Greco-Roman wrestling doesn’t get as much love as it deserves. Freestyle is the more well-known of the two Olympic disciplines, for a number of reasons, but Greco is arguably just as exciting, and sometimes even more so.
It seems like the excitement surrounding the Cadet and Junior national wrestling championships, which wrapped up Friday in Fargo, North Dakota, tapers off some after the freestyle competition ends. It’s a shame. Greco features a lot of throws and really crisp offensive technique. It has to, really. You can’t use your legs in Greco, so wrestlers have to get crafty.
As it turns out, Iowa wrestlers are pretty good at Greco. We learned this last month, when Team Iowa placed sixth at the Junior Greco National Duals and eighth at the Cadet Greco National Duals. Those guys reinforced that fact this week in Fargo.
In all, five Cadets and 10 Juniors earned All-American finishes in the Greco competition. The Junior team ultimately finished fourth in the team race, which is a fantastic feat, as Team Iowa had just three Junior Greco All-Americans last summer.
Perhaps those results will help folks pay more attention to Greco-Roman wrestling. It wasn’t part of the Final X process at the Senior level this summer, which is a shame, because that could’ve done a lot to boost awareness and show casual wrestling fans how fun it can be.
Greco can be like golf. There may not be a lot of excitement at first, but then someone gets tossed on their dome and it’s amazing and you’re left wondering about the athletic capability some of these wrestlers possess. That anticipation is part of what makes it great.
MORE CADET & JUNIOR NATIONALS COVERAGE
- Ankeny's Caleb Rathjen leads Team Iowa at Cadet freestyle nationals
- Mason City's Cullan Schriever wins Junior men's freestyle title
- South Winn's Felicity Taylor wins Junior women's national title
Here are some more takeaways from the Cadet and Junior Greco-Roman national championships:
Six Iowa wrestlers earn double All-American honors
Let’s give some kudos to six Iowa prep wrestlers who became double All-Americans this week — that is, finishing in the top eight at their respective weight classes in both freestyle and Greco-Roman.
Five of them were at the Junior level:
- Wilton’s Kael Brisker, who took sixth in Greco and eighth in freestyle at 100 pounds
- Southeast Polk’s Cade DeVos, who took seventh in both styles at 145
- Waterloo East’s Tyrell Gordon, who took third in Greco and sixth in freestyle at 195
- Dubuque Wahlert’s Boone McDermott, who took third in both styles at 220
- CGD’s Spencer Trenary, who took fourth in Greco and seventh in freestyle at 285
At the Cadet level, Linn-Mar’s Brandon O’Brien was a double All-American at 88 pounds, placing fourth in freestyle and seventh in Greco.
Iowa’s Junior Greco team produces
Team Iowa racked up 36 points to finish fourth in the team race of the Junior division. Illinois again ran away with the team title, scoring 110 points. Washington (45) and California (42) also finished ahead of Iowa.
In addition to the five aforementioned double All-Americans, Iowa received contributions from five others in the Junior Greco tournament:
- Cedar Rapids Prairie’s Austin Kegley finished sixth at 106 pounds, and had one of the prettiest throws of the whole tournament, which you can see below.
- Lewis Central’s Gabe Kjeldgaard took eighth at 152. Kjeldgaard had to win five matches in the wrestlebacks to reach the podium.
- Ballard’s Tate Battani finished fifth at 170. Battani, a future Iowa State wrestler, actually reached the semifinals before falling to the backside on Friday morning.
- Davenport Assumption’s Julien Broderson, a Cadet Greco All-American last year and two-time Iowa state champion, placed seventh this year at 182.
- Sigourney-Keota’s Kaleb Reeves gave Team Iowa two heavyweight All-Americans with a fifth-place finish at 285. Like Trenary, Reeves reached the semifinals, where he ran into future Hawkeye wrestler Anthony Cassioppi. It did not go well, as Cassioppi won by fall in 37 seconds.
Speaking of Cassioppi …
Future Hawkeye Cassioppi wins Junior Triple Crown (again)
Anthony Cassioppi breezed through the heavyweight field to win yet another national title.
Cassioppi, an Iowa signee, won the Junior Greco national title at 285 pounds. The Illinois star went 5-0 with three tech falls and one pin, outscoring his opponents 45-3. Light work.
For the second year in a row, Cassioppi won Junior Triple Crown award, meaning he won an individual national championship in all three styles — folkstyle, freestyle and Greco-Roman. He is just the second wrestler to ever do that. (Former Michigan star Adam Coon is the other.)
The future shines again in Cadet Greco
In addition to O’Brien, three other Cadet wrestlers became Greco All-Americans this week, including two upcoming freshmen.
Hunter Garvin, a future Iowa City West wrestler, placed eighth at 113 pounds, while Robert Avila, a future Lisbon wrestler, took sixth at 126. Garvin, a folkstyle national champion, lost in the round of 32, then won five straight to reach the podium. Avila won his first four matches to make the semifinals, then dropped three in a row to finish sixth.
Osage's Spencer Mooberry was the fourth Cadet Greco All-American. Mooberry dropped his first match of the tournament, then won six consecutive wrestleback matches to take eighth.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.