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Wisconsin freestyle claims top-five finishes at National Duals; 14U places 4th, 16U is 5th overall

By Gabby Lord-Klein, 06/15/24, 4:15PM CDT


TLDR: Wisconsin added two more top-ten finishes to their run at National Duals this week with 14U freestyle placing 4th (4-3) and 16U placing 5th (5-3). Complete results: 14U FS; 16U FS.

Wisconsin’s 14U and 16U freestyle teams added two more top-ten finishes at National Duals with placement matches wrapping up freestyle action on Saturday afternoon in Pennsylvania and Utah.

14U Freestyle—4th place overall in Oaks, PA
The 14U National Dual team is returning home to Wisconsin with an impressive 4th place finish in freestyle, boasting a 4-3 record in their second two-day event.

As is customary, all state teams began in preliminary pool competition, with only the top two advancing to the gold/silver pool. Wisconsin started strong in Pool D with a win over Maryland (50-30) and then dominated Texas (56-24) to advance to the pool finals, where they placed 2nd to a formidable team from Pennsylvania. There was no true-second match, as Wisconsin had already defeated both Maryland and Texas.

Wisconsin wrapped up day one with a thrilling victory over Illinois to kick off the gold/silver pool, winning 40-38. Day two presented tough competition as Wisconsin faced off against California (L51-29), bested Minnesota Blue (W42-37), and battled Ohio Scarlet in the placement match (L50-32).

Kade Splinter went undefeated (6-0) in both styles, joined by Leland Havens, who also achieved a perfect 6-0 in freestyle. Both athletes will be named to USA Wrestling’s All-Tournament team with 5+ wins and no losses. Tyler Paulson and Collin Hamm each posted impressive 6-1 records, with Paulson going 7-0 in Greco. Josiah Beltran also shone with a 3-0 record in freestyle.

Wisconsin’s freestyle performance follows a 3rd place finish in Greco, earning them an outstanding combined team record of 9-5 over four days.

Coach Schaaf gave major compliments to the coaching staff for keeping the team encouraged and ready to go for the long haul. “This coaching staff has been great,” he said. “The younger coaches have really stepped up and taken a liking to the roles, and their knowledge for being young coaches is really really big.”

A special highlight for the 14U team was their practice session at Bucknell University before the competition. Noah Mulvaney, who went undefeated at junior duals the past two years, spoke to the team and stayed for their entire practice. Mulvaney emphasized resilience and the importance of seizing opportunities even when things don’t go as planned—echoing the “next best thing” sentiment that shines when Wisconsin gets taken down. “I think the kids got a lot out of seeing and hearing from one of the guys they grew up watching and admiring,” Schaaf said.


16U Freestyle—5th place overall in Herriman, Utah
The 16U freestyle team in Utah placed 5th overall with a strong 5-3 record. “We’re incredibly proud of the guys,” Head Coach Newton Smerchek said. “It’s a really great group of kids that came out and they really bought into everything we asked of them.”

Wisconsin started the two-day event in pool A where they made light work of North Carolina and Montana in the opening rounds and took down Missouri 41-32 in the semifinal. They placed 2nd in the pool to Indiana. “We started really hot yesterday with some teams that weren’t really at our level and did a really nice job against Missouri,” Smerchek said. “We kinda wore down a little bit against Indiana and Iowa at the end of the day yesterday so the fact that the team came back with a lot of heart and better today with a great attitude was awesome.”

Day two for the 16U team opened with a gritty battle against Pennsylvania, which lasted an entire two hours. “We didn’t win the whole dual but we wrestled really hard and battled until the end,” Smerchek said as Coach Dewey Krueger pointed to his heart. “We never gave up and it really showed when we met teams more on our level and we put it on them even at the end of the tournament.”

Wisconsin’s momentum built in their statement win over Utah Gold (57-17), carrying into their 5th-place match against Illinois.

Early wins in the medal match from Dreyton Kren and Camden Rugg—plus team points from Riley Longdin, Bryson Bussler, and William du Chemin—kept them on the board in an evenly-matched start versus Illinois before Wisconsin brought the hammer down. They went on to win 8 of the last 10 matches. Max Gonzalez turned a recent loss into a win over his IL opponent, and Hunter Stevens gave the team another 3 points with a gut that won him his match in the final 10 seconds. After that, Cade Aaberg, Bryston Scoles, Samuel Zanton and Owen Burling had techs, and Jacob Kidder won 9-2. Aaberg went an incredible 8-0 and will be named to USA Wrestling’s All-Tournament team. Brendan Grabot added icing to the already secured victory with a fall in the final bout as the team took the win 43-32.

Their 5th place performance took contributions from the entire team. “I’m just really proud of the attitude, effort and overall character of the team,” Smerchek said. Asked to describe the group in three words, he said: heart, resilience, and Wisconsin-proud.

Smerchek expressed gratitude to everyone with a hand in making this opportunity for the kids to be out in Utah possible and for them to have such a meaningful experience.

Another special shoutout goes to the 16U coaches! On this trip were 16U Freestyle Head Coach Newton Smerchek, Ben Askren, Dewey Krueger and Randy Ferrell. The 14U coaches on this trip were 14U Head Coach Tony Schaaf, Patrick Spray, Eli Ware, Trevor Potratz and Chris Persike.

Competition in the series of National Dual tournaments continues next week with 14U, 16U and Junior women’s freestyle, and Junior men’s freestyle and Greco.


14U Freestyle: 4th overall with a record of 4-3

  • Complete results
  • Pool D QF: Wisconsin defeated Maryland 50-30
  • Pool D SF: Wisconsin defeated Texas 56-24
  • Pool D Final: Pennsylvania Blue defeated Wisconsin 61-19
  • Gold/Silver Pool #1: Wisconsin defeated Illinois 40-38
  • Gold/Silver Pool #2: California defeated Wisconsin 51-29
  • Gold/Silver Pool #3: Wisconsin defeated Minnesota Blue 42-37
  • Gold/Silver Pool #4 (3rd place): Ohio Scarlet defeated Wisconsin 50-32

16U Freestyle: 5th overall with a record of 5-3

  • Complete results
  • Pool A #1: Wisconsin defeated North Carolina 73-4
  • Pool A QF: Wisconsin defeated Montana 67-10
  • Pool A SF: Wisconsin defeated Missouri 41-32
  • Pool A Finals: Indiana defeated Wisconsin 47-22
  • Gold/Silver #1: Iowa defeated Wisconsin 45-28
  • Gold/Silver #2: Pennsylvania defeated Wisconsin 46-26
  • Gold/Silver #3: Wisconsin defeated Utah Gold 57-17
  • Gold/Silver #4 (5th place): Wisconsin defeated Illinois 43-32

Helpful Notes
→ Team WI Rosters: 
→ Stream live on FloWrestling
→ Brackets posted on TrackWrestling
→ ABOUT: National Duals are age-level USA Wrestling events featuring some of the most talented freestyle and Greco wrestlers on state association teams nationwide.

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.