2022 World Team member Cohlton Schultz (130 kg, Sunkist, 5PM #1) advanced to the finals of the NCAA Division I National Championships last night, and required late-match heroics to do so.
Schultz had been dominant through the first two rounds of the tournament (which began on Thursday), winning by fall over Hofstra University’s Zachary Knighton-Ward and Lewis Fernandes of Cornell, respectively. The quarterfinal then pitted Schultz against Mason Parris (Michigan). In what was his tightest bout of the event thus far, the Colorado native managed to move another step forward via 6-5 decision.
The win over Parris — apparently considered by many NCAA wrestling journalists as an upset — elevated Schultz into the semifinal opposite Jordan Wood of Lehigh. Their match went into overtime with Wood starting on folkstyle bottom; he escaped quickly, and then it was Schultz’s turn. A scramble-happy escape followed by a front headlock elicited a roar from the Arizona State faithful in the audience — only Wood had not succumbed to the position. Instead, he attacked an extended Schultz and secured a single leg that he lifted high in the air. But — Schultz’s front headlock proved beyond reproach as he simply rolled through upon landing to garner the points necessary for victory. Schultz had also defeated Wood in the ASU/Lehigh dual meet last month.
In the final round (airing live Saturday night on ESPN), Schultz will face Tokyo gold and returning NCAA Division I champion Gable Steveson (University of Minnesota). In addition to his Olympic gold, Steveson also boasts three age-group freestyle World titles.
Schultz, 21, has established himself as one of the United States Greco program’s most prominent athletes. After earning Cadet World gold (’17) and Junior bronze (’18), he moved up to the Senior domestic level and won the ’19 World Team Trials before eventually finishing second to then-reigning World silver Adam Coon at Final X: Lincoln. A Junior silver and pair of National titles followed, along with an appearance in the ’20 Olympic Trials best-of-three, again which went to Coon. Schultz made his first Senior World Team this past September at the expense of Jacob Mitchell (Army/WCAP, 5PM #2).
“This is great, and there is something to be said about Greco-Roman guys who are able to be successful in the collegiate realm,” multi-time World Team member Joe Betterman said last night of Schultz’s performance at the NCAA tournament. “Greco athletes like Schultz, who basically trains full-time, can hold their own and more. This right now shows the depth of Greco. Our guys can hang in there at the NCAA’s.”
- Ridge Lovett (67 kg, Nebraska), teammate to Schultz on the ’17 Cadet World roster, likewise advanced to the final round. His opponent will be two-time champ Yianni Diakmihalis of Cornell. Lovett last competed in Greco-Roman at the ’20 Coralville Nationals.
- ’16 Junior World bronze/multi-time age-group World Teamer Taylor LaMont (60 kg, Sunkist/UVRTC, 5PM #2) was unable to repeat his All-American performance from a year ago. LaMont finished 2-2.
- ’18 Cadet/’21 Junior World Team member Luke Luffman (130 kg, IRTC) started off nicely in the tournament before dropping his next two, the first of which to fellow Illinois product (and former Fargo champ) Anthony Cassioppi (Iowa). Cassioppi was once thought of Schultz’s main domestic rival during their time together in the Junior age division, until the former chose to focus on collegiate folkstyle pursuits.
- ’19 Junior World Team member Tyler Eischens, who competes for Stanford, will end his time in Detroit with a 1-2 ledger. Fellow Minnesotan Peyton Robb (77 kg, University of Nebraska) on Saturday morning punched his ticket to the third-place match at 157 lbs.
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