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2021 Senior World Team Trials weight-by-weight preview in Greco-Roman

by Taylor Miller and Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

G’Angelo Hancock (USA) nails a gutwrench during the Tokyo Olympic Games. Photo by Larry Slater.

Since the USA did not reach a medal match at the Tokyo Olympics earlier this summer, none of the four U.S. Olympians were able to earn an automatic invitation to the 2021 World Championships in Oslo, Norway. Three of the four Tokyo Olympians have chosen to enter the World Team Trials in Lincoln, Neb. this weekend to attempt to also compete at the Worlds this year.

What this means is all 10 World Championship weight classes in Greco-Roman will be in play in Lincoln, and there are some very competitive weight classes loaded with past World Team members and National Team members. In addition to the three Tokyo Olympians, two other past Olympians have registered for a chance to make the Oslo team.

A look at each weight class follows.

55 kg

Max Nowry, who had the best U.S. Greco-Roman performance at the 2019 Worlds by placing fifth, is returning to this weight class and has received the No. 1 seed. Nowry, who tried out for the Olympics at the lowest Olympic weight, came back down to 55 kg and won the 2021 Senior Nationals, his third national title. Getting the No. 2 seed is Brady Koontz, who Nowry beat in the 2019 Final X, and also who reached the finals against Nowry at the 2021 Senior Nationals. Koontz was also second at the 2021 U23 Nationals.

No. 3 seed went to young star Billy Sullivan, the 2021 UWW Junior Nationals champion, who also won the Last Chance Olympic Qualifier in April. Jacob Cochran, who was third at the 2021 Senior Nationals, comes in with the No. 4 seed. Dalton Duffield, a former Senior Nationals runner-up who was fourth at the 2021 Senior Nationals at this weight class, received the No. 5 seed.

55 kg pre-seeds
1. Max Nowry (Army WCAP)
2. Brady Koontz (Titan Mercury WC)
3, Billy Sullivan (Legends of Gold Las Vegas)
4. Jacob Cochran (Florida)
5. Dalton Duffield (Army WCAP)

60 kg

Olympian Ildar Hafizov, who did not reach a medal match in Tokyo, must win this tournament to get another chance to pursue his first medal at a World Championships. The No. 1 seed in Lincoln, he competed at the last Senior World Championships at this weight class for the USA. Dalton Roberts, a past Senior World Team member and the 2021 Senior Nationals champion, has earned the No. 2 seed. Randon Miranda, the 2021 Senior Nationals champion up at 63 kg, drops down to this weight and will seek his first Senior World Team berth.

Dylan Koontz, Brady’s twin brother, was second in the 2021 Senior Nationals and 2021 U23 Nationals, and is seeded No. 4. Next in the seeding is King Sandoval, who was fourth at the 2021 Senior Nationals. Rising young talent Aiden Nutter, who won the 2021 U23 Nationals and claimed the Last Chance Olympic Qualifier gold, also was seeded at No. 6.

60 kg pre-seeds
1. Ildar Hafizov (Army WCAP)
2. Dalton Roberts (Army WCAP)
3. Randon Miranda (Rise RTC)
4. Dylan Koontz (Titan Mercury WC)
5. King Sandoval (Bandits WC)
6. Aiden Nutter (NMU-NTC)

63 kg

Leslie Fuenffinger, who was third at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials at 60 kg, moves back up to 63 kg and receives the No. 1 seed. Fuenffinger won Senior National titles in April 2019 and also in December 2019 at 60 kg, and was second in the 2019 Final X. Sam Jones, who was fourth in the Olympic Trials at 60 kg, is also moving up this year. Jones has been a Senior Nationals runner-up three times. David Stepanian, the 2021 U23 Nationals champion and 2021 Senior Nationals runner-up at 63 kg, was awarded the No. 3 seed. The U23 Nationals champion at 60 kg, Dylan Gregerson, gets the No. 4 seed. Gregerson also won the 2020 U23 Nationals at 63 kg.

The seeding committee chose to go eight deep at this weight class. We Rachal, third at the 2021 Senior Nationals, is at No. 5 and Corbin Nirschl, fourth at the 2021 Senior Nationals, gets the No. 6 seed. Rounding out the pre-seeds are No. 7 Chayse LaJoie and No. 8 Mason Lewis.

