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Championship matches set for UWW U20 Freestyle Nationals in Las Vegas

by Charles Klepps, Special to

Photo of Paniro Johnson taking down his opponent in his semifinal bouts. Photo by Robbert Wijtman

SOUTH POINT ARENA, Nev.– After a long day of wrestling, 20 athletes are one step closer to placing themselves in the best-of-three series at the U20 World Team Trials. The U20 Freestyle Nationals championship matches will take place tomorrow afternoon. 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. 

Friday's semifinals contained a combination of current college wrestlers, with some high schoolers who have already made their collegiate commitment. It all added up to an intense round with a lot at stake. 

At 57 kg, future Wyoming Cowboy Jore Volk was forced to withdraw from the semifinals with an injury. With his absence, Ohio State freshman Andre Gonzales punches his ticket to tomorrow’s championship bout. He will be met by University of Minnesota commit Troy Spratley for the top spot at the lightest weight class. Spratley was leading 3-1 at intermission in his semifinal and stayed solid to earn the 3-2 victory. 

In the semifinals at 61 kg, Ohio State commit Nic Bouzakis jumped out to an early lead over future Virginia Cavalier Garrett Grice. The match was 4-0 in Bouzakis’ favor at the break, but Grice put together some good offense in the second period, notching three takedowns. His comeback attempt wound up falling just short as Bouzakis claimed the victory 7-6. 

Bouzakis’ opponent will be Bucknell freshman Dylan Chappell who began his semifinal bout with a huge four point head pinch followed by a turn to lead 6-0 at the break. His lead was up to 8-0 before Grigor Cholakyan of Sunkist Kids/Monster Garage got on a roll, scoring seven straight points. Chappell held onto the win by getting a takedown late to win 10-7, setting up the title match at 61 kg. 

In the 65 kg division, Cornell University’s Vince Cornella punched his ticket to the finals with a comeback win over current Minnesota Gopher Tagen Jamison. Jamison led 3-1 before a big four point move from Cornella made it 5-3 Cornella. He would add a takedown to ice the victory 7-3. His opponent will be future Arizona State Sun Devil Kaleb Larkin, who controlled his semifinal bout from start to finish with a 4-1 decision. 

In one of the most entertaining semifinal matches of the evening, current Iowa State Cyclone Paniro Johnson battled with Stanford commit Hunter Garvin at 70 kg. Johnson got the first takedown on an explosive shot, but it was Garvin who held a 9-2 lead late in the match. Johnson mounted a comeback scoring off of a four point move, a failed challenge from Garvin’s corner, and a late takedown to knot the score up at 9 apiece. He would end up winning 9-9 on criteria. 

Future California Baptist wrestler Mitchell Mesenbrink dominated his bout in the semis earning a tech fall in just 38 seconds. He scored an early takedown and transitioned to a leg lace to go up 6-0. Mesenbrink then finished it off with a four point move to place himself in the finals alongside Johnson. 

At 74 kg, Penn State’s Alex Facundo has been on a mission all day as he teched South Dakota State’s Jack Thomsen in the semis this evening. He has given up only five points all weekend and has five technical falls and one decision

Facundo’s finals opponent put together a fantastic comeback in his bout to secure his spot in the Championship. Northern Colorado’s Vincent Zerban found himself in an 8-3 deficit to Loras College’s Zeb Gnida about halfway through the second period. Zerban scored eight straight points to complete the comeback and win 11-8. 

Things looked glum for Pittsburgh wrestler Luca Augustine in his 79 kg semifinal bout with Nebraska’s Elise Brown Ton. Brown Ton took a 9-0 lead into the break, but Augustine kept chipping away. He scored an early takedown and push out in the second, followed by a four point move later on to tighten the match at 9-7. He would eventually knot the match up at 11 before earning the fall over Brown Ton, pulling off the incredible comeback. 

In the other semifinal at 79 kg, Daniel Wask of New Jersey put emphasis on his match by earning a fall over future Ohio State Buckeye Rocco Welsh of Young Guns WC. Wask trailed 3-2 early on, but wound up controlling the match to the fall.  

Future Virginia Tech Hokie Samuel Fisher impressed in his semifinal bout at 86 kg. He was losing 3-0 at the break to Oklahoma State’s Tate Picklo, before scoring eight straight in a decisive second period. He put together some great offense and kept the pace on his opponent to cement his place in the championship. 

The 86 kg finals will be a potential ACC preview as NC State’s Brock Del Signore won a tight 6-6 decision over current Rutgers wrestler Brian Soldano. Del Signore led 6-2 at the break and was able to keep the lead on criteria after Soldano tied up the score. 

University of Maryland’s Jaxon Smith kept his streak of technical falls entact by earning his third of the day. He got the better of Lehigh commit Caden Rogers and has placed himself in the 92 kg championship bout. 

Smith’s opponent in the finals has been equally dominant today, as he also earned a technical fall in the semifinals. Silas Allred, current Nebraska Cornhusker, took out Martin Cosgrove of New Jersey in the bout. Allred has a fall and two technical falls to set up the enticing championship match at 92 kg. 

