WRESTLING Preview: U.S. Open in Las Vegas is the first step to the World Champs for American wrestlers

USA Wrestling’s multi-step road to the 2019 World Championships in Astana (KAZ) in September starts for most American wrestlers at this week’s massive U.S. Open in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The new format for qualification starts with those wrestlers who earned World Championships medals in 2018: 7 in men’s Freestyle, one in Greco-Roman and four in women’s Freestyle. They advance directly to the “Final X” series, which will pit them against the winner of the U.S. World Team Trials Challenge Tournament. The field for the Challenge event will be built primarily from the U.S. Open results.

But in those classes where there is no medalist from 2018, the winner of the U.S. Open will get the Final X spot for that weight. Got it? Now to the previews:


57 kg:
Thomas Gilman was in Final X last year as a 2017 Worlds medalist, but will have to earn it this year. Daton Fix was the Open runner-up last year and Zach Sanders defeated Frank Perrelli for third; they’re the most likely contenders.

61 kg:
Joe Colon won the Worlds bronze last year, so he has advanced to Final X. The top returnees from 2018’s Open are third-placer Nico Megaludis and Tyler Graff. Cody Brewer won the Dave Schultz Memorial Invitational in January.

65 kg:
Logan Stieber, the 2016 World Champion at 61 kg, was wrestling at this weight, but has retired. That leaves Joey McKenna and Jaydin Eierman as the top two from the 2018 U.S. Open, with Nick Dardanes fourth behind Stieber. B.J. Futell won the Dave Schultz Memorial, but the buzz is about former National Team members Jordan Oliver and Zain Retherford.

70 kg:
Two-time Worlds medal winner James Green is favored, after missing a medal at the 2018 Worlds. Jason Chamberlain and Hayden Hidlay were 1-2 in the 2018 U.S. Open and Nazar Kulchytskyy – a National Team member at 74 kg – is moving down in weight to compete here.

74 kg:
Jordan Burroughs is already into Final X as a Worlds medalist (his seventh), so the top returnees from last year are Isaiah Martinez and Dan Vallimont. A wild card is 2012 Olympian Jared Frayer (at 66 kg), now 40 and coaching at Virginia Tech; a surprise perhaps?

79 kg:
Kyle Dake won the world title last year, so the contenders at the Open are Alex Dieringer, the 2018 Open runner-up, Nathan Jackson (fifth) and Ben Harvey (sixth).

86 kg:
David Taylor is the World Champion, so Pat Downey, seventh at the Open last year, but the winner of the Dave Schultz Memorial, might be next in line this year. Former National Team member Nick Heflin has come down in weight to wrestle in this class as well.

92 kg:
World Champion J’den Cox is off to Final X, so 2018 Open runner-up Hayden Zillmer is the logical favorite this year. Tim Dudley has moved up from 86 kg and won the Dave Schultz Memorial in January. Nikko Reyes and Tim McCall, fifth and sixth last year, are poised to move up.

97 kg:
Kyle Snyder took the Worlds silver in 2018, so he’s already in Final X. The top returnees are 2018 runner-up Ty Walz and fifth-placer Ben Honis.

125 kg:
The first spot in Final X belongs to Worlds bronze winner Nick Gwiazdowski, so runner-up Adam Coon – who won a Worlds Greco silver medal – is suddenly the favorite. National Team member Tony Nelson and third-placer Dom Bradley are other likely contenders.


The U.S. Open seeds have been released, and include:

55 kg:
1. Max Nowry ~ 2019 Pan American Champion
2. Dalton Duffield
3. Jerome Carter ~ 7th in 2018 U.S. Open

60 kg:
1. Dalton Roberts ~ 2018 U.S. Open Chamoion
2. Ildar Hafizov
3. Randon Miranda ~ 2018 U.S. Open bronze at 55 kg

63 kg:
1. Ryan Mango ~ 2019 Pan American silver medalist
2. Xavier Johnson
3. Sam Jones ~ 2018 U.S. Open runner-up

67 kg:
1. Ellis Coleman ~ 2019 Pan American silver medalist
2. Hayden Tuma
3. Jamel Johnson ~ 2018 U.S. Open bronze medalist

72 kg:
1. RaVaughn Perkins ~ 2019 Pan American Champion
2. Raymond Bunker ~ 2019 Dave Schultz Memorial Champion
3. Michael Hooker

77 kg:
1. Kamel Bey ~ 2019 Pan American silver medalist
2. Pat Smith
3. Mason Manville

82 kg:
1. Chaney Haight ~ 2019 Pan American Champion
2. John Stefanowicz ~ 2018 U.S. Open sixth
3. Jon Jay Chavez

87 kg:
1. Patrick Martinez ~ 2019 Pan American bronze medalist
2. Ben Provisor ~ 2018 U.S. Open Champion at 87 kg
3. Joe Rau

97 kg:
1. G’Angelo Hancock ~ 2019 Pan American silver medalist
2. Daniel Miller ~ 2018 U.S. Open Champion
3. Lucas Sheridan ~ 2018 U.s. Open bronze medalist

130 kg:
1. David Tate Orndorff ~ 2018 U.S. Open bronze medalist
2. Toby Erickson
3. Malcolm Allen


The U.S. Open seeds for women’s Freestyle are also now available:

50 kg:
1. Erin Golston ~ 2019 Pan American silver medalist
2. Whitney Conder ~ 2018 U.S. Open Champion
3. Victoria Anthony ~ 2018 U.S. Open silver medalist

53 kg:
1. Cody Pfau ~ U.S. Open bronze medalist
2. Gracie Figueroa
3. Katherine Shai

55 kg:
1. Jacarra Winchester ~ 2019 Pan American bronze medalist at 57 kg
2. Dominique Parrish ~ 2018 U.S. Open runner-up
3. Alexandra Hedrick ~ 2019 Pan American Champion

57 kg:
1. Jenna Burkert
2. Kelsey Campbell ~ 2019 Pan American Champs fourth at 59 kg
3. Becka Leathers

59 kg:
1. Alli Ragan ~ Two-time Worlds silver medalist
2. Lauren Louive ~ 2018 U.S. Open runner-up
3. Abigail Nette ~ 2018 U.S. Open bronze medalist

62 kg:
1. Kayla Miracle ~ 2018 U.S. Open Champion
2. Brenda Reyna
3. Alexis Porter

65 kg:
1. Forrest Molinari ~ 2018 U.S. Open runner-up
2. Julia Salata ~ 2019 Pan American Champion
3. Maya Nelson

68 kg:
1. Randyll Beltz ~ 2018 U.S. Open runner-up
2. Jaydin Laurent
3. Ashlynn Ortega

72 kg:
1. Dymond Guilford
2. Rachel Watters ~ 2019 Pan American silver medalist
3. Victoria Francis ~ 2016 U.S. Open runner-up

76 kg:
1. Paige Baynes
2. Leilani Camargo-Naone ~ 2018 U.S. Open runner-up
3. Korianahe Bullock ~ 2018 U.S. Open fourth

The tournament runs through the 27th. Look for results here.