63 kg pre-seeds
1. Leslie Fuenffinger (Army WCAP)
2. Sam Jones (NYAC)
3. David Stepanian (NYAC)
4. Dylan Gregerson (Brunson UVRTC)
5. We Rachal (Illinois RTC/Illini WC)
6. Corbin Nirschl (MWC Wrestling Academy)
7. Chayse LaJoie (Michigan)
8. Mason Lewis (Pennsylvania)

67 kg

Another Tokyo Olympian, Alejandro Sancho, will make a run at his first Senior World Team. Sancho, who is No. 1 seed, qualified the USA for Tokyo at the 2020 Pan American Olympic qualifier and won his first Senior Nationals title in December 2019. 2016 Olympian Jesse Thielke, who has also wrestled on a Senior World Team, makes a comeback and gets the No. 2 seed. Thielke’s last major competition came at the 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial, so we will see if he can be competition ready. Hayden Tuma, the 2021 Senior Nationals champion at this weight class and four-time Senior Nationals finalist, gets the No. 3 seed.

Calvin Germinaro, a two-time Senior Nationals runner-up, was seeded No. 4. 2019 Senior Nationals champion Alston Nutter, who was second in the 2021 Senior Nationals and won the U23 Nationals, secured the No. 5 seed. 2019 Junior World bronze medalist Peyton Omania, who has competed in four age-group World Championships, will be seeded No. 6. This weight class, with two veteran stars and a bunch of young talent, should be an exciting one to watch in Lincoln.

67 kg pre-seeds
1. Alejandro Sancho (Army WCAP)
2. Jesse Thielke (Army WCAP)
3. Hayden Tuma (Suples)
4. Calvin Germinaro (Minnesota Storm))
5. Alston Nutter (Sunkist Kids)
6. Peyton Omania (NYAC)

72 kg

Two-time Senior World Team member Patrick Smith, who entered the Olympic Trials up at 77 kg, returns to this weight class, where he last competed in 2018. Smith, a 2019 Pan American Games champion, has as much experience as anyone in the entire tournament. The exciting Benji Peak, who was a 2020 Senior Nationals champion and placed third at the Olympic Team Trials at 67 kg, gets the No. 2 seed. Veteran Jamel Johnson, who was second in the 2019 Final X and won the 2021 Pan American Championships, will be at No. 3. Michael Hooker, who has been placing at the U.S. Open going back to 2017, is the No. 4 seed.

This weight was seeded through eight spots, with Payton Jacobson, the runner-up at the 2021 UWW Junior Nationals at No. 5 and Justus Scott, a 2021 Junior World Team member and Last Chance Olympic Qualifier champion, taking No. 6. Rounding out the seeds are No. 7 Brandon Mueller and No. 8 Griffin Parriott.

72 kg pre-seeds
1. Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm)
2. Benjamin Peak (Sunkist Kids)
3. Jamel Johnson (Marines)
4. Michael Hooker (Army WCAP)
5. Payton Jacobson (Wisconsin)
6. Justus Scott (Legends of Gold Las Vegas)
7. Brandon Mueller (505 Wrestling)
8. Griffin Parriott (Minnesota)

77 kg

Returning to 77 kg is the Olympic Trials champion Jesse Porter and Olympic Trials runner-up Peyton Walsh. They will enter the tournament as the Nos. 1 and 2 seeds, respectively. After a year of training at home due to Covid-19, Porter won the Olympic spot but unfortunately was unable to qualify the weight for Tokyo. This fall he seeks to represent the USA on the Senior World stage for the first time. Walsh, a Marines athlete, earned his first international gold medal this spring, winning the 77 kg title of the 2021 Pan American Championships.

Rounding out the top-4 seeds is Olympic Trials Last Chance Qualifier champion Austin Morrow and 2021 Senior Nationals champion Alec Ortiz. The seeding committee chose to seed through eight here, with Britton Holmes (No. 5), Ryan Epps (No. 6), Fritz Schierl (No. 7) and Zachary Grimes (No. 8) all being separated.

77 kg pre-seeds
1. Jesse Porter (NYAC)
2. Peyton Walsh (Marines)
3. Austin Morrow (NYAC)
4. Alec Ortiz (Minnesota Storm)
5. Britton Holmes (Army WCAP)
6. Ryan Epps (Minnesota Storm)
7. Fritz Schierl (Titan Mercury)
8. Zachary Grimes (Colorado)

82 kg

Highlighting the 82 kg weight class is 2012 and 2016 Olympian Ben Provisor, who moved down to 77 kg for the Olympic Trials. In past years, he has competed at 87 kg, so he seems to have found a solid middle ground at 82 kg. In fact, he won the 2021 Pan American Championships at 82 kg in May.

