The selection process for Team USA’s 2022 World Team has now been funneled to 20 remaining athletes.
At most, there are 31 Senior matches left on the domestic calendar, though that number might be lower. Ten best-of-three series will come to fruition between both upcoming Final X cards — plus a showdown for third-place in New York that will see Lucas Sheridan (97 kg, Army/WCAP, 5PM #4) battle it out with Haydn Maley (Beaver Dam, 5PM #9).
Only one Final X pairing required the maximum allotted matches in ’19: Patrick Smith‘s (72 kg, Minnesota Storm, 5PM #1) comeback from a first-round loss to take the next two against Kamal Bey (77 kg, Army/WCAP, 5PM #3). The consensus is that several match-ups this year appear likely to necessitate a third and decisive contest, due primarily to various individual storylines, recent performance optics, and the fact that most Final X participants share relevant histories with their counterparts.
First Up, Stillwater (June 3)
55 kg: Max Nowry (Army/WCAP, world #11, 5PM #1) vs. Brady Koontz (TMWC/Ohio RTC, 5PM #2)
63 kg: Sammy Jones (NYAC, 5PM #1) vs. Jesse Thielke (Army/WCAP, 5PM #2)
72 kg: Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm, 5PM #1) vs. Benji Peak (Sunkist/NTS, 5PM #2)
82 kg: Ben Provisor (NYAC, 5PM #1) vs. Spencer Woods (Army/WCAP, 5PM #2)
130 kg: Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist, 5PM #1) vs. Tanner Farmer (NYAC/IRTC, 5PM #3)
Friday’s card in Oklahoma offers several key selling points that might appeal to casuals (which aside from selecting a World Team is seen as Greco’s main objective stemming from its Final X inclusion). Here are three with which to begin.
— Woods going after “Big Ben” — To Provisor, his four-match run thus far with Woods is not the drama show it looks like from the perspectives of others. The two-time Olympian has been down this road many times before and is accustomed to hungry antagonists who are trying to take his spot. Woods himself will say that all he cares about is boarding a Serbia-bound flight in September, and that it wouldn’t matter who is standing in his path. Yet, it is also accurate to say that Woods is extremely interested in bringing down “Big Ben” whilst earning his first-ever placement on a Senior Team. His body language alone through four matches, especially the two from this spring, indicates such.
— The rise of the “Wildman” — Jones’ own career has skyrocketed over the past four years, beginning with his runner-up showing to Ryan Mango at the ’18 Open. He then placed second at the next two Nationals, and in between was responsible for doling out a frighteningly-quick VSU to ’14 World/’16 Olympic bronze Stig-Andre Berge of Norway. The trajectory has increased ever since. Jones, one of the US program’s most aggressive, throw-happy competitors, is coming off of his first WT appearance last year as well as a Pan-Am gold from last month.
— “Mr. Fantastic” vs. the swarm known as Patrick Smith — Peak exited the ’20ne Olympic Trials as one of Greco’s biggest stars, and in the process garnered an unexpected amount of “mainstream” wrestling attention. It was not that he had a great tournament and eventually placed third. It was how he won his matches, along with how he was able to get the crowd energized. But he is, of course, also an excellent young athlete who now owns a pair of National titles. More importantly, he acquitted himself well against Smith in their ’21 best-of-three. Unlike Provisor/Woods, there is no static between Peak and Smith. No perceived bad blood, no moments from matches one might identify as volatile or controversial. But there is a noteworthy item the two series have in common: both feature a youthful Senior trying to squeeze a much-more established vet out of the picture. That, plus Peak’s par terre prowess and Smith’s suffocating style, is why smart people are excited to watch them clash once again.
— Nowry & Thielke — see below
Final X Stillwater Coverage
The main deep-dive preview will appear on FLOWrestling shortly (update: it’s published). All five series are explored rather thoroughly in order to help set the tone for what is the last and most important domestic stretch of the season. Following Final X: Stillwater, a traditional recap will be made available right here.
