This weekend all eyes will now turn to Madison, Wisconsin as they host the World Team Trials and this year all eight of the World Team spots are up for grabs. Last year, we saw Tony Ramos emerge seemingly out of thin air to become USA’s 57 kg representative. Iowa also got World Team members from Brent Metcalf at 65 kg and Jake Varner at 97 kg.
Fans wanting to watch this action can do so a few ways. The primary way (especially if you are on the go) would be to follow along here, on IAWrestle.com and on Twitter by following @IAWrestle, where we will be covering the event live.
Flowrestling will also be carrying the stream this weekend, so if you have a Flo Pro membership, you will be able to catch the action there on your computer screen.
I would also encourage you to listen along to Takedown Radio, which will be broadcasting live from Madison.
Iowa Wrestler outlook:
Tony Ramos – the wrestler mentioned in the opening Ramos has really taken the USA by storm, having not lost to a single American since entering the Senior division full-time. He will definitely be challenged at this weight, but I think we should still view Tony as the favorite to win this weight. His first U.S. Open title has earned him an automatic bye to the finals, which means that whoever he does end up facing could have three matches in from the day. I think Ramos will capitalize on being fresh and rely on what has made him great thus far: fantastic defense coupled with strong leg attacks.
If you are interested in Tony’s thoughts on the Trials, go ahead and read my interview with Ramos that was put up last week.
Joe Colon – the former UNI Panther should be the second highest seeded Iowan, and is potentially the biggest threat to Ramos repeating at 57 kg. Colon gave Tony one of the best matches in Las Vegas at the U.S. Open opening a 4-0 lead on Ramos. The two have a short history, though it appears to have escalated with only two meetings in the last two years. Colon is a guy that I think could handle the World Championships, I think he is on a similar level as Ramos Internationally. The biggest issue I could see is Colon having to grind through the challenge tournament prior to his potential third and fourth meeting with Ramos.
If you are interested in hearing Colon’s thoughts, check out Nic Ryder’s interview with Colon.
Matt McDonough – to me McDonough is a bit of a wildcard (though not the wildcard – read Escobedo for that bit) at this weight because despite his fifth place finish at the Open, honestly McDonough has the talent level to be the USA 57 kg at this weight. While he has never faced his teammate Ramos, he did defeat Colon at the 2014 U.S. Open, and Colon is regarded as the second best guy by many. McDonough was also a National Team member a year ago, and earned a medal at the University World Championships, so in reality, you probably can’t go wrong with him either.
McDonough was also kind enough to give us some time and you can read that interview as well.
Angel Escobedo – is the true wildcard at this weight, as USA selected him among the group of wrestlers who did not qualify for the Trials. It’s strange that just two years ago Escobedo was not only one of the best lightweights in the USA, he also took fifth in the World, and now he is sitting outside the top five USA rankings. One of the biggest reasons for that drop off is injuries. To me that means a healthy is a dangerous Escobedo, and getting him as your first opponent out of the gate means you are probably going to have a tough day, even in victory. Escobedo can play spoiler by taking out one of the major “contenders”, because his ranking doesn’t reflect his talent when he is healthy.
Rest of the Bracket: There are two other wrestlers that stand out at this weight, Nick Simmons being chief among them. Simmons is another former World Team member and sometimes he really looks like he still has “it”. The other is Andrew Hochstrasser, who practically no one pegged as a U.S. Open finalist, but he made it there anyway. Hochstrasser was twenty seconds away from being in the finals instead of Ramos, but has also been inconsistent in his career. We will see if the Open was just Hochstrasser capturing lightening in a bottle, or if he is perhaps taking a step forward.
Prediction: Tony Ramos over Matt McDonough
Iowa Wrestler Outlook
Daniel Dennis – the former Hawkeye secured his place at the World Team Trial by placing fourth at the US Open, reaching the quarterfinals before he fell 10-0 to Reece Humphrey. The two-time All-American has recently been working out for the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, helping to coach and train the other men as well as competing at the open. His fourth place finish was a bit of a surprise, but he’ll look to capitalize on a field that largely doesn’t know him. Fellow HWC member Tony Ramos gave Dennis a lot of credit with helping him get ready to wrestle against a similar style of the top 57 kilo guys, and hopefully Dennis can convert that into wins for himself at the Trials.
