Day 1 of the 2017 Dave Schultz Memorial wrapped up earlier this evening at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs with a whole bunch of US Greco-Roman wrestlers in the hunt for gold.
The Dave Schultz Memorial International, normally held during the winter, was moved to the fall for 2017, making this the second such event of the year. Aside from the scheduling change, the other featured attraction coming into today was the new two-day format along with the 2018 weight classes. They go part-and-parcel. More weights mean more room for athletes to move around and since weigh-ins take place day-of, plenty of wrestlers were in different spots than originally expected.
But Max Nowry (Army/WCAP) wasn’t one of them. A University World Champion and Olympic Trials finalist at 55 kilograms in 2012, Nowry spent the proceeding four and a half years wrestling up in weight. 59 kilograms represented quite the jump for the undersized now-27-year-old, so when 55 was set to be reintroduced, his was a name immediately tossed about as the country’s main beneficiary. And he proved that with his performance today.
That doesn’t mean he started off like a ball of fire. Kyndall Rutz (NMU/OTS) capitalized on a Nowry lift attempt to assume a 3-2 lead following a Nowry takedown. Unfortunately for Rutz, the scoreboard didn’t stay the same very long. Upon the reset, Nowry swooped behind to collect two and then two more with a gutwrench off the edge. Shortly into the second, Nowry boomed Rutz down with a lateral drop before finishing him off with a gut for a 12-3 tech.
Next up for Nowry in the round-robin 55 kilogram bracket was rising Nebraskan age-grouper Camden Russell (MWC). Nowry quickly seized the advantage with a snap-spin and went to work from there. He locked around for a reverse lift, loaded up, and dropped Russell for five with the fall coming shortly thereafter. Nowry’s final match will come tomorrow against 2016 Junior Asian Championships bronze medalist Son Hee-Dong (KOR).
While it would be a reach to say Nowry needed 55 kilograms to come back (he did just make the National Team at 59, after all), there’s no question the weight class is a much more comfortable place for him to continue his career. So in a sense, these two days of competition could be likened to a measuring stick. Nowry wanted to try it on for size, see how it felt, find out how his body would respond after having wrestled up in weight for so many years. It should be no surprise that after wrestling concluded Wednesday night, Nowry was in understandably high spirits.
“It felt great to be back at 55 kilos,” Nowry said. “I felt like I was back where I belong. My focus is on scoring more points than I had in the past and being more offensive, and I feel like I’m on the right track. That credit goes to all of the work my coaches have invested in me the last few months.”
Watch out for Mango
Ryan Mango (Army/WCAP) wrestled 61 kilograms at the CISM Military Worlds last month, where he took a silver in freestyle, so his moving up to 63 from 59 kilos probably shouldn’t have been so much of a shocker. In fact, if his performance on Wednesday is any indication, the new weight class suits him exceedingly well.
After blitzing past Marine upstart Xavier Johnson in the quarterfinals, Mango did battle with Egypt’s Mostafa Hassan in one of the more entertaining bouts of the afternoon. A near-bomb of a throw that came off of an arm spin counter put the WCAP wrestler on top 4-0, but a subsequent lift attempt came loose, allowing Hassan to land on top for two. Hassan then locked around and picked up another two with a dump-off on the boundary. 4-4, with Mango holding criteria. But he’d be adding on soon enough.
Another arm spin try from Hassan led to the same result as the first one did — with Mango locking around and whipping back for an apparent four. However, Egypt challenged and won, and instead of the score reading 8-4, the point distribution was adjusted to 8-6 heading into the second.
With under a minute remaining in the bout and Mango leading 8-8 on criteria, a familiar sequence played out: a Hassan arm throw attempt followed by a Mango counter. The Stanford alum ambled behind for two points and tacked on another pair via gut to jump ahead 12-8. Once again, Hassan wanted a challenge, only this time, it didn’t go his way, giving Mango another point to make the score 13-5, which is how this one would end. Mango now faces 2016 Olympian Lee Jung-Baik in the 63 kilogram final tomorrow.
Perkins Emerges After Confusing Battle with Gonzalez
77 kilograms is where RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) will be from now on and with his shoulder injuries from last season behind him, he was eager to get back to work. He began his day with consecutive tech falls over Anton Kalista (CMPWC) and Ali Khan (NMU/OTS), respectively, and that put him against another returning athlete, Chris Gonzalez (NYAC), who following the World Team Trials set sail for California in effort to embark on an MMA career, though he did come back to help out at World Team Camp during the summer.
