Monday, April 16, 2018

The Top 5 USA Freestyle Wrestlers at 57 KG

I went to the UWW Freestyle World Cup in Iowa City, and it was awesome. The United States won the title and showed that they are going to be one of the best nations in the world at wrestling for the foreseeable future. Now unfortunately, due to a bunch of bullshit politics, Iran and Russia were not able to attend the event. Iran is solid but probably not any better than the Azerbaijan team that the United States beat in the finals. Russia is a different beast, and right now, them and the USA stand above the rest of the world in freestyle wrestling. But after watching the best that the United States has to offer, I wanted to break down all of the weight classes to see who would be representing the United States later this year at the World Championships. Let's start at 57 KG (approximately 126 pounds) where the United States won a Silver Medal at last year's World Championships.

5. Daton Fix
Fix is the guy I know the least about, mostly since he has only had unattached matches for Oklahoma State as he took a redshirt this season. Still, the guy won the Junior World Title last year, so the bonafides are definitely there. Stepping up from the Junior to the Senior level is still incredibly difficult, and although I think he can have a good showing, I don't think he's quite ready to take on some of the older competition.

4. Tony Ramos
This is where some of my stupidity shines through as I'm going to play psychologist. But doesn't Tony Ramos seem happy? I think that's a great thing, but that dude always seemed pissed off back in the day, and that was part of his edge. Now that he's a happy adult, how driven is he? We really haven't seen anything from him since Gilman beat him at the US Open last year. This is another guy who could definitely rise up and take the top spot, as working with Coleman Scott should add some new tricks to his repertoire, but I could just as easily see him getting upset early and really never being a top guy for the USA ever again.

3. Nathan Tomasello
Tomasello had a disappointing senior season, but really, he did exactly what you would have expected outside of running into a buzzsaw from Iowa. Tomasello was big enough to wrestle at 133 the previous season, and I think the weight cut may have worn on him. Just having to peak a few times a year will likely help him at the lower weight, and I do think he is going to be a tough out for anyone in the tournament. But I still have him falling just short of making the finals.

2. Thomas Gilman
How Gilman is only number two may shock some people. Not only was Gilman the representative for the United States last year, he won the damn Silver Medal at the World Championships. Do I think the USA should definitely be taking gold this year? Not at all, but I do think that just about everything worked out for Gilman last year. He managed to pull off every close match, and I just don't think that is a repeatable skill. Now, that being said, as a medal winner last year, he's already guaranteed a spot in the finals, so he only has to win two close matches instead of five. But, if I'm being totally honest, I would have put him fourth on this list if he wasn't guaranteed a finals spot. I doubted him last year, and he made me look stupid. I certainly won't be disappointed if he does that again.

1. Spencer Lee
I know Lee is coming off of his true freshman season, and he has never competed at the senior level, and it's insane to pick someone with no track record of success at that level. BUT, did you see Lee at the NCAA Championships? I know folkstyle and freestyle are different beasts, but Lee turned EVERYBODY. If he gets a takedown, he could end the match in an instant at the freestyle level. So the question becomes how good is Lee on his feet. He looked pretty damn unstoppable at the NCAA Tournament once he got that knee brace off. It's too early to say he's going to be a lightweight version of Kyle Snyder, but after what we saw from him, is it really a crazy prediction? I was about 50/50 on him winning an NCAA Championship, and the only way I can ever see giving him odds that low is if he's facing off against 57 KG's number one ranked wrestler, Japan's Yuki Takahashi, at the World Championships. I wouldn't be surprised if that match was for a gold medal, and I certainly wouldn't bet against him.

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