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50th Junior Nationals fantasy bracket semifinals summary: Steve Mocco vs. Pat Smith

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

The bottom bracket semifinals of the 50th Junior Nationals men’s freestyle fantasy bracket includes two legendary wrestlers who both attended Oklahoma State, Pat Smith of Oklahoma and Steve Mocco of New Jersey.

Smith, from the legendary Smith wrestling family from Del City, Okla., made history by becoming the first four-time NCAA Div. I wrestling champion, claiming his titles for Oklahoma State.

Mocco, who started his career at Iowa and finished his career at Oklahoma State, was one of the greatest heavyweights in U.S. history. Of the four Junior Nationals fantasy bracket semifinalists, Mocco is the only athlete who went on to become an Olympian, competing at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

USA Wrestling fans will be able cast their vote for each round by going to:
50th Junior Freestyle Nationals - Fantasy Bracket

As of Friday morning, Smith leads Mocco, 63%-37%. Voting ends Satruday.

Fans are asked to select the winners based upon their wrestling success as high school wrestlers competing in men’s freestyle at the Junior Nationals. We take a closer look at how these two legends competed during their Junior Nationals career.

Steve Mocco (North Bergen, N.J. )

1999 Junior Nationals freestyle placewinners

275 pounds

1. Steve Mocco (New Jersey)

2. Pat Miron (Wisconsin)

3. Wade McLeod (Iowa)

4. Russ Davie (Ohio)

5. Jeremiah Beltran (Kansas)

6. Nick Bruels (Minnesota)

7. Zac Thumb (North Dakota)

8. Dan Howe (California)

2000 Junior Nationals freestyle placewinners

275 pounds

1. Steve Mocco (New Jersey)

2. Matt Hasbrook (Indiana)

3. Joe Hennis (Florida)

4. Cain Velasquez (Arizona)

5. Neil Phillips (Oklahoma)

6. Chris Knapp (New Jersey)

7. Dan Howe (California)

8. Nick Lafear (Michigan)

2001 Junior Nationals freestyle placewinners

275 pounds

1. Steve Mocco (New Jersey)

2. Cain Velasquez (Arizona)

3. Joel Powers (Illinois)

4. Cole Konrad (Wisconsin)

5. Greg Wagner (Indiana)

6. Tom Curl (New Jersey)

7. Devin Kraege (Wisconsin)

8. Arturo Basulto (California)

Junior Nationals finals Note: To become a three-time Junior Nationals champion, Mocco had to beat Cain Velasquez of Arizona. In wrestling, Mocco had the better college career, reaching the finals twice and winning two NCAA titles, one for Iowa and one for Oklahoma State. Velasquez was an NJCAA National champion at Iowa Central, then finished at Arizona State, where was an All-American. It was Velasquez who went on to have a better MMA career, going 14-3 with many high-profile UFC fights , while Mocco went 5-1 as a pro after his Olympic career.

High School Notes: Four-time Prep Nationals champion (1998-2001)...He won two Prep titles for Blair Academy, and two titles for St. Benedicts Prep.

Pat Smith (Del City, Okla.)

1988 Junior Nationals freestyle placewinners

154 pounds

1. Pat Smith (Oklahoma)

2. Matt Johnson (Colorado)

3. Lenny Klinglesmith (Colorado)

4. Tom Onorato (Pennsylvania)

5. Torrae Jackson (Michigan)

6. Jamie Byrne (Iowa)

7. Brendan Matthew (South Dakota)

8. J.J. Stanbro (New York)

1989 Junior Nationals freestyle placewinners

154 pounds

1. Pat Smith (Oklahoma)

2. Sean Bormet (Illinois)

3. J.J. Stanbro (New York)

4. Heath Sims (California)

5. Gino Choinard (Michigan)

6. Erik Rolfstad (Iowa)

7. James St. John (New York)

8. Willy Short (Minnesota)

Fargo Finals Note: Smith and Bormet continued their rivalry in college and at the Olympic level. To win his fourth NCAA title, Smith beat Bormet, who competed for Michigan, in the 1994 NCAA finals. In the 1996 Olympic Trials, Smith won a rugged battle over Bormet to advance to the finals, where Smith was defeated for the Olympic berth by Kenny Monday.

High School Notes: Three-time Oklahoma state high school champion for Del City High School (1987-89), and was twice named Outstanding Wrestler.

The first USA Wrestling Junior Nationals was held in the Fieldhouse at the University of Iowa in 1971, and contested only in men’s freestyle. With the 2020 event cancelled due to the pandemic, this year’s version will be the 50th time our nation’s best high school wrestlers have come together to battle for national titles and All-American honors. Numerous World and Olympic champions and medalists have competed in this prestigious event.

The 2021 USA Wrestling USMC Junior and 16U National Championships will be held at the FargoDome in Fargo, N.D., July 16-23, with competition in men’s freestyle, Greco-Roman and women’s freestyle.


50th Junior Freestyle Nationals - Fantasy Bracket

When you click, you will see the bracket. To vote, click the “Cast Vote Now” button on the top of the bracket. You will be taken to a screen where you see each pairing and you can click a box to vote on the winner. You must enter your email to vote. If you need some additional information on any athlete, click the link for each athlete’s name and a graphic with a photo of the athlete and additional data on their Junior National freestyle career will appear.
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