By Brogan Louden
This coming weekend, wrestlers at select weights will travel to Colorado Springs to compete in the anticipated World Team Trials Challenge Tournament for their chance to compete at Final X.
The weights that will be contested are those that do not have a returning world medalist for Team USA. In the senior men’s freestyle division, 61, 92 and 125 kg are the classes that will be competing for a birth and their shot at the winner of the US Open.
The senior women’s freestyle division will feature competitors at 55, 59, 68 and 76 kg.
These brackets are loaded with many high-profile wrestlers, setting up some exciting matches early on. Here's the full preview.
61 KG - MEN
61 kg may be one of the most highly anticipated weight classes featuring Austin DeSanto, Seth Gross and Daton Fix.
DeSanto was able to merely escape Gross’ late comeback in the US Open semi-finals, capturing a 6-5 win. Gross, the representative for the USA at the 2022 World Championships, will look to make some adjustments and return to Final X for his second straight year. It will not be an easy task, however, as he will likely face the means of Daton Fix in the semi-finals, whom he beat two matches to one in last year's Final X. Fix was entered to compete at the US Open last month, but was forced to withdraw from the bracket due to illness the morning of the event.
Although these three guys will be the heavy favorites to win, Nashon Garrett and Nathan Tomasello could put a damper on those plans. Garrett wrestled extremely well at the US Open, capturing six wins and a third-place finish, his only loss coming at the hands of the eventual champion. He was also able to earn a technical superiority win over Nathan Tomasello in the third-place bout, who he’s had a rich history against. Rounding out the top competitors, Joe Colon and Aden Valencia will look to test their odds and shake things up a little.
Will Austin DeSanto be able to win a loaded field and get a rematch with Vito Arujau, or will another wrestler steal the show?
92 KG - MEN
At 92 kg, Kollin Moore enters as the number one seed. However, a potential finals match up against Nate Jackson or Zahid Valencia could be tight. Moore made it to the US Open finals before falling to Michael Macchiavello, 12-2. He will look to get through for a shot at revenge and a World Team spot.
Nate Jackson, who dropped a close 4-2 bout to Macchiavello in the US Open semi-finals, will look to continue his hot streak and take out Moore. It will be interesting to see how Zahid fairs after making the US Open finals at 86 kg. This will provide an opportunity to see how he competes against bigger guys, wrestling up a weight from what he is used to competing at. In addition to these guys, Eric Schultz, Jonathan Aiello, Morgan McIntosh and Tanner Sloan will look to pull off major upsets and shock the field.
125 KG - MEN
The third and final weight being contested for the men’s freestyle division is 125 kg. Similar to the other classes, this weight features a lot of star power.
Nick Gwiazdowski enters as the top seed after a runner up finish at the US Open. A potential semifinal matchup between Mason Parris and Wyatt Hendrickson would be a rematch of the third-place bout at the US Open. There, Hendrickson was able to go up 7-0 before Parris was able to rally back and score twenty unanswered points for the technical fall. The winner of this rematch could set up a highly tactical bout against Gwiazdowski for the title. However, Dominique Bradley should not be overlooked, especially fresh off of a Pan-American Championships gold medal. Ty Walz, Demertius Thomas and Tony Cassioppi round out the challengers looking to extend their chances at a World Team.
55 KG - WOMEN
In the senior women’s freestyle division, 55 kg is the first weight class that is under contention.The number one seed and heavy favorite, Jacarra Winchester, will look to cruise through the field and accept her ticket to Final X. Winchester’s accolades as a multi-time world medalist and Olympian mark her as an undeniable force.
Although Lauren Mason will look to test Winchester after making the finals at the US Open last month. Similarly, both the third and fourth place finishers at the US Open, Areana Villaescusa and Marissa Gallegos, will look to make improvements and climb the ladder. Amanda Martinez, Gabrielle Skidmore and Virginia Foard could also make things interesting. Martinez will make the move down to 55 kg after making the US Open semi-finals at 57 kg. There, she dropped a high scoring, 12-10 bout to the Xochitl Mota-Pettis, the eventual champion.
59 KG - WOMEN
At 59 kg, Chain Wrestling Legacy Athlete Maya Nelson will look to capture the title and get a rematch with Michaela Beck at Final X. However, with Jennifer Page moving down from 62 kg, she could find herself in a close finals match. Page was able to take Chain Wrestling Signature Athlete Adaugo Nwachukwu to the brink in the US Open finals. These two highlight the field, yet Brenda Reyna and Abigail Nette will also be heavy hitters looking to bully their way through the tournament to get to the finals.
68 KG - WOMEN
The top seed at 68 kg, Alexandria Glaude, will also look to win the challengers tournament and get a rematch with Forrest Molinari. Katerina Lange and Solin Piearcy, who were both US Open semifinalists, could face off again in the semifinals this weekend for a shot at Glaude. Ana Luciano and Chloe Ogden will look to change the projected outcome and put some of these matches in their favor.
76 KG - WOMEN
76 kg will round the women’s freestyle action out. The top seed is 2020 Olympic medalist, Adeline Gray. But don't overlook the rest of the field. Yelena Makoyed, Dymond Guilford and Kylie Welker could pose as serious threats. At the US Open, Kylie Welker was up 8-2 on Dymond Guilford before being pinned. Similarly, Guilford was winning 8-0 against Gray, before being pushed out six times and giving up three cautions and essentially being disqualified from the bout. Some minor adjustments for each of these women could lead to significantly different outcomes that could change the trajectory of the bracket. Tristan Kelly, Precious Bell, Ashley Lekas and Skylar Grote will look to shake things up too.
Action will kick off this Saturday, May 20th at 12:00 PM EDT on FloWrestling. You can see the full schedule here. The champion at each weight class will lock in their spot for Final X in Newark, New Jersey, on June 10.
About the author: Brogan Louden
Brogan Louden, a 2022 graduate of Shippensburg University, is from the great state of Pennsylvania. Growing up his entire life surrounded by some of the best wrestling in the nation, he quickly discovered his strong passion and love for the sport. Now, he is looking to pursue a career in wrestling media to help bring more awareness and excitement to the sport.