Former Middletown High wrestler Richard Perry finished second at the U.S. Open wrestling championships in Las Vegas Saturday (April 28) for the second consecutive years. Perry fell in the final at 86 kilograms (189 pounds) to David Taylor of State College, Pennsylvania, 8-0.
Taylor won his third U.S. Open title, securing key takedowns in an active and physical match. Taylor beat Perry in the U.S. Open final in 2017, too, winning 10-0 a year ago.
With the victory, Taylor advanced to the Final X series – a best-of-3 series in June to determine who will represent the United States at the upcoming 2018 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary in October.
By finishing in the top seven at the U.S. Open, Perry secured a berth in the World Team trials challenge tournament on May 18-20 in Rochester, Minnesota. The winner of the challenge tournament qualifies for the Final X series.
Perry, the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the nation according to the Mat.com, won his first three U.S. Open bouts to earn a spot in the final. Perry beat Nick Reenan of North Carolina State in the round of 16, 6-2 before pinning Reed South of California and Roadrunner WC in 24 seconds in the quarterfinals.
In the semifinals, Perry beat former Southern Oregon wrestler Ryan McWatters by technical fall, 13-1, thrilling the crowd with a pair of four-point throws.
“Rich is tough,” Taylor told USA Wrestling. “He is very hard to score on and is very strong. His position is sound. Every time I know it will be battle. I expect to have to wrestle him two more times (at Final X).”
For Perry, it was his third top five finish at the U.S. Open. In 2016, he finished fifth. Perry was also tied for fifth at the U.S. Olympic trials in 2016.
Final X will be held over three consecutive weekends and in three different cities: June 9 in Lincoln, Neb., June 16 in State College, Pa., and June 23 in Bethlehem, Pa.
“Richard Perry is one of the best guys in the world,” Taylor said. “He is right there. He is a high-level opponent.”
Perry graduated from Middletown High in 2008, where he wrestled for two seasons. As a senior, he won the Class L and State Open title at 215 pounds and was second in New England. In 2009, he spent a year at Hyde-Woodstock and finished second in New England (215).
He wrestled for four years at Bloomsburg State (2011-14), qualifying for the NCAA Tournament three times and posting a career record of 110-30.
He currently lives in Philadelphia and trains with the Pennsylvania Regional Training Center (RTC).