Everything you need to know about the Men’s U20 Freestyle World Team
Need a refresher on who’s been on the U20 World Team or want to know more about a specific member? Look no further! Below is a list of all 10 guys and everything you need to know about them.
57 kg: Jore Volk
Hometown: Lakeville, Minnesota
Secondary school: Lakeville North
High School Club: Pinnacle
Championship Series: Jore Volk vs. Troy Spratley, 2-1
What you need to know: Despite being a Fargo champ, I’m sure Jore Volk didn’t get the respect he thought he deserved heading into the freestyle circuit this spring. After beating Richie Figueroa in the quarterfinals at the US Open, Volk was forced into an injury default. That left him in 40th place on the 2022 big board. However, he ran an absolute gauntlet at the World Team Trials beating Robert Howard, Nate Jesuroga, Cooper Flynn and US Open champion Troy Spratley to secure his place in the world team. That pretty much tells you everything you need to know about Volk. The Cowboys had a good one.
61kg: Nic Bouzakis
Hometown: Tampa, Florida
High School: Wyoming Seminary
College: Ohio State
High School Club: Team Greco
Championship Series: Nic Bouzakis vs. Jesse Mendez, 2-1
What you need to know: Unlike Volk, Nic Bouzakis is one of the best, if not the best recruits in the Class of 2022 since they all entered high school. He’s won just about everything, including Fargo, Super 32, Ironman, Eastern States, and National Preps. Last summer, Bouzakis made the Greco World Junior Team and opted out of trying to make the freestyle team, depriving fans of a much-anticipated match with the No. 3 rookie from class, Jesse Mendez. Things changed in 2022, however. Not only did we get that match, but both wrestlers had since committed to wrestle at Ohio State. We envision a future roster battle between two of the top high school wrestlers in the nation, and it lived up to the hype. After losing the first game, 14-6, Bouzakis came back to win the second and third games 12-7 and 15-4.
65kg: Vince Cornella
Hometown: Lafayette, Colorado
High School: Monarch
High School Club: Mile High Wrestling Club
Championship Series: Vince Cornella vs. Carter Young, 2-1
What you need to know: Colorado native Vince Cornella was quite the bravado coming out of high school. He had a decent redshirt year in his freshman year at Ithaca going 23-8, but I’m not sure what he wanted or expected. He moved up a notch in the playoffs, winning the Open and doubling in the tries. I expect him to be Cornell’s starting 141-pounder this coming season.
70kg: Mitchell Mesenbrink
Hometown: Hartland, Wisconsin
High School: Arrowhead
College: California Baptist
High School Club: Askren Wrestling Academy
Championship Series: Mitchell Mesenbrink vs. Levi Haines, 2-0
What you need to know: Mitchell Mesenbrink was the star of the US Open in April. There’s no way a Cal Baptist engagement couldn’t just win, but the tech falls through a slice that included Paniro Johnson, Caleb Henson, Jordan Williams, Hunter Garvin, Cael Swensen, Chance Lamer, and more. Again. But that’s exactly what happened. Mesenbrink proved it was no fluke when he defeated Penn State commit Levi Haines in two games in the Trials final. Cal Baptist with a flight.
74kg: Alex Facundo
Hometown: Essexville, Michigan
High School: Davison
College: Penn State
High School Club: Team Donahoe
Championship Series: Alex Facundo vs. Jack Thomsen, 2-0
What you need to know: Penn State didn’t have Levi Haines on the team, but they did have Alex Facundo. The Michigan native thrives in the freestyle. He made two world cadet teams while in high school and won two bronze medals. Now he’s a junior trying to bring home the gold.
79kg: Brayden Thompson
Hometown: Frankfort, Illinois
High School: Lockport
College: Oklahoma State
High School Club: Izzy Style
Championship Series: Brayden Thompson vs. Luca Augustine, 2-0
What you need to know: With a year of high school still to go, Brayden Thompson is one of the youngest, if not the youngest, to make the team. That doesn’t mean much, though. At the US Open, Thompson threw his hat in the SENIOR division and came home with a 6th place finish. This did not allow him to participate in the final of the trials, but it did not matter. He beat Aaron Ayzerov, Rocco Welsh and Josh Barr before beating Pitt’s Luca Augustine in the final to make the team. After the World Juniors, Thompson will compete in Who’s Number One for the second year in a row.
86 kg: Bennett Berge
Hometown: Mantorville, Minnesota
High school: Kasson-Mantorville
High School Club: Pinnacle
Championship Series: Bennett Berge vs. Sam Fisher, 2-1
What you need to know: The younger brother of SDSU coach Brady Berge, Bennett will follow his sibling to Brookings. After losing to Brian Soldano and Wyatt Voelker at the Open, Berge ignited in Ohio and beat Nathan Haas and Tate Picklo to advance to the finals where he beat Sam Fisher in three matches to make it into the team. A Pinnacle Wrestling Club product, Berge is hugely experienced in both freestyle and greco and should have no problem holding his own in Bulgaria.
92kg: Jaxon Smith
Hometown: Cartersville, Georgia
High School: Woodland
High School Club: Level Up
Championship Series: Jaxon Smith vs. Silas Allred, 2-0
What you need to know: Georgia native Jaxon Smith went 23-6 in the redshirt this year at Maryland. A 2X state champion, Smith was No. 35 on the 2021 Big Board. He is expected to reclaim the 197-pound starting spot for the Terps this season.
97kg: Ben Kueter
Hometown: Iowa City, Iowa
High School: City High
High school club: Sebolt Wrestling Academy
Championship Series: Ben Kueter vs. Noah Pettigrew, 2-0
What you need to know: Some have called Ben Kueter not just the best wrestler, but the best athlete to come out of Iowa this side of 2000. Although I lack historical knowledge of Iowa high school sports to to confirm or deny this, I will say it is hard to top someone who is committed to both wrestling and playing football at the University of Iowa and who also excels in baseball.
On the wrestling mat, Kueter is a 3X State Champion, Fargo Finalist and now a member of the World Junior Team.
125kg: Nick Feldman
Hometown: Quarryville, Pennsylvania
High School: Malvern Prep
College: Ohio State
High School Club: Lancaster Alliance Wrestling Club
Championship Series: Nick Feldman vs. Hunter Catka, 2-0
What you need to know: Nick Feldman was the first overall rookie this year. For the past two years, he’s dominated everyone in his path, but that’s only been domestic competition. Now Feldman can test himself against the best in the world. He is tall and strong but has the athleticism and movement of a middleweight. This combination is deadly. There was a lot of talk if he would start D1 All-American Tate Orndorff again this season at Ohio State, but Tom Ryan recently put those talks on hold when he confirmed Orndorff would be the guy. However, there is still a mountain of expectations on this young man’s shoulders.