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Swiderski knocks off No. 1 P-4-P Mendez, Arnold wins 170-pound bracket in entertaining Who’s Number One event

by Joe Wedra, Special to TheMat.con

Casey Swiderski of Michigan celebrates his big win at Who's Number One. Photo by Sam Janicki.


DALLAS, Texas – Saturday night’s FloWrestling Who’s Number One competition was full of talent and exciting matchups, featuring the nation’s top high school wrestlers. The action was highlighted by Georgia’s Gabe Arnold winning a talented four-man bracket at 170 pounds and earning the weight’s number one spot. Michigan’s No. 2 Casey Swiderski provided one of the night’s standout individual performances, knocking off the No. 1 pound-for-pound wrestler in the nation, Indiana’s Jesse Mendez.


Dundee High School’s Swiderski, who came in as the second-ranked wrestler at 138 pounds, created one of the card’s top highlights when he knocked off top-ranked Mendez.


Swiderski, who was the runner-up at the 2021 Junior Nationals at 138 pounds, defeated Mendez in a 7-6 match to take over the top spot at the weight. A third-period takedown on the edge gave him the advantage late, and a last-second defense of a Mendez score attempt held off the Indiana standout and officially changed up the top spot at 138.


Arnold got the job done with two impressive wins – first over Illinois’ No. 5 Brayden Thompson and then in the finals against No. 4 Rocco Welsh (Pennsylvania). The Wyoming Seminary standout used stingy defense to post a 3-2 win against Thompson, and then battled through a lengthy overtime match against Welsh, where he won via a strong performance in ride outs.


Arnold, who won a 16U Fargo title in July and is currently uncommitted, certainly established himself as one of the top names to track for colleges across the country.


“I got down, dug deep, rode [Welsh] out and got the win,” Arnold said after the finals victory. “At the end of the day, it’s just heart. It has nothing to do with my physical capabilities. It has a lot to do with heart.”


The 2021 Cadet World champion at 45kg, Bo Bassett, was a standout performer in the 106-pound futures match against Seth Mendoza, a 16U Fargo champion at 100 pounds. Bassett and Mendoza battled a high-paced seven minutes and traded athletic moves, but Bassett showcased why he was able to bring home a gold medal from Budapest, notching a 19-8 victory over the impressive Mendoza. Bassett scored nine takedowns in the match.


At 145 pounds, No. 3 Jackson Arrington (Pennsylvania) had one of the top performances of the night with a 4-3 victory over No. 1 Hunter Garvin (Iowa). Arrington used his top wrestling to pick up the top spot at the weight. He leaned on a first-period ride-out and a full-period ride in the third to lock up the win over Garvin, who was the winner of the 2021 USA Wrestling Folkstyle Nationals Most Outstanding Wrestler award.


Two other wrestlers knocked off top-ranked foes to earn number one spots: Ohio’s Dylan Fishback at 195 pounds and Maryland’s TJ Stewart at 182 pounds.


In the 106-pound bout for the top spot, New Jersey’s Anthony Knox secured his place as one of the nation’s top talents with a convincing 11-3 win over 2021 Cadet World bronze medalist, Luke Lilledahl (Missouri). Knox, who won the 16U Fargo title this year at 106 pounds, relied on two turns in the second period to secure momentum and take command of the top spot at the weight class.


In one of the night’s two battles between top-15 pound-for-pound wrestlers, No. 1 Caleb Henson of Georgia knocked off Oklahoma’s No. 2 Jordan Williams to maintain the top spot at the 152-pound weight class. The two traded takedowns in the first period, but Henson, the Virginia Tech commit, did enough to post an entertaining 5-4 win over Williams, a three-time Oklahoma state champion who is currently uncommitted.


The other top-15 bout came in what FloWrestling dubbed the “Big Man Super Match” between No. 1 at 220 pounds Christian Carroll (Indiana) and No. 1 at 285 pounds Nick Feldman (Pennsylvania). Both showcased standout athleticism throughout the bout, but Feldman earned a 3-2 win to close out the event.


Others earning wins in their matches were top-ranked wrestlers Braeden Davis of Michigan (113), Levi Haines of Pennsylvania (160) and Nate Jesuroga of Iowa (120).


Below, you can find match-by-match summaries from the fantastic night of action in Dallas.

MATCH SUMMARIES


All matches were contested using current NCAA wrestling folkstyle rules.

170 pounds

No. 1 Manny Rojas (Michigan, No. 6 P-4-P) vs. No. 4 Rocco Welsh (Pennsylvania)


This match started with heavy hand fighting and strong back-and-forth action early. With the first period winding down, Welsh scored on an inside single to take a 2-1 lead over Rojas into the break. After picking up an escape, Welsh scored again on the edge and posted another point on a caution, taking a 6-2 lead into the third period. Welsh wrestled a tough third period and posted the first upset of the night, a 6-4 win over Rojas.

