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|Jake Kerr storms to freestyle title at FILA Junior World Team Trials|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - Depth apparently won't be much of a problem at 165 pounds for the Iowa Hawkeyes next season.
Not only will NCAA champion Mark Perry return for his senior season at 165 for the Hawkeyes.
A talented young prospect in that same weight class also trains in the Iowa wrestling room at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
That was evident when Jake Kerr, who redshirted for Iowa this past season, earned a trip to the FILA Junior World Championships on Friday afternoon at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.
Kerr won the Challenge Tournament in Friday's first session of the FILA Junior World Team Trials in freestyle before coming back after lunch to sweep Penn State's Dave Rella at 74 kg/163 pounds in the best-of-3 finals series. Kerr now advances to the Junior World Championships on Aug. 21-26 in Beijing, China.
"Having three earlier matches before the finals - I think that helped relax me a little bit," Kerr said. "I felt real good after the Challenge Tournament and I was ready to go once I got to the finals. I really wasn't thinking about the Junior World Championships when I got here. It's awesome to be able to go."
Kerr was one of eight wrestlers - four in freestyle and four in Greco-Roman - who punched their tickets to the Junior World Championships on Friday. The other eight spots - four more in each style - will be determined on Saturday. Wrestling will start at 9 a.m. Saturday with the finals set for 2 p.m.
Kerr will be joined on the U.S. Junior World Team in freestyle by Louis Caputo at 84 kg/185 lbs., Taylor Moore at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. and Dom Bradley at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.
All four Greco-Roman matchups in the finals were sweeps. Qualifying for the Junior World Championships in Greco-Roman were Tyler Cox at 50 kg/110 lbs., Eric Grajales at 55 kg/121 lbs., Jake Swensen at 60 kg/132 lbs. and Jake Deitchler at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.
Kerr won three matches in the Challenge Tournament as Rella, the Outstanding Wrestler at FILA Junior Nationals in April, sat and waited as he had already landed a spot in the finals by virtue of winning FILA Junior Nationals. Kerr won the first match over Rella 5-3, 5-0 before following by pulling out a 0-1, 3-2, 4-1 victory.
"Wrestling for Coach (Tom) Brands, it's just awesome," said Kerr, who compiled a 14-7 record during his redshirt season at Iowa. "I have made so much progress under him this year. I feel like a totally different wrestler now. It takes a lot of hard work and commitment to wrestle for Brands. He doesn't let you slack off a bit. He wants us to wrestle a relentless style and that's helped me a lot."
Kerr said he lost to Rella a year and half ago. Kerr's defense was a key as he countered effectively against Rella.
"I used my offense as my defense this time - that's not always the best thing because you need to use your offense," Kerr said. "The Iowa style is all about using your offense, but sometimes you need to use your defense too."
Caputo, an All-American for Harvard this past season, looked sharp in taking two straight finals matches from Andy O'Loughlin. He won the matches 1-0, 2-1 and 4-0, 1-0. Caputo made his second straight Junior World Team.
The powerful Bradley swept returning champion Erik Nye in the final-round series. Bradley won 1-0, 4-0 in the first match and 4-1, 1-0 in the second match. Nye still has a chance to repeat as champion in Greco-Roman wrestling on Saturday.
Moore pulled out a gritty three-match victory over Logan Brown. Moore won the third and final match of the series by a 2-1, 4-3 score.
Cox, a past Cadet Nationals champion, headlocked and pinned past Junior Nationals champion Justin Forrest to complete his sweep in their second match. Cox dropped the first period of the first match 6-0 before rebounding to win the next two periods 6-4 and 5-1. Cox dropped the first period of the second match 7-0 before bouncing back to record a fall.
Grajales made his second straight Junior World Team by taking two in a row in a pair of hard-fought matches with Nikko Triggas in a battle of past Junior National champions. Grajales won the first match 3-2, 9-8 before taking the second match 12-3, 0-6, 6-3.
Swensen swept Junior Nationals champion Eli Hutchison in the final-round series. Swensen won by a first-period fall in the opening bout before winning the second match 6-0, 3-0.
Deitchler, third at the 2006 Junior Nationals, won a power-packed division at 66 kg. Deitchler, a Minnesota recruit who still has a year of high school left, swept John Dibala in the final round. Deitcher beat Cadet Nationals champion Ben Provisor in the finals of the Challenge Tournament after Provisor downed Junior Nationals champion Esai Dominguez in the semifinals.
Deitchler won the first match over Dibala 3-2, 4-5, 7-0 before taking the second bout 5-0, 5-0.