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Mesenbrink, Berge, Bouzakis earn return trips to U20 Worlds in men’s freestyle

by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

2023 U20 U.S. Men's Freestyle World Team. Photo by Sam Janicki.

Photo: The 2023 U20 U.S. Men’s Freestyle World Team at the conclusion of today’s U20 World Team Trials. (Sam Janicki/

🎥 U20 World Team Trials Freestyle Champion Interviews

GENEVA, Ohio – The U20 U.S. World Team in men’s freestyle has been determined following a thrilling day of competition at Spire Academy just outside of Cleveland, Ohio, with three members of last year’s squad earning another crack at Worlds.

Returning U20 World silver medalists Mitchell Mesenbrink of Askren Wrestling Academy and Bennett Berge of Jackrabbit WC, plus two-time U20 World Team member Nic Bouzakis of X-Calibur Athletics WC, return to lead Team USA at the U20 World Championships in Warsaw, Poland, this August.

All three impressed in the best-of-three championship finals on Saturday evening. Mesenbrink tossed up a whopping 27 points across two lopsided wins in the 74 kg championship series against Iowa’s Hunter Garvin. Berge gave up the first takedown before reeling off 16-straight points to breeze past Brayden Thompson of Cowboy RTC in two bouts at 86 kg. Bouzakis looked the best of the bunch posting two 10-0 technical falls over four-time Oklahoma state champion Cael Hughes at 61 kg.

A pair of past U17 World champions, Meyer Shapiro of Spartan Combat RTC and Luke Lilledahl of X-Calibur Athletics WC, have moved up in class and have their sights set on another World gold.

It’s evident the Cornell training room is treating Shapiro well, as the 2021 U17 World champ cruised to a series sweep at 70 kg against Antrell Taylor of MWC Wrestling Academy. He didn’t surrender a point to Taylor in either match.

Down at 57 kg, Lilledahl had to grind out a pair of wins against Cowboy RTC’s Troy Spratley, who finished in second place at this event for the second-straight year. Both matches came down to the wire and both times Lilledahl found the answer he needed, winning by scores of 9-4 and 4-2. Lilledahl is a two-time U17 World medalist, finishing with silver in 2021 before topping the podium last year.

Perhaps the most anticipated championship series of the day came at 65 kg with 2022 U17 World silver medalist and U20 Nationals champion Tyler Kasak of M2 Training Center taking on two-time age-group World Team member Jesse Mendez of Titan Mercury WC. The first bout was decided by a single point, while the second was more concrete, both results favoring Mendez.

Bouzakis and Mendez are teammates at Ohio State University under head coach Tom Ryan. Mendez snagged the starting spot at 133 last year for the Buckeyes, earning NCAA All-America honors as a true freshman.

A pair of 2022 U20 World Team members on the Greco-Roman side did battle for the 125 kg U20 freestyle spot. Cowboy RTC’s Christian Carroll continued right where he left off at the U20 Nationals in Las Vegas, blitzing 2022 U20 World bronze medalist Aden Attao of Suples WC, 10-0 and 10-0. Attao made the U20 Greco-Roman World Team at 130 kg yesterday.

Additional champions include Matthew Singleton of Wolfpack WC at 79 kg, Jack Darrah of Missouri at 92 kg and Camden McDanel of Ohio at 97 kg. Singleton and Darrah were forced to go three matches in their fight to make the U20 World Team. McDanel won his series in straight matches.

The weekend of wrestling in Ohio concludes tomorrow with the remaining men’s freestyle rounds of the U23 Nationals. The tournament is slated to begin with the quarterfinals at 10 a.m. (ET) and will run through to completion.

All the action from Geneva, Ohio, can be viewed live on with a subscription. Brackets and complete results are available on FloArena.

2023 U20 World Team Trials
At Spire Academy, Geneva, Ohio, June 2-3

U20 Freestyle Finals Results
57 kg
Best-of-three championship series
Luke Lilledahl (X-Calibur Athletics WC) defeats Troy Spratley (Cowboy RTC), two matches to none
Bout 1 – Lilledahl dec. Spratley, 9-4
Bout 2 – Lilledahl dec. Spratley, 4-2

61 kg
Best-of-three championship series
Nic Bouzakis (X-Calibur Athletics WC) defeats Cael Hughes (Cowboy RTC), two matches to none
Bout 1 – Bouzakis tech. fall Hughes, 10-0
Bout 2 – Bouzakis tech. fall Hughes, 10-0

65 kg
Best-of-three championship series
Jesse Mendez (Titan Mercury WC) defeats Tyler Kasak (M2 Training Center), two matches to none
Bout 1 – Mendez dec. Kasak, 4-3
Bout 2 – Mendez dec. Kasak, 9-1

70 kg
Best-of-three championship series
Meyer Shapiro (Spartan Combat RTC) defeats Antrell Taylor (MWC Wrestling Academy), two matches to none
Bout 1 – Shapiro dec. Taylor, 8-0
Bout 2 – Shapiro tech. fall Taylor, 11-0

74 kg
Best-of-three championship series
Mitchell Mesenbrink (Askren Wrestling Academy) defeats Hunter Garvin (Iowa), two matches to none
Bout 1 – Mesenbrink dec. Garvin, 17-8
Bout 2 – Mesenbrink tech. fall Garvin, 10-0

79 kg
Best-of-three championship series
Matthew Singleton (Wolfpack WC) defeats Gabriel Arnold (Sebolt Wrestling Academy), two matches to one
Bout 1 – Singleton dec. Arnold, 6-1
Bout 2 – Arnold dec. Singleton, 2-2
Bout 3 – Singleton dec. Arnold, 5-4

86 kg
Best-of-three championship series
Bennett Berge (Jackrabbit WC) defeats Brayden Thompson (Cowboy RTC), two matches to none
Bout 1 – Berge dec. Thompson, 6-2
Bout 2 – Berge tech. fall Thompson, 10-0

92 kg
Best-of-three championship series
Jack Darrah (Missouri) defeats Stephen Little (Arkansas RTC), two matches to one
Bout 1 – Little dec. Darrah, 5-3
Bout 2 – Darrah dec. Little, 2-1
Bout 3 – Darrah dec. Little, 4-4

97 kg
Best-of-three championship series
Camden McDanel (Ohio) defeats Steven Burrell Jr (New York), two matches to none
Bout 1 – McDanel dec. Burrell, 11-6
Bout 2 – McDanel dec. Burrell, 8-2

125 kg
Best-of-three championship series
Christian Carroll (Cowboy RTC) defeats Aden Attao (Suples WC), two matches to none
Bout 1 – Carroll tech. fall Attao, 10-0
Bout 2 – Carroll tech. fall Attao, 10-0
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