Dante Rodriguez finishes runner-up at Junior Greco-Roman Nationals

Today, Iowa State true freshman Dante Rodriguez made his bid to repeat on the USA Junior Greco-Roman team as he rolled through the UWW Junior National Greco-Roman tournament at 66 kg, demolishing his way to the finals.

Last year Rodriguez took third at the Junior National tournament, but came back and won the 60 kg bracket in Madison, Wisconsin at the Junior World Team Trials. The World tournament didn’t go as Rodriguez hoped as he was eliminated early, and today was his chance to get some closure by making it back to the World tournament. This year was different as USA Wrestling opted to make the Junior National tournament the qualifier for the Junior World Team in Greco-Roman. The weight bump didn’t seem to phase him, as he opened with three straight first period falls to reach the finals. He started off with a 1:32 fall over Ali Khan, followed by a 1:18 fall over Dani Fischer. In the semifinals you would expect Dante to need more time, but he put Jamal DeArmond away in a mere 48 seconds.

All of that set up a best of three finals against another young Greco-Roman star in Hayden Tuma (formerly of Nebraska), who has made three different Greco World Teams. Tuma exploded to a 5-0 lead on Rodriguez in the first period, before putting away the Cyclone 10-0 in the first match. Their next match was several hours later, and with a Team spot on the line, Rodriguez needed to sweep the night session to make his way back to the World Team.

Rodriguez and Tuma wrestled a slow first period point-wise, with neither being able to score until late in the first period where Tuma went up 6-2. Tuma finished the job in the second period by winning 10-2 over Rodriguez, preventing the freshman from his redemption at the World tournament.

Rodriguez is coming off a solid season for Iowa State that saw him take the fan base by surprise when he opened his year by winning his first nine matches, and having nine of them come by fall. His success was so great head coach Kevin Jackson pulled his redshirt and put him in the lineup where he finished the year 19-10 record, and a Big 12 runner-up and NCAA qualifier. He will be back in action tomorrow for the freestyle portion of the Junior tournament.

Men 66 KG / 145.5 lbs – Dante Rodriguez’s place is 2nd and has scored 7.00 team points.
Champ. Round 1 – Dante Rodriguez (Iowa State) won by fall over Ali Khan (USOTS) (Fall 1:32)
Quarterfinal – Dante Rodriguez (Iowa State) won by fall over Dani Fischer (Ubasa Wrestling Academy) (Fall 1:18)
Semifinal – Dante Rodriguez (Iowa State) won by fall over Jamal DeArmond (USOTS) (Fall 0:48)

Final 2 out of 3 66 KG – Dante Rodriguez’s place is 2nd and has scored 0.00 team points.
Round 1 – Hayden Tuma (Suples Wrestling Club) won by tech fall over Dante Rodriguez (Iowa State) (TF 10-0)
Round 2 – Hayden Tuma (Suples Wrestling Club) won by tech fall over Dante Rodriguez (Iowa State) (TF 10-2)