Alex Thomsen, native of Iowa, wins senior Greco-Roman national title
CORALVILLE, Ia. –Alex Thomsen won four state titles for Underwood, a small powerhouse in southwest Iowa. Head Coach Joe Stephens has a simple mantra for his athletes: Wrestling is wrestling, you just have to go and compete.
As many Eagle wrestlers have succeeded in each of the sports disciplines: folk, freestyle and Greco-Roman. Thomsen won All-American honors in all three, including a junior greco national title in 2017, before joining the Nebraska program.
On Friday night, here inside the new Xtream Arena, Thomsen added another lucrative wrestling achievement to his resume by winning greco gold at the senior US national championships. He went 4-0 and won at 60 kilograms (132 pounds).
“Senior National Champion feels good,” Thomsen said afterwards with a smile. “Not too bad, I don’t think so.”
Thomsen beat northern Colorado wrestler Mosha Schwartz, 5-3, in Friday’s final, finishing an unlikely run as a seed 9 in this weekend’s tournament. He managed three surprises and outscored the four opponents by a total of 32-7.
This accomplishment is not to be overlooked, even though the novel coronavirus pandemic threw many keys in this tournament – the main one was to limit the participants.
This tournament does not have the same firepower as the previous senior national championships, including that of last December in Texas. Some wrestlers did not come out as a precaution. Some were not allowed. The Army World Class Athlete program, for example, has a strong freestyle and greco presence. None could come to compete.
But it opened the door to an exciting and eventful tournament, if only because of the unknown.
Thomsen was one of the many varsity wrestlers who competed in greco this weekend. Others with more notable Greek backgrounds prevailed at other weights, but at 60 pounds six of the top eight were college guys. The peloton also included Taylor LaMont of Utah Valley and NYAC athlete Randon Miranda, both former members of the World Under-23 team.
You can only fight against those that show up, and Thomsen has flourished. He beat favorite LaMont, 10-4, in the quarterfinals; Chance Rice of Cal-State Bakersfield by technical fall in the semifinals; then Schwartz in the final. LaMont and Rice finished third and fourth respectively, meaning Thomsen beat second, third and fourth places.
And he did it by wrestling hard – a good head position, strong hand fights, and the occasional arm rotation and high dive.
“It was another opportunity for me to show another side of my fight,” said Thomsen. “I have the hips, the power, the explosiveness and the conscience of the mat. This last game was all the consciousness of the mat. I had to be smart, keep my butt in the center.
“I like greco. When I joined Nebraska my goal was to be the best you can be, no matter what style, and our coaches keep us following our dreams, and that’s really cool.
Wrestling is wrestling, in other words, and as we’ve seen time and time again, Alex Thomsen is pretty good at wrestling.
Iowa State Rookie Holds His Own: Conor Knopick, a senior in Millard South, Nebraska, held his ground against the senior competitors on Friday, going 2-3 and eighth place at 60 kilos.
Knopick has a successful Greek training. He won several All-American accolades at the cadet level and even made it to the Greco World Cadet Team 2019. He was the youngest competitor in the peloton on Friday and still reached the quarter-finals and ultimately the podium.
Knopick, who won a Nebraska state title last season, signed up for Iowa state in June. He is considered the # 29 rookie in the 2021 class. The Cyclones are very excited to add him to the program. His performance on Friday showed why.
Former Loras wrestler meets El Greco success: Eddie Smith, a Division III All-American for Loras, was eighth in the Greco competition at 77 kilos (169 pounds). He has come the long way to the podium, losing in the first round and taking three straight wins in the struggles to reach the top eight.
College guys shine: Many other current varsity wrestlers did quite well in Friday’s greco competition.
Two have actually won titles: Arizona State’s Cohlton Schultz, at 130 pounds, and Ohio State’s Nicholas Boykin, at 97 pounds. Schultz is a seasoned Greco veteran, cadet world champion and two-time world junior medalist. Boykin, a 2019 greco world junior team, actually beat another Sun Devil wrestler, Chad Porter, in the final.
Others also finished in the top four: Lenny Merkin of Princeton, third at 67 kilos; Peyton Robb of Nebraska, fourth at 77 pounds; Zach Braunagel of Illinois, third at 87 pounds; and Braxton Ames of Wisconsin, third at 97 kilos.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.
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United States Senior National Championships
- 60 kilograms (132 pounds): Alex Thomsen vs. Mosha Schwartz, 5-3
- 67 kilograms (147 pounds): Benji Peak vs. Calvin Germinaro, 8-0
- 77 kilograms (169 pounds): Kendrick Sanders v Pat Smith, 8-0
- 87 kilograms (191 pounds): Alan Vera vs. Joe Rau, 7-1
- 97 kilograms (213 pounds): Nicholas Boykin vs. Chad Porter, 5-1
- 130 kilograms (286 pounds): Cohlton Schultz v West Cathcart, 4-2