Joey Lazor – Lazor is the second of the two Panther Wrestling Club members making a run at the World Team. Lazor secured his spot in the Trials by winning the Northeast Regional, where his 3-0 record included two tech falls and a win by pinfall. The former Panther also wrestled at the US Open, where he went a disappointing 1-2. Lazor has been largely untested against the field in the Trials with the exception of going up against Coleman Scott in the opening round of the Open, a match which Lazor lost 16-9 after some crazy scrambles. Lazor’s funky style has translated a bit to the freestyle game, and that could work to his advantage going into the Trials, especially since most of the field hasn’t seen him yet.
The Rest of The Field:
Reece Humphrey awaits the winner of the challenge tournament at 61 kg’s. Humphrey pretty much dominated his way to the finals of the US Open, beating each opponent by tech fall. By far his closest match of the day was the final, a 7-6 decision he won over Kendric Maple. Humphrey is a two-time World Team member. Coleman Scott – who beat Lazor in the opening round and Dennis in the 3rd place match – took third at the open after dropping a decision in the quarterfinals to the ex-Missouri wrestler Alan Waters. Scott won the Bronze Medal at the 2012 Olympics.
Prediction: Coleman Scott over Reece Humphrey
Iowa Wrestler outlook:
Brent Metcalf – Metcalf has continued to dominate this weight class in the United States and he’ll be waiting in the finals for Frank Molinaro, Jordan Oliver, Kellen Russell or Logan Stieber. All four of these guys have what it takes to be in the finals against Metcalf. All signs point to Jordan Oliver leading the charge to the finals and that is good news for Iowa fans because he is 4-0 in his last four meetings against Oliver. At this level a wrestler is never safe to make a world team and Brent has done it three other times so experience should play out this weekend. Brent’s defense continues to improve and opponents know what his go to move is but will they be able to stop it?
Rest of the Bracket: Again all signs point to Jordan Oliver on paper coming out of the challenge tournament but fans should not sleep on Molinaro, Russell or Stieber. Metcalf escaped a tough battle with Molinaro last year and we can guarantee Molinaro will be well coached and in shape for this tournament. Still it is hard to believe Logan Stieber a four-time NCAA DI National Champion could be the lowest man on the totem pole in this group but it just goes to show how deep this weight class is for the United States.
Prediction: Brent Metcalf over Jordan Oliver
Iowa Wrestler Outlook
Derek St. John – St. John won the last guaranteed spot from the US Open by defeating Moza Fay for fifth place. The current North Dakota State assistant hasn’t seen a lot of freestyle action, his only other post-collegiate Freestyle tournament came last year at the University Nationals, where he did not place. The Iowa National Champion stumbled in the second round of the Open, dropping a match to Dustin Schlatter by tech fall. Schlatter would eventually place second. St. John battled all the way back to the consolation semifinals, picking up two tech falls on the way, where he lost to Kevin LeValley 13-9. He would go on and beat Fay in the fifth place match 11-6. Similar to some other wrestlers we’ve previewed, St. John doesn’t have a whole lot of freestyle experience against the other wrestlers at 70 kgs. St. John has obviously seen James Green, but has yet to face him in freestyle. At the US Open St. John also improved from the last time we saw him wrestle a freestyle match – at Agon V against Jason Welch. Welch won for the first time against the Hawkeye, and St. John won the rematch by tech fall 19-8. I don’t really know what to expect
Moza Fay – the Army WCAP member is the only wrestler from the state of Iowa to receive a wildcard bid to the World Team Trials. Moza Fay certainly had a disappointing US Open compared to 2014 when he placed second. He moved to the quarterfinals of the open, dropping a close 6-4 decision to eventual champion Nick Marable. The former Panther All-American fell to Derek St. John in the fifth place match, putting him just out of reach of a guaranteed spot. He opted not to wrestle in the Northern Plains tournament, a move that allowed Adam Hall from North Carolina to secure his spot in the Trials. Fay is extremely familiar with the group wrestling in Madison, and can beat anybody in the field. If he doesn’t get out of position, and then finds ways to score, he’ll be right there with the top men.
The Rest of the Field:
This is one of toughest weights at the World Team Trials. The second place finisher at the US Open – Dustin Schlatter – was a World Team member in 2009. James Green, third at the US Open, was a four-time All-American for Nebraska and placed third at the NCAA tournament twice, and was the runner-up at last year’s World Team Trials. Fourth at the US Open was Kevin LeValley, who has placed in all eight tournaments he’s wrestled in since the 2013 US Open. And none of that includes the US Open Champion Nick Marable. He was the World Team representative last year, and he also won the Dave Schultz Memorial this year. If Green can get his offense going a bit more I’d be tempted to go with him against Marable in the final, but I think Schlatter holds him off and gets to the top of the challenge bracket.
