The first tournament for US Seniors in 2022 is an important one. Not only is it one of the country’s cornerstone events, but Pan-American Team selection is on the line, as well. And as expected, the Minnesota Storm is bringing a roster that reflects the stakes involved.
For the Bill Farrell Memorial — scheduled to be contested on Friday, April 1 at the UNI Dome in Cedar Falls, Iowa — the Storm delegation will include most of their heaviest hitters. Leading the pack is none other than four-time Pan-American gold Patrick Smith (72 kg, 5PM #1). Smith, who made his third Senior World Team this past September, owns three titles from the Pan-Am Championships (’15, ’16, and ’17). What he also has on his resume is a gold from the Pan-American Games (’19), which remains one of the most memorable triumphs for an American athlete in recent years.
When two-time National runner-up Calvin Germinaro (67 kg) strolls onto the mat in Iowa, it will his represent his first competition following a lengthy rehabilitation process stemming from a torn UCL (ulnar collateral ligament). Germinaro originally suffered the injury last year; he declined to undergo surgery and instead opted for an intense physical therapy program in order to heal and strengthen the area. A tremendously-explosive and skilled competitor, Germinaro was on a fast track towards stardom prior to the pandemic. Still only 23, his status in that regard has certainly not been altered due to the injury — though he will likely command even more pairs of curious eyeballs than usual for his matches next week. Those who carry an affinity for destructive, point-scoring athletes tend to fawn over Germinaro.
Smith plowing, punishing, and persevering to a third Team in ’21 ensured that he would, once again, remain the top Storm rep heading into this season. But he does not own all of the noise with Ryan Epps (82 kg) having entered the National consciousness. A two-time Division III champion for Augsburg, Epps’ jump into full-time Greco has, already, become a consistent topic among scenesters. Right out of the gate, he contended at the Coralville ’20 National tournament, and was later in the mix at the Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier. Last April saw Epps grind his way to the Open final against teammate Alec Ortiz (77 kg, and more on him below) before he closed out the year by coming in second at the World Team Trials. The key for Epps now is easy — weight. All of his Senior matches prior to the ’21 WTT were at 77; then he went up to 87 in September, an impulsive decision. Although that tournament obviously went well for him, 82 kilos might deliver an even better fit than 77 at this stage. Epps is not shy when it comes to strength-training, and his bruising style meshes nicely with the landscape 82 often brings to bear.
It is not a shake-up, nor is it turnover. But it is different. Ortiz said goodbye to Minnesota some months ago and moved out west to Colorado. No longer training in the Storm room, “The Gunslinger” is minding his preparation in a variety of what he calls “DIY” ways. Ortiz does have workout partners and, despite their lack of full-time sharpness, are said to be providing adequate looks and resistance. In addition, he has injected some creative flavor into his strength-and-conditioning plan — and has had a couple of opportunities to train with Smith, most notably when the two were in Alaska for a clinic. None of this might sound ideal for Ortiz, especially considering that he is coming off of winning his first National crown in ’21. However, Storm fans needn’t fret. Ortiz recently intimated that his body feels fresher than it has in quite a while, and he is enjoying the doses of cross-training that have been a byproduct of the circumstances. He might not have the same arsenal of resources at his disposal at the moment, but a healthy Ortiz bouncing back into action after a little reset should be deemed a verifiable threat nonetheless.
At 87 kilograms, Storm is sending out two excellent candidates — Rich Carlson and Christian DuLaney. Both had qualified for the ’20 Olympic Trials, one of whom actually competed. That man was DuLaney, whose impressive performance at “Last Chance” got him into the tournament. He has not competed since — but given his prior experience and skill-set, is expected to be a significant factor. After what had been a long layoff, Carlson returned for the September World Trials (at 82 kg) and competed extremely well, pushing eventual champ Ben Provisor (NYAC) in the semifinal before eventually finishing third (which in any other year, would have been good enough for National Team honors).
— ’21 Pan-Am Championships silver Donny Longendyke (130 kg) is, as of press time, not registered for the Bill Farrell Memorial. Longendyke, who is as athletic and well-rounded as it gets at heavyweight, placed fourth in the Olympic Trials last year.
— Three-time Division III finalist for Augsburg (and eventual former assistant coach at the university) Orlando Ponce is garnering interest. Ponce is slated for 72 kilograms and has reportedly been preparing in earnest for what could potentially wind up as a performance that surprises plenty of observers.
— Not yet listed but also said to be competing is James Foy (77 kg), son of ’89 World silver Michial. Foy, 21, had wrestled for Northwest Kansas Technical College, but it is in Greco-Roman where Storm head coach Dan Chandler sees the most promise for the 21-year-old.
— This roster will be updated if/when more entries are added.
2022 Bill Farrell Memorial
Minnesota Storm Roster
Calvin Germinaro — 2X US National runner-up
Patrick Smith — 3X US World Team, 3X Pan-Am Championships gold, ’19 Pan-American Games gold
Alec Ortiz — ’21 US National Champion
Ryan Epps — ’21 World Team Trials runner-up, ’21 US National runner-up
Rich Carlson — ’21 World Team Trials third place
Christian DuLaney — ’20 Last Chance Olympic Trials Qualifier runner-up
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