World Team Trials Recap: Dake Wins Challenge Tournament; Falls to Burroughs (and More)

 
 
Jordan Burroughs is the defending Olympic and World champion. Now he’ll have a chance to win another significant international crown after he captured the 74 kg class in the best-of-three championship series at the World Team Trials in Stillwater, Oklahoma over Cornell’s Kyle Dake.

Burroughs came out firing, taking a 2-0 lead just seconds into the first bout of the best-of-three championship series.  Afterward, he continued to attack, notching a 7-0 technical fall in the opening stanza.  

The second match was a different story as Dake made adjustments to push Burroughs to the limit in an electrifying contest. The former Nebraska star took an early 1-0 lead, but Dake bounced back with a three-point move and at the conclusion of the first period, it was 4-4. In the second, Dake took a 6-4 advantage with 1:50 remaining, but Burroughs responded with just under a minute to go to tie it up again at 6. In overtime, Burroughs ended things with a takedown to get the victory. (The final score was 9-6 after Dake lost the appeal of the winning TD).

To punch his ticket to the title series, Dake had a difficult path and a number of high quality victories. In the span of just a few hours, he defeated a former World Team member (Trent Paulson), the top seed in the Challenge bracket (David Taylor) and a very formidable freestyle wrestler (Andrew Howe).  To put it in perspective, each of those three opponents is a three-time college All-American and an NCAA champion.

It all began against Paulson, the last wrestler to defeat Dake.  The former Iowa State grappler topped the Cornell graduate at the US Olympic Trials in 2012 in a three-period contest, but this time, it wasn’t close.  The Lansing native earned a technical fall with an 8-1 victory which he controlled throughout.

Next up was another familiar face – Taylor.  In their only freestyle meeting, which was last spring, Dake won by fall. Then, during the 2012-13 collegiate campaign, Dake registered a trio of one-point victories, including at the NCAA tournament where Dake collected his fourth national crown.  The location of the match was new on Friday, but the outcome was the same, as Dake came out on top 7-4 to earn a meeting with Howe.

The Sooner grappler jumped out to a 2-0 lead, but Dake bounced back to tie things up at 2, sending the bout to overtime. It took nearly six minutes for the winning points to come about, but it was Dake that struck in the extra session, clinching a 4-2 triumph and first place in the Challenge Tournament.

That finish meant the opportunity to battle Burroughs in the best-of-three series.

Dake wasn’t the only New York entrant at 74 kg on Friday.  Both Hofstra assistant Dan Vallimont and Staten Island native Kevin Hartnett competed in that bracket, each dropping a pair of bouts.

In Greco Roman, Dmitry Ryabchinsky began the competition with a 7-0 technical fall before dropping his second bout to top seeded Spenser Mango.  The former PSAL grappler took fourth place at 55 kg.

Meanwhile, Mary Westman took the mat in women’s freestyle, but didn’t place at 72 kg.

Action resumes tomorrow at noon Eastern time with men’s freestyle (55, 66, 84 and 120 kg), Greco Roman (60, 74 and 96 kg) and women’s freestyle (48 and 63 kg).

For full results see here.

What to Watch For From NY Wrestlers at the World Team Trials Beginning on Friday

 
 
On Friday and Saturday, many of the nation’s top wrestlers will take the mat at the World Team Trials in Oklahoma. A number of New York wrestlers will see action during the two-day competition, with representatives in most of the men’s freestyle classes and qualifiers in women’s freestyle and Greco Roman.  For a preview of what to look for from the Empire State grapplers, read on.

Men’s Freestyle

55 kg/121 pounds:

The Frontrunners: 2012 Olympian Sam Hazewinkel and US Open champion Obe Blanc are among the favorites in a deep field.

The New York Connection: Former Cornell All-American Frank Perrelli went all the way to the championship bout at the US Open earlier in the spring and has registered a number of quality victories at 55 kg/121 pounds recently.  He also took bronze in 2013 at the Cerro Pelado International and looks to challenge for the title in Stillwater. In addition, Mark McKnight, a wrestler who spent some time in the Empire State while wrestling for Buffalo, was the Pan American Championships gold medalist earlier this year and the fourth place finisher at the US Open.

