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Aaron Saunders , Published July 20 2012

Four wrestlers secure Triple Crown status at USA wrestling tournament

FARGO – Horse racing fans have been waiting 34 years for a Triple Crown winner. Baseball fans have been waiting an even longer 45 years for someone to do it at the plate.

Fans at the USA Junior and Cadet national wrestling championships saw four in one day.

On Friday afternoon at the Fargodome, Hunter Marko, Aaron Pico, Bo Nickal and Lance Benick all reached the cadet wrestling mountain top for the 2012 season, each winning the Triple Crown after picking up freestyle victories.

To obtain the honor, each competitor has to become a national champion in the folkstyle, Greco-Roman and freestyle categories.

“It’s pretty tough. You have to win at all three styles and the guys are always different and tougher and better at one than the other, so you have to prepare,” said Lance Benick who took home the 195-pound title after quickly dispatching of Landon Pelham of Michigan via technical fall.

Pico, the 132-pound champion, also believes that laying the groundwork for success is very important.

“If you are going to do freestyle, Greco, or folkstyle I just think you have to be well prepared with every style you do,” said Pico, who won national championships last year in both the freestyle and Greco-Roman categories.

While the baseball Triple Crown has dependent variables like other players’ performance, winning the wrestling trifecta is about the individual’s strength, will and strategy.

“In folkstyle you can be as aggressive as you want,” said Marko, who defeated Nick Lukanich of Illinois to become the first Triple Crown winner of the night. “Freestyle, you have to be really patient, because if you are up by two, you can’t give up that crotch lift or crotch throw. And Greco, that’s just position. You are just battling in there and staying in position the whole time.”

Of the quartet of wrestlers, Bo Nickal of Texas had one of the biggest uphill battles after moving up to 160 pounds to face 2012 Greco-Roman champion Kimball Bastian. Nickal won the folkstyle and Greco-Roman titles at 152 pounds.

Nickal completed the unconventional Triple Crown winning in a defensive struggle in which neither athlete scored more than one point in any round.

“We have wrestled a few times,” Nickal said. “It was pretty low scoring. I usually like my matches to score a little higher than that. It was a little dull but I got the win.”

Cadet freestyle results

Team scores: Pennsylvania 66, Illinois 57, Michigan 39, Minnesota 38, New Jersey 38, Ohio 36, California 35, Oklahoma 34, Indiana 32, Missouri 26, Iowa 23, Washington 21, Oregon 20, Texas 19, Florida 18, Utah 18, Georgia 13, Kansas 11, Idaho 10, Maryland 10, Wisconsin 10, Virginia 9, Arizona 6, Alabama 5, Hawaii 5, South Carolina 4, Arkansas 3, New York 2, West Virginia 2, Colorado 1, Montana 1.


88 pounds

1st - Devin Schnupp (Pennsylvania) over Michael Doetsch (Maryland) Dec 1-2,2-1,5-2

3rd - Matt Schmitt (Missouri) over Dalton Roberts (Michigan) TF 7-0,7-0

94 pounds

1st - Hunter Marko (Wisconsin) over Nick Lukanich (Illinois) Dec 1-0,4-0

3rd - Jon Gabriel (Pennsylvania) over Gage Branson (Ohio) ID

100 pounds

1st - Miguel Silva (Illinois) over Kyle Bierdumpfel (New Jersey) Dec 4-1,1-5,3-1

3rd - Nolan Hellickson (Iowa) over Ty Lucas (Florida) Dec 1-0,0-3,4-0

106 pounds

1st - Scott Parker (Pennsylvania) over Kaid Brock (Oklahoma) Dec 1-0,1-4,4-0

3rd - Ke-Shawn Hayes (Missouri) over Ac Headlee (Pennsylvania) Dec 6-0,4-2

113 pounds

1st - Zahid Valencia (California) over Charles Tucker (New Jersey) Dec 1-0,1-0

3rd - Stevan Micic (Indiana) over Coy Ozias (Virginia) Dec 1-0,1-0

120 pounds

1st - Matthew Kolodzik (Ohio) over Joe Smith (Oklahoma) Dec 3-0,6-0

3rd - Johnny Jimenez (Illinois) over Joshua Terao (Hawaii) Fall 0-1,1:55

126 pounds

1st - Seth Gross (Minnesota) over Cole Weaver (Michigan) Dec 0-2,4-4,4-3

3rd - Logan Massa (Michigan) over Jacob Rubio (Texas) Dec 7-4,3-1

132 pounds

1st - Aaron Pico (California) over Cody LeCount (Indiana) Dec 4-0,4-0

3rd - Josh Maruca (Pennsylvania) over Tyler Berger (Oregon) Fall 1-3,3-1,1:54

138 pounds

1st - Anthony Valencia (California) over Pat Duggan (Pennsylvania) Dec 1-0,5-1

3rd - Ronnie Gentile (New Jersey) over Dewaylon Barnes (Oklahoma) Dec 1-2,6-0,6-1

145 pounds

1st - Fox Baldwin (Florida) over Mason Manville (Minnesota) Dec 0-3,5-1,5-3

3rd - Nicholas Villarreal (California) over John Leal (California) Dec 0-6,2-0,2-0

152 pounds

1st - Mark Hall (Michigan) over Myles Martin (New Jersey) Dec 1-0,3-1

3rd - Ethan Tursini (Arizona) over Xavier Montalvo (Illinois) Dec 6-0,1-1,4-1

160 pounds

1st - Bo Nickal (Texas) over Kimball Bastian (Utah) Dec 1-1,1-0

3rd - TJ Ohara (Minnesota) over Drew Doak (Pennsylvania) Dec 1-0,3-0

170 pounds

1st - Ryan Christensen (Washington) over Chandler Rogers (Washington) Dec 3-1,2-1

3rd - Robert Steveson (Indiana) over Angus Arthur (Michigan) Dec 1-4,3-2,7-0

182 pounds

1st - Michael Pixley (Missouri) over Chip Ness (Georgia) Dec 2-1,5-3

3rd - Justan Rivera (Georgia) over Tyler Johnson (Illinois) Fall 3-1,1:45

195 pounds

1st - Lance Benick (Minnesota) over Landon Pelham (Michigan) TF 7-0,6-0

3rd - Mario Galvan (Kansas) over Robert Enmon (Florida) Dec 1-0,1-2,1-0

220 pounds

1st - Roy Nash (Utah) over Kyler Childers (Oklahoma) Dec 4-1,4-0

3rd - Christian Jenco (New Jersey) over Dalton Campbell (Alabama) Dec 6-2,8-1

285 pounds

1st - Wyatt Spears (Oregon) over Nicky Allegretti (Illinois) Dec 2-0,4-0

3rd - Tanner Farmer (Illinois) over Gavan Jolley - Little (Indiana) TF 7-0,0-5,8-0

Readers can reach Forum reporter Aaron Saunders at (701) 241-5549