Eight of the best 195 lbs US Freestyle competitors met Saturday night in an eight-man, single-elimination tournament in Austin, Texas. Hosted by Flo Wrestling, the one-night event featured a $20,000 prize to the champion and $10,000 to the runner-up. The championship purse is a unique feature for an amateur wrestling event. One of several additions Flo Wrestling has attached to their events recently.
The tournament opening round started with New Jersey RTC’s (Regional Training Center) Nate Jackson (Indiana University 2x NCAA All-American) earning a technical decision over the Hawkeye Wrestling Club’s Sammy Brooks (2x NCAA All-American University of Iowa) 11–1.
The Panther Wrestling Club’s (University of Northern Iowa) Taylor Lujan scored a huge pinfall victory over 2x NCAA Champion and current Cornell assistant coach Gabe Dean (Spartan Combat RTC). In a battle of NCAA Champions, the Ohio RTC’s (Ohio State) Myles Martin defeated Panther Wrestling Club’s (University of Northern Iowa) Drew Foster 8–0.
In one of the more surprising stories of the tournament, 35-year-old former NCAA Champion and current University of Pittsburg Head Coach Keith Gavin defeated Rare Breed Wrestling Club’s Shakur Rasheed (Penn State All-American) in a wild 9–7 match.
In the semi-finals, Myles Martin avoided an early Nate Jackson double-leg attack. Martin was able to re-attack and score off another Jackson double leg. But it was the Ohio State star’s savvy wrestling on the edge to secure a late takedown off of Jackson’s single leg to win the match 5-2.
In the second semi-final, Taylor Lujan scored with a single leg in the opening thirty seconds against Keith Gavin. Lujan’s impressive defense from the tripod position scored him two big points. The first period ended at 4–0 Lujan. Gavin forced a scramble early in the second period, but again, Lujan’s defense was too much, scoring a two-point takedown. Late in the match, Gavin forced another scramble, scoring two defensive points off a chest lock, but gave up another takedown in the closing seconds. Taylor Lujan won 9-2 over the veteran Gavin.
The final round featured Martin, the 4x All-American and pre-tournament favorite, and Lujan, a competitor who never achieved All-American status at Northern Iowa. The championship bout opened with a Martin armdrag takedown and a double leg in the opening thirty seconds. Late in the first period, Martin shot in deep on a double leg. The highly defensive Lujan locked up a chest wrap, hoping to score points of his own. Martin powered through the finish and avoided a Halloween nightmare as he took a 6–0 lead into the break.
The second period was all Myles Martin, as he scored on a re-attack off of Lujan shot to take an 8–0 lead. Martin finished the tournament with another double-leg defeating Taylor Lujan by technical decision 10-0. Martin’s victory secured the championship and $20,000.
The event proved to be a statement from Martin heading toward the 2021 Tokyo Olympics. However, with only six weight classes in the 2021 games, as opposed to ten weight classes for World Championship events, Martin has to decide to move up or down in weight. With two defending World and Olympics medalists, Kyle Snyder and J’Den Cox, vying for the spot at 96 kilograms (213 lbs.), Martin’s best opportunity at the Olympic trials next spring will be at 86 kg (189 lbs).
Photo credit: Sam Janicki