Takedown Freestyle Rankings

The January freestyle rankings come on the heels of the largest and most important event in terms of qualifying athletes for the Olympic Team Trials. The U.S. Nationals/Trials Qualifier qualified 39 men’s freestyle athletes and pushed them a little closer to their ultimate senior level goal: making the team for Rio in Iowa City in April so they can win a gold medal.

Just like the past two months, we will release one ranking per day. Domestic rankings for the Women come tomorrow and Greco-Roman rankings will be released Wednesday. A number of athletes have come up or down from the non-Olympic weights of 61kg and 70kg, or have made the move from one Olympic weight to another. These rankings are fluid, and will be updated monthly in the run-up to the 2016 Olympic Team Trials in Iowa City. This month’s rankings were done with the help of Seth Petarra.

Each weight is ranked 10-deep, despite the fact that in some cases as many as 16 competitors will qualify for OTT. The next qualifier for men’s freestyle will be the Dave Schultz in Colorado Springs January 28-30. It is likely next month’s rankings will increase to 12 as more qualifiers are added to the field. Last month’s rankings are in parentheses and a * indicates an athlete has already qualified.

57kg

1. Tony Ramos (1), Titan Mercury/Hawkeye WC*
2. Tyler Graff (3), NYAC/Scarlet Knight WC*
3. Dan Dennis (7), Titan Mercury/Hawkeye WC*
4. Coleman Scott (5), Sunkist Kids*
5. Sam Hazewinkel (NR), Sunkist Kids*
6. Joe Colon (2), Titan Mercury/Panther WC*
7. Erkin Tadzhimetov (NR), NYAC*
8. Angel Escobedo (4), NYAC*
9. Nathan Tomasello (10), Titan Mercury/Ohio RTC*
10. Ali Naser (9), Sunkist Kids

This weight is not yet qualified for the Olympics. Ramos took December off. Graff won gold at the Brazil Cup. At the Farrell, the only match Dan Dennis lost was to first place Graff by an 11-0 tech in the semis. At last month’s OTT qualifier, he finished on top of the podium, beating Coleman Scott and Sam Hazewinkel along the way; Scott ended up third. Haze beat 2013 world team rep Angel Escobedo and avenged his loss to Ali Naser from the Farrell. In the semis, he beat Joe Colon 10-0; that match went 10-0 in favor of Colon at the Cerro Pelado in Cuba in February.

Colon injury defaulted out after losing to Haze, but did pin Nathan Tomasello in the quarters after stepping over on a gut wrench. Erkin Tadzhimetov slots in after placing fourth in his first domestic competition (he went 1-2 at this year’s Yasar Dogu in his American debut). The 35-year-old is the associate head coach at Utah Valley, where he used to wrestle and also placed 5th at junior worlds three straight years (1996-98) for Uzbekistan.

Escobedo beat Naser in the seventh place match to qualify for OTT. Tomasello’s only losses at the Farrell were to Dennis and Naser. He avenged the loss to Naser before losing to Coleman Scott in the consi semis at Nationals. Zach Sanders drops out after not placing and losing to Alan Waters and Ben Kjar. Matt McDonough also drops out until he recovers from his injury and we see him back on the mat.

65kg

1. James Green (1), Titan Mercury*
2. Brent Metcalf (2), NYAC/Hawkeye WC*
3. Jordan Oliver (3), Sunkist Kids*
4. Jimmy Kennedy (5), NYAC/Cliff Keen WC*
5. Logan Stieber (4), Titan Mercury/Ohio RTC*
6. Reece Humphrey (8), NYAC/Ohio RTC*
7. Aaron Pico (6), Titan Mercury*
8. Kellen Russell (NR), NYAC/Cliff Keen WC*
9. Frank Molinaro (7), Nittany Lion WC*
10. Jason Chamberlain (10), Titan Mercury*

This weight is not yet qualified for the Olympics. James Green, Brent Metcalf and Jordan Oliver had the month off. I had Jimmy Kennedy ahead of Logan Stieber in my initial November rankings because of Kennedy’s win over Stieber in the true third match at World Team Trials. I decided to flip that last month after Stieber took silver at Golden Grand Prix and beat 2014 world champ Soslan Ramonov along the way. However, I cannot ignore two head-to-head wins, so we end up with Kennedy fourth and Stieber fifth.

