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Vote now on the 50th anniversary Junior Greco-Roman Nationals Fantasy Bracket; Help pick the best of the half-century

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

This summer will mark the 50th year that Greco-Roman has been contested at the USA Wrestling Junior National Championships, a major national high-school competition which has had a tremendous impact on the sport in our nation for a half-century.

The first USA Wrestling Junior Nationals was held in the Fieldhouse at the University of Iowa in 1971 and contested only in men’s freestyle. In 2021, USA Wrestling celebrated the 50th year of the Junior Nationals with a fantasy bracket for stars from the Junior Nationals based upon 50 years of freestyle achievements.

A Greco-Roman division was added to the Junior Nationals in 1972, and has been contested every year since. In 2020, the Junior Nationals in both styles was cancelled due to the pandemic. When you do the math, that means that 2022 is the 50th year that there has been Junior Nationals Greco-Roman competition.

Numerous past World and Olympic medalists have competed in this prestigious event in the Greco-Roman division.

To celebrate this legacy, an interactive 32-athlete bracket featuring the best Junior Nationals Greco-Roman competitors of the last 50 years has been created for fans to vote on

This year’s fantasy bracket will focus only on the achievements of the Junior Nationals athletes in Greco-Roman.

Fans will be able to vote on each round for three straight days, with the winners of each pairing announced the next day. There will be five rounds of voting. Here are the launch dates of each round of competition:

• Voting on the Round of 32 will begin on Thursday, June 23

• Voting on the Round of 16 will begin on Monday, June 27

• Voting on the Quarterfinals will begin on Friday, July 1

• Voting on the Semifinals will begin on Tuesday, July 5

• Voting on the Finals will begin on Saturday, July 9

USA Wrestling fans will be able cast their vote for each round by going to:
50th Junior Greco-Roman Nationals - Fantasy Bracket

When you click, you will see the bracket. To vote, click the “Cast Vote Now” button on the top of the bracket. You will be taken to a screen where you see each pairing and you can click a box to vote on the winner. You must enter your email to vote.

And now, let’s take a look at the 32 high school stars who were selected for this all-star bracket.

All 3,509 past Greco-Roman All-Americans were reviewed for consideration. Of this group, there were 533 past champions. Under consideration were the 171 two-time finalists, 24 three-time finalists and three four-time finalists. There have been 68 two-time champions and 13 three-time champions. There was only one wrestler who won the event four times.

Here are the Fantasy Bracket contestants in alphabetical order, with their state affiliation and the years they won Junior Greco-Roman national titles.

Leo Bailey, Oklahoma (1979, 1981)

Anthony Cassioppi, Illinois (2017, 2018)

Adam Coon, Michigan (2011, 2012, 2013)

Kenny Cox, Oregon (1994, 1995, 1996)

Matt Goldstein, Illinois (1993, 1994)

Dennis Hall, Wisconsin (1987, 1988, 1989)

Sean Hage, Georgia (1993, 1994, 1995)

Sam Henson, Missouri (1987, 1988)

T.J. Hill, Missouri (1995, 1996, 1997)

Bobby Janisse, Oregon (1989, 1990)

Cam Jones, Utah (1999, 2000, 2001)

David Kjeldgaard, Iowa (1994, 1995, 1996)

Dan Knight, Iowa (1984, 1986)

Steve Knight, Iowa (1981, 1982)

Taylor LaMont, Utah (2014, 2016)

Ridge Lovett, Idaho (2018, 2019)

Garrett Lowney, Wisconsin (1997, 1998)

Pat Lynch, New Jersey (1990, 1991)

Brent Metcalf, Michigan (2003, 2004, 2005)

Andre Metzger, Michigan (1976, 1977, 1978)

Mitchell McKee, Minnesota (2015, 2016)

Josh McLay, Minnesota (1999, 2000)

Matt Nagel, Minnesota (1999, 2000, 2001)

Brandon Paulson, Minnesota (1989, 1992)

Dave Powell, Illinois (1973, 1974)

Jason Powell, Oklahoma (1997, 1998, 1999)

Justin Ruiz, Utah (1997. 1998)

Kendrick Sanders, Florida (2007, 2008, 2009)

Cody Sanderson, Utah (1993, 1995)

Sam Shields-Colbray, Oregon (2014, 2016)

Khris Whelan, Illinois (1976, 1977, 1978)

Oscar Wood, Oregon (1991, 1992, 1993, 1994)

This also marks the 20th year that a women’s freestyle division has been a part of the Junior Nationals. Plans are for a similar fantasy bracket for these young stars on the 25th anniversary of their tournament.