Photo credit: Sam Janicki

By Brogan Louden

LAS VEGAS, NV. – This past weekend, many of the best wrestlers in the country traveled to the South Point Hotel & Casino to compete in the US Open for their chance to qualify for Final X and make the world team.

Six signature Chain Wrestling athletes took to the mats in hopes of taking the first steps towards solidifying their spot as the top contender for the United States at their respective weights in the senior freestyle division.

At 57 kg, recent Nebraska transfer and Chain Wrestling Signature Athlete Caleb Smith got out to a fast start claiming 10-0 technical fall over Koy Caldwell. In the round of 16, he was able to continue his dominance in a 4-1 win against Big 12 champion, Stevo Poulin. Smith would ultimately fall at the hands of Spencer Lee in the quarterfinals, 9-4. Heading into the break 9-0, the North Carolina native was able to shut Lee’s offense down and score a push-out and caution point, before finishing with a takedown. However, Smith’s efforts late, would not be enough. In the consolation rounds, Smith would pick up another technical fall before losing in the fourth-round consolations to Cooper Flynn, 9-3. Smith was able to close his tournament out with a 10-3 win, claiming a seventh-place finish.

Chain Wrestling's Ridge Lovett made his long-awaited return to the mat at 65 kg. Entering as the fifth seed, Lovett picked up where he left off. He opened his tournament with a 10-0 technical fall, before earning decisions over Cole Matthews and Pat Lugo. In the semi-finals, Ridge would wrestle a tough
opponent in Joey McKenna. McKenna’s experience at the senior level would allow him to outlast Lovett’s late rally in an 8-3 victory. After his semi-finals match, Ridge would forfeit out the rest of the tournament, finishing in sixth place.

In a loaded 70 kg bracket, Ed Scott was able to secure the fifth seed heading into the tournament. Ed opened in impressive fashion, picking up two quick technical falls to place himself in the quarterfinals. There, he would face the likes of two-time NCAA finalist, Sammy Sasso. Sasso would use a series of turns to give himself the 14-4 technical fall and reach the semi-finals. In the consolations, Scott received a tough draw in number one seed and established senior level
wrestler, Alec Pantaleo. Pantaleo would put together an early series of turns to collect the 10-0 technical fall. Scott would finish his tournament 2-2.

Darrell “Debo” Mason, the Division II NCAA Champion, joined a loaded field with many Division I National Champions and All-Americans at 125 kg. In his first outing, Debo would get an early test in Tiger Style Wrestling Clubs, Zach Elam. A four point move for Elam in the second period would ultimately make the difference in a 6-2 match. In his first consolation bout, the "Jungle King" was able to covert on two throws and one turn to go up 6-0 midway through the first period. However, shortly after, Debo would get thrown to his back and pinned.
Nonetheless, it was a gutsy and impressive performance.

The remaining two athletes both competed in the Senior Women’s division, both making it to the finals.

Number one seed, Maya Nelson, used two 10-0 technical falls and a 7-5 decision to reach the finals. There, she would drop a heartbreaking 7-5 match to Michaela Beck to finish as the runner-up at 59 kg.

At 62 kg, Adaugo Nwachukwu, was able to continue her dominance hot streak fresh off winning her second NAIA Championship. Entering as the number two seed, Nwachukwu was able to collect a pair of falls and a technical fall enroute to reaching the finals. In the finals, she would face a fierce competitor in TMWC/Nittany Lion Wrestling Clubs, Jennifer Page. After a back and forth first period filled with action, Adaugo went into the break trailing 8-4. She would not let the deter her from pouring on the pressure and continuing to attack. A six-point second period would give Nwachukwu the come from behind victory and secure her spot in Final X.


57 KG
1st Zane Richards Illinois RTC/TMWC over Nick Suriano Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club (VPO1 3-3)

3rd Jakob Camacho Wolfpack Wrestling Club/TMWC over Austin Assad Ohio (VSU1 13-2 5:44)

5th Cooper Flynn Southeast RTC/TMWC over Spencer Lee Hawkeye Wrestling Club/TMWC (VFO)

7th Caleb Smith North Carolina over Michael Tortorice Knights RTC (VFA 4:26 10-3)

61 KG
1st Vitali Arujau Spartan Combat RTC/TMWC over Austin DeSanto Hawkeye Wrestling Club/TMWC (VSU 10-0 0:54)

3rd Nashon Garrett Lehigh Valley Wrestling Club/TMWC over Nathan Tomasello Cliff Keen Wrestling Club/TMWC (VSU 10-0 0:14)

5th Joe Colon TMWC over Seth Gross Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club (VFO)

7th Aden Valencia California RTC/TMWC over Daniel DeShazer Gopher Wrestling Club – RTC (VPO1 2-1)

