USA Greco

STEF & Zillmer Power To First Wins at Schultz Memorial

hayden zillmer wins 2017 dave schultz memorial
Hayden Zillmer -- Photo: Alec Ortiz/House 8 Graphics

John Stefanowicz (82 kg, Marines) picked up right where he left off at the close of last season and Minnesota Storm super-hybrid Hayden Zillmer (97 kg) scored one of the biggest wins of his career thus far to emerge as the only two US athletes standing in victory lane following a night of finals at the 2017 Dave Schultz Memorial in Colorado Springs. The action began at 7:00pm (MT) and was broadcast live via stream on Flowrestling.

In the 82 kilogram final, Stefanowicz squared off against one of the country’s most technically-proficient Greco competitors, Dillon Cowan (Army/WCAP), who was a runner-up at this event in 2016 to Corey Hope (NYAC) and a bronze medalist here last February. For his part, Stefanowicz was searching for his first-ever Schultz medal coming into this week. The Stefanowicz/Cowan showdown was also a rematch — the two first met at the 2017 Armed Forces Championships over the winter with Cowan earning a hard-fought 5-3 decision.

Cowan, known throughout for his vaunted arm throw, went right for his go-to move at the whistle only to have Stefanowicz remain upright before spinning behind for two. The Marine wrestler quickly worked for a high gutwrench, but Cowan didn’t budge and it was back to the feet. Normally a 75 kilogram athlete, Cowan was finding the sledding to be a little rough in the ties against his heavier opponent as Stefanowicz looked to control the center. With his back to the line, Cowan deftly pivoted back inside, forcing Stefanowicz to go out, which netted him his first point of the contest. After the reset, another arm throw attempt by Cowan was again defended by Stefanowicz, who converted it into a takedown and a 4-1 lead. This time, Stefanowicz was able to get his turn, though Cowan reversed to make the score 6-2 heading into the break.

A passivity point came Stefanowicz’s way early in the second and then things started getting a little chippy. The intensity spiked. Stefanowicz was working a two-on-one and beginning to move Cowan around just a little bit more. Cowan, in trying to stand his ground, led with his head coming out of an exchange and next thing you know, he was penalized for a caution-and-two. Upon the restart, there was even more competitive ferocity between the pair. A brawl — similar to their first meeting back in February. But Stefanowicz was now sitting one point away from ending the rematch early, which he did via step-out with just under a minute left to go, sewing up his first Schultz gold in the process.

“We were just wrestling hard,” Stefanowicz said afterwards. “I just like being a savage. We trained straight through this tournament and when I get home tomorrow, I will have practice and keep going. My plan is to score and piss them off when they don’t. And then score again when they get frustrated. This was a meaningful win to my team, my coach, and myself.”

Zillmer Also a First-time champ

In 2010 Junior World silver/2012 Olympian Lee Se-Yeol (KOR), Zillmer was going up against a skilled, accomplished opponent who isn’t prone to making mistakes on the mat. To prevail in this one, the Storm wrestler would have to ignite his improving offense, something he has been working on since the close of last season.

It paid off.

One of Zillmer’s best assets, aside from his towering stature or physical strength, is his ability to pummel. He can weave, wedge, and crunch with anyone on the planet. However, as important as that is in Greco-Roman, it has also resulted in Zillmer occasionally being caught up in the tug-of-war machinations that tend to bring on passive calls. Which is why generating offense has become such a necessity for him as he continues to progress at the international level.

Lee wanted to keep a brisk pace to start off and while Zillmer wasn’t sluggish himself, it was he who still got nabbed for passivity. This started to be a push-pull kind of match, and one that would not favor Zillmer in the long-run if only because Lee possesses an eclectic arsenal that runs off of his preference for a quick tempo. Officials prefer that style, too. So Zillmer became increasingly busier — short drags, snaps, shucks — he was starting to come alive more and more as the first period drew to a close, though the scoreboard hadn’t changed just yet.

They traded passivity points in the first minute of the second with Lee holding a 2-1 advantage. It went on like this. There wasn’t so much blocking as it was just two athletes unable to crack through the other’s defenses. Then with a little over a minute left on the clock, Zillmer was inexplicably hit for a caution to put him down by three. Urgency had to be the name of the game.

The wrestlers retook the center. Zillmer’s energy level had been upped. He was now breaking forward, flashing one high dive attempt and then another, but Lee kept his feet. Until he didn’t. This has happened before. Zillmer lowered in one more time, clutching around Lee’s right arm. In one motion, literally, Zillmer trucked Lee to his back for four. Korea instantly challenged — and lost — giving Zillmer a two-point lead he had no problem holding onto the rest of the way.

Nowry’s return to 55 brings a silver; Perkins falls to Kim

2012 University World Champion Max Nowry (Army/WCAP) had been looking forward to 55 kilogram’s return to Senior competition and he celebrated accordingly on Day 1 by garnering two dominant victories. 55 kilos was a round-robin bracket at this event and coming into tonight, the two wrestlers without blemishes on their records were Nowry and 2016 Junior Asian Championships bronze medalist Son Hee-Dong (KOR).

Nowry, 27, zipped arm drags and snaps at the outset and began to appear close to clamping down on a front headlock several times early on as Son looked to wrangle a two-on-one. The tempo belonged to Nowry through most of the first and he held a 1-0 passivity point lead. Of course, that wasn’t going to last, and Lee checked in with his own passive point shortly before the break to snare criteria.

