The first Senior Greco-Roman tournament in the United States in eight months has already delivered when it comes to exciting finishes — and a pair of athletes from the Minnesota Storm are a big reason why that is the case.
The 2022 Bill Farrell Memorial began at 10:00am local time in Cedar Falls, Iowa (11:00am ET) and is being broadcast live on FLOWrestling.
At 72 kilograms, former two-time DIII national finalist for Augsburg Orlando Ponce (Minnesota Storm) has advanced to the finals following a pair of surprise falls at the expense of two well-known full-timers. In the quarterfinal, Ponce was behind ’19 Trials finalist Michael Hooker (Army/WCAP, 5PM #4) 7-0 in the first period when, in an instant, the presumed outcome was dramatically reversed via folkstyle cement mixer. Ponce caught Hooker amid a scramble and the pin was recorded soon after. The semifinal put Ponce against ’21 Junior World Team member Dominic Damon (NMU/NTS) with the score decidedly closer. Damon had surrendered a takedown early in the opening period but surged ahead thanks to a four-point attack. On the feet once again, Ponce wriggled inside of Damon’s bodylock attempt and adjusted for a land-on-top. He needn’t wait long. For the second bout in a row, Ponce had himself a pin, only this time it came attached to a trip to the final round. His opponent will be none other than Storm teammate (and three-time Pan-American Championships gold) Patrick Smith (5PM #1), the reigning World Team member in this weight category.
Rich Carlson (Minnesota Storm) decided recently to forgo the 82-kg class in favor of Olympic 87. Thus far, his instincts have proven correct.
87 kilos on Friday had been a round-robin affair. Carlson got past ’21 Junior World Team member Kodiak Stephens (Beaver Dam RTC), fellow Stormer Christian DuLaney, and Miguel Baray (TX), respectively, which meant that his fourth match of the day would offer also offer his stiffest test: ’21 World Team rep Alan Vera (NYAC, 5PM #2). True to form, Vera piled on from par terre top in the first, drumming up a turn and a cascading side lift. It was a 7-0 deficit for Carlson midway through the second, and then boom. Carlson fought for a bodylock, engaged, let out a guttural roar, and proceeded to throw Vera. Upon landing, Carlson kept Vera on his back and the pin was called. The victory puts Carlson on a Senior roster for the first time in his career.
Max, 60 kg, Thielke, & Sancho
Army’s “Ninja Squad” is rolling right along in the domestic opener. Max Nowry (55 kg, world #9, 5PM #1) downed teammates Cole Smith and ’18 U23 World Team member Dalton Duffield to ensure the opportunity for a fourth Pan-Am title next month. One weight category north sees familiarity as the order of the day, as Dalton Roberts will battle Ildar Hafizov (5PM #2) in the 60-kilogram final. Roberts and Hafizov have alternated on Senior Teams over the past four years. In ’18, Roberts took the spot, ’19 and ’20 (Tokyo) belonged to Hafizov, and Roberts again snared custody of World Team placement this past September.
“Wildman Sam” Sammy Jones (63 kg, NYAC, 5PM #1) needed just over two minutes to make the final — in two combined matches. Jones (as is the case with Nowry, Roberts, Smith, Jesse Porter (77 kg, NYAC, 5PM #1), and Vera) was on the ’21 Oslo roster and has seemingly picked up where he left off last season. The offensive might, it hummed during Friday’s first session with Jones bombing out Mason Lewis (Modern Gladiators) and Corbin Nirschl (MWC), both via tech (with a five recorded against Nirschl). For the Pan-Am ticket, Jones will step across from the one and only Jesse Thielke (Army/WCAP), for whom Friday has also delivered rushes of adrenaline. Like Jones, Thielke has barely eclipsed over two minutes of total match time heading into tonight. First, the Wisconsin native tech’ed recent Junior World Team member Mason Hartshorn (CYC); in the semis, Thielke systematically drubbed King Sandoval (Bandits) for his second VSU of the tournament.
Tokyo Olympian Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP, 5PM #2) has likewise been lights out. Sancho first went over Justin Kopet (MN) before doing the same against ’18 Open runner-up Jessy Williams (NYAC/Spartan RTC, 5PM #9). Sancho was a Pan-Am bronze in both ’16 and ’20, as well as silver at the Pan-Am Olympic Qualifier (also in ’20).
Porter & RaVaughn
Jesse Porter (77 kg, NYAC, 5PM #1) is, for the third consecutive Senior event, in position to walk away a champion. It has not come easily. Porter was tested, surprisingly perhaps, by James Foy (Minnesota Storm) in the quarters. Porter had scored a four-pointer in the first frame, which allowed for the requisite breathing room prior to Foy’s comeback bid from par terre in the second. The semifinal round pitted Porter against four-time National Champion Kamal Bey (Army/WCAP), a match-up that has consistently brought with it plenty of noise throughout the years. It had been a while; Porter and Bey had not tangled since the ’18 Farrell final prior to Friday.
Their latest square-off was predictably tight. Porter garnered the first passivity/par terre chance and opted for his lift. Bey cartwheeled beautifully out of initial danger and went for his own throw, eventually garnering two points (after a lengthy review process). Shortly into the second, the passivities flipped, giving Bey top PT. A big lift attempt it was, but Porter contorted for two land-on-top points. Army challenged, the call was upheld, and Porter was clinging to a 4-3 lead. Bey did what he could to try and crack open scoring attacks. None were availed, and Porter moved on by the same 4-3 score.
Porter’s opposition in the final will be two-time Pan-Am Championships gold RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC, 5PM #4), who stopped both surging prospect Payton Jacobson (Sunkist/NTS) and Britton Holmes (Army/WCAP, 5PM #9).
Ben & Woods
Two-time Olympian Ben Provisor (82 kg, NYAC, world #14, 5PM #1) has only had one bout in the event, a 7-0 decision over Tyler Cunningham (MWC). It is rematch-city for “Big Ben”, to which he is accustomed, though the name is a young one. The bottom side of the bracket on Friday ushered in another edition of the Spencer Woods (Army/WCAP, 5PM #2) show. Woods got past Joseph Williams (Saints WC) and fellow ’21 Trials runner-up Ryan Epps (Minnesota Storm, 5PM #4) to set his pathway for tonight. Provisor and Woods met in the September Trials best-of-three. Both matches went to Provisor, though Woods acquitted himself well in their pair of contests.
Boykin & Farmer
Two-time National champ Nick Boykin (Sunkist, 5PM #3) had a nice fight with Guy Patron to make the 97-kg final, where he will face the Storm’s Christian Rouleau. Heavyweight is already decided: Tanner Farmer (NYAC/IRTC, 5PM #3) went 3-0 in the round-robin bracket, winning all three of his matches by tech. Farmer was slated to wrestle Tommy Helton (Southern Illinois RTC) in the fourth round until the latter forfeited.
- As mentioned, three weight categories have been completed, 55, 87, and 130 kg.
- With Nowry having already prevailed, Army is guaranteed at least two Pan-Am roster members. Their maximum could be as many as five (55, 60, 63, 67, and 82 kg). The Minnesota Storm will boast two (72 kg and 87 kg).
The final round was originally scheduled to begin at 7:00pm local time, but that has been moved up to 4:00pm. FLOWrestling will have the broadcast.