FARGO, N.D. – Every year, the nation’s best young wrestlers come together for the world’s largest wrestling competition, the ASICS/Vaughan Junior and Accelerade Cadet Nationals at the FargoDome in Fargo, N.D.
This competition produces great stories of champions, many who go on to glory in college wrestling, and ultimately at the World and Olympic levels.
The tournament is scheduled for July 19-26 and is expected to feature outstanding wrestlers in every weight class.
The ASICS/Vaughan Junior Nationals features high school wrestlers in grades 9-12. This year, the Junior division could be one of the strongest in many years, featuring numerous talented athletes who are proven winners.
There were two double champions in 2007, winning both the freestyle and Greco-Roman titles, and both are eligible to return this year, Max Nowry of Illinois (98) and David Taylor of Ohio.
2007 Junior National freestyle champions who are eligible to return are Nowry and Taylor, plus Jon Morrison of Illinois (112), Jordan Oliver of Pennsylvania (119), Nate Moore of Iowa (125), Colin Johnston of Pennsylvania (135), Jason Chamberlain of Utah (135), Michael Mangrum of Washington (145), Mario Mason of New Jersey (145) and Scott Winston of New Jersey (160).
Returning Junior National Greco-Roman champions who are eligible to compete in Fargo are Nowry and Taylor, plus Andrew Long of Iowa (112), Kendrick Sanders of Florida (140), Jake Deitchler of Minnesota (145), Ty Vinson of Montana (171), Ryland Geiger of Oregon (189) and Marcel Dubose of Michigan (215).
Deitchler shocked the nation by qualifying for a spot on the 2008 U.S. Olympic Team in Greco-Roman and is not expected to attend the Junior Nationals, as he will be training to compete at the Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
Each year, ASICS recognizes the nation’s top high school athletes with its All-American Team. Members of the ASICS First Team who were Junior Nationals champions last year include Taylor, Moore, Chamberlain, Mangrum, Geiger and Dubose.
For the first time ever, USA Wrestling may crown a Junior Triple Crown winner. Last year was the first year that USA Wrestling hosted a Junior folkstyle national tournament, creating the opportunity for an athlete to win USA Wrestling national titles in all three styles. No athlete was able to win a gold medal in all three styles in 2007. This year, a new set of Junior folkstyle champions were crowned in Cedar Falls, Iowa in April. Will 2008 be the first year that there is a Junior Triple Crown winner?
Many of last year’s Cadet National champions are expected to move up into the Junior ranks this year and challenge for titles.
USA Wrestling has official state team standings in all the divisions held in Fargo. Last year, the Wells Fargo Insurance Services Cup champion in Junior freestyle was Illinois, followed by Iowa, New Jersey, Minnesota and Missouri. In Junior Greco-Roman, capturing the Wells Fargo Insurance Services Cup was Minnesota, with New York, Illinois, California and Oregon rounding out the top five.
Another strong indication of the strength of the state teams are the results from the 2008 Junior National Duals, held in June in Oklahoma City, Okla. For the second straight year, Illinois won the team title in both styles at the Junior National Duals. In freestyle, Iowa was second, New Jersey third, Minnesota was fourth and Oklahoma finished fifth. In Greco-Roman, California was second in the Greco-Roman division, with Minnesota in third, Iowa in fourth and Kansas in fifth.
The women’s freestyle division will be held early in the week with the championships set for Monday, July 21. This tournament, in its eighth year, has grown in size and quality every season, and promises to be very competitive again this year.
Returning Junior National women’s champions include Hanna Martin of Oklahoma (95), Helen Maroulis of Maryland (109), Micheala Hutchison of Alaska (119), Randi Beltz of Missouri (124), Tatiana Padilla of California (132), Veronica Carlson of Illinois (139), Adeline Gray of Colorado (146) and Brittany Delgado of South Carolina (190) and Lakia Henderson of Florida (220)
Padilla is a three-time winner at the Junior Nationals, and is seeking to join Maryland’s Nicole Woody as the only four-time winner of this event in the women’s division.
The Wells Fargo Insurance Services Cup champions in women’s freestyle last year was California, followed by Texas, Michigan, New York and Florida.
Unlike the men, the Women’s National Junior Duals are not held prior to the Junior Nationals, but are alongside the individual tournament in Fargo. California is the returning team champion, with Texas in second, Michigan in third and Florida in fourth.
The Accelerade Cadet Nationals are for wrestlers who are 15 and 16 years old, some of the best young talents in the country.
2007 Cadet Greco-Roman national champions who may come back to defend their titles include Zillmer, plus Valyen Rauser of Montana (91), Jesse Thielke of Wisconsin (98), Dylan Ness of Minnesota (112) and Andrew Campalattano of New Jersey (189).
The Wells Fargo Insurance Services Cup champions in Cadet freestyle last year was Pennsylvania, followed by Ohio, New Jersey, Missouri and Minnesota. In Greco-Roman, capturing the 2007 Wells Fargo Insurance Services Cup was Pennsylvania, with Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and California in the top five.
The 2008 Cadet National Duals were held in June in Kansas City, Mo., and showcased many of the stars expected in Fargo. Oklahoma was the champion in freestyle, with Pennsylvania in second, New Jersey in third, Missouri in fourth and Wisconsin in fifth. In Greco-Roman, Wisconsin won the team title, with Minnesota in second, Pennsylvania in third, Missouri in fourth and New York in fifth.
This is the conclusion of the quest for a Cadet Triple Crown, awarded to any athlete who wins USA Wrestling Cadet national titles in freestyle, Greco-Roman and folkstyle the same year. Now in its sixth year, only three athletes have ever won the Cadet Triple Crown. Last year, Hayden Zillmer of Minnesota became the third Triple Crown winner, joining Taylor Moore of Missouri in 2003 and Zach Sanders of Minnesota in 2004.
The ASICS/Vaughan Junior and the Accelerade Cadet Nationals brings together hundreds of wrestling volunteers, including referees, pairing officials, coaches, state leaders and tournament operation workers, all who provide the opportunity for more than 4,000 athletes to pursue their dreams.
Follow the action each day in Fargo on TheMat.com (www.themat.com).
SCHEDULE FOR CHAMPIONSHIP FINALS
ASICS/Vaughan Women’s Junior Nationals – Monday, July 21 at 3:00 p.m.
Accelerade Cadet Greco-Roman Nationals – Monday, July 21 at 5:30 p.m.
Women’s National Duals – Tuesday, July 22 (event begins at 9:00 a.m.
ASICS/Vaughan Junior Greco-Roman Nationals – Tueday, July 22 at 3:00 p.m.
Cadet Freestyle Nationals – Friday, July 25 at 1:00 p.m.
Junior Freestyle Nationals – Saturday, July 26 at 9:00 a.m.