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|2103 U.S. Open Men's Freestyle preview for Las Vegas|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
It is the first year of the new Olympic four-year cycle, traditionally a time of change within men’s freestyle wrestling.
The 2012 season was highlighted by the success of Jordan Burroughs and Jake Varner, who earned Olympic gold medals in London, England. Teammate Coleman Scott captured a bronze medal for the U.S.
Burroughs has returned to the mat, going unbeaten during the World Cup in Iran before winning the Alexander Medved event in Belarus. He is now 48-0 on the Senior level in freestyle wrestling.
The U.S. Open competition returns for freestyle this year after not being held last season. The U.S. National Team was determined at the 2012 Olympic Trials last April in Iowa City.
The U.S. Open is set for April 18-20 at the Las Vegas Convention Center in Las Vegas, Nevada.
The top seven finishers in each weight class will qualify for the U.S. World Team Trials on June 21-22 in Stillwater, Okla.
The World Championships are scheduled for Sept. 16-22 in Budapest, Hungary.
55 kg/121 lbs.
2012 Olympian Sam Hazewinkel is the favorite here, and should be ready to go after missing time earlier this season with an injury.
2010 World Team member Obe Blanc is expected to contend. He was third in the New York AC International this season.
Past NCAA All-American Ben Kjar is another wrestler who could be a factor. Past NCAA champion Angel Escobedo is a talented freestyler who is still looking to break through on the Senior level, but he is not expected to wrestle in the Open.
Past NCAA All-American Zach Sanders and 2013 Dave Schultz Memorial runner-up Mark McKnight could make an impact. McKnight is coming off a gold-medal performance at the Pan American Championships.
2013 NCAA champion Jesse Delgado is another wrestler who could make a big splash in this division, but he is not expected to compete at the Open.
60 kg/132 lbs.
Scott is back after a superb 2012 that landed him a spot on the Olympic podium. He placed fifth at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in Russia this season and competed for the U.S. in the World Cup.
Scott will be pushed by Olympic Trials runner-up and two-time NCAA champion Logan Stieber. The talented Stieber is a past Junior World silver medalist who won a match against Russia at the Beat the Streets Dual last year in New York City.
Past NCAA All-American Jimmy Kennedy has had a strong season. He won the New York AC and Guelph Open titles and was second in the Alexander Medved International, but is not expected to compete in the Open.
2011 World Team member Reece Humphrey is another guy to keep an eye on. Humphrey is a dangerous wrestler who is never out of a match.
College redshirt Devin Carter also has wrestled well. He won the Dave Schultz Memorial and was third in the New York AC event, but may miss the U.S. Open as well.
Past Junior World Team member Tyler Graff also could do some damage in this division. Graff placed third at the NCAA tournament and is a top freestyle prospect.
Andrew Hochstrasser placed fourth in the New York AC tournament this season.
66 kg/145.5 lbs.
2012 Olympian Jared Frayer has retired and 2010 World Teamer Brent Metcalf is the favorite to win this division at the Open.
Metcalf was second at the 2012 Olympic Trials. He has looked good this season, placing second in the rugged Yarygin event before earning a silver medal at the World Cup.
Olympic Training Center resident Chase Pami also continues to progress. He won the New York AC event this season.
Past NCAA All-American Adam Hall also is a top contender here. He was second in the New York AC and Dave Schultz tournaments this season.
Two-time NCAA champion Jordan Oliver can’t be overlooked in the class. The past Junior World medalist is a very gifted freestyle wrestler who was a training partner for the 2012 Olympic Team.
Drew Headlee won a silver medal at the Pan American Championships.
NCAA runner-up Jason Chamberlain also has excelled in freestyle. He is a past Junior World and University World Team member.
Veteran Phil Simpson also could be in the mix in this division.
74 kg/163 lbs.
Burroughs hasn’t missed a beat since returning to competition earlier this season. He has continued to dominate with his speed and power on his feet.
