A high percentage of the top Junior and Cadet Greco wrestlers in the country took the spotlight at the Northern Plains Regional today in Rochester, Minnesota. Athletes from Wisconsin, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Illinois, the hosting state and elsewhere converged on the RCTC Regional Sports Center to inch closer to their national title goals. The top four in each Cadet weight division qualified for the chance to compete at the Fargo Cadet and Junior Nationals, which take place July 16-23 at the famous Fargo Dome in Fargo, North Dakota.
There was plenty of action, tons of fives, and some very impressive performances. Nebraska-bound Taylor Venz (Minnesota) had himself quite a day. Wrestling at 182 lbs, Venz was never seriously tested throughout. First was a tech-fall over Anthony Demos (Illinois), an injury default victory in just under two minutes against fellow Minnesota Mason Rutt, and then a pin in the finals against Zack Crosby (Illinois). He might be going to college upon graduation, but a future in Greco is there for Venz if he wants it.
Another rising star, Alex Lloyd (Minnesota) kept his stock nice and high. The aggressively cagey wrestler pushed and pummeled his way to victory, scoring on numerous big attempts to the delight of the crowd. Lloyd started off his tournament with a :25 pin over Andrei Allen (Iowa) and then proceeded to march through the rest of the 145 lbs bracket. He amassed three consecutive tech-falls and needed 16 points to close out the final against Alexander Crowe (Minnesota). Lloyd has consistently shown that he has a knack for both timing and situational awareness to go along with his penchant for high-scoring maneuvers. His future just keeps growing brighter.
— Trackwrestling (@trackwrestling) May 21, 2016
Alex Thomsen, he of recent Iowa legend, stormed through the Northern Plains Regional, as well. The 126 pound technical marvel came into the day feeling like lighting up the scoreboard and he did just that. Like Venz and Lloyd, Thomsen enjoyed a dominating run. The high school sophomore (!) tech’ed his way to gold, amassing a cumulative score of 34-2. Thomsen was later named the Outstanding Wrestler of the tournament for his efforts.
On the Cadet side of things Aaron Schulist (Wisconsin) made a statement of his own. Schulist’s toughest match of the day took place in the semifinals, where a bit of answer-back scoring was necessary to advance. His opponent, Curtis Lemair (Minnesota) seemed to find openings to work with but it wasn’t enough. Schulist took the bout 8-4 and then clinched the bracket with a thorough 13-1 beating of fellow statesman Benji Peak.
James Burks of Nebraska also sent notice that he’s someone to look out for come the summer. Minnesota’s Phil Skeps made him work in the quarterfinals, pushing Burks to the brink. In a wild affair in which 21 combined points were scored, Burks got away with an 11-10 win. From there it was much smoother sailing. A 10-0 tech versus Iowa’s Shawn Brown was followed up with a pin in the finals to seal his Northern Plains Regional victory at 152 lbs.
For more on the Northern Plains Regional, TrackWrestling has full bracket results up along with video.