In a marquee match-up befitting a prestigious domestic event such as this, Perkins and Gonzalez delivered the sort of drama and tension normally reserved for a final. Only, a large part of that had to do with the healthy dose of confusion that for better or worse, clouded the affair.
Gonzalez drew first blood with a step-out, but that was it for awhile. Perkins looked to control the pummel and on occasion, created enough movement to disrupt Gonzalez’s footing. To Gonzalez’s credit, he appeared sharp and balanced, especially considering his respite from the sport. A passivity point rang in for Perkins with under :30 to go in the first and he held criteria going into the break.
A little over a minute had passed in the second when Gonzalez received a passivity point to take a narrow 2-1 advantage. Perhaps sensing a twinge of urgency, Perkins lowered in for an apparent high dive and as he collided into Gonzalez, the two went out of bounds with Perkins getting the point. Gonzalez called for the challenge block as it was his contention that he didn’t go out first. Following a prolonged conference in which it was decided that since the official couldn’t see who stepped out or when, Perkins’s point was erased. As confusing as this might have been (for all involved), that wasn’t the end of it
When the match resumed, Perkins was trying to hold onto a charging Gonzalez at the edge before cutting to the side as Gonzalez landed on his stomach. It was ruled Perkins stepped out — so he challenged — and lost — making the score 4-1. Another restart. And then it happened again. Gonzalez was boring in, Perkins was trying to stay inside the circle and appeared to have stepped out. But the wrestlers never stopped and Perkins wrapped around Gonzalez from behind and arched him back for four. Gonzalez called for another challenge and after another officials conference, Perkin’s points were wiped off the board for the second time in the bout.
Just over :30 were left and Perkins, now down by four points, had to get moving. First, he used a slide-by for a takedown. 5-3, Gonzalez. Next, Perkins locked around for a gut that Gonzalez was called for fleeing on. That meant a caution-and-two for Perkins, who was now in the lead. The ensuing par terre didn’t yield any further points and time soon ran out. All in all, this 6:00 contest wound up taking over 15:00 to complete.
Perkins won the Dave Schultz Memorial in 2016 and last February, and he’ll be looking to make it three in a row tomorrow evening when he squares off against 2012 Olympic gold medalist/2013 World Champion Kim Hyeon-Woo (KOR, world no. 1).
Cowan Steps Up, So Does Zillmer
Two members of the 2017 US Military World Team will be duking it out in Thursday night’s finals — Dillon Cowan (82 kg, Army/WCAP) and John Stefanowicz (Marines). Cowan started off Wednesday with a brisk tech over Marinez upstart Joshua Garcia Soto, but it was what he did next that really made some waves. In the 82 kilogram semifinals opposite Jeon Neul Pu San (KOR), Cowan pounced on the first opportunity that entered his field of vision, and because of that, he’s back in a Schultz final for the second time in as many years. Neul Pu San clamped high double underhooks and had Cowan nice and stretched out, but he regrouped. After a reset, Neul Pu San reached up and around Cowan’s head with his back towards the boundary. When Neul Pu San went to take the motion back, Cowan collapsed on top and stuck him right there for a sizzling fall at just 1:25 of the first period.
2017 Trials runner-up Stefanowicz didn’t have nearly as easy of a time with another fellow Military World Team member, Courtney Myers (Army/WCAP). Stefanowicz grabbed an early 4-0 lead on an arm throw, but Myers was in no way deterred. The score read the same way entering the second period and eventually, Myers got on the board thanks to a passivity point. He was staying in the fight. Then, with under a minute left, Stefanowicz got nailed for finger-grabbing, giving Myers another pair of points. He tried sprinting to the whistle, bringing the heat as best he could. But Stefanowicz was able to stay upright the rest of the way and he now looks forward to the first Schultz final of his career.
Hayden Zillmer (97 kg, Minnesota Storm) needed a mere :49 to dispose of Phillip Barreiro (TriStar), although how that went down was a little strange. Zillmer was in the process of locking around Barreiro, who was fleeing. Zillmer still completed his lift, which was good for four, but Barreiro also got knocked for a caution-and-two. After the reset, Zillmer was back in on Barreiro, who was again trying to get away. The Minnesotan had little trouble taking Barreiro down and gutting him over anyway, and the bout was called.
