Team Illinois dominates Junior Greco-Roman Nationals
Illinois standout Nkosi Moody is one title away from his second Junior Triple Crown
By CRAIG SESKER
FARGO, N.D. – No wrestler has won two USA Wrestling Triple Crowns in the Junior division.
Nkosi Moody is determined to change that.
Moody took another huge step in his quest to repeat as Junior Triple Crown winner after defeating Illinois teammate Tommy Pawelski 2-0, 0-3, 3-1 in the Junior Nationals Greco-Roman finals at 106 pounds on Tuesday afternoon.
Moody beat Pawelski in the Junior Nationals freestyle finals last year to complete the Triple Crown.
Moody won a Junior Nationals Folkstyle crown earlier this year in Cedar Falls, Iowa. The third leg of the Triple Crown, the Junior Nationals freestyle tournament, is set for later this week.
"Ever since I won the Triple Crown last year, this has been my No. 1 goal to win it again," Moody said. "There are some real tough wrestlers here and I just need to keep working hard. I know what I need to do, I just have to go out and do it."
Moody’s brother, Jabari, won a Junior Greco title at 100 pounds on Tuesday at the Fargo Dome. Moody beat Wisconsin’s J.J. McClelland 1-0, 3-1 in the finals. Jabari Moody was second in Cadet Nationals in Greco last year and won Cadet Nationals in freestyle.
Three other wrestlers remain on track to win USA Wrestling Triple Crowns. Juniors became eligible to win the Triple Crown in 2007 when the Junior Nationals Folkstyle competition was added to the schedule.
Texas’ Oliver Pierce (152 pounds), Iowa’s Alex Meyer (170) and Michigan’s Adam Coon (285) won Junior Nationals Greco titles on Tuesday. Pierce, Meyer and Coon won Junior Nationals Folkstyle titles earlier this year.
Pierce controlled Ohio’s T.J. Fox in posting a 7-0, 2-0 victory in the finals. Pierce was second in this event last year. He previously won a USA Wrestling Kids’ Triple Crown.
The powerful 6-foot-5, 260-pound Coon swept Josh Marchok of Illinois 1-0, 6-0 in the finals at heavyweight. Coon, a top NCAA Division I college prospect in wrestling and football, won a Junior Nationals title last year in Greco and won a FILA Cadet World title in freestyle.
"I love football and I love wrestling," Coon said. "I still have to make my decision for what sport I am going to do in college. For now, I'm just focused on getting on that podium again later in the week and winning a gold medal here in freestyle."
Meyer, a University of Iowa recruit, launched Iowa’s Justin Koethe to his back to record a second-period fall. Koethe had won the first period 5-0 and was leading 3-0 in the second before Meyer body-locked him to his back for the pin.
Meyer, a University of Iowa recruit, placed second in the Junior Nationals Greco event last year.
Geordan Speiller of Florida repeated as Junior Nationals Greco champion. He swept Wisconsin’s Matt Gray 6-0, 3-0 in the 160 finals.
Speiller made the U.S. Junior World Team this year and was named USA Wrestling Junior Greco-Roman Wrestler of the Year.
Illinois crowned five champions as it rolled to the team title with 86 points. Iowa and Pennsylvania were tied in second with 40 points.
Illinois wrestler Kevon Powell defended in par terre in the third period to hold off Washington’s Josh Newberg 6-0, 0-1, 1-0 in the finals at 120. Powell had knocked off returning champion and U.S. Junior World Team member Isaiah Varona of Florida en route to the finals.
Zane Richards of Illinois improved on his runner-up finish from 2011 by sweeping Tyson Dippery of Pennsylvania 1-0, 2-0 in the 132 finals. Richards, a University of Illinois recruit, won Cadet Nationals Greco titles here in 2009 and 2010. He also won a Junior Nationals freestyle title last year.
The Illinois parade of champions continued when Sam Brooks won the title at 182. Brooks, a University of Iowa recruit, swept Michigan’s Kevin Beazley 2-0, 1-0 in the finals. Brooks was third in this event last year.
FILA Cadet World Team member Hayden Tuma of Idaho captured the Junior Greco championship at 138. Tuma downed Minnesota’s Mitch Bengtson 1-0, 0-2, 2-0 in the finals.
FILA Cadet World Team member Grant LaMont of Utah dominated North Dakota’s Ryan Blees 7-0, 7-0 in the 145 finals, finishing the win by lifting Blees high into the air and planting him directly on his back with a five-point move. Lamont was named Outstanding Wrestler.
Iowa’s Cory Clark, Meyer’s teammate at Southeast Polk High School, put on a dazzling display by recording a pair of spectacular throws from the reverse lift position to sweep Joel Shump of Illinois 9-0, 6-0 in the 126 finals. Clark, a University of Iowa recruit, was third in this event last year.
Minnesota’s Jarred Oftedahl climbed the top step of the podium after defeating Javier Vieyra of Kansas in the finals at 113. Oftedahl finished third in this event last year.
Ryan Solomon topped Alen Turcinhodzic in an all-Pennsylvania finals matchup at 195. Solomon prevailed 1-0, 3-0 in the finals.
Maryland’s Kyle Snyder continued his progression after taking two straight periods from California’s Daniel Chaid 2-0, 1-1 in the 220 finals. Snyder won Cadet Nationals in freestyle and was second in Greco last year. Chaid is the son of past NCAA champion Dan Chaid.
Day 5 of the Cadet and Junior Nationals is set for Wednesday in Fargo. The Junior women’s duals and Cadet Nationals freestyle competitions are both scheduled to kick off at 9:30 a.m.
Jabari Moody (Illinois) dec. J.J. McClelland (Wisconsin), 1-0, 3-1
Nkosi Moody (Illinois) dec. Tommy Pawelski (Illinois), 2-0, 0-3, 3-1
Jarred Oftedahl (Minnesota) dec. Javier Vieyra (Kansas), 1-2, 1-0, 1-0
Kevon Powell (Illinois) dec. Josh Newberg (Washington), 6-0, 0-1, 1-0
Cory Clark (Iowa) dec. Joel Shump (Illinois), 9-0, 6-0
Zane Richards (Illinois) dec. Tyson Dippery (Pennsylvania), 1-0, 2-0
Hayden Tuma (Idaho) vs. Mitch Bengtson (Minnesota), 1-0, 0-2, 2-0
Grant LaMont (Utah) dec. Ryan Blees (North Dakota), 7-0, 7-0
Oliver Pierce (Texas) dec. T.J. Fox (Ohio), 7-0, 2-0
Geordan Speiller (Florida) dec. Matt Gray (Wisconsin), 6-0, 3-0
Alex Meyer (Iowa) pinned Justin Koethe (Iowa), 0-1, 0:55
Sam Brooks (Illinois) dec. Kevin Beazley (Michigan), 2-0, 1-0
Ryan Solomon (Pennsylvania) dec. Alen Turcinhodzic (Pennsylvania), 1-0, 3-0
Kyle Snyder (Maryland) dec. Daniel Chaid (California), 2-0, 1-1
Adam Coon (Michigan) dec. Josh Marchok (Illinois), 1-0, 6-0
Photo Credit: John Sachs