Future Iowa Hawkeye Ben Kueter put on a dominant show in the 97 kg semifinals as he earned a quick technical fall over Nathan Glass of Silver State Wrestling Academy. Kueter is planning to wrestle and play football at the University of Iowa next year. He will take on North Carolina Tarheel commit Noah Pettigrew in tomorrow’s finals. Pettigrew received an injury default in the semifinals to earn his spot in the 97 kg championship. 

In the final weight class, University of Missouri’s Ryan Boersma fell into an early hole when Virginia Tech’s Hunter Catka hit an impressive four point move to begin the bout. Boersoma would end up scoring eight straight to place himself in the championship bout at 125 kg with a 8-4 decision. He will be paired with Ohio State commit Nicholas Feldman, who won a tight 2-1 decision in the other semifinal. 

The UWW U20 freestyle consolations will continue tomorrow morning at 10 a.m., but the finals and the rest of the placing matches will start tomorrow at 6 p.m. You can catch all the wrestling in action on FloWrestling.

UWW U20 Freestyle National Championship

At Las Vegas, Nev. April 29, 2022

Championship Pairings

57 - Andre Gonzalez (CA) vs Troy Spratley (Texas Pride WC)

61 - Dylan Chappell (Buffalo Valley RTC) vs Nic Bouzakis (PA)

65 - Vince Cornella (Spartan Combat RTC) vs Kaleb Larkin (AZ)

70 -  Paniro Johnson (Cyclone RTC C-RTC) vs Mitchell Mesenbrink (Askren Wrestling Academy)

74 - Alex Facundo (NLWC) vs Vincent Zerban (Northern Colorado WC)

79 - Luca Augustine (Pittsburgh WC) vs Daniel Wask (NJ)

86 - Samuel Fisher (Southeast RTC) - Brock Del Signore (Wolfpack WC)

92 - Jaxon Smith (DMV RTC) vs Silas Allred (Nebraska Wrestling Training Center)

97 - Noah Pettigrew (The Storm Wrestling Center) vs Ben Kueter (Sebolt Wrestling Academy)

125 - Ryan Boersma (Tiger Style WC) vs Nicholas Feldman (Ohio RTC)

Semifinal Results 


57 - Andre Gonzales CA (California) injury default Jore Volk MN (Pinnacle Wrestling Club)

57 - Troy Spratley TX (Texas Pride Wrestling Club) dec Cooper Flynn TN (Southeast Regional Training Center, Inc), 3-2

61 - Dylan Chappell PA (Buffalo Valley Regional Training Center) dec Grigor Cholakyan CA (Sunkist Kids/Monster Garage), 10-7

61 - Nic Bouzakis PA (Pennsylvania) dec Garrett Grice NE (MWC Wrestling Academy), 7-6

65 - Vince Cornella CO (Spartan Combat RTC) dec Tagen Jamison TX (Texas Pride Wrestling Club), 7-3

65 - Kaleb Larkin AZ (Arizona) dec Dylan Gilcher MI (Michigan), 4-1

70 - Paniro Johnson PA (Cyclone Regional Training Center C-RTC) dec Hunter Garvin IA (Big Game Wrestling Club), 9-9

70 - Mitchell Mesenbrink WI (Askren Wrestling Academy) tech Chance Lamer OR (Cliff Keen Wrestling Club), 10-0 0:38

74 - Alex Facundo MI (Nittany Lion Wrestling Club) tech Jack Thomsen IA (Jackrabbit Wrestling Club), 11-0 5:36

74 - Vincent Zerban IL (Northern Colorado Wrestling Club) dec Zeb Gnida IA (Dubuque Wrestling Club), 11-8

79 - Luca Augustine PA (Pittsburgh Wrestling Club) fall Elise Brown ton TX (Nebraska Wrestling Training Center), 15-11 5:53

79 - Daniel Wask NJ (New Jersey) dec Rocco Welsh PA (Young Guns Wrestling Club), 9-7

86 - Samuel Fisher VA (Southeast Regional Training Center, Inc) dec Tate Picklo OK (Oklahoma Regional Training Center), 8-3

86 - Brock Del signore NC (Wolfpack Wrestling Club) dec Brian Soldano NJ (Skwc-rtc), 6-6

92 - Jaxon Smith GA (Dmv Rtc) tech Caden Rogers PA (Diplomat Wrestling Club), 11-1 1:38

92 - Silas Allred IN (Nebraska Wrestling Training Center) tech Martin Cosgrove NJ (New Jersey), 12-2 5:37

97 - Noah Pettigrew GA (The Storm Wrestling Center) injury default Braden Baumgartner CO (Colorado Mesa Wrestling Club)

97 - Ben Kueter IA (Sebolt Wrestling Academy) tech Nathan Glass NV (Silver State Wrestling Academy), 10-0 0:54

125 - Ryan Boersma IL (Tiger Style Wrestling Club) dec Hunter Catka PA (Southeast Regional Training Center, Inc), 8-4

125 - Nicholas Feldman PA (Ohio Regional Training Center) dec Juan Mora CA (California), 2-1