World Team Trials Challenge Men’s Freestyle Preview: Gwiazdowski, Moore, DeSanto are leading contenders for Final X berths
by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling
Photo: Two-time World medalist Nick Gwiazdowski is the top seed at 125 kg. (Photo: Tony Rotundo/wrestlersarewarriors.com)
The three remaining Final X slots in men’s freestyle will be decided this weekend at the 2023 Senior World Team Trials Challenge Tournament being held at Discovery Canyon High School in Colorado Springs, Colo.
Seven defending World medalists and 10 U.S. Open champions have solidified places at Final X, leaving three vacancies in the men’s freestyle lineup for Newark, which will be filled by World Team Trials Challenge Tournament champions. Final X will be held on June 10 at Prudential Center and will determine who represents the U.S. at the 2023 World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, this September.
Weight classes being contested in men’s freestyle this weekend are 61 kg, 92 kg and 125 kg. In addition to a Final X berth, champions guarantee themselves at least the No. 2 position on the 2023-24 U.S. Senior National Team.
In total, there are 22 elite men’s freestyle athletes registered to compete as of May 16. Weight class seeding has been finalized for this event with every entrant assigned a seed. Registration will remain open through Friday, May 19, meaning the possibility exists for additional wrestlers to enter the field.
Top seeds for the event include two-time World medalist Nick Gwiazdowski at 125 kg, U20 and U23 World medalist Kollin Moore at 92 kg and U.S. Open runner-up Austin DeSanto at 61 kg. All three No. 1 seeds finished in second place at the 2023 Pritchard Companies U.S. Open Championships, presented by FloWrestling, held in Las Vegas last month.
The men’s freestyle tournament will run alongside the women’s freestyle competition this Sunday, May 21. Action will begin at 10 a.m. (MT) with finals scheduled for 4:30 p.m. (MT).
Single day and all session ticket options are available to purchase online through the USA Wrestling. Those unable to attend the event can stream every match from Colorado Springs live on FloWrestling.com.
The updated men’s freestyle entry list, weight class seeds, bracket breakdowns, important links to bookmark and tournament schedule for the Senior World Team Trials Challenge Tournament can be found below.
2023 Senior World Team Trials Challenge Tournament
At Discovery Canyon High School, Colorado Springs, Colo., May 20-21
Men’s freestyle 61 kg preview
Qualified for Final X: Vitali Arujau, U.S. Open champion
2023 U.S. Open placements: 1st – Vitali Arujau; 2nd – Austin DeSanto; 3rd – Nahshon Garrett; 4th – Nathan Tomasello; 5th – Joe Colon; 6th – Seth Gross; 7th – Aden Valencia; 8th – Daniel Deshazer
Seeds (seven entries)
1. Austin DeSanto, Hawkeye WC/Titan Mercury WC
2. Seth Gross, Sunkist Kids WC
3. Daton Fix, Titan Mercury WC
4. Nahshon Garrett, Lehigh Valley WC/Titan Mercury WC
5. Nathan Tomasello, Cliff Keen WC/Titan Mercury WC
6. Joe Colon, Titan Mercury WC
7. Aden Valencia, California RTC/Titan Mercury WC
This weight class features a dynamic set of competitors boasting a wide range of wrestling styles. DeSanto grasped the top seed with his runner-up performance at the U.S. Open where he earned a head-to-head win over reigning U.S. World Team member and No. 2 seed Seth Gross.
Two Senior World medalists and a Final X champion are situated in the middle of the seeding pack. 2021 World silver medalist Daton Fix returns to the fold as the No. 3 seed after skipping the U.S. Open following his college campaign with Oklahoma State. Fix was runner-up to Gross at Final X one year ago. 2018 World bronze medalist Joe Colon and 2018 Final X champion Nahshon Garrett are both seasoned competitors who could make a run.
Two-time U.S. National Team member and NCAA champion for Ohio State Nathan Tomasello and high school sensation Aden Valencia complete the field.
The top half of the bracket will feature DeSanto, Garrett and Tomasello, while the bottom side touts Gross, Fix, Colon and Valencia.