65 KG
1st Nick Lee Nittany Lion Wrestling Club/TMWC over Joseph McKenna Pennsylvania RTC/TMWC (VPO1 10-5)

3rd Matthew Kolodzik New York Athletic Club over Beau Bartlett Nittany Lion Wrestling Club/TMWC (VPO1 8-6)

5th Anthony Ashnault New York City RTC/TMWC over Ridge Lovett Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club (VFO)

7th Jason Miranda California over Evan Henderson Lehigh Valley Wrestling Club/TMWC (VIN)

70 KG
1st Tyler Berger Sunkist Kids/PRTC over Sam Sasso Ohio RTC/TMWC (VPO1 10-10)

3rd Alec Pantaleo Cliff Keen Wrestling Club/TMWC over Jarrett Jacques Tiger Style Wrestling Club (VPO1 4-2)

5th Hayden Hidlay Wolfpack Wrestling Club/TMWC over Jarod Verkleeren Cavalier Wrestling Club (VSU 11-0 2:53)

7th Jaydin Eierman Hawkeye Wrestling Club/TMWC and Joshua Reyes Oregon

74 KG
1st Jason Nolf Nittany Lion Wrestling Club/TMWC over Vincenzo Joseph Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club (VPO1 10-5)

3rd Keegan O’Toole Tiger Style Wrestling Club over Joshua Shields Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club (VPO1 10-2)

5th Derek Gilcher Indiana RTC over Collin Purinton Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club (VPO1 10-8)

7th Thomas Gantt Wolfpack Wrestling Club/TMWC over Joey Lavallee Lehigh Valley Wrestling Club/TMWC (VIN)

79 KG
1st Chance Marsteller New York City RTC/TMWC over Alex Dieringer Cliff Keen Wrestling Club/TMWC (VPO1 3-2)

3rd David McFadden Pennsylvania RTC/TMWC over Alex Marinelli Hawkeye Wrestling Club/TMWC (VSU 10-0 2:22)

5th Michael Kemerer Spartan Combat RTC/TMWC over Carter Starocci Nittany Lion Wrestling Club/TMWC (VFO)

7th Taylor Lujan Panther Wrestling Club RTC/TMWC over Devin Skatza Spartan Combat RTC/TMWC (VPO1 12-7)

86 KG
1st Aaron Brooks Nittany Lion Wrestling Club/TMWC over Zahid Valencia Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club (VPO1 10-6)

3rd Mark Hall Pennsylvania RTC/TMWC over Trent Hidlay Wolfpack Wrestling Club/TMWC (VSU1 13-2 5:12)

5th Andrew Morgan Spartan Combat RTC/TMWC over Dylan Fishback Wolfpack Wrestling Club/TMWC (VPO1 8-6)

7th Owen Webster Gopher Wrestling Club – RTC over Maximus Hale Pennsylvania RTC (VPO 4-0)

92 KG
1st Michael Macchiavello Wolfpack Wrestling Club/TMWC over Kolin Moore Ohio RTC/TMWC (VSU1 12-2 5:15)

3rd Nathan Jackson New York Athletic Club over Eric Schultz Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club (VPO1 4-2)

5th Jonathan Aiello Cavalier Wrestling Club/TMWC over Morgan McIntosh Nittany Lion Wrestling Club (VIN)

7th Jacob Cardenas Spartan Combat RTC/TMWC over John Gunderson Panther Wrestling Club RTC (VPO1 7-6)

97 KG
1st J’den Cox Cliff Keen Wrestling Club/TMWC over Isaac Trumble Wolfpack Wrestling Club/TMWC (VPO1 12-3)

3rd Timothy Dudley Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club over Silas Allred Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club (VPO1 10-6)

5th Morgan Smith Lehigh Valley Wrestling Club/TMWC over Samuel Mitchell Bulls Wrestling Club (VPO 2-0)

7th Marco Retano La Grande Mat Club over Malik McDonald Golden Pride Wrestling Club (VFO)

125 KG
1st Gable Steveson Gopher Wrestling Club – RTC over Nick Gwiazdowski Spartan Combat RTC/TMWC (VSU 10-0 4:11)

3rd Mason Parris Cliff Keen Wrestling Club/TMWC over Wyatt Hendrickson Colorado (VSU1 20-7 4:14)

5th Dominique Bradley Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club over Demertius Thomas Pittsburgh Wrestling Club/NYAC (VPO1 8-2)

7th Ty Walz Southeast RTC/TMWC over Christian Lance Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club (VPO1 2-1)


50 KG
1st Audrey Jimenez Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club over Alyssa Lampe Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club (VPO1 10-10)

3rd Erin Golston New York Athletic Club over Sage Mortimer TMWC (VSU 10-0 2:00)

