In recent years Team Michigan has established itself as a perennial top-10 team in Fargo, and this year furthered that trend with 6 wrestlers earning AA honors for a 7th place overall team finish. St Johns senior Logan Massa was the top finisher, earning runner-up honors at 160lbs. The additional All-Americans were Holt senior Benny Gomez at 113lbs, Davison senior Lincoln Olson at 126lbs, St Johns graduate Zac Hall at 138lbs, Leslie graduate Zehlin Storr at 138lbs, and Detroit CC senior Myles Amine at 152lbs.
Massa went untested prior to the semifinals, recording 5 consecutive tech-falls. However, with a finals berth on the line, Massa was pushed to his limit by Florida’s Fox Baldwin who is ranked #7 in the class of 2015. Both wrestlers were highly offensive, and whenever Massa scored Baldwin always seemed to have a counterpunch waiting. With a minute left on the clock Baldwin drew within a takedown of tying the match, but a savvy Massa withstood the late barrage for a 10-8 victory.
In the finals Massa met Ryan Blees of North Dakota, a high school graduate and defending Junior National champion who will be wrestling for Oklahoma State in the fall. This was a rematch from FILA Junior Nationals this spring when Massa topped Bless 10-0. This time around Blees was far more prepared, using a more defensive and conservative approach to keep Massa’s attacks at bay.
The scoring began when Massa was put on the shot clock after being hit for passivity about two minutes into the match despite seemingly initiating all of the match’s action. With the shot clock winding down Massa managed to score with a double leg, but in the process Blees scored 2 exposure points of his own for a 2-1 lead which he took into the second period.
Massa came out on the attack to start the next period, but Blees once again proved difficult to score on. Shortly later, Blees was put on the shot clock and failed to score. The ensuing point awarded to Massa tied the match at 2, but Blees was still effectively in the lead due to tiebreaker criteria. Massa spent the last two minutes chasing the winning takedown, but once again was stymied by Blees. Then in the match’s final seconds Massa attempted a headlock that appeared to take Blees out of bounds for a pushout, but the officials instead awarded a controversial takedown to Blees. After a challenge and video review the call on the mat was upheld, and Blees was awarded an additional point for the failed challenge resulting in a final score of 5-2 in his favor.
In his final time competing, Zac Hall capped an incredible career in the FargoDome by earning All-American honors for a 5th consecutive summer. He advanced to the semifinals with 5 consecutive tech’s including a 17-7 defeat of Pennsylvania state champion Ian Brown. In the semis Hall suffered his lone loss of the tournament against Brock Zacherl, another Pennsylvania state champion. Following the loss, Hall bounced back and won handily in his final two matches for a 3rd place finish.
Zehlin Storr wrestled what I believe was the best tournament of his high school career and it resulted in a 5th place finish at 138lbs. He was knocked out of the championship bracket by Zacherl, the eventual runner-up, and his only other loss came in the consolation semis against fellow Michigander and future U of M teammate Zac Hall. Along the way Storr had a number signature wins against elite opponents: returning cadet AA’s Alex Butler of Illinois and Wyatt Sheets of Oklahoma, Junior Folk champion Tristan Moran of Oklahoma, returning Junior AA Brandon James of Indiana, and 2X state champion Logan Ryan of Iowa.
Like Storr, Benny Gomez performed as well as he ever has at the high school level. He turned some heads earlier in the week with a 5th place showing in Greco, and proved it was no fluke by matching that finish in Freestyle competition to become Michigan’s only double AA in the Junior division. He dropped to the consolation bracket early following a round 2 loss at the hands of 2X New Jersey SQ Denzel Tovar, but Gomez responded with the utmost resilience to win 6 consecutive matches and 7 of his last 8. Most notably, Gomez knocked off 3 returning Fargo AA’s: Jack Wagner of Iowa (Cadet 3rd), Tanner Rohweder of Iowa (Junior 5th), and Andrew Nieman of Oklahoma (Cadet 2nd). Additionally, Gomez also recorded a dominant 10-0 tech fall over 2X Indiana runner-up Garrett Pepple.
Lincoln Olson found himself on one of the tournament’s deepest brackets, but managed to secure AA honors with some late match heroics in the bloodround. He opened the tourney with 4 straight techs, but dropped to the round of 12 after losing in the quarters to eventual runner-up Chaz Tucker of New Jersey. Then, with AA status on the line, Olson found himself tied at 10 but trailing by criteria against 2X Ohio state placer Evan Cheek. However, Olson rallied and found a way to score a late pushout as time expired to win the match. His next match was a heartbreaking 8-7 loss to Kansas state champ Sean DeShazer at the buzzer, but Olson once again rebounded. This time he found himself down 8-0 to Lipari in his 7th place bout, but came roaring back with 19 unanswered points in the second period to tech.
Myles Amine has been red hot since the state tournament in March, and he continued to shine by earning his first Freestyle All-American honors. He tech-falled in his first 4 matches, dominating 2X Wisconsin state champ Jared Scharenbrock in the round of 16. Once in the quarters Amine suffered his first loss at the hands of eventual 3rd place finisher Josh Marcua of Pennsylvania, the #22 ranked wrestler in the class of 2015. It was a short turnaround for Amine, who responded to the loss with a dominant 10-0 tech in the bloodround. In his next bout Amine was the aggressor against Illinois runner-up Luke Fortuna, but a late push-out cost him in a 5-5 criteria loss. Once again Amine bounced back with impressive resiliency, pinning New York state champ Renaldo Rodriguez-Spencer to finish 7th and end the tournament on a high note.
In addition to the 5 All-Americans, 7 more wrestlers came within 1 or matches of placing in the top 8 at their respective weight class: Fowlerville graduate Dalton Roberts at 106lbs, Erie Mason senior Logan Griffin at 120lbs, Detroit CC senior Trevor Zdebski at 126lbs, Southgate Anderson senior Logan Parks at 152lbs, St Johns senior Ty Wildmo at 182lbs, Monroe Jefferson graduate Hunter Dunn at 220lbs, and Whittemore Prescott senior Ryan Prescott at 285lbs. Several others also turned in solid performances, with 3 additional wrestlers winning 3 or more matches prior to being eliminated: Middleville TK senior Chris Poland at 120lbs, Stoney Creek graduate Kyle Noonan at 132lbs, and Hudson graduate Cole Weaver at 138lbs.