Humphrey looked great back up at 65kg, only losing to Kennedy while he beat Molinaro 7-2 and Pico 10-0. Pico widened the gap from Molinaro after they split matches at the Farrell. Kellen Russell avenged a loss to Chase Pami from the Farrell and finished ahead of Jason Chamberlain, so he comes back into this month’s rankings. Russell and Chamberlain have split matches this year, but Chambo is 0-2 against Molinaro and 0-2 against Stieber, while Russell is 2-1 against Stieber and 1-0 against Molinaro this year. Kulchytskyy drops out after losing to BJ Futrell and not placing. Chamberlain beat Futrell 12-2 in the seventh place match to qualify for OTT.

74kg

1. Jordan Burroughs (1), Sunkist Kids*
2. Andrew Howe (2), NYAC*
3. Chris Perry (4 at 86), Titan Mercury*
4. Dan Vallimont (3), NYAC/Blue and Gold WC*
5. Kevin LeValley (NR), Buffalo Valley RTC
6. Nick Marable (4), Sunkist Kids*
7. Adam Hall (9), Titan Mercury*
8. Mark Hall (NR), Minnesota Storm
9. Logan Massa (NR), NYAC/Cliff Keen WC*
10. Vlad Dombrovskiy (8), Army WCAP

This weight has been qualified for the Olympics, and continues to be the most difficult to rank. Jordan Burroughs told Scott Casber and Tony Hager that his next competition would be the Yasar Dogu in February. Howe cemented his number two spot after winning Nationals over Chris Perry in a match that bore a striking resemblance to their matches in college. Perry has been in the third place match the past two years at 86kg, so he slides Vallimont down. Vallimont took the month off from competing and focused on his coaching duties at Hofstra, but will be joining Burroughs in February at the Yasar Dogu.

Then it gets interesting. LeValley beat Marable before trying to rip Logan Massa’s arm out of its socket. He was ejected from the tournament and lost his qualifying spot, so it remains to be seen if USA Wrestling will even let him compete again before April. Marable placed third, so he has now dropped to sixth. Adam Hall beat Logan Massa and Vlad Dombrovskiy after beating Cyler Sanderson last month, so rises to seventh. Massa also creates an interesting case, as he placed fourth but got there on the back of two injury defaults and a disqualification. He also beat Jason Nolf at at junior team trials, but lost to Chance Marsteller twice, who lost to Nolf at junior nationals.

With that in mind, we’re going to throw in a high schooler. That’s right, junior world team rep Mark Hall makes his debut in the senior level rankings. Massa gets credit for rolling around with the big boys and sneaks into ninth. Vlad drops two spots but remains ranked despite not qualifying.

86kg

1. Jake Herbert (1), NYAC/Cliff Keen WC*
2. Kyle Dake (8), Titan Mercury*
3. David Taylor (9), Nittany Lion WC*
4. Ed Ruth (2), Sunkist Kids*
5. Keith Gavin (3), Titan Mercury*
6. Jon Reader (6), Sunkist Kids*
7. Rich Perry (7), NYAC*
8. Clayton Foster (5), GRIT*
9. Ryan Loder (NR), Panther Wrestling
10. Austin Trotman (10), Titan Mercury

This weight is not yet qualified for the Olympics. Herbert continues to recover from his shoulder injury, and gave some insight into this in an interview last month with our own Scott Casber. Kid Dynamite bounced back from an 0-1 debut at 86kg in Russia in October to take the Nationals title. Dake posted wins over Keith Gavin, Jon Reader and David Taylor en route to his title. Taylor cruised to the finals with a 13-0 win over Ed Ruth and 11-0 win over Rich Perry. Ruth doesn’t get overly penalized for his backside loss to Clayton Foster.

