The registration list for the 2023 US Open has included several surprises but one in particular has drawn attention on Sunday: Northern Michigan University alumnus and ’17 U23 World Team member Barrett Stanghill.
Stanghill, 28, last competed at the postponed ’20 Olympic Team Trials in Fort Worth, Texas where he went 2-1 before exiting the tournament. Throughout the quadrennium preceding that Olympic year, the native of Montana had steadily increased his standing among the top upper-weight Seniors in the United States. In both ’17 and ’19, Stanghill contended for spots on the National Team in addition to having placed at various international events. He also represented the US in dual meets against Belarus and Serbia, respectively (’17 and ’18).
Stanghill, referred to as “Bear”, is a welcomed addition to an 87-kilogram bracket that prior to this week had appeared underwhelming when it came to overall depth. Only two current National Team members are registered at 87 kg (reigning two-time World Team rep Alan Vera and his runner-up from Final X, Timothy Young); and behind ’20 Olympic Team member John Stefanowicz (who is also back from a hiatus), Rich Carlson (Minnesota Storm), and ’19 Junior World Teamer Zac Braunagel (IRTC) were mostly a collection of promising but as of yet unproven commodities. Stanghill’s entrance into the fray provides a potentially important boost to the weight class leading up to next month’s World Team Trials in Colorado Springs.
One reason for Stanghill’s recent prolonged absence from competition has been his career outside of the sport. He had studied construction management while a student at NMU and is himself now a custom home builder in Montana.
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