LAS VEGAS, Nev. — The Cliff Keen Wrestling Club’s Jimmy Kennedy captured the 65kg/143-pound title to headline the CKWC’s freestyle performance at the U.S. Senior Nationals on Saturday (Dec. 19) at the Las Vegas Convention Center. Kennedy, who was also named the event’s Outstanding Wrestler, posted a perfect 5-0 record, outscoring his opposition by a combined 43-2 margin. It was his second U.S. Open title and first up at 65kg.
“It was a good tournament,” said Kennedy. “I wrestled solid the entire time. I’ve always been a solid wrestler, but putting a lot of points on the board, I think I failed to live up to that the last couple of years. Now I feel comfortable and I’m not really too worried about getting scored on because I know if I keep pushing the pace, I’m going to be able to score points.”
Kennedy rallied from an early deficit to defeat Ohio State’s four-time NCAA champion Logan Stieber, 9-2, in the championship match. Stieber scored off a snap down early in the first period before Kennedy evened the score with a takedown of his own a minute later and broke it open in the second frame. After moments after being warned for passivity, Kennedy finished on a four-point high crotch, narrowly avoiding giving up exposure points himself on the exchange. The call was upheld on an ensuing challenge, and Kennedy struck again immediately on the restart, scoring off a double leg to pad his lead.
He earned shutout victories in all of his preliminary matches, including a 9-0 decision against Reece Humphrey in the semifinals. Kennedy built up a sizable first-period lead with two takedowns — a counter high single and a feet-to-back double leg on the edge — and extended his lead with another single leg and a late two-point exposure, keeping Humphrey on his back for the final 20 seconds of the bout.
In addition to Kennedy, Kellen Russell, Logan Massa and J.T. Felix also posted top-seven finishes at their respective weights to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, scheduled for April 9-10, in Iowa City, Iowa.
Massa posted an impressive 5-2 record en route to fourth place at 74kg/163 pounds in his first ever senior-level tournament. He sacrificed an early advantage in his third-place contest against veteran Nick Marable, falling 4-2 when Marable scored on two stepouts and a counter takedown late in the first period.
Massa reeled off five straight wins in the wrestlebacks after dropping a close 6-5 decision in the first round against another veteran, Adam Hall — all on exposure points from the neutral position — with two technical falls. He earned an 11-0 win over Vladyslav Dombrovskiy late in the day, scoring four takedowns, including a four-point throw off a deep Dombrovskiy deep single, and won by disqualification against Kevin LeValley in the consolation semifinals when LeValley yanked his shoulder against joint. Massa led 2-0 at the time of the DQ.
Russell claimed fifth place at 65kg with a 4-2 record, similarly rallying from an early loss with back-to-back technical falls in the wrestlebacks. He knocked off Chase Pami, 10-0, on a quick takedown and three gut wrenches in the first period before adding a match-ending single leg early in the second. He also rallied to beat fellow CKWC member B.J. Futrell, 15-4, in the wrestlebacks.
Felix went 3-3 en route to sixth place at 97kg/213 pounds — his first placing performance in his second career senior-level freestyle tournament. Among his wins, Felix rallied to defeat veteran Deron Winn, 11-3, in the wrestlebacks after scoring two four-point double legs on the edge in the second period. He also cruised past Braden Atwood, 12-2, on five takedowns, including a matching-ending four-point double early in the second.
Futrell posted a 2-3 record in his first competition in two years. He opened with a dominant 12-0 technical fall against Nazar Kulchytskyy, scoring two four-point throws, including one to end the bout in the second period. He also held on to earn an 8-7 decision against Nick Dardanes in the wrestlebacks, building an eight-point lead off of three takedowns and a two-point exposure off a crotch lift before fending off a late Dardanes charge.
Micic went 3-2 in his second senior-level tournament this fall. Among his wins, he avenged an earlier loss to veteran Frank Perrelli, rallying from a four-point deficit early in the second to score on a takedown and four leglaces and earn an 11-6 decision. He was eliminated by Ohio State’s defending NCAA champion Nathan Tomasello, who earned a 4-2 decision on a counter takedown and two stepouts.
Stevan Micic, 57kg/125.5 pounds
First Round – tech. fall Luis Nunez (Kings of Arizona), 10-0
Second Round – tech. fall by Coleman Scott (Sunkist Kids), 10-0
Consolations – dec. Frank Perrelli (Titan Mercury WC), 11-6
Consolations – tech. fall Cruse Aarhus (Panther Wrestling RTC), 13-2
Consolations – dec. by Nathan Tomasello (Titan Mercury WC), 4-2
Eliminated with a 3-2 record
Jimmy Kennedy, 65kg/143 pounds
First Round – tech. fall Filip Novachkov (Titan Mercury WC), 10-0
Second round – tech. fall Joshua Kindig (Tar Heel WC), 10-0
Quarterfinals – dec. Jason Chamberlain (Titan Mercury WC), 5-0
Semifinals – dec. Reece Humphrey (NYAC), 9-0
Final dec. Logan Stieber (Titan Mercury WC), 9-2
Finished as the 65kg champion with a 5-0 record
Kellen Russell, 65kg/143 pounds
First Round – Bye
Second Round – tech. fall Michael Dunkum (Pursuit WC), 10-0
Quarterfinals – dec. by Aaron Pico (Titan Mercury WC), 10-3
Consolations – tech. fall Chase Pami (Sunkist Kids), 10-0
Consolations – tech. fall B.J. Futrell (Titan Mercury WC), 15-4
Consolations – tech. fall by Reece Humphrey (NYAC), 10-0
Fifth Place – won by medical forfeit over Frank Molinaro (Nittany Lion WC)
Finished in fifth place with a 4-2 record
B.J. Futrell, 65kg/143 pounds
First Round – Bye
Second Round – tech. fall Nazar Kulchytskyy (Titan Mercury WC), 12-0
Quarterfinals – tech. fall by Logan Stieber (Titan Mercury WC), 10-0
Consolations – dec. Nick Dardanes (Minnesota Storm), 8-7
Consolations – tech. fall by Kellen Russell (NYAC), 15-4
Seventh Place – tech. fall by Jason Chamberlain (Titan Mercury WC), 12-2
Finished in eighth place with a 2-3 record
Logan Massa, 74kg/165 pounds
First Round – dec. by Adam Hall (Titan Mercury WC), 6-5
Consolations – won by medical forfeit over Camden Carter-Grimes (Pursuit Wrestling Club)
Consolations – tech. fall Nestor Taffur (Lehigh Valley Athletic Club), 12-2
Consolations – injury def. Michael Moreno (Titan Mercury WC), 0:09
Consolations – tech. fall Vladyslav Dombrovskiy (Army), 11-0
Consolations – won by disqualification Kevin LeValley (Buffalo Valley RTC), 0:41
Third Place – dec. by Nick Marable (Sunkist Kids), 4-2
Finished in fourth place with a 5-2 record
J.T. Felix, 97kg/213 pounds
First Round – tech. fall Joe Nord (Titan Mercury WC), 10-0
Quarterfinals – pinned by Scott Schiller (Minnesota Storm), 4:46
Consolations – tech. fall Braden Atwood (Tar Heel WC), 12-0
Consolations – dec. Deron Winn (Titan Mercury WC), 11-3
Consolations – pinned by Kyven Gadson (Sunkist Kids WC) , 4:57
Fifth Place – dec. by Micah Burak (Titan Mercury WC), 8-2
Finished in sixth place with a 3-3 record