The final chapter in the long process to select the U.S. team for the 2019 World Championships comes Saturday in the final Final X matches, at the Devaney Center at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln. There are 15 matches scheduled, with five each in men’s and women’s Freestyle and men’s Greco-Roman. Thumbnail sketches on each match:
● 57 kg: Daton Fix vs. Tom Gilman
These two faced off in the U.S. Open final, with Fix winning, 8-4. That reversed the results of the 2018 Final X bouts, where Gilman won and advanced to the World Championships, where he finished fifth. Fix was the 2017 World Junior Champion; Gilman won the World Junior bronze back in 2014. This figures to be close, very close.
● 61 kg: Joe Colon vs. Tyler Graff
Colon won the 2018 Worlds bronze in this class and advanced directly to Final X . He won the 2018 national title and the 2018 and 2019 Pan American championship. Graff was only fourth at the U.S. Open, but rebounded to take the Team Trials Challenge Tournament
● 70 kg: Ryan Deakin vs. James Green
This is a re-match of the U.S. Open final, where Deaken surprised Green, 8-5. Green came in as the 2017 Worlds silver medalist and 2015 bronze medalist, but had to work his way back through the World Team Trials Challenge process. Deaken was the 2017 World Junior silver medalist; can he repeat his Open win?
● 74 kg: Jordan Burroughs vs. Isaiah Martinez
The final match of the night will feature the legendary Burroughs, a two-time NCAA champ for Nebraska, the 2012 Olympic champ and world champion in 2011-13-15-17. He won a Worlds bronze in 2018, so here he is in Final X against Martinez, who won the U.S. Open and the Team Trials Challenge tourney for the second straight year. But beating Burroughs would be a substantial upset.
● 97 kg: Kyle Snyder vs. Kyven Gadson
Snyder won the World title in 2015 and 2017 and the Olympic gold medal in 2016, but lost in the World Championships final in 2018. Gadson won the 2017 and 2019 U.S. Open titles but has not yet found a way around Snyder. Last year at Final X, Snyder defeated Gadson in two matches, 9-0 and 10-2.
● 60 kg: Leslie Fuenffinger vs. Ildar Hafizov
Fuenffinger has worked his way up the ladder, from fifth at the 2012 U.S. Open to second in 2018 and to the top step in 2019, defeating Hafizov, 6-4, in the final. Hafizov, who was a 2008 Olympian for Uzbekistan, was a 2017 Worlds team member for the U.S. and won the World Team Trails Challenge to get another shot at representing the U.S.
● 63 kg: Ryan Mango vs. Xavier Johnson
Mango was second at the 2017 U.S. Open and national champion in 2018 and 2019. Johnson moved up from sixth at the U.S. Open this year to take the World Team Trials Challenge tournament.
● 72 kg: Raymond Bunker vs. Alex Mossing
Bunker won his first national title this year, with a surprising 4-3 win over RaVaughn Perkins. Mossing has been wrestling at the U-23 level, but won the World Team Trials Challenge tourney to get a shot at the U.S. team heading to Kazakhstan.
● 97 kg: G’Angelo Hancock vs. Lucas Sheridan
Hancock is a two-time U.S. champ in 2017 and 2019 and defeated Sheridan in the 2019 Open final, 9-0. Sheridan has been third and second at the 2018 and 2019 nationals; can he overcome Hancock to make the U.S. Worlds team?
● 130 kg: Adam Coon vs. Cohlton Schultz
Coon is exceptionally versatile, as the Worlds silver medalist in this event in 2018, but also winning the 2018 and 2019 U.S. Open titles at 125 kg in Freestyle. He ended up second in the World Team Trials Challenge event in Freestyle, but he’s defending his team spot in Greco against Schultz, the 2018 World Junior bronze medalist, who won the Trials Challenge event in his first as a senior.
● 53 kg: Sarah Hildebrandt vs. Katherine Shai
The Worlds silver medalist in 2018, Hildebrandt was also the 2018 national champion. Shai lost to Tiare Ikei at the 2019 U.S. Open, 14-4, but came back to win the World Team Trials Challenge tourney. She’s been close to making the U.S. team: second at the World Team Trials in 2014 and third in the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Trials. But beating Hildebrandt will be a tall order.
● 55 kg: Jacarra Winchester vs. Dominique Parrish
Winchester has won the last two U.S. Opens and was fifth at the 2018 World Champs. She won her 2019 title with a 10-0 technical fall over Arena Villaescusa, while Parrish finished third with her own technical fall over. Alisha Houk (10-0). Parrish has some international experience as well, as a three-time member of the U.S. U-23 Worlds team the last three years, so this should be interesting.
● 59 kg: Alli Ragan vs. Lauren Louive
Ragan is a two-time Worlds silver medalist from 2016 and 2017 and defeated Abigail Nette by 10-0 to win the U.S. Open in April, her third national title. Louive came back through the World Team Trials Challenge tournament to get to Final X; she was the U.S. Open runner-up in 2018.
● 62 kg: Mallory Velte vs. Kayla Miracle
Velte won a bronze medal at the 2018 World Championships and qualified directly to Final X. Miracle is the three-time defending U.S. Open champion and the two were head-to-head at Final X last year and went to three matches. Miracle won the first match, 4-2; Velte won the second by 4-2 and in the decider, Velte managed a 7-1 victory to make the U.S. team. This match should be just as close.
● 76 kg: Adeline Gray vs. Precious Bell
Gray is the dominant women’s heavyweight, winning four World titles in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018 (after taking a year off). Bell won the 2019 U.S. Open by pinfall and won the World Team Trials Challenge, but beating Gray would count as a stunner.
The matches are being shown only on FloWrestling, a subscription site. Look for results here.