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U17 World medalists Castillo, Ryder lead strong U.S. men’s freestyle team at U17 Worlds in Istanbul, Turkey
by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling
Christian Castillo (USA) competition portrait from 2022 U17 World Championships. Photo by Kadir Caliskan, United World Wrestling
Led by a pair of 2022 U17 World medalists, and a lineup loaded with the nation’s top high school talents, the United States has high expectations for a strong performance in men's freestyle at the U17 World Championships in Istanbul next week.
The men’s freestyle competition is set for August 4-6 at the Başakşehir Gençlik ve Spor İlçe Müdürlüğü Tesisleri in Istanbul. This team features the champions at each weight class from the 2023 U17 Nationals Championships in Las Vegas, Nev. in late April.
Leading the USA effort will be 2022 U17 World silver medalist Christian Castillo of Arizona at 51 kg and 2022 U17 World bronze medalist Zack Ryder of New York at 80 kg.
In addition to his silver medal in freestyle at the 2022 U17 Worlds, Castillo also placed eighth in Greco-Roman at the U17 World Championships. He was also a 2022 Pan American U17 champion in both freestyle and Greco-Roman. Castillo is currently ranked No. 1 in the nation by FloWrestling at 113 pounds.
Ryder’s U17 World medal was his first major international achievement. He has won USA Wrestling national titles at the U16 and 17U levels. A three-time New York State champion, he won his first state title in eighth grade.
The U.S. team entry at 45 kg, Ignacio Villasenor of Colorado, was a 2021 Pan American U17 champion in both freestyle and Greco-Roman. He has won USA Wrestling national titles at the U15 and U17 levels in the past.
The rest of the USA U17 men’s freestyle team will be competing at their first major age-group international event, but all bring extensive resumes of domestic success in the international styles and U.S. folkstyle wrestling.
In addition to Castillo, two of the other 2023 U.S. U17 team members hold No. 1 rankings at the U.S. high school level from FloWrestling, Paul Kenny of New Jersey at 48 kg and Marcus Blaze of Ohio (55 kg).
Kenny blasted onto the national scene this year with his victory at the U17 Nationals. He has a number of achievements at the 14U level in USA Wrestling programs, but is just getting his high school career going this year. His FloWrestling No. 1 ranking is at 106 pounds.
Blaze is already a two-time Ohio high school state champion, and has won USA Wrestling national titles at the U17 and 16U levels. His FloWrestling No. 1 ranking is at 126 pounds.
Rounding out the men’s freestyle team are U17 Nationals champions Ben Davino of Illinois (60 kg), Brock Mantanona of California (65 kg), Ladarion Lockett of Oklahoma (71 kg), Aeoden Sinclair of Wisconsin (92 kg) and Sampson Stillwell of Missouri (110 kg).
Davino, a three-time Illinois state high school champion, has won USA Wrestling national titles at the U15, 16U and U17 levels.
Mantanona, a 2022 California state champion, has won 16U and U17 national freestyle titles. He becomes the third member of his family to make a U.S. age-group international team, as brother Anthony competed in the 2018 Pan American U20 Championships, and brother Beau was on the 2021 U17 World Team.
Lockett, a two-time Oklahoma state champion, has claimed USA Wrestling national titles at the U15, 16U and U17 levels.
Sinclair, a two-time Wisconsin state champion, has won USA Wrestling national titles at the U15, 16U and U17 levels.
Stillwell, who has won two Missouri state high school titles, was a U17 Nationals freestyle champion in 2023 and a 16U Nationals Greco-Roman champion in 2022.
U17 Men’s Freestyle World Team biographies
The United States is the reigning U17 World freestyle team champion in men’s freestyle, having won nine medals at the 2023 U17 Worlds in Rome, Italy. It was the first U.S. U17 World title in men’s freestyle for Team USA. The USA had gold medals from Domenic Munaretto (45 kg), Luke Lilledahl (51 kg), Joseph Sealy (71 kg) and Koy Hopke (110 kg), added silver medals from Christian Castillo (48 kg), Jax Forrest (55 kg) and Tyler Kasak (65 kg) and bronze medals from Zack Ryder (80 kg) and Max McEnelly (92 kg).
The event will be broadcast live by FloWrestling.
Istanbul is seven hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time zone.
