Brady Koontz thrives at Greco-Roman American Junior World Trials


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STEVENS POINT – When Brady Koontz returned home from the Greco-Roman American Junior Nationals in Las Vegas in late April, he felt a sense of loss.

The results are well below his expectations. Koontz left Sin City disappointed with his performance. Nothing went as planned.

A 2017 Stevens Point Area Senior High graduate and former WIAA State Champion, Koontz returned to central Wisconsin in search of his mojo.

“I went to the junior nationals and didn’t do my best there,” said Koontz, who had just finished a red shirt season at Ohio State University. “Before the Nationals in Vegas, my brother (Dylan) and I had just trained each other in Columbus.

“After (the national championships) I knew I had to keep working hard and start looking towards the World Team Trials.”

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Koontz had five weeks to find the form that helped him reach back-to-back WIAA State Championship games and win a 103-pound title in 2016.

He wasted no time getting to work. Koontz reunited with longtime coach and three-time Olympian Dennis Hall at World Gold Wrestling in Plover.

Koontz turned all his attention to the Greco-Roman style. The transformation from national championships to World Team Trials has been brutal.

He arrived at the world trials in Indianapolis in early June and owned the 55 kilograms (121 pounds) division to earn a spot on the U.S. junior team scheduled to compete at the world championships Sept. 17-23 in Trnava, Slovakia.

“It has always been a goal to be part of the World Junior team,” said Koontz, who has been wrestling in freestyle and Greco-Roman since second year. “A lot of (the improvement) was just being with my coaches again.

“I don’t know if I was surprised. I knew I was fighting really well throughout the day. I could really see a difference with the World Team Trials and Vegas. I could feel I was stronger in it. each position and guys move around a lot more. Everything was smoother. “

Koontz was the class of the 121-pound weight class, and it wasn’t even close.

After a 9-3 decision over Rayvon Foley to open the World Trials, he beat Elijah Varona, 9-0. A fall of 1:56 to Joey Harrison sent Koontz into the Championship game.

In the final, he met No.1 seed and 2017 world junior silver medalist Cevian Severado. It was not a competition.

Koontz won the series opener best of three with Severado, 15-5. He completed the sweep with a 3-3 victory over the criteria to secure his place in Slovakia.

“In the past, Brady lacked confidence. Confidence really comes down to hard work and time,” Hall said. “He can come home with a Worlds medal if he wrestles offensively and fights against his competitors.

“All he has to do is keep training hard and focus on what he needs to work on.”

Brady’s twin brother Dylan also competed at 121 pounds at the US Junior World Trials.

Dylan came just a little short. He lost to Harrison on criteria, 7-7, in the semi-finals of the challenge tournament.

The idea of ​​fighting his twin brother in the championship round attracted Brady. He noted that the loser of one-on-one sibling matches is required to do 10 push-ups.

Unfortunately, that did not quite materialize.

“It can be fun when we’re in the same squad because we are pressured to advance to the final,” Brady said. “If we end up fighting, we have no worries about what’s going to happen.”

When he arrives in Slovakia, Koontz will have limited experience on the international wrestling scene.

His only previous international match had been in 2015 at the Cadet World Championships. Koontz lost to an individual from the country of Georgia.

He wants to change that this time around.

“My goal is to win. I’m excited,” said Koontz. “It’s completely different from the kids wrestling here. They have a completely different style. Luckily I have Dennis to train with and he’s been there and knows what it’s going to be like.”

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Robert J. King