170 pounds

No. 3 Gabe Arnold (Georgia, No. 19 P-4-P) vs. No. 5 Brayden Thompson (Illinois)


Thompson and Arnold worked plenty early, but tough defense marked the first five minutes of the match. Thompson was in deep on a quick shot in the first period, but a strong shin whizzer by Arnold kept the match scoreless. In the second, Arnold posted an early escape and then a takedown late in the period to lead, 3-0, going into the third. Thompson closed the bout to a 3-2 score late, but more impressive defense by Arnold as time winded down proved to be the difference to collect the 3-2 win.

106 Futures Match

Seth Mendoza (Illinois) vs. Bo Bassett (Pennsylvania)


This bout started with quick action and never truly let up, as both Bassett and Mendoza worked hard in scrambles early. Mendoza fired off several shots early, but tough wrestling by Bassett in scramble positions helped him pick up momentum and carry it throughout the bout. Bassett, the 2021 Cadet World champion, was relentless. He scored nine total takedowns in the match, posting a 19-8 win.

182 pounds

No. 1 Jack Wehmeyer (Pennsylvania, No. 16 P-4-P) vs. No. 2 TJ Stewart (Maryland, No. 17 P-4-P)


Stewart got the scoring started early with an upper-body takedown and then another quick go-behind, leading Wehmeyer, 4-1, just 90 seconds into the match. Stewart, the 182-pound Junior Nationals champion this year, scored a highlight-reel takedown in the second to keep momentum, enough to carry a 6-4 lead into the third period. An escape in the third made it 7-4, the score that would stand for the first No. 2 over No. 1 victory of the night.

145 pounds

No. 1 Hunter Garvin (Iowa) vs. No. 3 Jackson Arrington (Pennsylvania)


Arrington scored late in the first period and used a strong 29-second ride to take an early 2-0 lead into the first break. Garvin, April’s Most Outstanding Wrestler at the 2021 Folkstyle Nationals, posted a late-period takedown of his own to close the match to one point. A strong ride from Arrington in the third period – featuring several tough mat returns – overcame a point surrendered on stalling to lock up a 4-3 win and jump to the top of the 145-pound rankings.

113 pounds

No. 1 Braeden Davis (Michigan) vs. No. 2 Leo Deluca (New Jersey)


Deluca, the 2021 Fargo 16U champion at 113 pounds, used plenty of upper-body wrestling early to score first, but Davis, the 2021 Junior Nationals freestyle champion at 113, scored on a dump attempt at the very end of the first period and went right to a turn to go into the first break with a 7-2 lead. The Dundee, Michigan native continued to add to his lead in the second, using a quick reversal and four near fall points to extend a dominant lead. Deluca battled with great action late, but Davis ultimately wrapped up a 15-7 victory.

160 pounds

No. 1 Levi Haines (Pennsylvania, No. 13 P-4-P) vs. No. 2 Josh Barr (Michigan)


No scoring was found in the first, but Haines controlled the second period, showcasing why he’s one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the nation. He scored a takedown and posted 1:39 of riding time to take a convincing 2-1 advantage into the final two minutes. Strong defense in the third period helped Haines hold onto his top spot in the rankings, wrapping up a 4-1 victory at 160 pounds.

106 pounds

No. 1 Anthony Knox (New Jersey) vs. No. 2 Luke Lilledahl (Missouri)


Knox, a 16U Fargo champion, got the scoring started against the 2021 Cadet World bronze medalist Lilledahl with a smooth duck under, taking a 2-1 lead into the break. Pushing the lead further, Knox posted six back points in the second period and wrestled an intelligent match the rest of the way for an 11-3 victory. Knox, 15, now enters the high school season with a Fargo championship and a Who’s Number One title.

152 pounds

No. 1 Caleb Henson (Georgia, No. 7 P-4-P) vs. No. 2 Jordan Williams (Oklahoma, No. 14 P-4-P)


Williams (145-pound Junior Nationals champion) and Henson (152-pound Junior Nationals champion) both traded takedowns in the first period, going into the second period tied at three in an action-packed bout. In the second, Henson used two takedowns – including one coming off of injury time for a Williams shoulder injury – to take a 5-3 lead into the third. Williams fired off several attempts in the third, but Henson used tough defense to wrap up a 5-4 win and maintain the number one spot at 152 pounds.

