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U23 Preview: Cowboy RTC Will Welcome Joe Smith Back to Mat for World Team Trials



The Cowboys have the U23 World Team Trials coming up this weekend and there’s a lot of intrigue surrounding it.

The U23s are a fairly new thing with United World Wrestling. Previously for freestyle it jumped from juniors, which are wrestlers 20 and under, to the senior level which is the guys you see at the Olympics and can be any age. They created U23s as a bit of a buffer for that age gap.

Last year OSU had one U23 World Team Member with Daton Fix who made the team after just graduating high school by taking out NCAA champ and four-time All-American Nathan Tomasello.

Last week at the junior and senior trials we got to see some of the future and former stars of OSU wrestling. This is where you’ll have a chance to see the bulk of the actual lineup for next year in action.

61 KG: Nick Piccininni and Jacob Fontanez

Fontanez is a transfer that came in last year from West Point, a local kid from Stillwater. This will be good experience for him.

Nick is an All-American and who I projected as the starter at 133 next year. He wasn’t a big freestyle guy when he was younger, but he did try for the junior team a few years ago and has been “the guy” working out Daton Fix and prepping him for the senior trials and now “Final X”. The RTC also sent Nick up to New York to work with Olympic Gold Medalist and former Cowboy Kendall Cross this past few days. If you’re rolling around with Fix every day you’re going to get better. So it’ll be interesting to see what he does here and how he handles being up a little in weight from where he’s been wrestling. There’s some talent at this weight, but nobody that’s untouchable. Nick should be able to compete here.

65 KG: Kaid Brock, Kaden Gfeller, Tristan Moran

We’ve talked about it on the blog, but Kaid is possibly going up a weight next year. He doesn’t look like a big 133, but the general consensus seems to be that he may go up. Naturally, you want to see him qualify and make the team, but probably the most intriguing thing is how he does up a weight? When projecting into next year we know Kaid is a good wrestler, but the question is does he jump levels by feeling better and going up a weight or does he struggle with bigger guys? This will be a great opportunity to see that. Results here may end up dictating which weight he goes.

Kaden had a very good redshirt freshman year. He knocked off a few eventual All-Americans and his only losses were against a couple of top guys at the weight. His freestyle summer so far hasn’t been quite as good. At the US Open and World Team Trials he finished a little under his seed and here we get to see him against some pretty top-flight competition, so it’s something you want to follow to see how he does. Kaden is a huge piece to the future of the program.

Tristan Moran closed out the postseason wrestling at 157 at the Big 12 tournament. Fourteen pounds heavier than this! That’s a huge jump in wrestling. Now down at 65 KG we’ll have a chance to see what he can do at a more natural weight. He and Boo Lewallen both jumped up to 149 last year with two-time NCAA champ Dean Heil as the returning starter at 141. Tristan was eventually asked to step in at 157, this year it looks like he might be moving back down to 141 to compete for the spot there.

Ultimately, this may give some indication of who is in the driver’s seat to be the starter at 141 next year. Kaid, as we said, could stay at 33, but if he does go 141 he is amazing on his feet, but has always seemed to struggle on bottom. Kaden, on the other hand, is a monster on top. Mat wrestling is neutralized in freestyle, so this definitely doesn’t decide it, but could give an idea of where these guys are at.

70 KG: Boo Lewallen

There are a lot of guys currently registered at this weight, but no one that I think Boo can’t wrestle with. There are only two guys that finished ahead of him at the NCAA tournament that return next year. They aren’t registered and even if they were Boo could beat them. He’s another guy that’s been out to New York with Kendall Cross. He should be able to go pretty deep in this tournament.

79 KG: Joe Smith and Chandler Rogers

The big story here for Cowboy fans is the return of Joe Smith. We didn’t see a lot of him last season during his redshirt year, but here will be the opportunity. This is a strong weight at this tournament and he’s a lot bigger than where he’d been wrestling. He has been working out with Dieringer to prep him for the senior trials, so he’s definitely been getting pushed in the room.

Chandler is going both Greco and freestyle. I think he’ll probably win Greco actually, and he should be able to compete in freestyle. Here’s part of the reason why I think Chandler wins Greco.

One story line here is that these two All-Americans may be competing with each other for a starting spot next year. Similar to the three at 65 KG this may give a bit of an indication as to where they’re both at.

125 KG: Cornelius Putnam

This will be good experience for Putnam. He’s young and it usually takes these heavyweights a few years to physically mature, so it may be tough for him to be especially competitive here. But it’ll be good work for him to compete with this caliber of talent.






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