Also taking the mat will be Army assistant coach Danny Mitcheff, who gained entry via a sixth place showing at the U.S. Open at 60 kg/132 pounds.  He is currently seventh in the Senior National rankings at that class, but is in the field at the lightest weight for this weekend. Lucas Malmberg, a state champion for Marathon High, who trained with the Finger Lakes Wrestling Club this season, qualified for the event by virtue of winning the Northeast Regional Championship but was not registered as of Thursday morning.

60 kg/132 pounds:

The Frontrunners: Coleman Scott earned Olympic bronze in London, but he’ll be challenged by US Open champion Reece Humphrey (who goes right into the championship series) and two-time NCAA champion Logan Stieber, who looked impressive in beating the World’s number one ranked grappler Opan Sat of Russia this spring.

The New York Connection: Cornell freshman Mark Grey captured the Northeast Regional title to earn a spot at the event, however, he will instead compete at the Junior World Team Trials on Sunday at 60 kg.

 66 kg/145.5 pounds:

The Frontrunners: Kellen Russell clinched a spot in the championship series with his title at the US Open. In that event, he defeated another two-time NCAA champion, Jordan Oliver, in the finals.  Oliver will again be a threat, as will former World Team member Brent Metcalf.

The New York Connection: At the US Open, current EIWA assistants made the podium with Columbia’s Adam Hall notching fourth and American’s Kyle Borshoff, a Section 5 native, grabbing seventh. In addition, Army graduate Phillip Simpson was sixth.

74 kg/163 pounds:

The Frontrunners: This bracket has a huge ‘wow’ factor.  Jordan Burroughs, perhaps the world’s best wrestler over the past year or two, comes in as the favorite.  He is still a flawless 54-0 in Senior level freestyle action.  The weight boasts a number of impressive challengers, however, including Kyle Dake, Andrew Howe, Trent Paulson and David Taylor.

Dake, Phototrens.com

The New York Connection:  Dake made a successful international debut against Iran at the Rumble on the Rails and will look to continue his freestyle success. A year ago at the Olympic Trials, Dake defeated solid freestylers Colt Sponseller and Nick Marable and pinned Taylor.  He also dropped a three-period contest to former World Team member Trent Paulson. Dake will get a chance to avenge that outcome right away, as Paulson will be his opening round opponent on Friday. If he wins that one, his next bout could be a rematch with David Taylor.

Speaking of Taylor, the Nittany Lion will open action against the winner of the Moza Fay vs. Dan Vallimont tilt. Vallimont, a Hofstra assistant coach, registered a seventh place showing at the US Open and a Northeast Regional crown.  He will look to make his presence felt in Oklahoma at 74 kg, while Monsignor Farrell alum Kevin Hartnett, who competes for Bloomsburg, is also eligible join the fray after taking the Northeast Regional championship at 70 kg.

84 kg/185 pounds:

The Frontrunners: Keith Gavin won the US Open and will be challenged by a solid field, including those who finished right behind him in Vegas –  Clayton Foster, Jon Reader, Ed Ruth and Phil Keddy.

The New York Connection: Cam Simaz and Enock Francois battled at the US Open and at the Northeast Regionals. Francois, an assistant at West Point, won the first meeting on the way to a seventh place finish, however, Simaz rebounded to control the rematch.  In the interim, Simaz, the former Cornell NCAA champion, recorded a silver finish at the University Nationals. Both wrestlers have the potential to make noise in this bracket over the weekend. The same could be said for former Section 1 resident Max Askren, who placed second at the Dmitry Korkin International in 2012.

96 kg/211 pounds:

The Frontrunners: London gold medalist Jake Varner isn’t registered for the event. JD Bergman, the US Open champion, will go directly to the best of three championship series, where he could face the foe he defeated for the title in Las Vegas – Chris Pendleton. Another name to watch, Wynn Michalak, took third at the US Open behind Bergman and Pendleton.

