FARGO, North Dakota—Greco-Roman just closed out the final day of competition here in Fargo at USA Wrestling’s Junior and 16U National Championships. Wisconsin had 13 place in the All-American medal matches, eight in the junior division and five in 16U. Overall the juniors placed 7th and the 16U team placed 9th.
Bringing home a hard-earned Junior Greco title is Riverdale graduate Ashton Miess. At 160 pounds, Miess went a perfect 7-0 and surrendered just two points during the two-day national tournament.
In the championship finals, it was all Miess. He was awarded a caution +1 early in the match against North Dakota’s LJ Araujo, and then aggressively extended that lead with six different step-out points. He never backed off the pace and earned the victory with a body lock for the tech. “He wrestled perfectly,” said Coach Lucas Steldt about Ashton’s performance. Miess had fast wins in early rounds. The only match to go the entire time was his semifinal versus Maryland’s Ben Smith. Miess won 4-0, and showed great performance under pressure. “That kind of composure comes from just time in the sport of wrestling, period, and he’s been a student of the game for a lot of years,” said Steldt. “He’s paid his dues."
Miess, who placed 7th in 2021 and didn’t end up placing last year, has been committed to developing his craft. “. . . last year I didn’t even place, which was tough, but I mean it’s been everyday Greco, during folkstyle season too,” he said. In his post-match interview, Miess said this title is special because of those around him. “It feels amazing. I have a lot of family here watching and a lot of teammates that are close with me and it’s pretty fun.” Miess will stay in Wisconsin another year to train Greco full-time at Combat and then possibly head to Northern Michigan’s national training site.
Auburndale’s Colton Weiler finished second place in the 16U division at 138 pounds. Weiler put 5 points on the board in the championship finals, including points from a reversal and lift, but was edged out in the final seconds by Colorado’s Thomas Verrette. Weiler didn’t give up a single point before the finals—he had four wins by tech, a fall and then a win by decision in the semifinals. He said lots of reps allowed him to let it fly on the mat this week; Weiler gets another shot at a 16U title next summer.
“Overall it’s been another great tournament,” said Coach Ty Pelot. “We’re consistently right around 8 All-Americans so we are doing just as good as we have been doing in the past.”
The junior team, 7th overall, had 7 more All-Americans that wrestled medal matches earlier this afternoon.
Brett Back, in action after a year off due to injury, placed 4th. Back, who said he’s been focusing on his positioning, creates the right moments and is explosive in his matches—basically don’t blink or you might miss it. He had multiple wins beefed up by big points from throws, including a :27s headlock plus the pin in his consolation semifinal match.
Also finishing 4th is multiple-time All-American Caden Young with a 6-2 performance. Young will wrestle at Southwest Minnesota State University in the fall but don’t be surprised if you see him on the Greco scene as he said it’s his favorite style. Young was 4th at U20 World Team Trials last month and still has another year of U20 eligibility.
Tj Schierl closed out an exciting tournament at 152 pounds with a win for 5th place. He finished that match with a quick 4-point head pinch just to add a bit of an exclamation point to his final run here in Fargo. He went 6-2, getting to many high-scoring takedowns. “I’ve trained them so hard that they come subconsciously; I bang ‘em up and I get to my handfight and I know things will open up,” he said yesterday. Schierl, from Stevens Point, will be at Ohio State this fall.
Menomonie’s Brayten Casey made it to the 113-pound semifinals before taking a loss. He sustained an injury last night in the quarterfinals, however, in a wild 20-13 victory, and ended up injury defaulting to 6th place after his semifinals loss. Casey, a junior Greco finalist last year, has one more season that he could be here with Wisconsin at Fargo.
Amryn Nutter (152) and Kale Roth (160) placed 7th. Easton Cooper (120) finished in 8th. Cooper, who lost in the blood round in freestyle said it feels good to reach the podium. “It shows how much training pays off; I finally got it done this year and still have another year to improve it,” he said.
Coach Ty Pelot said Wisconsin's sights are set forward. “We’ve already been talking, even yesterday, and starting to think about how we did, different things that we can do to get us to what we want to do and that’s to win a team championship,” he said. “This year we started reaching out to tournaments and doing little clinics at tournaments, and that has some athletes reaching out to us coaches and looking to get more Greco workouts in and really just figuring out ways to get guys into some of these positions more.” Pelot, who has been Wisconsin’s head junior coach for three seasons, said the aim is to get more kids training more Greco: “. . . practicing it, understanding match scenarios, understanding certain ties, how to move opponents, those are things we’re looking to build on and I think we’re doing some good things and we’re going to continue trying to build on that.”
In addition to Weiler, four more earned All-American status and helped the 16U team to a 9th-place finish.
Declan Koch (6-2) and Jacob Herm (7-3), placing 4th and 6th, wrestled each other in an all-Wisconsin consolation semifinal. They know each other well, both coming out of Neenah High School and training at the same club. Koch and Herm made it to the blood round in freestyle, and are two that competed here across the span of an entire business week in both disciplines. Garret Kawczynski (6-2 at 220) doubled up as a freestyle and Greco All-American, placing 5th today. Dale Corbin, 8th place at 120 pounds, battled all the way back to the podium after taking a loss first round. He went 7-3.
A complete Team Wisconsin All-American summary for all three disciplines will follow.