We’re headed into another year at the largest domestic tournament of the year—the Junior and 16U National Championships, more affectionately known as Fargo. Team Wisconsin will send over 200 athletes this season, but before we get to that preview I wanted to bring back this quick history of Fargo champions—our state program reached a milestone of 100 individual champions in 2021.
In short, what started in 1971 as a single-division national tournament for the Junior boys has grown into a highly competitive summer staple for six divisions across three Olympic styles. Fargo is one of the most challenging and well-attended annual events in the United States. It’s also the finale of the domestic freestyle and Greco season for our athletes.
Mitch Hull was crowned Wisconsin’s first Junior Fargo champion, claiming back-to-back freestyle and Greco titles in 1975. Our most recent individual title-winner in the Junior Men’s Freestyle division is Ben Kawczynski (2021).
The 16U division for men’s freestyle was added in 1986 and Rick Huspen became Wisconsin’s first champion in 1987, and then claimed the title again in 1988. Koy Hopke has the most recent title from 2021, where he doubled up as a freestyle and Greco champion in the 16U division.
Wisconsin’s Greco program has the state’s highest individual title count at Fargo. This includes 23 from juniors and 28 from cadets/16U. Tyler Dow is the most recent Junior Greco champion with a win in 2018. Wisconsin had three Junior finalists last season. Jim Gruenwald holds the first Greco title in the cadet division (1986) and the latest to win individual titles are Haakon Peterson and Koy Hopke (2021). 16U Greco holds the only team win in state history (2009). This is the 50th year of Greco competition at Fargo.
Jamie Chappa became Wisconsin's first women's freestyle All-American when the Junior division was added in 2002, but it was Sara Kouba that claimed the first title in 2016. Alisha Howk, Macey Kilty and Jayden Laurent brought home individual titles in 2017, contributing to an overall 5th place team finish. Kylie Welker holds the most recent title after a dominating performance in 2021.
The same year Kouba won the state’s first Junior title, Macey Kilty, Jayden Laurent and Hannah Ramos captured the state’s first titles in the 16U division. The 16U WFS team placed second overall in 2016—the highest in state history. Kilty earned another 16U title the following season and was joined by Natalie Kemp and two other finalists. Brianna Staebler has the most recent individual 16U title (2019).
Wisconsin has record 796 All-Americans and 100 champions.
2021 All-Americans (45) and Champions (5)
16U MFS: Koy Hopke (1st), Haakon Peterson (2nd), Aeoden Sinclair (3rd), Connor Mirasola (3rd), Cole Mirasola (4th), Brett Back (4th), Charlie Millard (5th), Silas Dailey (7th), Zachary Eliszewski (8th), Liam Neitzel (8th).
16U WFS: Hanna Errthum (3rd), Faith Bartoszek (5th).
16U GR: Haakon Peterson (1st), Koy Hopke (1st), Brett Back (2nd), Zachary Eliszewski (3rd), Ian Smith (5th), Rhett Koenig (7th), David Malin (8th).
JR MFS: Ben Kawczynski (1st), Matthew Bianchi (3rd), Jared Stricker (4th), Braeden Scoles (4th), Clayton Whiting (5th), Wyatt Skebba (6th), Luke Mechler (6th), John Gunderson (6th), Blaine Brenner (6th), Greyson Clark (8th).
JR WFS: Kylie Welker (1st), Hanna Errthum (2nd), Kylie Rule (5th), Faith Bartoszek (5th), Alex Hofrichter (7th), Larissa Kaz (8th).
JR GR: Cale Anderson (2nd), Caden Young (2nd), Jared Stricker (2nd), Clayton Whiting (3rd), Gunnar Hamre (4th), Aaron Dobbs (5th), Kaleb Casey (6th), Ashton Miess (7th), Matt Rogge (7th), John Gunderson (7th).
Wisconsin’s All-Time Champions
16U MFS (13)
16U Greco (28)
16U WFS (6)
JR MFS (22)
JR Greco (23)
JR WFS (8)
Competition begins Saturday.
*Stats are courtesy of Jason Bryant of Mat Talk Online, from the Fargo Almanac.
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