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Perry earns spot on U.S. freestyle national team

Middletown native Richard Perry

LEHIGH, Pa., June 23 – Middletown native Richard Perry earned a spot in the U.S. national freestyle wrestling team on Saturday night with a 7-4 victory over Pat Downey, the former Iowa State wrestler who wrestles with Titan Mercury.

USA Wrestling hosts national team “True Third Place” wrestle-offs to determine the third spot on the national team. It occurs when the second place finisher and third place finishers at the recent U.S. Freestyle World Team Trials Challenge tournament did not meet in the tournament.

Perry finished second in the Challenge Tournament at 86 kilograms (189 pounds) in May to North Carolina State’s Nick Reenan. Downey had taken third in that Challenge tournament.

In Saturday’s third place wrestle-off, Perry got a late takedown with seven seconds left in the match to secure the 7-4 victory and earn his first spot on the U.S. National team at 86 kg along with Reenan and former Penn State wrestler David Taylor of Nittany Lion WC.

“It was devastating after the World Team Trials to lose but it is part of a process,” Perry told USA Wrestling Saturday night. “There is a process to get to the top of anything. I had to bounce back and take advantage of this opportunity.”

Perry credited his coaches and peer athletes at the Pennsylvania RTC (Regional Training Center) in Philadelphia with helping get ready for this match.

“They helped me refocus and recharge myself to get excited (for this opportunity) and to do something I have never done before,” he told USA Wrestling.

Perry finished second at the U.S. Open freestyle championships to Taylor in April and was the top seed in the World Team Challenge Tournament. But Reenan beat Perry, 4-0 and 6-3 in the best-of-3 final to win the Challenge Tournament.

Reenan advanced to the Final X series where he had the chance to challenge Taylor for a spot on the U.S. team that will compete in the world championships in October in Budapest, Hungary. Taylor dominated in the Final X series, sweeping Reenan with a pair of technical falls, 13-2 and 10-0 to earn his first U.S. freestyle team berth.

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 with his family and trains with the Pennsylvania RTC.

Gerry deSimas, Jr., is the editor and founder of Connecticut Wrestling Online. He is an award-winning writer and has been covering sports in Connecticut and New England for more than 30 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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