Kirk Smith of Idaho (171), Clayton Foster of Idaho (189), Cody Gardner of Virginia (215) and Dom Bradley of Missouri (275).
Returning Junior National Greco-Roman champions who are eligible to compete in Fargo are Nathan Furches of Kansas (98), Justin Forrest of Missouri (105), Eric Grajales of Florida (112), Nikko Triggas of California (119), Esai Dominguez of Iowa (140), Trevor Hall of Washington (145), Robert Kellogg of Iowa (152), Jesse Robbins of Florida (171), Deron Winn of Missouri (189) and Patrick Mahan of Minnesota (215).
Each year, ASICS recognizes the nation's top high school athletes with its All-American Team. Members of the ASICS First Team who were Junior Nationals champions last year include Sanders, White, Foster, Gardner and Bradley.
For the first time ever, USA Wrestling may crown a Junior Triple Crown winner. In April, the first USA Wrestling Junior Folkstyle Championships were held in Cedar Falls, Iowa, and 408 wrestlers entered a highly competitive tournament. A total of 15 individual champions were crowned. If any of those winners are able to win both the Greco-Roman and freestyle titles in Fargo at the Junior level, they will make history as the first Junior Triple Crown winners.
Many of last year's Cadet National champions are expected to move up into the Junior ranks this year and challenge for titles.
For the first time last year, USA Wrestling had official state team standings in all the divisions held in Fargo. Last year, the Wells Fargo Insurance Services Cup champion in Junior freestyle was New Jersey, followed by Ohio, Missouri, Illinois and Iowa. In Junior Greco-Roman, capturing the Wells Fargo Insurance Services Cup was Iowa, with Florida, Minnesota, New York and Idaho close behind.
Another strong indication of the strength of the state teams are the results from the 2007 United States Marine Corps Junior National Duals, held in June in Oklahoma City, Okla. Team Illinois was the champion in both freestyle and Greco-Roman this year, a very impressive performance. In freestyle, Missouri placed second and New Jersey was third, Iowa fourth and Oklahoma fifth. In Greco-Roman, Minnesota was second, California placed third, Iowa finished fourth and New York was fifth.
The women's freestyle division will be held early in the week with the championships set for Monday, July 23. This tournament, in its seventh year, has grown in size and quality every season, and promises to be very competitive again this year. There will be more weight classes in the women's division this year, part of the event's development.
Returning Junior National women's champions include C.C. Weber of Michigan (95), Nicole Woody of Maryland (102), Michaela Hutchison of Alaska (119), Tatiana Padilla of California (128), Erin Clodgo of Connecticut (148) and Brittany Delgado of South Carolina (195).
Woody has won the ASICS/Vaughan Junior Nationals three times and was a 2006 Junior World champion. Padilla is a two-time winner at the Junior Nationals, and is currently ranked No. 2 on the Senior level in women's wrestling. Of the returning champions, Woody, Hutchison, Padilla, Clodgo, and Delgado were named to TheMat.com/ASICS All-American First Team.
The Wells Fargo Insurance Services Cup champions in women's freestyle last year was California, followed by Texas, Hawaii, Illinois and Michigan.
Unlike the men, the Women's National Junior Duals are not held prior to the Junior Nationals, but are alongside the individual tournament in Fargo. California is the returning team champion, with Texas in second, Hawaii in third and Florida in fourth.
The Accelerade Cadet Nationals are for wrestlers who are 15 and 16 years old, some of the best young talents in the country.
Double champion Ryan Mango of Missouri (84) is eligible to return, but may not be able to compete due to injury from this spring.
Three 2006 Cadet Greco-Roman national champions are eligible to return: Mac Bailey of Missouri (105), Dylan Carew of Iowa (112) and Brock Weatherman of Iowa (130). There are also three 2006 Cadet freestyle national champions who may come back to defend their titles: Jamie Clark of Ohio (91), Logan Stieber of Ohio (112) and Andrew Alton of Pennsylvania (125).
The Wells Fargo Insurance Services Cup champions in Cadet freestyle last year was Pennsylvania, followed by Ohio, Iowa, Kansas and New York. In Greco-Roman, capturing the 2006 Wells Fargo Insurance Services Cup was Iowa, with New York in second, followed by Pennsylvania, Missouri and Oregon.
The 2007 Cadet National Duals, presented by People to People, were held in June in Kansas City, Mo., and showcased many of the stars expected in Fargo. Team Illinois was the champion in Greco-Roman, with Minnesota in second, Pennsylvania in third, Wisconsin in fourth and Washington in fifth. In freestyle, Pennsylvania captured the team title, defeating host Missouri in the finals. New Jersey placed third, Minnesota finished fourth and Oklahoma was fifth.
The schedule of the week in Fargo has been condensed this year, covering fewer days of competition than previous years. The first day of competition is Saturday, July 21, with day one of the Cadet Greco-Roman event. The final day is Thursday, July 26, with the completion of the Junior freestyle event.
This is the conclusion of the quest for a Cadet Triple Crown, awarded to any athlete who wins USA Wrestling Cadet national titles in freestyle, Greco-Roman and folkstyle the same year. Now in its fifth year, only two athletes have ever won the Cadet Triple Crown, and none since 2004. Will there be a new Triple Crown champion this year?
The ASICS/Vaughan Junior and the Accelerade Cadet Nationals brings together hundreds of wrestling volunteers, including referees, pairing officials, coaches, state leaders and tournament operation workers, all who provide the opportunity for more than 4,000 athletes to pursue their dreams.
Follow the action each day in Fargo on TheMat.com (www.themat.com).
SCHEDULE FOR CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS
Accelerade Cadet Greco-Roman Nationals - Sunday, July 22 at 2:00 p.m.
ASICS/Vaughan Women's Junior Nationals - Monday, July 23 at 3:00 p.m.
ASICS/Vaughan Junior Greco-Roman Nationals - Monday, July 23 at 5:00 p.m.
Women's National Duals - Tuesday, July 24 at 2:00 p.m.
Cadet Freestyle Nationals - Wednesday, July 25 at 2:30 p.m.
Junior Freestyle Nationals - Thursday, July 26 at 6:00 p.m.