U20 World Team Trials final series recap: four matches go to a tiebreaker
by Ellen Paddock, USA Wrestling
Nicholas Feldman with James Green after making the World Team. Photo by Sam Janicki
The nation’s top U20 Freestyle athletes traveled to Geneva, Ohio to decide who would represent Team USA at the World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria (August 15-21). After a long day of competition in the Challenge Tournament followed by a best-of-three series finals, the U20 World Team members were named with four matches going to a tiebreaker.
Best-of-three finals recap:
Jore Volk and Troy Sprately went the distance in the best-of-three series with Volk, a University of Wyoming commit, eventually earning the World Team spot. Volk won the first match 4-2, but Sprately tied the series with a 6-3 victory in the second meeting. The tiebreaker match was a scrap– the score was tied up after an exchange of two-point back exposures, however, Volk came out on top winning by criteria, 5-5.
Future Ohio State teammates, Nic Bouzakis and Jesse Mendez, left it all out on the mat during their World Team effort with three high-scoring matches. In the first round, Mendez recovered from a 6-point deficit after going on two big scoring sprees. In round two, Bouzakis and Mendez had a high-scoring match but Bouzakis’ double to a leg lace gave him the edge, winning 12-7. The deciding match was highlighted by a monster bodylock and three turns by Bouzakis to secure the technical fall over Mendez, 15-4 and the 61 kg Word Team spot. Mendez was on last year’s Freestyle Junior World Team and Bouzakis on the Greco-Roman Junior World Team.
Vince Cornella punched his ticket to the World Championships after defeating Carter Young of Oklahoma State. Young, the 2021 Junior Pan American champion, won match one 4-3, but Cornella, who will be a freshman at Cornell, came back to win two straight matches. In the second meeting, Cornella rebounded from Carter’s 8-1 lead with a trap arm gut wrench scoring series. Cornella controlled the tiebreaker match winning 4-1.
Cal Baptist commit Mitchell Mesenbrink topped Penn State signee Levi Haines in two straight matches. Mesenbrink won the first meeting on criteria, 2-2. Match two was more eventful, Mesenbrink scored with a wrist snap and things started to get chippy with the action heading into the scorers table. Mesenbrink, a Wisconsin native, came away with a 7-0 victory to take the World Team spot.
Two-time Cadet World Bronze medalist Alex Facundo took care of business tonight with two back-to-back first period technical falls, 10-0 and 12-0. Facundo, a rising sophomore at Penn State, is a four-time Michigan state champion and has now made his third age-level World Team. His opponent tonight was South Dakota State’s Jack Thomsen.
Oklahoma State commit Brayden Thompson was able to defeat Pittsburgh’s rising sophomore and U20 U.S. Open Champion, Luca Augustine, in two straight matches. Both meetings were low-scoring with pushouts being the main cause for points. Thompson won 3-1 in match one and 2-2 by criteria in match two and was named the World Team member at 79kg.
Five-time Minnesota state champion and South Dakota State commit Bennet Berge won the Challenge Tournament to meet Virginia Tech’s Samuel Fisher in the finals. Berge fell in match one 11-6, but had a whole new look in round two. Berge was off to a quick 4-0 lead and finished a takedown into a lace to further his lead 9-3. Berge got four more off of back exposure for the technical fall. In match three, Berge continued the momentum with another technical fall. It was a chest wrap from Berge that ended the match, 13-3.
Jaxon Smith of Maryland and Silas Allred of Nebraska got a rematch of the 2022 U.S. Open finals where Smith defeated Allred 12-1. Smith found success again in this matchup and earned the World Team spot. Allred and Smith were tied up in the first meeting before Smith hit a superduck to take the match 13-6. Smith solidified his World Team spot with a quick technical fall in the first period of the second match, 10-0.
The 97 kg champion, Ben Kueter, won in two clean sweeps over North Carolina commit Noah Pettigrew. Tonight's pairing was a rematch of the U.S. Open final where Kueter beat Pettigrew 4-3. Kueter is only a Junior at Iowa City High and is committed to wrestle and play football for Iowa.
U.S. Open champion Nicholas Feldman is the No.1 ranked heavyweight high school wrestler in the nation and is now a U20 World Team Member after defeating Virginia Tech’s NCAA qualifier, Hunter Catka, in two straight matches. Feldman knee-tapped Catka to his back for a pin in the first round and won by decision, 5-0 in the second. Feldman, another future buckeye, is predicted to be a force at the World Championships.
2022 U20 Freestyle World Team:
57 kg - Jore Volk (Pinnacle Wrestling Club)
61 kg - Nic Bouzakis (Pennsylvania)
65 kg - Vince Cornella (Spartan Combat RTC)
70 kg - Mitchell Mesenbrink (Askren Wrestling Academy)
74 kg - 1Alex Facundo (Nittany Lion Wrestling Club)
79 kg - Brayden Thompson (Illinois)
86 kg - Bennett Berge (Pinnacle Wrestling Club)
92 kg - Jaxon Smith (Dmv Rtc)
97 kg - Ben Kueter (Sebolt Wrestling Academy)
125 kg - Nicholas Feldman (Ohio Regional Training Center)
Sunday, June 5th
Session 3: Freestyle:
U23 (Men) FS Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Consolations, All Medal Matches, and Best 2 out of 3 Finals
10:00 AM to 3:30 PM
The action will be streamed live on FloWrestling
For more details on this event visit USA Wrestling Events