Gaitan and Burks win UWW Junior Greco-Roman national titles
It’s US Open week in Las Vegas, and already the wrestlers from Iowa are making noise.
Over the next five days, more than a dozen competitions will take place at the South Point Hotel & Casino. The highlight of the weekend is the UWW World Cadet Team Trials, where many of Iowa’s top high schoolers will compete for a chance to wrestle at the 2022 World Cadet Championships this summer.
But Wednesday’s opening competition featured the UWW Junior Greco-Roman National Championships, both the first step in the World Junior Team Trials process as well as an exciting appetizer for all the big fight to come the rest of the week.
And Iowa wrestlers – we mean both Iowa wrestlers and those with Iowa ties – put on a show.
Two titles won: Jakason Burks, from the Iowa Western, and MJ Gaitan, a rookie from Iowa State.
Burks, a former Oklahoma State wrestler who made the NJCAA Finals this year for the Iowa Western, went 3-0 and outscored opponents 26-3 to win at 55 kilograms (121 books). Gaitan, of Temecula Valley, Calif., who recently moved from Cal Baptist to the Cyclones, outscored his four opponents 53-19 to win at 77 pounds (169).
Two others, both high schoolers, reached the final: Hunter Garvin of Iowa City West and Jackson Dewald of Westwood.
After: Major Changes Coming to Iowa’s 2022-23 High School Wrestling Playoff Schedule
Garvin, a senior and Stanford signee, scored 43 points in his first four matches and reached the final at 67kg (147), where he lost 11-4 to Robert Perez III. Dewald, just a junior, used a series of big throws to score back-to-back technical falls to advance to the final at 97 kilos (213), then lost the same way, 10-0, to Robert Plympton of the Oregon.
Three others all finished sixth at their respective weights:
These seven wrestlers have now qualified for the 2022 UWW World Junior Team Trials, which will take place June 3-5 in Geneva, Ohio. Whoever wins there will represent the United States at the world junior championships, which take place August 15-21 in Sofia, Bulgaria.
By winning on Wednesday, Gaitan and Burks will automatically advance to the best of three finals. The others will have to navigate the challenge tournament and the final series in June to earn a spot on the World Junior Team.
It’s over a month away. Many of these guys will continue to struggle this week.
On Thursday, the country’s top high school wrestlers will compete for spots on the Greco-Roman Cadet World Team. From Friday to Sunday, the Senior Men’s and Women’s Freestyle competitions, the Senior National Greco-Roman Tournament, as well as the Junior Men’s Freestyle National Championships and Cadet Men’s Freestyle World Team Trials will run from Friday to Sunday. .
And if Wednesday’s opening action is any indication of what lies ahead, the Iowa wrestlers could have a busy and successful week in Las Vegas.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.