Gavin’s only loss was to Dake, with wins over Ryan Loder, Tyler Caldwell and Perry. Jon Reader holds position after beating Foster and Chris Perry dropping down to 74kg, but continues to pull double duty coaching South Dakota State and pursuing his Olympic dream. Rich Perry remains Steady Eddy at this weight, beating Clayton Foster not once but twice at the Nationals. Loder is 3-1 vs Trotman this year and Trotman took third at the Farrell. While Tyler Caldwell qualified for OTT over them, he has not beaten either of them and his best win at 86kg is a 3-3 criteria win over Robert Hamlin.

97kg

1. Kyle Snyder (1), Titan Mercury/Ohio RTC*
2. Jake Varner (2), Nittany Lion WC*
3. JD Bergman (3), NYAC/Ohio RTC*
4. Wynn Michalak (7), Titan Mercury*
5. Kyven Gadson (NR), Sunkist Kids/Cyclone WC*
6. Scott Schiller (NR), Minnesota Storm*
7. Dustin Kilgore (4), Sunkist Kids*
8. Cayle Byers (5), Titan Mercury
9. Enock Francois (6), NYAC*
10. Micah Burak (8), Titan Mercury*

This weight has been qualified for the Olympics, and the man who qualified it has decided to come back and competefor his Ohio State Buckeyes. He won the Brazil Cup last month and will be competing in the Yarygin in Russia at the end of January. Varner and Bergman had the month off. Michalak rebounded from the Farrell with four dominant wins to take the top spot at Nationals. Gadson made a huge jump from the Farrell and had two pins, as well as wins over Cayle Byers and Dustin Kilgore. That Kilgore match was the difference between Gadson and Schiller. The Minnesota Storm athlete made a surprise run to the finals in his senior level debut, upsetting Kilgore in the first round 12-10. Gadson beat Schiller 11-1 in the third place match.

Kilgore had an uneven 2015, competing in nine total events. He placed second at the Schultz with a loss to Byers in the finals. He went 1-1 at the Medved, but then won a Pan Am championship in April. He did not place at the Open in May after losing to Snyder and Burak, and then lost to Burak again a week later at the Northern Plains. Despite all this, he earned a wildcard to World Team Trials, where he placed fourth. Since then, he has competed at the Intercontinental Cup, Bill Farrell, Golden Grand Prix and Nationals. Byers is yet another that fell in an odd place in the bracket and did not qualify, but has head-to-heads over both Francois and Burak. Francois beat Burak at the Open in May.

125kg

1. Tervel Dlagnev (1), Sunkist Kids*
2. Zach Rey (2), Lehigh Valley WC*
3. Nick Gwiazdowski (3), NYAC*
4. Dom Bradley (4), Sunkist Kids*
5. Tyrell Fortune (6), Titan Mercury WC*
6. Bobby Telford (10), Titan Mercury WC/Hawkeye WC*
7. Tony Nelson (5), Minnesota Storm*
8. Eric Thompson (7), Nittany Lion WC*
9. Connor Medbery (9), TMWC*
10. Matt Meuleners (8), TMWC

This weight is not yet qualified for the Olympics. Not a great deal of movement here. Bradley won Nationals as expected and Fortune avenged his two losses to Nelson from the Farrell. Telford confirmed my hunch that he could hang with the senior level guys, countering a loss to Nelson when they last wrestled in the 2014 NCAA semifinals. Telford’s 5-2 win over Nelson in the third place match bumps him from tenth to fifth. Thompson drops a spot and Medbery jumps Meuleners after qualifying for OTT, fulfilling his Olympic redshirt. While Meuleners lost to Justin Grant, he has three wins over Grant this year.

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