featured photo of Alex Dieringer by Tony Rotundo
FORT WORTH, Texas—Wisconsin fans had a lot of wrestling to watch this weekend as a handful of natives competed in each of the Olympic disciplines at USA Wrestling’s 2023 Senior Nationals. The three-day event, which served as the largest qualifying event for the 2024 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, was held at the Fort Worth Convention Center.
Men’s freestyle presented a double highlight at 86 kilograms as senior national team member Alex Dieringer clinched the title and Connor Mirasola placed 4th, earning entries into the U.S. Olympic Team Trials to be held in State College in April.
Dieringer, a Port Washington native, shut out Mark Hall in the finals. He jumped to a 2-0 lead off the whistle and continued to control the match and extend his lead to an eventual 6-0 decision. Dieringer, who went a perfect 4-0, has a laundry list of accomplishments trailing back to his prep days and is consistently one of Wisconsin’s best at it in men’s freestyle.
Mirasola placing 4th at 86kg and qualifying for the Olympic Team Trials is far more impressive than it is shocking. The standout high school senior advanced to the semifinals with a 9-6 decision over NCAA champion Max Dean. He had a 2-1 lead over Mark Hall in the opening period of the semifinal bout but Hall, another NCAA champ, proved to be too much this weekend for his young opponent. Mirasola, who trains at Askren Wrestling Academy, defeated Evan Wick in the consolation semis before falling to Dean in a rematch to finish 4th overall. The top five wrestlers in each weight class advanced to team trials.
Benji Peak wrestled in the 77kg Greco-Roman championship finals Saturday night but was stopped early in the match by Kamal Bey. Peak, who placed 2nd overall, won the mini-tournament finals over fellow Wisconsinite Payton Jacobson, 1-1. In the semifinals, Peak took out No. 1 seed Aliaksandr Kikiniou and Jacobson defeated No. 2 seed RaVaughn Perkins. Jacobson finished 3rd. Both had previously qualified.
For Greco, Senior Nationals served not only as a qualifier for the trials but also as the qualifying event for the Greco-Roman team to compete at the 2024 Pan American Olympic Games Qualifier in Acapulco at the end of February.
With only six Olympic weights, the Koontz brothers wrestled up at 60kg this weekend—Dylan placed 7th and Brady 8th. Brady is previously qualified as a 2023 senior World team member.
The remainder of the Wisconsin wrestlers ended the tournament short of placing but fought through a ton of matches with various outcomes. On the younger side (think athletes that competed with the WWF this year at Junior Nationals) that includes Cole Mirasola in freestyle, Gunnar Hamre, Max Schierl, Brett Back and Caden Young in Greco, and Hanna Errthum in women’s freestyle. WWF coaches Mateah Roehl and Fritz Schierl were also in action and notched several wins. With the combination of this young group, the college-age wrestlers and some professionally dedicated senior-level wrestlers, Wisconsin continues to impress and grow fundamentally stronger.
The next domestic opportunities to qualify include select college nationals and the last chance qualifier. A total of 12 Wisconsin athletes have punched their tickets:
The Wisconsin Wrestling Federation, guided by USA Wrestling, provides quality opportunities for its members to achieve their full human and athletic potential. Wisconsin Wrestling Federation will strive to be USA Wrestling’s best state organization.