Prediction: Nick Marable over Dustin Schlatter.
Iowa Wrestler outlook:
Rest of the Bracket:
Quite possibly the most anticipated weight class of this year’s trials, simply due to the depth of elite wrestlers at the weight. The top four wrestlers combine for 9 NCAA Championships, four Hodge trophies, three World medals and one Olympic Gold….do I need to continue? My biggest question mark here is Kyle Dake’s health as he’s battled injuries the past two years, most recently a shoulder injury. I expect to see David Taylor, Kyle Dake, Andrew Howe and Anthony Valencia in the mini tournament semifinals. If winning this mini tournament wasn’t enough, the winner then has to beat World and Olympic Champion Jordan Burroughs …twice. I think David Taylor could pull off an upset by taking a match from Burroughs, but not after a long day of battling through the mini tournament.
Prediction: Jordan Burroughs over David Taylor
Iowa Wrestler outlook:
Deron Winn- Winn comes in off a 4th place finish at the U.S. Open qualifying him for the . Winn looked terrific at the open with big wins over 2x NCAA champion Chris Perry and Ryan Loder. Winn lost a close battle to Keith Gavin in the semis and fell to Ed Ruth in the 3rd place match. Look for Winn to have excellent defense and explosive moves at the open.While comfortablein the tie up Deron excels from space with duck unders and double legs.The bulldog Winn has been extremely competitive at 86 kg and looks to make his first world team in Madison.
Jon Reader- Reader comes in off a 5th place finish at the U.S. Open. Reader fell to Ed Ruth twice at the Open. The gladiator provides a variety of attacks and an excellent array of underhook scores.Reader is a 2x world team member who will be hungry after missing much of last years circuit with a knee injury.
Phil Keddy- Keddy comes into the World Team Trials fresh off a Northern Plains championship. Keddy looks to gun down his 2nd world team. Recently he looked sharp in dismantling Ryan Loder in the Northern Plains Championship.Keddy brings a relentless handfight and pace to his matches with a slick right handed hi crotch.
Rest of Bracket–
2012 Olympian and former world silver medalist Jake Herbert awaits in the best of 3 finals series. Herbert had not competed the past two seasons but looked stellar in his return. Clayton Foster drew the wildcard for this weight and it will be interesting to see where he becomes seeded. Winn likely picks up a 3-4 seed, Reader a 4-5 and Keddy the 7 or 8.Ed Ruth also looks to contend at this weight after several huge victories over former world medalists this season.
Prediction: Ruth over Herbert
Iowa Wrestler outlook:
Jake Varner- Varner comes into the trials after being shocked by freshman phenom Kyle Snyder in the U.S. Open finals. The loss was Varners first loss to an American in 4 years. Varner wrestles a controlling style and has granite hips for defense. Varners over collar shrug and nasty ankle picks are a thing of Beauty. The 2012 Olympian should be hungry for another world gold.
David Zabriskie – Big Z qualifies for the trials after winning the Northeastern regional. Zabriskie moves very well for a big man and has trimmed up after winning an NCAA title at heavyweight.Zabriskie is very large for the weight and looks to make his first world team. Zabriskie wrestles a wide open style and excels in scrambles and flurries. The Big Z notoriously has close matches and is always a tough out.
Rest of Bracket– Kyle Snyder will wait in the wings for whoever comes out of the challenge tournament. Varner will barring a catastrophic seeding meeting undoubtedly get the 1 seed in the challenge tournament. Jd Bergman nearly defeated Varner in the U.S. Open Semis and should be a tough out. Zabriskie will likely draw the 7-8 seed. Freshman Jden Cox is very dangerous and an all young fun final is plausible.
Prediction: Varner over Snyder
Iowa Wrestler outlook:
Rest of the Bracket:
Tervel Dlagnev has been “the guy” at the weight since 2009 making every world and Olympic team during that span. Dlagnev went on to claim his second bronze medal at the World Championships last year in Tashkent. At the World Team Trials last year it was Zach Rey who faced Dlagnev in the best of three series by beating Nick Gwiazdowski in the mini tournament finals. This year I would expect both Rey and Gwiazdowski to be contenders again along with this year’s Wildcard selection Adam Coon. Coon captured both freestyle and Greco bronze medals at the Junior World Championships in 2014.
Prediction: Tervel Dlagnev over Adam Coon
Don’t forget to listen to our Potentially Dangerous Podcast this week. We broke down every bracket and made our picks for the World Team.