The whistle blew for the second period and Lee was in on Nowry immediately with a takedown to jump ahead 3-1. Back on their feet and Nowry went to the same strategy he employed in the opening frame. He was moving quickly, going from one tie-up to another just trying to coerce an opportunistic position. He also kept reaching up for front headlocks, but Lee wriggled out of each attempt. A passivity call on Lee arrived just as time was becoming a factor, cutting Nowry’s deficit to 3-2. But despite his effort never waning, he couldn’t capitalize. Lee with the win 3-2 to give Nowry his first Schultz silver after placing third in 2016.

The 77 kilogram final pitted popular US star RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) against 2012 Olympic gold medalist/2013 World Champion Kim Hyeon-Woo (KOR), and this could have been considered the marquee match-up of the evening. Perkins, wrestling above 71 kilograms for the first time in his career, was returning to competition following a pair of shoulder injuries he endured over the spring. Meanwhile, Kim last took the mat at the World Championships in August where his bid for gold was cut short by Tamas Lorincz (HUN), the same wrestler he defeated to win gold in London five years ago.

Wearing a large wrap on his right arm, Perkins took the center intent on trying to keep up with the heavy pressure Kim is recognized for, and he was doing a fine job of it until midway through the first when Kim uncorked a correct-throw-arm-throw, one of his specialties. Perkins pushed forward after the reset wanting to dig in underhooks. As he did, Kim dipped down for another arm throw attempt but came up empty However, as Perkins defended, Kim kept the arm and slithered around back for another pair of points. Perkins defended the proceeding lift well. When they returned standing, the American began having a little more success moving Kim off his spot even if opportunities to score failed to present themselves.

Perkins jutted in an underhook to kick off the second, forcing Kim to pummel back in. Kim’s footwork, a key attribute of his, is why he is often so difficult to deal with. He is very rarely stationary, so he is apt at setting a bruising pace that makes opponents have no choice but to either meet the pressure or wilt. Perkins wasn’t wilting. Instead, he tried an arm throw himself that wound up turning into a slip. They reset once more. Kim nudged inside before snapping Perkins down and spinning behind. From top, Kim was then able to bar Perkins’s arm and lock around for a trap-arm gut that he used to expose Perkins to end the bout at :58 into the second period.

ravaughn perkins, 2017 dave schultz memorial silver medalist

Perkins (blue) tries to control Kim Hyeon-Woo (KOR) in the 77 kilogram final at the 2017 Dave Schultz Memorial. (Photo: Alec Ortiz/House 8 Graphics)

Mango Comes Up Short in 63 kg final

As terrific as Ryan Mango (Army/WCAP) looked blitzing through his bouts on Day 1, it was all too easy to imagine him replicating those performances one way or another this evening. Unfortunately for US fans, it didn’t turn out that way.

2016 Junior Asian Championships bronze medalist Jung Do-Kyung (KOR) ended this highly-anticipated match-up quickly with an arm throw for four, and then a big straddle lift for four more, wrapping up a resounding 8-0 technical superiority victory in just :28.


  • The United States only had two champions — Stefanowicz, who wrestled another American, and Zillmer.
  • Korea won the team standings with 71 points. Army/WCAP finished second with 68 and NYAC came in third with 47 points.
  • All ten bronze medalists were Americans with four of those the third-place bouts coming against foreign opponents.
  • Zillmer, a National Team member in both international disciplines, will also be competing in the freestyle portion of the event, which begins tomorrow.

We will have more on the 2017 Dave Schultz Memorial International this weekend, so stay tuned!


55 kg: *Son Hee-Dong (KOR) def. Max Nowry (Army/WCAP) 3-2
60 kg: *
Kim Seung-Hak (KOR) def. Chung Han-Jae (KOR) via fall (5:55)
63 kg:
Jung Do-Kyung (KOR) def. Ryan Mango (Army/WCAP) 9-0, TF
67 kg:
 Tsuchika Shimoyamada (JPN) def, Ryu Han-Soo (KOR) 3-2
72 kg: Tomohiro Inoue (JPN) def. Kim Ji-Hun (KOR) 5-5 (criteria)
77 kg: Kim Hyeon-Woo (KOR) def. RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) 8-0, TF
82 kg: John Stefanowicz (Marines) def. Dillon Cowan (Army/WCAP) 10-2, TF
87 kg: Giorgi Tsirekidze (GEO) def. Masato Sumi (JPN) 4-1
97 kg: Hayden Zillmer (Minnesota Storm) def. Lee Se-Yeol (KOR) 6-4
130 kg: *Kim Min-Seok (KOR) def. Jacob Mitchell (Army/WCAP) via fall (2:22)


55 kg: *Kyndall Rutz (NMU/OTS) def. Camden Russell (MWC) 8-0, TF
60 kg: *
Mike Fuenffinger (Army/WCAP) def. Choi Hyun-Woong (KOR) 4-1 
63 kg:
Jesse Thielke (NYAC) def. Sammy Jones (NYAC/OTS) 8-0, TF
67 kg:
Jessy Williams (NYAC) def. German Diaz (Marines) 17-12
72 kg:
Jamel Johnson (Marines) def. Brandon Mueller (505 Wrestling Club) 2-1
77 kg:
Chris Gonzalez (NYAC) def. John Yeats (CAN) 6-0
82 kg:
Courtney Myers (Army/WCAP) def. Jeon Neul Pu San (KOR) 7-5
87 kg:
Jon Anderson (Army/WCAP) def. Park Jae-Woo (KOR) 11-2, TF
97 kg:
Micah Burak (TMWC) def. Austin Schafer (NYAC) 4-3
130 kg:
 *Toby Erickson (Army/WCAP) def. Donny Longendyke (Minnesota Storm) 7-2


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