Men’s freestyle 92 kg preview
Qualified for Final X: Michael Macchiavello, U.S. Open champion
2023 U.S. Open placements: 1st – Michael Macchiavello; 2nd – Kollin Moore; 3rd – Nathan Jackson; 4th –Eric Schultz; 5th – Jonathan Aiello; 6th – Morgan McIntosh; 7th – Jacob Cardenas; 8th – John Gunderson
Seeds (eight entries)
1. Kollin Moore, Ohio RTC/Titan Mercury WC
2. Nathan Jackson, New York AC
3. Zahid Valencia, Sunkist Kids WC
4. Eric Schultz, Nebraska WTC
5. Jonathan Aiello, Cavalier WC/Titan Mercury WC
6. Morgan McIntosh, Army WCAP/Nittany Lion WC
7. Tanner Sloan, Jackrabbit WC
8. Samuel Mitchell, Bulls WC
As it was during last month’s U.S. Open, the 92 kg bracket is filled to the brim with top talent. Moore is a consistent performer with two age-group World medals to his name, plus two international gold medals on the Senior level in 2023.
A pair of Pan American champions, Nathan Jackson and Zahid Valencia, are primed to give Moore his toughest test. Jackson came in third place at the U.S. Open, only falling to eventual champion Michael Macchiavello. He owns a win over two-time World champion J’den Cox from 2022 Final X. Valencia has bumped up from 86 kg, where he was runner-up in Las Vegas, for a last attempt at returning to Final X for the third time. Valencia was a U20 World silver medalist in 2017 and a three-time NCAA champion for Arizona State.
2022 U23 World silver medalist and recent NCAA finalist for South Dakota State Tanner Sloan, 2021 U23 World bronze medalist Jonathan Aiello, Bill Farrell Memorial International champion Eric Schultz, three-time NCAA All-American for Penn State Morgan McIntosh and Samuel Mitchell round out the field.
Moore, Schultz, Aiello and Mitchell comprise the top half of the bracket. Jackson, Valencia, McIntosh and Sloan will battle it out on the bottom side.
Men’s freestyle 125 kg preview
Qualified for Final X: Gable Steveson, U.S. Open champion
2023 U.S. Open placements: 1st – Gable Steveson; 2nd – Nick Gwiazdowski; 3rd – Mason Parris; 4th – Wyatt Hendrickson; 5th – Dominique Bradley; 6th – Demetrius Thomas; 7th – Ty Walz; 8th – Christian Lance
Seeds (seven entries)
1. Nick Gwiazdowski, Spartan Combat RTC/Titan Mercury WC
2. Mason Parris, Cliff Keen WC/Titan Mercury WC
3. Wyatt Hendrickson, Air Force RTC
4. Dominique Bradley, Sunkist Kids WC
5. Ty Walz, Southeast RTC/Titan Mercury WC
6. Demetrius Thomas, Pittsburgh WC/New York AC
7. Anthony Cassioppi, Hawkeye WC
In addition to the favorite Gwiazdowski, the heavyweight field features three athletes who have won a gold medal at an age-group World Championship. Reigning NCAA champion for Michigan and Dan Hodge Trophy winner Mason Parris was a U20 World champion in 2019. Stalwart Dominique Bradley, who just iced his third Pan-American Championships crown, was a U20 World champion in 2009. Four-time NCAA All-American for Iowa Anthony Cassioppi is a two-time medalist at the U23 Worlds, earning gold in 2021.
Wyatt Hendrickson, Ty Walz and Demetrius Thomas round out the 125 kg field. Hendrickson finished in fifth place at the 2021 U20 World Championships and was a third-place finisher at the NCAAs for Air Force last season. Walz earned a bronze medal at the U23 World Championships and has medaled in numerous international tournaments on the Senior level.
The seeding shakes out with the old guard of Gwiazdowski, Bradley, and Walz sitting in the top half of the bracket and the emerging contenders of Parris, Hendrickson, Thomas and Cassioppi filling in the bottom half of the bracket.
Follow the action
Live stream: FloWrestling
Tickets: USA Wrestling
Saturday, May 20
10 a.m. – Greco-Roman (Prelims, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Consolations)
3 p.m. – Greco-Roman (Consolation Semifinals)
4:30 p.m. – Greco-Roman (Finals, Third Place)
Sunday, May 21
10 a.m. – Women’s and Men’s Freestyle (Prelims, Quarterfinals, Semifinals, Consolations)
3 p.m. – Women’s and Men’s Freestyle (Consolation Semifinals)
4:30 p.m. – Women’s and Men’s Freestyle (Finals, Third Place)