The New York Connection: Former Buffalo All-American Kyle Cerminara, who is currently 9th in the US Senior rankings, qualified for the tournament with a Northeast Regional championship. However, he is not in the brackets.

120 kg/265.5 pounds:

The Frontrunners: Tervel Dlagnev was the 2012 Olympian, but he was upended by Dominique Bradley at the US Open. (Bradley will not compete). Taking third at that event was Tyrell Fortune, who was impressive in winning the University Nationals.  And what about competitors like Zach Rey and Tony Nelson? All could challenge for the top spot, along with Nick Gwiazdowski (see below) and others.

The New York Connection:  Former Duanesburg standout (and current North Carolina State wrestler) Nick Gwiazdowski was seventh at the US Open and third at the University Nationals.  He’ll look to be in the thick of things in a talented heavyweight class.

Women’s Freestyle

Since only the four Olympic weights will be contested in Stillwater (48, 55, 63, 72 kg), a number of wrestlers may move up or down in weight to challenge for World Team positions. This should add excitement to the competition and could lead to some surprises.

At least three New York natives are eligible to compete over the weekend.  Suffolk County’s Jenna Burkert recently earned a fourth place finish at the US Open at 59 kg. There won’t be competition at that weight this weekend, but Burkert, who will represent the USA at the Junior Worlds again this summer, will wrestle at 63 kg.

Mary Westman of Cattaraugas picked up a sixth place finish in Las Vegas at 72 kg, and will look to climb the ladder in that bracket in Oklahoma.

In the lightweights, Fredonia’s Carlene Sluberski recently represented the United States at the “Battle of the Falls” showcase at the end of May. Her third place finish at 51 kg at the US Open qualified her for the weekend, although she was not in the field as of Thursday morning.

Greco Roman

At 55 kg, Brooklyn’s Dmitry Ryabchinsky is always in the mix.  He recently notched fifth at the US Open and will be looking to move up to challenge frontrunners Spenser Mango and Max Nowry.

William Simpson, an Army alum, is entered at 60 kg, while fellow West Point grad Jon Anderson will be at 74 kg. Anderson has seen a lot of success in recent years and has represented the United States in international action. He was third at the Olympic Trials, the 2013 US Open and the Haparanda Cup. He may be joined in the field by another Empire State grappler, Joe Uccellini of Troy, the 79 kg champion at the Northeast Regionals.

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World Team Trials action begins on Friday, June 21 with competition in men’s freestyle (60 kg, 74 kg and 96 kg); Greco (55 kg, 66 kg, 84 kg and 120 kg) and women’s freestyle (55 kg and 72 kg).

One-on-One With Recently Promoted Zach Tanelli, Hofstra's Head Assistant Coach

Zach Tanelli, Courtesy Hofstra Athletic Communications

New York Wrestling News spent time talking to recently promoted Hofstra Head Assistant Coach Zach Tanelli about a range of topics, from the team’s loaded 2012-13 schedule, to the newcomers who could have an immediate impact, to the New York-New Jersey wrestling rivalry.

Q: Let’s start with the schedule.  Hofstra has a lot of tough tests early, including opening with last year’s National Duals champion, Minnesota.  What was the thought process when putting together this schedule?

Zach Tanelli (ZT): You can blame me because [head coach] Rob [Anspach] put me in charge of scheduling.  We wanted to change our philosophy a little bit.  With the way the NCAAs are structured today, you’re judged on All-Americans.  We have a strong tradition of having All-Americans and an overall good team, but we know we can’t be complacent and happy with having just a few All-Americans.  We want to be a top-10 team and to do that we have to be as ready as possible to wrestle the best.  So our goal is to match up with teams like Iowa, Ohio State and Minnesota early in the season to know what we need to work on to be best prepared for the NCAAs.  We’d love to go 15-0 in dual meets, but that’s not our main focus.  The goal is to be prepared for March.  We know this doesn’t ensure All-Americans by any means, but we feel as a staff that it will get the guys as prepared as they can be for the part of the season that matters the most.

