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HIgh school and college stars on display as semifinals set in UWW U20 Freestyle Nationals in Las Vegas

by Charles Klepps, Special to

Action image from the U20 Freestyle National by Robbert Wijtman.

SOUTH POINT ARENA, Las Vegas, Nev.– The UWW U20 Freestyle division began its tournament this morning, setting up semifinal matches in the ten weight classes. The champion of each division will earn an automatic berth into the best-of-three finals for the U20 World Team Trials in Geneva, Ohio on June 3-5, as well as first dibs for the Pan-Am Championships in Oaxtepec, Mexico.

The field was packed with talent, featuring U20 champions from 2021 in either Greco-Roman or Freestyle, as well as multiple U17 champions in both styles from a year ago.

The U20 division is interesting because it combines current college wrestlers with high school stars. Some of the athletes have already made their college commitment, while others are looking to make a name for themselves. Some of these athletes had to win as many as five matches in the first session to earn their place in tonight’s semifinals.

At 57 kg, 2021 World Team member and Arizona State freshman Richard Figueroa II was the favorite to win the tournament. Instead, Wyoming commit Jore Volk upset Figueroa II in the quarterfinals 10-7. He’ll square off against Ohio State freshman Andre Gonzales this evening for a spot in the finals.

The other semifinal in the lightest weight will feature Troy Spratley of Texas Pride WC and Cooper Flynn of Southeast RTC. Both Spratley, a Minnesota commit, and Flynn, a Virginia Tech commit, had three technical falls to set up their matchup this evening.

In the 61 kg division, Bucknell freshman Dylan Chappell punched his ticket to the semis with a couple of technical falls and a win by injury default. His competitor will be Grigor Cholakyan of Sunkist Kids/Monster Garage, who has had three technical falls and one fall to set up the bout.

The other 61 kg semifinal will feature future Ohio State Buckeye Nic Bouzakis against Garrett Grice. Bouzakis avenged a loss from Fargo last summer in the quarterfinals by taking out future Arizona State Sun Devil Emilio Ysaguierre. Grice is committed to the University of Virginia.

Cornell University’s Vince Cornella earned his place in tonight’s 65 kg semifinals with four straight wins. He will face current Minnesota Gopher Tagen Jamison in the semifinals. Jamison had four techs and a 12-3 decision in the first session.

Kaleb Larkin followed in his father’s footsteps when he committed to Arizona State, and the future Sun Devil looked impressive this morning earning five techs while only giving up one point to get into the 65 kg semifinals. He’ll face future Michigan Wolverine Dylan Gilcher for a spot in the finals. Gilcher has given up only two points so far in the tournament.

At 70 kg, future Stanford Cardinal Hunter Garvin has earned his place in the semifinals. He finished second in Greco-Roman a couple of days ago and he will be looking to improve upon that finish. Iowa State Cyclone Paniro Johnson will be the one standing in his way this evening. Johnson has been solid with four technical falls and one decision enroute to his semifinal berth.

The other 70 kg semifinal features California Baptist commit Mitchell Mesenbrink, who impressively teched 2021 U17 Greco-Roman 65 kg champion Jadon Skellenger in the quarterfinals. He will be paired up with the University of Michigan’s Chance Lamer tonight, with both wrestlers looking for their place in the championship match.

Up at 74 kg, Penn State’s Alex Facundo has punched his ticket to the semifinals with four techs and a solid 8-1 win in the quarterfinals. He’ll tangle with South Dakota State freshman Jack Thomsen. Thomsen won a gritty 6-6 quarterfinal match against Purdue’s Stoney Buell.

In the bottom half of 74 kg, Zeb Gnida of Loras College strung together a perfect 4-0 session to become a semifinalist. He will face current Northern Colorado wrestler Vincent Zerban for a chance at the finals.

Luca Augustine punched his ticket to the 79 kg semifinals with four wins in the session. The Pittsburgh Panther will take on University of Nebraska’s Elise Brown Ton. Brown Ton hasn’t given up a point yet with four straight technical falls.

The other semifinal at 79 kg will pit Daniel Wask of New Jersey with Rocco Welch of Young Guns WC. Welsh is headed to Columbus to join the Buckeyes as a part of the class of 2023.

Virginia Tech’s Samuel Fisher had four technical falls enroute to a spot in the 86 kg semifinals. He’ll match up against University of Oklahoma’s Tate Picklo this evening. Picklo has been equally impressive with two falls, a tech, and a narrow decision over 2022 Folkstyle Showcase champion Wyatt Voelker.