195 pounds

No. 1 Gavin Nelson (Minnesota, No. 15 P-4-P) vs. No. 2 Dylan Fishback (Ohio)


Both Nelson and Fishback went back and forth with wild action early and often, but neither converted a takedown score through the first two periods of the fast-paced bout. Both posted quick escapes, making it a 1-1 match in the third. With under 30 seconds to go, Nelson was called for stalling for the second time in the match, giving Fishback a very late 2-1 lead. It proved to be the difference-maker, as he tacked on four points as time expired on a failed throw attempt. Fishback posted the 6-1 win, changing the name at the top spot of the 195-pound weight class.

138 pounds

No. 1 Jesse Mendez (Indiana, No. 1 P-4-P) vs. No. 2 Casey Swiderski (Michigan)


Swiderski opened up the bout’s scoring with a heavy single-leg score, but it didn’t take Mendez long to escape and post a score of his own to take the 3-2 lead in a fast-moving first period. The pace stayed heavy through the second period, but Swiderski, who earned third-period points on cautions and an escape, found a match-changing takedown at the edge of the mat with a minute to go in the third to open a lead, 7-4. Mendez pushed late, but Swiderski held off a last-second takedown attempt to win a 7-6 match and knock off the number one pound-for-pound wrestler in the nation.

120 pounds

No. 1 Nate Jesuroga (Iowa, No. 10 P-4-P) vs. No. 3 Joey Cruz (California)


Jesuroga, who won a 2021 Cadet World bronze medal in Budapest earlier this year, scored in the second period and opened up a 3-0 lead with high-paced wrestling. A strong ride over Cruz, an Oklahoma commit, locked in over a minute of riding time and established momentum for the rest of the bout. Jesuroga tacked on another takedown in the third period and cruised to a 6-1 win.

170 pounds

No. 4 Rocco Welsh (Pennsylvania) vs. No. 3 Gabe Arnold (Georgia, No. 19 P-4-P)


After no scoring between these two tough 170-pounders in the first period, Welsh escaped quickly in the second period to earn the first score of the match. Arnold worked a quick escape to begin the third, sending the match to standing up to close things out. Neither scored a takedown in the third, which provided us with the first sudden victory action of the night. The new NCAA rules specify that extra time will consist of a two-minute sudden victory period, and then go straight into 30-second ride outs. The match did go to ride-out action, where Arnold held tough for 30 seconds and then escaped in the final half to officially win the 170-pound bracket.

“Big Man Super Match”

No. 1 at 220 pounds Christian Carroll (Indiana, No. 11 P-4-P) vs. No. 1 at 285 pounds Nick Feldman (Pennsylvania, No. 3 P-4-P)


This was a fun matchup put onto this card, seeing two of the best big men in the country battle in a special bout to wrap up the night’s action. Feldman, an Ohio State commit, scored first on a takedown, carrying a 2-1 lead into the first break. Feldman had a 3-2 lead with 1:10 left following an escape after injury time was called for Carroll. The two showcased plenty of athleticism late, but Feldman held on for the 3-2 win.

WHO’S NUMBER ONE

Dallas, Texas • September 18, 2021


170: No. 4 Rocco Welsh (PA) dec. No. 1 Manny Rojas (MI), 6-4

170: No. 3 Gabe Arnold (GA) dec. No. 5 Brayden Thompson (IL), 3-2

106 (futures): Bo Bassett (PA) maj. dec. Seth Mendoza (IL), 19-8

182: No. 2 TJ Stewart (MD) dec. No. 1 Jack Wehmeyer (PA), 7-4

145: No. 3 Jackson Arrington (PA) dec. No. 1 Hunter Garvin (IA), 4-3

113: No. 1 Braeden Davis (MI) maj. dec. No. 2 Leo Deluca (NJ), 15-7

160: No. 1 Levi Haines (PA) dec. No. 2 Josh Barr (MI), 4-1

106: No. 1 Anthony Knox (NJ) maj. dec. No. 2 Luke Lilledahl (MO), 11-3

152: No. 1 Caleb Henson (GA) dec. No. 2 Jordan Williams (OK), 5-4

195: No. 2 Dylan Fishback (OH) dec. No. 1 Gavin Nelson (MN), 6-1

138: No. 2 Casey Swiderski (MI) dec. No. 1 Jesse Mendez (IN), 7-6

120: No. 1 Nate Jesuroga (IA) dec. No. 3 Joey Cruz (CA), 6-1

170: No. 3 Gabe Arnold (GA) dec. No. 4 Rocco Welsh (PA), 2-1 (TB1)

“Big Man Super Match”: No. 1 at 285 Nick Feldman (PA) dec. No. 1 at 220 Christian Carroll (IN), 3-2