Colon, Dennis Among Qualifiers for Trials at U.S. Open

The consolation bracket wrapped up today in Las Vegas and several Iowans have clinched their automatic spot in this June’s World Team Trials.In order to qualify for the Trials, wrestlers must place in the top five of their weight at the U.S. Open, or win one of two regional tournaments.

Joe Colon led all Iowans at 57 kg, as he wrestled all the way back to fourth place after his semifinals loss to Tony Ramos. Colon bounced back with a 16-10 win over Hawkeye Matt McDonough to advance to the third place match, but former World Team member Nick Simmons stopped his momentum with a 10-0 tech fall in the third place to end Colon’s tournament.

McDonough rebounded from his quarterfinal loss with a 6-4 win over NCAA champion Nathan Tomasello. He then won 6-6 over Tyler Graff to setup a showdown with Colon. Last year at the Open it was McDonough who was victorious in the consolation semifinal, but Colon was able to get his revenge, and McDonough wound up fifth after Dan Mitcheff injury defaulted. That meant that McDonough and Colon grabbed the last two automatic qualifying spots at this weight.

Former Hawkeye NCAA runner-up Dan Dennis had a nice run to the semifinals where he lost to Reece Humphrey. Dennis was able to pin Jon Morrison in 4:02 which clinched a top four finish at 61 kg, and a spot at the World Team Trials in June. Former Olympic bronze medalist Coleman Scott had his way with Dennis in the consolation finals winning 11-1, leaving Dennis with a fourth place finish.

Derek St. John had a interesting route to his fifth place finish and automatic berth to World Team Trials at 70 kg. After losing 11-0 technical fall to Dustin Schlatter in the second round, St. John won two matches by technical fall, where he then ran into Jason Welch, who beat him at AGON V. The all-time series between the two wrestlers stands at 7-1 in favor of the Hawkeye, and St. John laid a smack down on Welch beating him 19-8 to eliminate him from placing. He went on to the sixth place match where he ran into 2014 U.S. Open runner-up Moza Fay, and won 11-6. With that win St. John assures himself a spot at the Trials, but Fay will need either a win at the Northern Plains tournament or a wild card to qualify.

No Iowa wrestler qualified at 74 kg, but performances of note include high school senior Anthony Valencia who lost his semifinal 7-4 to Andrew Howe. Valencia responded with back-to-back technical falls, including one over World ranked Tyler Caldwell, to finish third.

Both Deron Winn and Jon Reader qualified for the Trials at 86 kg as they took fourth and fifth respectively. Winn won by technical fall over former Panther All-American Ryan Loder and the lost to 2014 World Team member Ed Ruth in the third place match. Reader was a mirror of Winn, losing first to Ruth, but then posting a technical fall over Loder. With the sixth place finish Loder will also need either a Northern Plains title or wildcard to qualify for the Trials.

The final Iowan place-winner was former NAIA champion Eric Thompson, who took 7th at 125 kg. He too will need either a wildcard or Northern Plains title to qualify for Trials.

The finals will get underway tonight at 9:00 p.m. Iowa time, and will feature three Iowans. Tony Ramos will lead things off at 57 kg, and Brent Metcalf (65 kg) and Jake Varner (97 kg) will also be competing tonight. Finals can be viewed live on Universal Sports.

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