You’ll be meeting two of the teams you mentioned, Iowa and Ohio State, at the first-ever wrestling event at Madison Square Garden.   How does the team feel about participating?

ZT: It’s definitely exciting for us to be a part of the inaugural event.  Madison Square Garden would like to do it every year, but it will depend a lot on attendance.  I think it will be a great draw.  We wanted to wrestle the tough teams and we’re getting the chance pretty close to home.  We’re really excited about wrestling at Madison Square Garden and about getting our guys an early season opportunity to see where they are.

You also will be participating in the National Duals this year.  How did that come about?

ZT: Honestly, we always want to be a part of National Duals.  Last year, we didn’t get invited.  This year, we’re happy to be a part of it.  As long as we get the invite, we’ll be in attendance.

You mentioned the focus on March and having All-Americans.  Steve Bonanno made the podium last year and returns for more one season.  What was the difference for him in 2011-12 and what do you expect from him in his senior campaign?

ZT: Last year everyone surrounding the program knew he was capable of being an All-American.   The biggest thing that happened was mental.  He started really believing in himself and stopped asking questions.  He really committed to what we were telling him and dealt with the adversity.

He was an All-American, he was proud and we were proud.  But immediately after, we sat down and agreed – 8th place isn’t good enough because he can do more. This year, instead of being a guy [ranked] in the 5-8 range, we want him to be a guy in the 1-4 range and in title contention. He put in a good summer and we feel confident he can take that next step.  A lot of it will come down to how he handles the adversity and pressure of being the hunted.  No one will take him lightly and there’s a big mark on his back.  I think he’s a kid who will step up to the plate and accept the challenge.

Justin Accordino also became an All-American for the first time last year.  He was granted his sixth year of eligibility after missing most of two seasons with injuries.  What are you looking for from him this season?

ZT: When Justin finally trusted and believed that he wasn’t going to go out there and get hurt, it really showed. And that’s what’s most important for him.  If he’s consistent, the sky’s the limit for him.  He’s a quick learner who listens well.  Everyone saw what he’s capable of when he was healthy for a full year with a good year of training.  We think he can punch his way into the finals this year rather than drop that semifinals match like he did last year.

Who do you see as a breakthrough performer for Hofstra this year?

ZT: I think there could be a couple, but I’ll start with [141-pounder] Luke Vaith.  I thought he was very good last year.  He had some solid wins over [former All-American from Penn] Zach Kemmerer and Billy Ashnault [of Rutgers].  I hate to make excuses but he had a pretty tough draw at the national tournament, getting [two-time NCAA champion] Kellen Russell in the second round and then Kemmerer, who had some experience at the NCAAs. I thought he could make the Round of 12 last year and after this summer, I think he will surprise a lot of people.  He’ll definitely be tested right away with the schedule we have and I think he’ll pass.  I’m looking for him to be an All-American this year.

Speaking of possible breakthrough performers, your incoming recruiting class had some of the top wrestlers in New York, such as 2012 state champions Dan Spurgeon (Plainedge) and Jamel Hudson (St. Anthony’s) as well as strong out of state talent.  What have you seen from the class so far?

ZT: [Assistant coach] Dan Vallimont has done a great job on the recruiting side.  He has done very well building relationships and reaching out to kids.

A lot of the kids were here over the summer, training and getting workouts in.  I think the biggest thing isn’t necessarily the accolades they had in high school, but their attitude.  We like the attitude they bring and feel strongly that they will pan out.  There are 18 of them coming in, filling every weight other than 125.  It’s exciting for the program.

Do you think some will see the mat right away?

ZT: It’s always hard to say with freshmen.  Victor Pozsonyi [NHSCA All-American from New Jersey] will be right up there to start at 197.  He’s had a really nice summer with us.  Dan Spurgeon looks good as a 174 pounder.  He has been around too and we’re really excited about him.