In the other 86 kg semifinal, current Rutgers wrestler Brian Soldano had four tech falls in the session. He’ll take on NC State’s Brock Del Signore in tonight’s semifinal round. Del Signore won a narrow 6-6 decision in the Round of 32, but besides that he has two techs and an eight point decision.

University of Maryland’s Jaxon Smith had two quick tech falls to secure his 92 kg semifinal spot. He’ll be matched up against Lehigh commit Caden Rogers tonight. Rogers had two technical falls and an 11-6 decision this morning.

On the other side of the bracket, Nebraska Cornhusker Silas Allred earned a fall and a technical fall to set up a semifinals bout with Martin Cosgrove of New Jersey. Cosgrove has yet to give up a point with three straight technical falls.

Future North Carolina Tarheel Noah Pettigrew took out 2021 U17 97 kg Greco-Roman champion Nathan Wemstrom to reach the semifinals. He’s matched up with Colorado Mesa University’s Braden Baumgartner.

In the other semifinal, Nathan Glass of Silver State Wrestling Academy will take on dual sport threat Ben Kueter. Kueter is committed to the University of Iowa for both football and wrestling next year.

In the last weight class of the evening, Virginia Tech big man Hunter Catka will toe the line against current Missouri Tiger Ryan Boersma. Boersma has three straight technical falls leading him into the final.

Future Ohio State Buckeye Nicholas Feldman will be in the semifinal on the other side of the 125 kg bracket. He had three tech falls while keeping his opponents scoreless in session one. He’ll be taking on Juan Mora, who currently wrestles at North Dakota State.

The top eight place winners at each weight will all qualify for the World Team Trials challenge tournament, where they will hope to earn their place in the best-of-three finals alongside the champion from this weekend.

UWW Junior Freestyle National Championship

At Las Vegas, Nev. April 29, 2022

Semifinal Pairings


Jore Volk (Pinnacle WC) vs Andre Gonzalez (CA)

Troy Spratley (Texas Pride WC) vs Cooper Flynn (Southeast RTC)


Dylan Chappell (Buffalo Valley RTC) vs Grigor Cholakyan (Sunkist Kids/Monster Garage)

Nic Bouzakis (PA) vs Garrett Grice (MWC Wrestling Academy)


Vince Cornella (Spartan Combat RTC) vs Tagen Jamison (Texas Pride WC)

Dylan Glicher (MI) vs Kaleb Larkin (AZ)


Hunter Garvin (Big Game WC) vs Paniro Johnson (Cyclone RTC C-RTC)

Mitchell Mesenbrink (Askren Wrestling Academy) vs Chance Lamer (CKWC)


Alex Facundo (NLWC) vs Jack Thomsen (Jackrabbit WC)

Zeb Gnida (Dubuque WC) vs Vincent Zerban (Northern Colorado WC)


Luca Augustine (Pittsburgh WC) vs Elise Brown Ton (Nebraska Wrestling Training Center)

Daniel Wask (NJ) vs Rocco Welsh (Young Guns WC)


Samuel Fisher (Southeast RTC) vs Tate Picklo (Oklahoma RTC)

Brian Soldano (SKWC-RTC) vs Brock Del Signore (Wolfpack WC)


Jaxon Smith (DMV RTC) vs Caden Rogers (Diplomat WC)

Silas Allred (Nebraska Wrestling Training Center) vs Martin Cosgrove (NJ)


Noah Pettigrew (The Storm Wrestling Center) vs Braden Baumgartner (Colorado Mesa WC)

Nathan Glass (Silver State Wrestling Academy) vs Ben Kueter (Sebolt Wrestling Academy)


Hunter Catka (Southeast RTC) vs Ryan Boersma (Tiger Style WC)

Nicholas Feldman (Ohio RTC) vs Juan Mora (CA)

Quarterfinal Results

57 - Andre Gonzales CA (California) fall Conor Knopick NE (Nebraska), 8-8 5:26

57 - Troy Spratley TX (Texas Pride WC) tech Joseph Fischer PA (Clarion RTC), 10-0 2:56

57 - Cooper Flynn TN (Southeast RTC, Inc) tech Nicholas Babin NJ (New York City RTC), 10-0 0:39

57 - Jore Volk MN (Pinnacle WC) dec Richard Figueroa ii CA (Sunkist Kids WC), 10-7

61 - Garrett Grice NE (MWC Wrestling Academy) dec Nico Provo CT (New York Athletic Club), 9-3

61 - Dylan Chappell PA (Buffalo Valley RTC) tech Cael Hughes OK (Cowboy WC), 10-0 2:19