2023 U17 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Istanbul, Turkey
U.S. Men’s Freestyle roster
45 kg: Ignacio Villasenor, Longmont, Colorado (Pomona Elite WC)
48 kg: Paul Kenny, Bayville, New Jersey
51 kg: Christian Castillo, Glendale, Arizona (Thorobred WC)
55 kg: Marcus Blaze, Perrysburg, Ohio (Perrysburg WC)
60 kg: Ben Davino, South Elgin, Illinois (St. Charles WC)
65 kg: Brock Mantanona, Bermuda Dunes, California (Coachella Valley WC)
71 kg: Ladarion Lockett, Stillwater, Oklahoma (Cowboy WC)
80 kg: Zack Ryder, Westtown, New York (M2 Training Center)
92 kg: Aeoden Sinclair, Edgerton, Wisconsin (Askren Wrestling Academy)
110 kg: Sampson Stillwell, Centerview, Missouri (Kobra Kai Training)
National Freestyle Developmental Coach: James Green, Colorado Springs, Colorado
Coach: Jan Franklin Rosenberg, Tiffin, Iowa
Coach: Deron Winn, Gilroy, California
Personal Coach: Zoheir El Ouarraque, Stillwater, Oklahoma
Personal Coach: Ben Askren, Wauwatosa, Wisconsin
Personal Coach: Ray Kenny, Bayville, New Jersey
Personal Coach: Jason Potter, St. Charles, Missouri
Personal Coach: Matt Infranca, Blue Springs, Missouri
Personal Coach: Beau Mantanona, Bermuda Dunes, California
Athletic Trainer - Jon Duplessis, Wilmington, North Carolina
Doctor - Ryan Hadden, Warren, Rhode Island
Danny Blackshear, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma
Cody Hesser, Gonzales, Louisiana
William Harper, Drexel, Missouri
USA Wrestling Executive Director - Richard Bender, Colorado Springs, Colo.
Team Leader - Kelli Shuffler, Stillwater, Oklahoma
Team Leader - Tim Manning, Eden Prairie, Minnesota
NF Delegate - Darryl Colbert, Bowie, Maryland
NF Media - Gary Abbott, Colorado Springs, Colo.
U17 World Championships Schedule
(local time in Istanbul, 7 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time zone)
Monday, July 31
11:00 a.m. – Qualification Rounds (GR 48-55-65-80-110 kg)
5:15 p.m. – Opening Ceremonies
6:00 p.m. – Semifinals (GR 48-55-65-80-110 kg)
Tuesday, August 1
11:00 a.m. – Qualification Rounds (GR 45-51-60-71-92 kg), Repechage (GR 48-55-65-80-110 kg)
5:00 p.m. - Semifinals (GR 45-51-60-71-92 kg)
6:00 p.m. – Championship Finals (GR 48-55-65-80-110 kg)
Wednesday, August 2
11:00 a.m. – Qualification Rounds (WFS 43-49-57-65-73 kg), Repechage (GR 45-51-60-71-92 kg)
5:00 p.m. – Semifinals (WFS 43-49-57-65-73 kg)
6:00 p.m. – Championship Finals (GR 45-51-60-71-92 kg)
Thursday, August 3
11:00 a.m. – Qualification Rounds (WFS 40-46-53-61-69 kg), Repechage (WFS 43-49-57-65-73 kg)
5:00 p.m. – Semifinals (WFS 40-46-53-61-69 kg)
6:00 p.m. – Championship Finals (WFS 43-49-57-65-73 kg)
Friday, August 4
11:00 a.m. – Qualification Rounds (MFS 48-55-65-80-110 kg), Repechage (WFS 40-46-53-61-69 kg)
5:00 p.m. – Semifinals (MFS 48-55-65-80-110 kg)
6:00 p.m. – Championship Finals (WFS 40-46-53-61-69 kg)
Saturday, August 5
11:00 a.m. – Qualification Rounds (MFS 45-51-60-71-92 kg), Repechage (MFS 48-55-65-80-110 kg)
5:00 p.m. – Semifinals (MFS 45-51-60-71-92 kg)
6:00 p.m. – Championship Finals (MFS 48-55-65-80-110 kg)
Sunday, August 6
4:30 p.m. – Repechage (MFS 45-51-60-71-92 kg)
6:00 p.m. – Championship Finals (MFS 45-51-60-71-92 kg)