Wrestling: Storylines to follow at the freestyle world team trials

Cody Goodwin
Hawk Central

For many states, wrestling season occupies the winter months. For a handful, like Iowa, wrestling season never truly stops — thanks to freestyle and Greco-Roman.

This weekend, the Senior and Junior World Team Trials will commence at the RCTC Regional Sports Center in Rochester, Minnesota. A heavy Iowa presence is guaranteed at both levels.

Iowa's Alex Marinelli celebrates after pinning Purdue's Jacob Morrissey at the NCAA Wrestling Championships at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio on Thursday, March 15, 2018. Marinelli pinned Morrissey in 6:20.

As such, we’ve compiled this handy list of storylines to follow this coming weekend. Iowa, Iowa State and Northern Iowa will all have representatives, and a handful of Iowa preps — both current and former — will be in action as well.

The Junior team could have a lot of #IowaTies

Ten Junior world team spots are up for grabs, and already, four wrestlers with Iowa ties have positioned themselves to be within two victories from making the team.

Iowa’s Jeremiah Moody (74 kilograms) and Jacob Warner (92kg) as well as Iowa State’s Austin Gomez (61kg) and Gannon Gremmel (125kg) all have a spot in Saturday’s best-of-three finals by virtue of winning Junior national titles last month in Las Vegas. Two more more wins each will secure a trip to the Junior World Championships in September.

“We have to make it happen,” Gremmel said. “I”m excited to go prove what I can do. I feel like I’m on the way there. Just need to keep plugging away and good things are going to happen.”

A slew of other wrestlers with local interest qualified for the Junior field. 

In addition to Moody and Warner, the Hawkeyes will have Max Murin (65kg) and Myles Wilson (86kg) both in the field after their podium finishes at Junior nationals. Alex Marinelli (74kg) will also compete thanks to his All-American finish at the 2018 NCAA Championships.

“I think we can get two or three guys on the Junior team,” Warner said. “I think our class has a lot of firepower. I’m excited for people to see it this weekend and next year.”

Iowa recruit Jacob Warner, left, attempts a takedown at Friday's Junior World Team Trials at the Devaney Center in Lincoln, Neb.

From Northern Iowa, true freshman Jack Skudlarczyk (61kg) is in the field after an eighth-place finish at Junior nationals last month. He is the only current Panther in the field.

All of this is to say that as many as six wrestlers with Iowa ties could be on the 2018 Junior world team for men’s freestyle, which would be a heck of a statement from the in-state schools.

And that doesn’t even count the incoming recruits that will also be in action.

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Future of Iowa, Iowa State will be in action

Indeed, a pair of incoming Hawkeye and Cyclone wrestlers will also be among those in the Junior field.

David Carr, a four-time state champion from Ohio, will be in action at 70 kilograms. Carr, the son of Iowa State’s three-time national champion Nate Carr, was tabbed as the No. 3 overall recruit in the 2018 class.

David Carr of Massillon Perry High School competes with Julian Ramirez of Blair Academy during the 2016 Walsh Ironman Wrestling Tournament at Walsh Jesuit High School on Dec. 10, 2016, at Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio.

Anthony Cassioppi, an Iowa signee and the No. 18 overall 2018 recruit, will be among those in the field at 125 kilograms. Cassioppi is a two-time Illinois state champion from Hononegah High School, and was a USA Wrestling Junior Triple Crown winner last year — that is, he won Junior national titles in all three wrestling disciplines (folkstyle, freestyle, Greco-Roman).

Current, former Iowa preps to compete

A slew of Iowa prep wrestlers — with names from past and present — will also contend for the Junior world team.

From the present: New Hampton’s Michael Blockhus (65kg), Waterloo East’s Tyrell Gordon (86kg) and Sibley-Ocheyedan’s Hunter DeJong (97kg) are all in the field. Blockhus and Gordon are both future Northern Iowa wrestlers while DeJong is headed to Iowa State next season.

From the past: McGwire Midkiff (61kg), formerly of C.B. Thomas Jefferson who’s now with North Dakota State, and Max Lyon (86kg), a Western Dubuque alum who’s now with Purdue, will take the mats on Friday and, if they keep winning, Saturday as well.

New Hampton's Michael Blockhus wins his match against Ballard's Jarrett Miller during the championship round of the class 2A Iowa high school state wrestling tournament on Saturday, Feb. 17, 2018, in Wells Fargo Arena.

Watters, Black highlight the women’s field

The Senior women’s freestyle competition features plenty of wrestlers from Iowa as well.

Rachel Watters, who actually made the U23 World Team earlier this year — her fifth age-level world team — is a strong contender at 72 kilograms. The Ballard grad lost to Erin Clodgo in the U.S. Open finals last month, but could meet her again if she wins this weekend.

Megan Black, the only girl state medalist in Iowa wrestling history, is in the field at 57 kilograms. Other girls’ wrestlers from Iowa include Lauren Louive (59kg), from the Hawkeye Wrestling Club, and Jasmine Bailey (68kg), an Iowa City West grad.

Iowa native Rachel Watters, right, battles Lisa Gonzalez on Saturday, April 9, 2016, during the wrestling Olympic Trials at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa.

Senior-level wrestlers with #IowaTies

The addition of Final X to the Senior level takes a lot of excitement out of this weekend’s world team trials, considering the winners now have another leg to go in order to make the world team. But there will still be a big Iowa presence on display.

The bulk of them are at 97 kilograms, where Kyven Gadson, Nathan Burak, Blaize Cabell and Ross Larson are all in action. Gadson, Burak and Cabell are all former Iowa State, Iowa and Northern Iowa wrestlers, respectively. Larson is an Ankeny grad.

A pair of former Iowa wrestlers are also in action as well. Mike Evans, a three-time All-American for the Hawkeyes, qualified at 79 kilograms, and Tony Ramos, a 2014 NCAA Champion for Iowa, is at 57 kilograms.

Former Iowa wrestler Tony Ramos went 2-2 on Saturday in the 57-kilogram division at the wrestling World Championships in Las Vegas.

Ramos is already in the best-of-three finals, where he’ll meet the winner of the challenge tournament. If he wins there, he’ll advance to Final X, where he’ll square off with fellow former Hawkeye Thomas Gilman for a spot on the 2018 world team.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.

2018 Freestyle World Team Trials

Event Schedule


  • Session I: 10 a.m.–2 p.m., Junior Freestyle, Senior Women's Freestyle
  • Session II: 4–7:30 p.m., Junior Freestyle, Senior Women's Freestyle


  • Session III: 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m., Senior Men's Freestyle
  • Session IV: 1–4:45 p.m., Best-of-3 Finals for Junior and Senior Women's Freestyle
  • Session V: 5–9 p.m., Senior Men's Freestyle


  • Session VI: Noon–3 p.m., Best-of-3 Finals for Senior Men's Freestyle