61 - Grigor Cholakyan CA (Sunkist Kids/Monster Garage) tech Nash Singleton OR (Roseburg Mat Club /Umpqua Valley Wrestling Associaction), 15-5 4:04

61 - Nic Bouzakis PA (Pennsylvania) dec Emilio Ysaguirre, jr. AZ (Arizona), 7-1

65 - Kaleb Larkin AZ (Arizona) tech Joseph Zargo WI (Rhino Wrestling LLC), 10-0 1:44

65 - Tagen Jamison TX (Texas Pride WC) dec Cody Chittum TN (Greco-Roman Development), 12-3

65 - Vince Cornella CO (Spartan Combat RTC) dec Tarrence Daugherty, jr. MI (Michigan), 13-6

65 - Dylan Gilcher MI (Michigan) tech Joel Vandervere IL (Northwestern/Wildcat WC), 10-0 5:28

70 - Mitchell Mesenbrink WI (Askren Wrestling Academy) tech Jadon Skellenger ID (Suples WC), 10-0 2:27

70 - Hunter Garvin IA (Big Game WC) tech Blaine Brenner WI (Gopher WC - RTC), 14-2 3:56

70 - Chance Lamer OR (Cliff Keen WC) dec Ramon Ramos AZ (Greco-Roman Development), 12-6

70 - Paniro Johnson PA (Cyclone RTC C-RTC) fall Jordan Williams OK (Cowboy RTC), 12-0 2:48

74 - Alex Facundo MI (Nittany Lion WC) dec Nicco Ruiz CA (California), 8-1

74 - Zeb Gnida IA (Dubuque WC) dec Kamdyn Munro GA (Georgia), 19-13

74 - Vincent Zerban IL (Northern Colorado WC) dec Derek Fields NC (Wolfpack WC), 15-12

74 - Jack Thomsen IA (Jackrabbit WC) dec Stoney Buell MI (Boilermaker RTC), 6-6

79 - Elise Brown ton TX (Nebraska Wrestling Training Center) tech Aaron Ayzerov NJ (New York City RTC), 11-0 3:54

79 - Luca Augustine PA (Pittsburgh WC) dec Logan Messer OH (George Mason), 9-0

79 - Daniel Wask NJ (New Jersey) fall Mikey Squires NY (Princeton WC), 12-3 3:55

79 - Rocco Welsh PA (Young Guns WC) tech Jack Mcgill PA (New York City RTC), 10-0 4:46

86 - Brian Soldano NJ (Skwc-rtc) tech Bennett Berge MN (Pinnacle WC), 12-2 3:28

86 - Brock Del signore NC (Wolfpack WC) dec Deanthony Parker IL (Illinois), 16-8

86 - Tate Picklo OK (Oklahoma RTC) tech Gabe Sollars IN (Maurer Coughlin WC), 10-0 2:55

86 - Samuel Fisher VA (Southeast RTC, Inc) tech Samuel Skillings WI (Gopher WC - RTC), 10-0 3:37

92 - Silas Allred IN (Nebraska Wrestling Training Center) tech Jack Darrah MO (Xtreme Training), 10-0 2:00

92 - Jaxon Smith GA (Dmv Rtc) tech Parker Venz MN (Pinnacle WC), 11-0 1:21

92 - Caden Rogers PA (Diplomat WC) dec Kolby Franklin PA (Pennsylvania), 11-6

92 - Martin Cosgrove NJ (New Jersey) tech Hayden Filipovich IN (Boilermaker RTC), 10-0 1:54

97 - Noah Pettigrew GA (The Storm Wrestling Center) tech Nathan Wemstrom IL (Izzy Style Wrestling), 11-0 2:49

97 - Nathan Glass (Silver State Wrestling Academy) fall Jordan Williams (Wasatch WC), 8-0 0:47

97 - Ben Kueter (Sebolt Wrestling Academy) tech Dzhabrail Khurshidov (Illinois), 10-0 1:41

97 - Braden Baumgartner (Colorado Mesa WC) dec Colten Hink (Tiger WC), 17-11

125 - Ryan Boersma (Tiger Style WC) tech Chase Horne (The Storm Wrestling Center), 11-1 4:08

125 - Hunter Catka (Southeast RTC, Inc) dec John Wiese (Oklahoma RTC), 6-0

125- Nicholas Feldman (Ohio RTC) tech Aden Attao (Suples WC), 10-0 1:16

125 - Juan Mora (California) dec Hayden Copass (Boilermaker RTC), 3-1