Then we have a newcomer in Taras Luzhnyy [silver medalist at the 2010 University World Championships in freestyle], who should be our starter at 184 pounds. It’s great because after Ben Clymer graduated, we thought we would have to start fresh at that weight.  He’s a workhorse who has been here all summer and really wants to take care of business.   As of now, he has only one year of eligibility and I wish we had more time with him.  The biggest area of focus is obviously on the mat, but with his work ethic, he’s making the adjustments.  We feel confident that by March, he’ll have a shot to be a high All-American. He brings a very different dynamic into the room and the amount of respect he has from the guys already is outrageous.

Another impact upperweight signed from Colorado, Dwight Howes (two-time Colorado state champion, FILA Junior Pan Am Games champion).  Will he be at Hofstra this season?

ZT: Dwight is training at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.  He’ll be spending this year out there, trying to get ready to make a World Team, and then he’ll be at Hofstra in the fall of 2013.

Congratulations on your recent promotion to Head Assistant Coach.   What changes does the promotion bring about for you and in the coaching staff?

ZT: As far as responsibilities go, the responsibilities are pretty similar to what they were between [Head Coach] Rob [Anspach], Dan [Vallimont] and I last year.  Everything I was doing last year, I’m still doing.  It’s a really nice thing, though, to be recognized by our coaches, the Athletic Director and the leaders of the University. It’s an honor.

So, will the coaching staff remain the same for next year?

ZT: Gregor Gillespie is moving on to fight and Ryan Patrovich will be coming on as the volunteer assistant.  We’re really excited about having Ryan on board as a coach.  He had a great career at Hofstra and is an important part of the program.

Did you know you wanted to get into coaching after you graduated from Wisconsin?

ZT: Even when I was competing, I thought of myself as a better coach than wrestler.  I knew I would be helping out in wrestling somehow after Wisconsin and I was fortunate that this opportunity arose close to where I grew up and I jumped on it.

Whenever I was home during college, I’d help out with my high school and the Edge Club with Ernie Monaco. I think I have a good sense of breaking technique down so guys can relate and understand and fit it into their style.  There are some guys who are better wrestlers, but they have a hard time explaining the moves.  Doing it and teaching it – totally different ballgames.  The best coaches aren’t always the best athletes and I think that’s accepted in a lot of other sports, but in wrestling, personal accolades are taken heavily into consideration.

What are some of the things that challenged you as you went from wrestler to coach?

ZT: There were a couple of things.  First, I think realizing that everyone is different and that you need to be patient.  What motivated me isn’t what’s going to motivate every kid.  You need to connect to each kid as an individual because at this level nearly everyone is capable of turning the corner and being successful, for the most part.  There aren’t too many secret moves or techniques.  It’s about getting people to buy into a system or philosophy and finding the buttons to push to make them get to their best.

Recruiting also takes getting used to.  It’s a new experience to be confident and comfortable in a kid’s home.  You’re talking to the kids and their parents about pivotal years in life and helping a kid go from being a young adult to a man.  It took some time to get used to those types of conversations.

Also, I never really saw some of the things that go into coaching beyond the actual coaching – like the relationship building and fundraising.  I guess I wasn’t expecting it.  The wrestling part is easy – it’s enjoyable to hang out with the guys — lifting, training, wrestling.  The other parts are challenging and probably go unnoticed.  But the number of hours are worth it when the guys achieve their goals.

You’re from New Jersey.  There is a growing rivalry between New York and New Jersey in wrestling.  Was that rivalry in place when you were growing up?

ZT: When I was in high school, it wasn’t really a rivalry.  But now, New Jersey has to worry about New York.  New York wrestling seems to have grown quite a bit in the past decade.  I saw some of that New York/New Jersey rivalry when I was up at the Adam Frey Classic.  New York was always known for very good individuals, but is now well known for depth as well.  I definitely get a lot more questions about New York kids on the national circuit now than I did even a few years ago.   The state’s wrestling is heading in the right direction and I’m really excited to be a part of it at Hofstra.