In the aftermath of major domestic events, such as last week’s US Open, it becomes time to shine the spotlight on those athletes whose performances warrant a higher degree of recognition than they might have otherwise received.
2023 US Open “Undercover Stars”
Max Black (NMU/NTS, 3rd) — A runner-up from the year prior should not make the cut but Black sincerely deserves it. After falling to eventual champ Dalton Roberts (Army/WCAP), Black gained revenge on two opponents who defeated him twice last year, Phillip Moomey (TMWC/Spartan) and Randon Miranda (Unattached). Moomey had downed Black in U23 selection whereas Miranda got past him at the pair of Senior domestic events. Black would go on to get past National Team member Mason Hartshorn (NYAC/West Coast Greco RTC) and Dylan Koontz (TMWC/Dubuque RTC) to reach third in the standings, but the wins over Moomey and Miranda were the highlights, and indicative of the NMU’er’s continued rapid rise.
Jonathan Gurule (NMU/NTS, 5th) — Gurule, his story was different. He was not expected to go over Moomey in the round-of-16, but he did; then Hartshorn edged him in the quarters. Gurule rebounded with two impressive wins in the consolation bracket before locking down 5th place after Hartshorn defaulted out of the tournament. Not bad for a young athlete who is up five kilos from where he was last season.
Dylan Gregerson (UVRTC, 3rd) — A portrait of aggression and determination. Gregerson fought fire with fire as much as he could against champ Hayden Tuma (Suples) in an 11-7 decision loss. He recovered from that setback by taking out his frustration on everyone else he encountered the rest of the way. Gregerson closed the US Open with three blitzing VSU’s, including one at the expense of two-time National titlist Mike Fuenffinger (Army/WCAP) in the third-place bout.
Savion Haywood (Iguana WC, 5th) — Haywood opened a lot of eyes in Vegas by sticking to positions with which he was comfortable and knowing when to measure his advances. It was a more polished look than what he showed when winning the U23 Trials last year, where he surprised a lot of folks by defeating King Sandoval in the semifinal despite the clear rawness in his game. This upgraded version of Haywood was more opportunistic — such as how he earned a shocking tech over Aiden Nutter (NYAC/NTS), which involved a bomb for five. Grit was required for him to survive against tough Kyle Rowan (OH), and that was similarly encouraging.
Chayse LaJoie (CARTC, 3rd) — He did it the hard way. ’21 U20 World Teamer LaJoie likely didn’t anticipate falling, quickly, to Cadet World champ Joel Adams (TBW) in the round-of-32 but he admirably did not let that deter him from the mission at-hand. LaJoie wrestled back — like, all the way back. To the tune of seven matches on the backside. If that were not enough, and in his case it really isn’t, his conclusive four victories came against Lenny Merkin (NYAC), the young man below, ’19 Junior World bronze/’22 Final X runner-up Alston Nutter (Sunkist), and ’21 U23 World Team member David Stepanyan (NYAC/NTS), who LaJoie had clipped once before. That is quite the ledger. As remarkable of a showing as any of the tournament champions.
Nick Leonetti (NMU/NTS, 7th) –Leonetti, like LaJoie, lost in the opening round (a 5-1 decision to title winner Robert Perez III) and had no choice but to fight tooth and nail just to qualify for the Trials. No, he did not collect the same brand of scalps as LaJoie in doing so — but he certainly was dominant. Leonetti went on a mini-tear to put himself in the running later this month in Colorado Springs and exemplified the drive young athletes should have when it comes to grabbing a seat at the table.
Jack Ervien (Viking WC, 5th) — The big fall over Michael Hooker (Army/WCAP) in the opening round helped kickstart Ervien’s time in Vegas; he then downed Calvin Miller (CA) and added another pin, this time in the quarterfinal against Jamel Johnson (Marines). In the semis, Ervien seemed to have three-time World Team member Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) on the ropes, that is before Smith staged a furious rally and eventually emerged with a 9-7 decision. Noah Wachsmuth (NYAC) got him in the consolation semifinal — but still. Each of Ervien’s opponents at the US Open, with the exception of Miller, was either a recent or current National Team member, and he showed that he has, for sure, ascended to their level.
Andrew Berreyesa (NYAC, 3rd) — After more than two years since his last Greco-Roman competition, ’18 Junior World silver Berreyesa had zero rust. He didn’t just look comfortable, he looked like he was where he needed to be. It is not difficult to point out his most significant bouts at the Open: semifinal versus two-time Olympian Ben Provisor (NYAC/Viking WC) and the consolation semi opposite familiar foe Tommy Brackett (Unattached). Berreyesa was new to the Provisor experience and appeared to gain confidence as the match wore on, even if the outcome went the other way. Against Brackett, the anticipation was a tight, pummel-happy sort of match, and instead Berreyesa ended matters quickly with a nice headlock that led to a fall.
Luke Luffman (IRTC, 4th) — His win over Brandon Metz (ND) was important, considering the two occupy similar stations in their respective careers. Next up was Adam Coon (NYAC/Cliff Keen) and, in spite of obvious differences in size, experience, and trophy cases, Luffman more than held his own through much of their time together but was just unable to overcome a damaging first period. A rebound win at the expense of young Jimmy Hustoles (NMU/NTS) came next, and then it was a gotta-have-it gutwrench against Courtney Freeman (Marines) that stood out the most among Luffman’s moments in the tournament. Roundabout ’20 and ’21, Luffman was perhaps not quite ready yet to nudge his way into the top tier of this division. That is no longer the case.
2023 Pan-American Championships Schedule
No turnaround time for those who competed at the Open and are on the US roster for the Pan-Am Championships as the tournament begins this coming Wednesday from Buenos Aires, Argentina. FLOWrestling will carry the broadcast for the US audience.
The one-day format will once again be observed with seven of the ten weight categories being contested on Wednesday (55, 60, 63, 67, 72, 97, & 130 kg) followed by the last three on Thursday (77, 82, & 87 kg). A friendly time difference for an international event: Argentina is one hour ahead of ET.
Wednesday, May 3 (55, 60, 63, 67, 72, 97, & 130 kg)
10:00am — Qualification rounds/repechage
6:00pm — Finals/bronze round
Thursday, May 4 (77, 82, & 87 kg)
10:00am — Qualification rounds/repechage
6:00pm — Finals/bronze round
TEAM USA ROSTER
*’23 US National Champion
55 kg: Dalton Duffield (Army/WCAP)
60 kg: *Dalton Roberts (Army/WCAP)
67 kg: *Robert Perez III (Sunkist)
72 kg: *Justus Scott (Army/WCAP)
77 kg: *Kamal Bey (Army/WCAP)
82 kg: *Spencer Woods (Army/WCAP)
87 kg: *Alan Vera (NYAC)
97 kg: *Joe Rau (TMWC/IRTC)
130 kg: Donny Longendyke (Minnesota Storm)
Notice: Trying to get property 'term_id' of non-object in /home/fivepointwp/webapps/fivepointwp/wp-content/themes/flex-mag/functions.php on line 999