5th Aleeah Gould Army (WCAP) over Kendra Ryan Cardinal Wrestling Club (VPO1 10-4)

7th Ava Bayless Iowa Women’s Wrestling Club over Natalie Reyna-Rodriguez Southern Oregon RTC (VSU 11-0 1:41)

53 KG
1st Katie Gomez Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club over Samara Chavez Team Tornado Wrestling Club (VSU1 12-2

3rd Felicity Taylor Iowa Women’s WC/TMWC over Sydney Petzinger Cardinal Wrestling Club (VSU1 11-1 4:09)

5th Melanie Mendoza Team Tornado Wrestling Club over Amy Fearnside USOPTC/TMWC (VFO 0-0)

7th Avery Ashley Firebrand Wrestling Club over Vanessa Ramirez Army (WCAP) (VSU 10-0 1:33)

55 KG
1st Alisha Howk Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club over Lauren Mason UVRTC/TMWC (VPO1 8-3)

3rd Areana Villaescusa Army (WCAP) over Marissa Gallegos TMWC (VPO 5-0)

5th Amani Jones Cardinal Wrestling Club over Gabrielle Skidmore Minnesota Gold/Storm (VPO1 5-2)

7th Virginia Foard New York Athletic Club over Ella Jauregui California (VPO1 10-10)

57 KG
1st Xochitl Mota-Pettis Rise RTC over Alexandra Hedrick USOPTC/TMWC (VSU 10-0 0:44)

3rd Amanda Martinez TMWC over Shelby Moore White River Hornets Wrestling Club (VSU1 12-2 2:44)

5th Carolina Moreno Arizona over Ashley Whetzal Missouri (VFA 4:12 9-8)
7th Jasmine Hernandez Texas over Emma Truex Northwest Wrestling Club (VSU 10-0 1:44)

59 KG
1st Michaela Beck Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club over Maya Nelson Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club (VPO1 5-3)

3rd Brenda Reyna Army (WCAP) over Abigail Nette Army (WCAP) (VPO1 9-7)

5th Sarah Savidge Army (WCAP) over Lexie Basham New York Athletic Club (VFO)

7th Lauren Louive New York Athletic Club over Gracie Figueroa (VFO 0-0)

62 KG
1st Adaugo Nwachukwu TMWC over Jennifer Page Nittany Lion Wrestling Club/TMWC (VPO1 10-8)

3rd Bridgette Duty Army (WCAP) over Ashlynn Ortega New York Athletic Club (VPO1 4-4)

5th Zoe Nowicki Bulldog Wrestling Club over SaVannah Cosme Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club (VPO1 5-4)

7th Claire DiCugno White River Hornets Wrestling Club over Amanda Hendey TMWC (VPO1 6-4)

65 KG
1st Macey Kilty Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club over Emma Bruntil USOPTC/TMWC (VPO1 5-1)

3rd Maya Letona New York City RTC over Aine Drury California (VPO1 10-7)

5th Ana Luciano New York Athletic Club over Skylar Hattendorf New York Athletic Club (VFA 3:31 8-0)

7th Viktorya Torres Team Tornado Wrestling Club over Destiny Lyng California (VPO 2-0)

68 KG
1st Forrest Molinari Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club over Alexandria Glaude Beaver Dam RTC/TMWC (VFA 4:21 8-0)

3rd Katerina Lange Minnesota Gold/Storm over Solin Piearcy Menlo Wrestling Club (VPO1 5-4)

5th Chloe Ogden North Carolina over Isabella Mir Iowa Women’s Wrestling Club (VPO1 10-10)

7th Nina Makem Minnesota Gold/Storm over London Houston Cardinal Wrestling Club (VFA 2:24 10-0)

72 KG
1st Joye Levendusky New York over Rose Cassioppi New York Athletic Club (VSU 10-0 4:53)

3rd Brooklyn Hays Minnesota Gold/Storm over Marilyn Garcia Birmingham Community Charter High School Wrestling (VPO 9-0)

5th Kaylynn Albrecht Wildcat Elite over Nahiela Magee Army (WCAP) (VIN)

7th Haley Ward MO West Championship Wrestling Club over India Page Barons Women’s Wrestling Club (VFA 3:31 10-1)

76 KG
1st Kennedy Blades Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club over Adeline Gray New York Athletic Club (VSU1 12-2 3:32)

3rd Yelena Makoyed TMWC over Dymond Guilford USOPTC/TMWC (VFO 0-0)

5th Kylie Welker Iowa Women’s Wrestling Club/TMWC over Tristan Kelly Army (WCAP) (VSU 10-0 0:29)

7th Ashley Lekas Minnesota Gold/Storm over Sydnee Kimber Bearcat Wrestling Club (VFO)

Photo credit: Sam Janicki

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.