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|Max Askren captures title at FILA Junior World Team Trials|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Max Askren had his share of concerns entering the FILA Junior World Team Trials.
Askren, who recently completed his redshirt season at the University of Missouri, had been unable to wrestle live in freestyle much over the past few weeks.
Part of the reason is his main training partner and older brother, Hodge Trophy winner and NCAA champion Ben Askren, has been recovering from a minor injury he suffered at the U.S. Nationals in Las Vegas.
If Max Askren was rusty, it certainly didn't show on Friday afternoon when he swept Brent Jones in two straight matches to capture the 211.5-pound title at East Middle School in Colorado Springs.
"My big fear out here was conditioning," Askren said. "I haven't had a lot of workout partners with guys from Missouri hurt or gone doing camps. I haven't missed too many days, I've done a lot of drilling and things like that, but it's not the same as wrestling live. I was able to stay in good position and I felt pretty good out there."
Askren and the seven other champions who were crowned on Friday advance to the FILA Junior World Championships on Aug. 29-Sept. 3 in Guatemala City, Guatemala.
Asken downed the powerful Jones 5-4, 4-0 in the first match of the best-of-3 series. He followed by prevailing 5-4, 6-0 in the second bout. Jones came out aggressively in the second match, attacking the legs and scoring a quick takedown near the edge of the mat. But the Virginia redshirt suffered a nasty gash above his right eye and Askren eventually wore him down in the steamy conditions inside the gymnasium.
"He is real physical and strong, and stays in real good position," Askren said. "He is a real solid wrestler. I didn't really scout him a whole lot, I just figured out what works best for me out there."
Also landing spots on the FILA Junior World Team in freestyle were Matthew Coughlin (163), Louis Caputo (185) and Erik Nye (264.5). Making the FILA Junior World Team in Greco-Roman were Eric Grajales (110), Spenser Mango (121), Brett Robbins (132) and Jason Robbins (145.5). All seven best-of-3 matchups were sweeps.
The remaining eight weight classes - four in freestyle (110, 121, 132, 145.5) and four in Greco-Roman (163, 185, 211.5, 264.5) - will be decided on Saturday at East Middle School.
Among the wrestlers slated to compete today are U.S. Nationals champion Henry Cejudo at 121 in freestyle and six-time Junior Nationals champion Brent Metcalf at 145.5 in freestyle.
Max Askren has had a strong season in freestyle. He placed seventh at the U.S. Nationals to qualify for the U.S. World Team Trials even though he still has four years of college eligibility left.
Askren is expected to compete at 197 pounds next winter as a redshirt freshman at Missouri. Ben Askren, a three-time NCAA finalist, will be a senior next season at 174.
"My brother's helped me a ton," Max Askren said. "We train really hard and push each other."
Another brother of an NCAA champion, Oklahoma State redshirt Jared Rosholt, finished second in the 264.5 class in freestyle. Rosholt lost two straight to Nye in the best-of-3 finals. The wrestlers split the first two periods of the first match before Nye prevailed when Rosholt stepped out of bounds for the only point of the third period. Nye then won 1-0, 2-0 in the second match.
Nye beat Rosholt in the Junior Nationals freestyle finals last year.
Coughlin, a redshirt at Indiana, looked strong in winning two straight over Jay Borschel in the 163 finals. Borschel, a four-time state champion in Iowa, redshirted this past season at Virginia Tech.
Caputo, an NCAA qualifier this past season as a freshman at Harvard, capped a strong performance by sweeping Iowa redshirt Chad Beatty in the 185 finals. The burly Beatty charged out strong, shooting in for a quick takedown en route to winning the first two-minute period 3-0, But the lanky Caputo effectively countered the aggressive Beatty and kept him under control in winning the next four periods. Beatty had won the FILA Junior Nationals.
Caputo was a Junior National champion in freestyle and Greco-Roman in 2005.
Grajales, who competes for the Brandon Wrestling Club, used an array of spectacular lifts and turns in an action-packed win over Theron Apodaca in the Greco-Roman finals at 110. Grajales actually lost the first period 7-0 before rallying to win 6-1, 6-1 in the first match. He then won the second bout 7-0, 5-4 in an entertaining battle featuring wrestlers with go-for-broke mentalities.
Brett Robbins of the Panther Wrestling Club demonstrated a physical style in overpowering FILA Junior Nationals champion Shawn Jones in the 132 Greco-Roman finals. Robbins dropped the first period of the first match before coming back to launch and pin Jones. Robbins swept the second match 7-0, 6-3. Robbins, a Junior National champion, redshirted at Northern Iowa this past season.
Jason Robbins of the Sunkist Kids followed by beating Dallas Seavey in two straight matches in the 145.5 finals in Greco-Roman. Robbins dropped the first period before winning the next four in punching his ticket to the FILA Junior World meet.
Mango spent part of his day running a camcorder since he was the only entrant in Greco-Roman at 121 pounds. Mango won FILA Junior Nationals and University Nationals earlier this year. Mango, who placed second at the U.S. Nationals, is involved with the U.S. Olympic Education Center program and competes for the Gator Wrestling Club.