Olympic Trials runner-up Andrew Howe looks like the toughest challenger Burroughs has in the U.S., but Howe may skip the Open as he comes back from an injury.
Past World Team member Trent Paulson has continued to compete after taking third at the Olympic Trials. He was second at the Cerro Pelado event in Cuba this year, but will miss the Open.
Four-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake could make a big impact in this weight class, but he may not compete until June’s U.S. World Team Trials. Dake was fourth at the 2012 Olympic Trials and was a training partner for the Olympic Team in London.
2012 NCAA champion David Taylor is eager to return to the mat after dropping a one-point decision to Dake in the 2013 NCAA finals. Taylor has a legitimate shot to make the finals in Vegas.
Nick Marable also is wrestling well. He won the Dan Kolov International in Bulgaria this year before earning a bronze medal at the Pan Ams.
University World bronze medalist Colt Sponseller is another top competitor in this class. He was second in the Dave Schultz event and fifth in the Medved.
84 kg/185 lbs.
With 2012 Olympian Jake Herbert currently not competing, National Team member Keith Gavin is the frontrunner in this division.
Gavin was third in the 2012 Olympic Trials and third in the New York AC International this season.
Past NCAA champion Max Askren has turned in a strong season. He won a gold medal at the World Cup and is a very skilled freestyler who has trained extensively with Burroughs.
Past NCAA champion Jon Reader made the U.S. World University Team this past season.
Past NCAA All-American Austin Trotman burst onto the freestyle scene by winning the New York AC title. He was second in the Dave Schultz tournament.
Past NCAA All-American Phil Keddy also should be in the mix. Keddy won a gold medal at the Pan American Championships.
Two-time NCAA champion Ed Ruth is another wrestler who could make a splash at the Open. NCAA champion Chris Perry is expected to skip the Open, but we may see him at the World Team Trials on his home mats in Stillwater.
96 kg/211.5 lbs.
Varner returned to competition by placing second at the Dan Kolov International in Bulgaria. He lost to American Wynn Michalak in the finals, but has not competed since.
With Varner indicating he likely will not compete in Las Vegas, this weight class is relatively wide open.
Michalak has wrestled well. He also won the Dave Schultz Memorial International and was third in the Medved event.
Past World Team heavyweight Les Sigman has dropped down to 96 kilos, and has placed in two international events this season. Sigman was second at the 2012 Olympic Trials at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Past NCAA champion David Zabriskie also has wrestled well this season. He won the Hargobind International and was second at the Medved. He won a silver medal earlier this month at the Pan American Championships.
Veteran Chris Pendleton is another top contender. He was third in the Olympic Trials.
2010 World Team member J.D. Bergman is looking to regain his past form after being slowed by injuries the past few years. He was fourth in the Olympic Trials.
University World Team member Dustin Kilgore also could be in the mix. The 2011 NCAA champion and 2013 runner-up had a strong Olympic redshirt season, placing in a number of international tournaments.
120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Tervel Dlagnev is coming off a pair of near-misses after finishing fifth in both the 2011 Worlds and 2012 Olympics.
Dlagnev has been on a roll this season, winning the Hargobind, New York AC and Medved titles. He was a World Cup silver medalist.
Dlagnev won a World bronze medal in 2009.
Dlagnev’s top challenger this season may be top young prospect Tony Nelson, who just won his second straight NCAA title for Minnesota. The powerful Nelson placed fifth in the 2012 University World Championships. Nelson is expected to miss the U.S. Open, but could be back for the Trials.
Past Junior World champion Dom Bradley is another wrestler who may challenge Dlagnev. Bradley was third in the World Team Trials in 2009, 2010 and 2011.
Past NCAA champion Zach Rey also has excelled in freestyle. Rey won the Dave Schultz Memorial and the Pan American Championships this year. He placed third in the Medved.
U.S. Open Freestyle Seeds
April 2013 TheMat.com U.S. Senior Freestyle Rankings
2011 U.S. Open men's freestyle results. There was no U.S. FS Open in 2012