Max & Jesse By the Numbers
Nowry and Thielke have competed in three events over the spring: the Farrell Memorial, US Open, and Trials Challenge Tournament. Their stats from all three tournaments are sparkling, but for now it is the Open and Trials deserving of a closer look.
It’s not that the Farrell was a wash (Nowry won, Thielke took second to Jones); but since the Open served as the jump-off into Coralville, and because Coralville directly led to both athletes advancing to Final X (aka, the Trial finals), these two tournaments provide the most relevant and timely sample size heading into Stillwater.
Par terre top is how the duo piled up the most points in Vegas, with one difference being that Nowry took matters into his own hands in both of his Open wins, whereas Thielke received two of his three PTO (par terre opportunities) via passivity.
The Trials betrayed a similar statistical profile for Nowry (takedowns to successions of gutwrenches). Thielke deviated. At the Open, par terre was responsible for 25 of his 29 points. In Coralville, he did not need par terre to end matches.
For those in need of a refresher, below are the meanings behind each stat acronym.
PPM — offensive points per match
APP — attempts per period
APM — attempts per match
ACR — attempt conversion rate
MPSM — multi-point scores per match
OP — total offensive points
PTO — par terre opportunities
PTP — par terre points
PTEP — par terre execution percentage
PTSM — par terre scoring per match
VFR — victory finish rate
Nowry: US Open
def. Stephen Emrich (MN) 8-0, TF
ACR: .5 (1/2)
def. Camden Russell (MWC) 10-0, TF
ACR: .5 (1/2)
Nowry: WTT Challenge Tournament
def. Cole Smith (Army/WCAP) 8-0, TF
ACR: 1.0 (1/1)
def. Drew West (IL) 8-0, TF
ACR: 1.0 (1/1)
Thielke: US Open
def. Dwayne Guerrero (West Coast Greco RTC) 8-0, TF
ACR: .5 (1/2)
def. Nick Leonetti (NMU/NTS) 11-0, TF
ACR: 1.0 (2/2)
def. Aidan Nutter (NYAC/NTS) 9-0, TF
ACR: 0.0 (0/2)
Thielke: WTT Challenge Tournament
def. Logan Savvy (NYAC) 9-0, TF
ACR: 1.0 (2/2)
def. Aidan Nutter (NYAC/NTS) 8-0, TF
ACR: 1.0 (3/3)
Full Scoring Summaries
Five combined matches between two athletes do not render a complete scoring picture. A dataset would have to be considerably larger (and include additional drill-down statistics) in order to scratch the surface when it comes to demonstrating discernible tendencies and/or patterns.
But there is enough of a canvas from which to draw conclusions. One is that both Nowry and Thielke obviously dominated from par terre top at the US Open, with the only difference residing in how they wound up in position to do so. For Nowry, it was takedowns; for Thielke, his opponents were dinged and he then capitalized by going elbow-deep en-route to his victories (save for Leonetti, a match that ended early in the second period following a feet-to-back and a gut).
What the above stats miss is how Thielke won his two matches at the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament. Against Savvy, Thielke bombed a headlock and later finished with an arm throw. The ending sequence opposite Nutter was catalyzed by a headlock before Thielke clamped around the head once again from the front to the tune of four more points. Although it was a headlock that started the sequence, it did not result in a “static par terre”, as Nutter had scrambled to his knees, which allowed for the offensive response. Had Nutter been in a prone position with Thielke scampering behind, it would have qualified as “static par terre” with all subsequent points logged accordingly.
In other words, Thielke’s offense in Coralville arrived solely from on-the-feet tactics, and he didn’t require extra attempts to generate scoring opportunities.
Nowry US Open/WTT Full Stats
Thielke US Open/WTT Full Stats
What the numbers mean
Comparing side-by-side, Nowry and Thielke’s respective stat lines are similar, though the former’s PTSM is higher, which we already knew beforehand.
But look at MPSM: Nowry’s, at 4.25, is a full half-point higher — yet Thielke wields a higher PPM and AMV. What this suggests is that he needed less actions to deliver an expanded average in both categories.
For both wrestlers, the takeaway is simple: efficiency relative to scoring, and at the two premier domestic tournaments of the season.
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