Zillmer was similarly effective against Trent Osnes (Marines) in the quarterfinals as he wrapped up a quick tech, but the semis presented him with a different challenge in Micah Burak (TMWC), who like Zillmer, owns a strong folkstyle/freestyle background. A four-point sequence stemming from a takedown/gut combo put Zillmer ahead in the first period and he added onto that lead in the second via passivity. Burak tried hanging in the pocket despite being undersized and outgunned, and he’d even grab his own passivity point before this one was over. Nevertheless, Zillmer advanced on the heels of a 5-1 decision and will next face 2010 Junior World silver/2012 Olympian Lee Se-Yeol (KOR) tomorrow evening.
Day 1 Notes
- Multi-time National Teamer and reigning US Open champ Toby Erickson (130 kg, Army/WCAP) was as dominant as expected. He started off by tech’ing Malcolm Allen (Minnesota Storm) for the third straight time and then he prevailed in a closer-but-still-controlling bout over Donny Longendyke (Minnesota Storm) 7-2. The 130 kilogram bracket is a round-robin, so Erickson still has work to do. Tomorrow, he’ll face WCAP teammate Jacob Mitchell and Kim Min-Seok (KOR). Should Erickson win both matches, he will become a Dave Schultz Memorial champ for the second time.
- Brandon Mueller (505 Wrestling Club) impressed once again, notching two victories (with one being a surprising tech over Anthonie Linares) en-route to his 71 kilogram semifinal showdown with 2016 Olympian Tomohiro Inoue (JPN). It didn’t go his way — Inoue prevailed 2-1 following a grinding, passivity-filled bout — but both that match and Mueller’s recent performances altogether serve as further evidence that he should be enrolled in a full-time program.
- Cheney Haight (NYAC), back on the mat for the first time since the World Championships, started off as hot as a pistol in tech’ing out prospect Rich Carlson (Minnesota Storm) and Easton Hargrave (CWC). He dropped a tight and tense 4-3 decision to Tsirekidze but looked as strong as ever in doing so. Haight is up at 87 kilograms for this event and his competitive future going forward is still a question mark.
- 2012 Junior World bronze medalist/2016 Olympian Jesse Thielke (63 kg, NYAC) fell in his opening bout to Hassan but bounced back to win his first consolation bout against Tyler Cunningham (MWC). In the consolation semis, Thielke meets up with Xavier Johnson.
- Counting the three round-robin brackets, Korea has a wrestler in eight of the ten finals matches.
- NYAC/OTS wrestler Austin Morrow (67 kg) and Alec Ortiz (77 kg, Minnesota Storm) were both forced to withdraw from the tournament due to injury. Morrow, who just returned to competition earlier this month after dealing with two dislocated shoulders, had the same issue crop up again on Monday. Ortiz suffered an apparent hamstring injury, also on Monday, although no official diagnosis has been made as of yet.
Thursday, November 2nd:
10:00am-12:45pm — Consolation Round 3 to Consolation Semifinals
7:00pm-8:45pm — Finals & bronze medal matches
Live streaming available on Flowrestling.org.
2017 Dave Schultz Memorial Finals Pairings
55 kg (round-robin)
Max Nowry (Army/WCAP) vs. Son Hee-Dong (KOR)
60 kg (round-robin)
Kim Seung-Hak (KOR) vs. Chung Han-Jae (KOR)
Kim Seung-Hak (KOR) vs. Mike Fuenffinger (Army/WCAP)
Chung Han-Jae (KOR) vs. Choi Hyun-Woong (KOR)
Ryan Mango (Army/WCAP) vs. Jung Do-Kyung (KOR)
Ryu Han-Soo (KOR) vs. Tsuchika Shimoyamada (JPN)
Kim Ji-Hun (KOR) vs. Tomohiro Inoue (JPN)
RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) vs. Kim Hyeon-Woo (KOR)
Dillon Cowan (Army/WCAP) vs. John Stefanowicz (Marines)
Masato Sumi (JPN) vs. Giorgi Tsirekidze (GEO)
Hayden Zillmer (Minnesota Storm) vs. Lee Se-Yeol (KOR)
130 kg (round-robin)
Toby Erickson (Army/WCAP) vs. Jacob Mitchell (Army/WCAP)
Toby Erickson (Army/WCAP) vs. Kim Min-Seok (KOR)
Jacob Mitchell (Army/WCAP) vs. Malcolm Allen (Minnesota Storm)
Donny Longendyke (Minnesota Storm) vs. Kim Min-Seok (KOR)