A quick reference guide to the five Greco-Roman best-of-three series at Final X: Lincoln beginning at 12pm CT on Saturday (June 15th) and airing live on FLOWrestling.
Session I (12pm CT)
*US Open Champion who earned bye
**Returning World medalist
60 kg: *Mike Fuenffinger (Army/WCAP) vs. Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP)
Fuenffinger — 2018 US Open runner-up; 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial silver; 2017 University National runner-up; two-time Junior World Team member
Hafizov — 2008 Olympian; four-time World Team member (three for UZB); 2016 Olympic Trials runner-up; 2015 US Open Champion; 2017 Thor Masters gold; two-time Dave Schultz Memorial gold
Two members of Army’s “Ninja Squad” are featured at 60 kilos with Hafizov and Fuenffinger competing against each other for the fourth time over the past year. Fuenffinger initially surprised Hafizov in the ’18 Open semis; Hafizov got him back in January’s Schultz final; and then it was Fuenffinger who reigned supreme in Vegas two months ago. This evenly-matched tandem have familiarity going for them, sure. But their skill, technique, and desire to take this spot will easily trump any warm feelings once the whistle blows.
72 kg: *Ray Bunker (Marines) vs. Alex Mossing (Air Force RTC)
Bunker — 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial gold; 2018 Bill Farrell Memorial gold; 2018 Lavrikov Memorial bronze; 2017 University National Champion
Mossing — 2017 U23 World Team member; 2017 University National Champion
Everything about this series suggests that it could be a great one. Both athletes have improved remarkably throughout this beginning phase of their respective careers, and both bring different skill-sets to the table. Bunker is a back-alley brawler; Mossing is a transitional workhorse with a natural flair for scoring. Sit tight when they lock up.
63 kg: *Ryan Mango (Army/WCAP, world no. 17) vs. Xavier Johnson (Marines)
Mango — Two-time World Team Trials runner-up; two-time US Open Champion; 2018 Pan Am Championships gold
Johnson — 2019 Grand Prix Zagreb Open silver; 2018 Grand Prix Zagreb Open bronze; 2018 Bill Farrell Memorial bronze
Mango is 2-0 lifetime against Johnson (with two tech’s), but both of those matches (’16 Open semis; ’17 Schultz quarters) require immediate dismissal. Johnson is a completely different wrestler now who brandishes weapons in every area, especially a booming lift from par terre. Most figure there will be at least a few bombs during their time together in Lincoln, but even if that’s not the case, their styles would seem to complement one another’s extremely well.
97 kg: *G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist, world no. 3) vs. Lucas Sheridan (Army/WCAP)
Hancock — 2016 Junior World bronze; three-time US Open Champion; two-time Dave Schultz Memorial gold; 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix gold; two-time World Team member
Sheridan — 2018 Bill Farrell Memorial gold; 2019 US Open runner-up; 2016 Bill Farrell Memorial bronze; 2018 US Open bronze; two-time Junior World Team member
Can’t ignore the obvious — Hancock has three straight lopsided wins over Sheridan dating back to the ’18 Trials mini tournament final. Sheridan is aware of that fact, as well as the perception that his climb is exceptionally steep. But while Hancock has spent the majority of ’19 in Europe, Sheridan is coming off of a huge performance in Raleigh and has been preparing for this day ever since. That might mean something.
Session II (6pm CT)
130 kg: **Adam Coon (NYAC/Cliff Keen) vs. Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist)
Coon — 2018 World silver; 2019 Pan Am Championships gold; 2014 Junior World bronze; 2015 US Open Champion; 2016 Olympic Trials runner-up
Schultz — 2017 Cadet World Champion; 2018 Junior World bronze; 2017 Croatia Open gold; 2018 U23 World Team member
As compelling of a heavyweight matchup as there can possibly be at the moment, especially coming off of Schultz’s three-round victory over Robby Smith (NYAC/Chicago RTC) last month. This series is also a testament to the talent, drive, and developmental opportunities both athletes have used to their advantage coming up through the ranks. Schultz, who is also on this year’s Junior squad, cannot be discounted or overlooked, and you can rest assured Coon agrees with that assessment.
Reader Polls – Final X: Lincoln
Which series is most likely to require all three bouts?
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Go with your gut (no pun).
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