Trio of Buckeyes Qualify for U.S. Olympic Team Trials
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Three for three. Logan Stieber, Nathan Tomasello and Reece Humphrey all wrestled in the U.S. Senior Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier with one goal in mind – punch their ticket for a trip to Iowa City, Iowa for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. All three did so by finishing in the top seven of their respective weight classes and will officially continue on their Road to Rio later in 2016.
Stieber was second at 65kg, Humphrey finished third (65kg) while Tomasello was fifth at 57kg. The trio combined for seven tech falls in the 13 matches that they won.
Seeded second, Stieber’s run to the finals was a dominant one, as he won his four matches by an aggregate score of 47-10. He picked up a first round tech fall over Brandon Wright, 12-1, that lasted just 2:04. Stieber’s second round match pitted him against Jayson Ness, a former NCAA champion and Dan Hodge Trophy winner at Minnesota. Ness led early in the first period, 4-2, but from there Stieber ripped off 10 straight points and never looked back.
Another technical fall, this one over former Illinois wrestler Bernard Futrell that took 4:03, pushed Stieber into the semifinals where he squared off with third-seeded Aaron Pico. Stieber led 6-0 at the end of the first period, scoring nine seconds into the match and then twice in the final minute. She scored again 50 seconds into the second period and controlled action the rest of the way for a 13-5 decision.
In the finals, Stieber faced top-seeded Jimmy Kennedy, a three-time All-American at Illinois and the 2014 U.S. Open champion. Stieber struck first with a takedown for a 2-0 lead, but Kennedy countered with a TD of his own and then scored seven points in the second period to make the final score 9-2.
Stieber, who debuted in the most recently world rankings at No. 14, most recently took silver at the United World Wrestling Golden Grand Prix on Nov. 27 in Baku, Azerbaijan. Along the way, he won an entertaining 17-13 decision over 2014 World champion Soslan Ramonov of Russia. In early November, he was second at the Bill Farrell/New York AC International.
Humphrey, a NCAA runner-up for the Buckeyes in 2009 and the U.S. World Team Trials champion at 61kg this past summer, received an opening round bye and then got his day started with a 10-0 tech fall over Joseph Hulen that lasted just 15 seconds. A 7-2 decision over Frank Molinaro followed before Humphrey lost a 9-0 semifinal decision to second-seeded Jimmy Kennedy.
In the consolation bracket, the fifth-seeded Humphrey rebounded to dominate sixth-seeded Kellen Russell, 10-0 on a tech fall that last just 35 seconds. That consolation semifinal win put his in the consolation finals against Pico. There, he dominated Pico, rolling to a 10-0 tech fall (1:48) and securing third place.
Tomasello, seeded seventh, won his first two matches with ease, rolling to a pair of 10-0 tech falls. His first round victory over Rene Ruiz lasted just 23 seconds. In the quarterfinals, Tomasello was pinned by second-seeded Joe Colon with just 38 seconds remaining in the match (5:22). At the time, he was training by just one point, 8-7.
Unfazed, Tomasello came back to win two critical consolation round matches – the first a tight 4-2 decision over Steven Micic and then a 2-1 victory against sixth-seeded Ali Naster. Tomasello scored his two points with first period, Naser scored once in the second and neither wrestler got on the board in the third. That win put him into the consolation semifinals against fourth-seeded Coleman Scott, a bronze medalist in the 2012 Olympics at 60kg and the current head coach at North Carolina. Scott defeated Tomasello, 10-0, but he punched his ticket to the Olympic Trials via an injury default win over Joe Colon in the fifth place match.
The U.S. Olympic Team Trials takes place April 9-10 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena in Iowa City, Iowa. Two Buckeyes – one current and one former – have already qualified: Kyle Snyder (96kg) and JD Bergman (96kg). Bergman won the title this past November at the Bill Farrell/New York AC International while Snyder’s explosion onto the freestyle scene has been well-documented – in the last six months, he has won the US Open, Pan Am Games, World Team Trials and became the youngest American to earn gold at the World Championships.