The U23 Freestyle and Greco national championships were held in Lincoln, Nebraska, over the weekend. The tournament sets the U23 world team, with champs representing the United States at the world championships in Serbia this Fall. Michigan Grapplers put together a solid weekend with 4 placers in freestyle and 4 placers in greco. (See full list of placers below)
Leading the way was David Stepanian (New York Athletic Club, Warren Woods Tower HS) at 63kg in greco. He put together a string of very impressive wins to win the bracket and make the world team. In the first round, Stepanian teched a very tough Caleb Gross of South Dakota State 8-0. Stepanian then picked up an 11-0 tech over We Rachal of Illinois RTC to make the best-of-three finals against Mosha Schwartz of Northern Colorado. Schwartz is an NCAA qualifier for Northern Colorado, and won numerous Cadet and Junior national championships in high school. Stepanian swept the series, winning 5-2 and 8-3.
Another finalist in greco was Jaden Enriquez of Michigan State. He put together two solid wins to reach the finals at 67kg. In the best-of-three finals series, Enriquez lost both matches to the champ Alston Nutter of Sunkist Kids WC. Nutter reached the finals with 3 techs before beating Enriquez in two close matches, 8-5 and 9-6.
Dylan Ragusin (Cliff Keen WC, Michigan) led the way in freestyle. He picked up a great win in the second round, teching Boo Dryden of Minnesota 11-1. Ragusin then pinned NCAA qualifier Jaime Hernandez of North Carolina in the quarterfinals. Ragusin's lone loss on the weekend came against Northwestern's Chris Cannon in the semis. On the same bracket, Dominic LaJoie (Spartan RTC, Gaylord HS) had a solid win on the backside to secure a spot on the podium. He teched Malyke Hines of Lehigh 14-4. Hines was a big recruit out of high school, and he also was a 2x GFC finalist.
Although he fell short of placing, Eddie Homrock (Michigan State, Brighton HS) had one of the biggest wins on the weekend. He was down against #4 seed and highly touted Joshua Saunders of Cornell before stepping over a gut and picking up the fall. Saunders would go on to take 3rd, with Homrock being his only loss of the tournament.
61kg - Dylan Ragusin (Cliff Keen WC), 3rd
61kg - Dominic LaJoie (Spartan Combat RTC, Gaylord HS), 6th
74kg - Derek Gilcher (Indiana, Detroit CC HS), 6th
92kg - Cam Caffey (Michigan State), 5th
63kg - David Stepanian (NYAC, Warren Woods Tower HS), 1st
63kg - Spencer Murphy (Olivet WC, North Branch HS), 7th
67kg - Jaden Enriquez (Michigan State), 2nd
130kg - Austin Emerson (Nebraska, Bedford HS), 7th