Looking to challenge Provisor is Olympic Trials third-place finisher at 87 kg, Spencer Woods, who has put together an outstanding year. In addition to his National Team spot, Woods won the 2021 Senior Nationals as well as the 2021 U23 World Team Trials and is slated to represent the U.S. at the U23 World Championships in November.
Fellow U23 World Team member at 82 kg Tommy Brackett will hold the No. 3 seed, while Richard Carlson, who was fourth at the 2019 Senior Nationals will be No. 4. Getting the final seed in the weight class is Tyler Cunningham at No. 5.

82 kg pre-seeds
1. Ben Provisor (NYAC)
2. Spencer Woods (Army WCAP)
3. Tommy Brackett (Tennessee)
4. Richard Carlson (Minnesota Storm)
5. Tyler Cunningham (MWC Wrestling Academy)

87 kg

At 87 kg, there are only three athletes seeded, including former Cuban wrestler and 2020 Senior Nationals champion Alan Vera as No. 1. Vera recently earned U.S. citizenship and won the Olympic Trials Last Chance Qualifier for a chance at the Olympic spot. He lost in the challenge tournament to eventual Olympian John Stefanowicz. With Stefanowicz not registered, it opens the weight class up to anyone.

Coming in as the second-seed is George Sikes, who was the U23 World Team Trials runner-up at 82 and took third at the 2021 Senior Nationals. No. 3 is Tyler Hannah, who won two Junior Pan American titles this summer, one at 87 kg in Greco-Roman and the other at 92 kg in men’s freestyle. Hannah also won the Olympic Trials Last Chance Qualifier at 87 kg.

87 kg pre-seeds
1. Alan Vera (NYAC)
2. George Sikes (NYAC)
3. Tyler Hannah (Combat WC School of Wrestling)

97 kg

Tokyo Olympian G’Angelo Hancock is the favorite this weekend at 97 kg. In his Olympic debut, Hancock went 1-1 for a seventh-place finish. In Lincoln, Hancock seeks to make his fourth-straight World Team. In addition to representing the U.S. at the Olympics and World Championships, Hancock has won several medals at major international tournaments, including gold at the 2020 Pan American Championships.

Lucas Sheridan, who was third at the Olympic Trials in April will also be in the mix. Sheridan is a multiple-time National Team member and competed for the USA at the 2019 World Military Games as an Army WCAP athlete. Sheridan was second at the 2019 Senior Nationals and won bronze at the 2019 Haparanda Cup. 13
Other names to look out for include 2021 Senior Nationals and 2021 U23 Nationals champion Nick Boykin as well as Senior Nationals runner-up James Souza. Rounding out the top six seeds are veteran Khymba Johnson at No. 5 and Chad Porter at No. 6.

97 kg pre-seeds
1. G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist Kids)
2. Lucas Sheridan (Army WCAP)
3. Nicholas Boykin (Sunkist Kids)
4. James Souza (Army WCAP)
5/ Khymba Johnson (NYAC)
6. Chad Porter (Sunkist Kids)

130 kg

For the last several years, the heavyweight category has been owned by either 2016 Olympian Robby Smith or 2018 World silver medalist Adam Coon. With neither Smith nor Coon registered, someone new ill represent the United States in Oslo. The favorite is Olympic Trials runner-up Cohlton Schultz, who has been the face of USA at the age-group level as a Cadet World champion and two-time Junior World medalist. Schultz also competes collegiately at Arizona State. He has won national Senior titles and has been ranked as high as No. 2 on the Nationaln Team.

Jacob Mitchell, who was third at the Olympic Trials, is registered to compete as well. Schultz defeated Mitchell, a past Senior Nationals champion, in April in a close 4-3 bout. Also expected to compete is 2021 Pan American Championships silver medalist Donny Longendyke, who was fourth at Olympic Trials. College football player turned Senior Greco-Roman heavyweight Tanner Farmer has earned the No. 4 seeds. Malcom  Allen, a Senior Nationals champion this past year, comes in at No. 6. Rounding out the top eight seeds are West Cathcart at No. 6, Lee Herrington at No. 7 and Keaton Fanning at No. 8.

130 kg pre-seeds
1. Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist Kids)
2. Jacob Mitchell (Army WCAP)
3. Donny Longendyke (Minnesota)
4. Tanner Farmer (NYAC)
5. Malcom Allen (Legends of Gold)
6. West Cathcart (NYAC)
7. Lee Herrington (Nebraska Golden Eagles WC).
8. Keaton Fanning (NMU-NTC)
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