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Fargo Day 1 preview (7/16): 16U women’s and men’s freestyle kicks off seven days of action

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

Zao Estrada of South Carolina, ranked No. 2 in the nation at 112 pounds, will compete in the 16U Nationals on Saturday. Photo courtesy of

WHAT’S NEW: 16U men and women freestylers get it going.

The first two tournaments kick off on Saturday, both in the 16U age division, with men’s freestyle and women’s freestyle hitting the mats.

The women’s tournament, which had 352 entries as of Friday morning, is scheduled to go the farthest on Saturday, with the championship side of the bracket going through the semifinals. We will know the finalists in each weight class if everything goes to schedule.

The men’s tournament, with 1,336 entries as of Friday morning, is only scheduled to wrestle preliminaries on Saturday. This is a nice increase of over 70 wrestlers from its 2019. The quarterfinals and semifinals are not until Sunday evening.

Because of the size of the competition this year, which will set overall records and become the biggest Fargo of all time, the Saturday morning session in both age groups was moved up to 8:00 a.m. CT. Make sure to note this change, so you don’t miss an hour of action (because it was originally set for 9:00 a.m.)

NOTES: No returning competitors because of 2020 cancellation

Usually, when we start off the tournaments in Fargo, we can look back one year and identify the returning champions, runners-up and All-Americans as we try to handicap the top stars to watch for. However, because the 2020 Junior and 16U Nationals was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there are no returning entries from the last 16U Nationals. Everybody in this tournament was a Schoolboy/girl back in 2019, and none of them have ever competed at this tournament before.

So how do you identify the top wrestlers to watch tomorrow? You have to look at the Regionals from this year, as well as other events on the national and international schedule.

The 16U and Junior Nationals are not seeded tournaments. They are separated by criteria, based upon past achievements. Even with all of 2020 wiped out by the pandemic, there have been enough competitions this year and going back to 2019 that a number of athletes in each weight class have been separated based upon merit. Among the key competitions reviewed were the UWW Cadet Nationals this year, the Cadet division at the Folkstyle Nationals, the U15 Nationals and others. The hammers are most probably separated because of this.

In the men’s 16U division, this is the second leg of the coveted Triple Crown. The first leg was the USA Wrestling 16U Folkstyle Nationals in Iowa in April, and a number of those champions are entered, seeking to add a freestyle title to their achievements.

For some reference, here are a pair of previews from FloWrestling staff which touch upon these two events:

FloWrestling previews of note:

Complete & Total 16U Freestyle Preview And Predictions

Fargo 16U and Junior Girls Preview

FloWrestling identified some very loaded weight classes, based upon the national rankings.

In women’s freestyle, Derek Levendusky pointed out at 106 pounds, there were seven different girls who are in the National Girls High School rankings: #2 Rianne Murphy of Indiana, #4 Paige Morales of California, #8 Chloe Dearwester of Ohio, #11 Kiely Tabaldo of California, #18 Persaeus Gomez of Colorado, #22 Karlee Brooks of Arizona, and #24 Zoey Salmons of West Virginia. However, after weigh-ins, three more were in the weight class: #12 Lexia Schecterly of Pennsylvania, #8 Angelina Daoang of Hawaii and No. 5 Heather Crull of Indiana.

In men’s freestyle David Bray found a pair of weight classes with five athletes who are in the FloWrestling National rankings, 113 pounds and 120 pounds. The nationally ranked stars at 113 are #3 Carter Freeman of Iowa, #3 Vincent Kilkeary of Pennsylvania,- #10 Jaxon Joy of Ohio, #15 Jack Consiglio of Pennsylvania and #18 Logan Lau of Hawaii, At 120 pounds, the five ranked wrestlers are #2 Aden Valencia of California, #5 Mason Gibson of Pennsylvania, #12 Kael Lauridsen of Nebraska, #18 Omar Ayoub, Ohio and #19 Kamdyn Williams of Pennsylvania.

The Regionals are open to athletes from all states, a good testing ground for wrestlers before they head to Fargo. In the men’s freestyle 16U division, only one wrestler won two different Regionals, Joseph Sealey of North Carolina at 152 pounds, who won both the Northeast and the Southeast Regional.

To find your favorite wrestler(s), the brackets are posted tonight on FloArena.


16U women’s outlook: You have to go back two years for the last 16U Women’s Nationals, and these are totally different wrestlers, but that gives us a good starting point for this year. California won the 2019 16U Cadet National women’s freestyle team title, followed by Illinois, Missouri, Washington and Oregon. There is no 16U National Duals for girls at this point. With the rapid growth of girls wrestling everywhere, some states have been able to bring larger teams to Fargo, and the team race could be determined not only on the star athletes from the state, but also the depth of the roster from the larger state teams.

16U men’s outlook: In 2019, Pennsylvania was the 16U men’s freestyle champion, with Minnesota in second, followed by Ohio, Georgia and Illinois in the top five. A better reference might be the 2021 16U National Duals, where Ohio was the 2021 16U National Duals freestyle champion, beating New Jersey in the finals, 41-32. Minnesota was third, Illinois fourth and Pennsylvania fifth in freestyle.


8:00 a.m. – 1:30 p;m. - 16U Women Freestyle: Session I – Preliminaries and Consolations

8:00 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. - 16U Men’s Freestyle: Session I – Preliminaries and Consolations

3:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. - 16U Men’s Freestyle: Session II – Preliminaries, Consolations

3:00 p.m. – 7:30 p.m. - 16U Women Freestyle: Session II – Quarter-Finals, Semi-Finals and Consolations