FARGO, North Dakota, July 16 – Two Connecticut wrestlers earned All-American honors at the USA Wrestling Junior Nationals in freestyle on Tuesday at the Fargodome.
Stratford’s Nico Provo won five consecutive matches to earn a spot in the championship match at 113 pounds but he was stopped by Iowa’s Drake Ayala in the finals in a 19-8 defeat. Haddam-Killingworth’s Cameron Hines (100) won four straight bouts in the consolation round to earn a sixth place medal.
Provo won four of his first five matches by technical fall (10 points or more) and rolled into the championship match on the strength of a 10-2 win over Andyn Conception from Alaska. He outscored his opponents, 50-2, in his first five bouts.
In the final, Provo led 8-7 after one period but Ayala, a 16-year-old from Fort Dodge, Iowa, scored 12 unanswered points in the second period to secure a 19-8 victory. Ayala, who is ranked No. 4 by FloWrestling, captured the USA Wrestling Junior Folkstyle national championship earlier this year. Provo will be junior at Greens Farms Academy in Westport this fall.
“Just because I am down doesn’t mean I wrestle any different,” Ayala said. “I have to wrestle the same way all the time.”
Hines won a wild match in his tournament opener with a 24-14 victory over Illinois’ Landen Edwards before dropping a 12-1 match to Iowa’s Brandon O’Brien. But Hines won his next four matches to earn All-American honors. Two of the victories came by technical fall in 1:43 and 45 seconds.
Hines lose in the consolation semifinals to Samuel Hayes of Indiana, 10-0 in 1:55 and dropped the fifth place bout to Andrew Dalrymple of Alabama, 9-3.
Several other Connecticut wrestlers competed in the freestyle competition of the Junior Nationals, which is open to athletes in grades 9-12.
Trumbull’s Matthew Ryan (138) went 6-2 in the tournament. Ryan won his opening match, 14-4 before dropping a one-point decision to Leif Schroeder of Montana, 10-9 in the round of 64. Ryan won five consecutive matches in the consolation bracket including four by technical fall (3:11, 3:15, 0:56 and 1:41).
Ryan was eliminated by Montana’s Jackson Currier, 10-5 and fell two victories shy of earning All-American honors.
Trumbull’s Jack Ryan went 3-2 at 126 pounds while Suffield’s Hunter Adams (160) and Terryville’s Cayleb LeClerc (138) each won two matches going 2-2 in the tournament.
The last and only Connecticut wrestler to win a Junior freestyle title was East Lyme’s Ross Spencer in 2010 at 105 pounds.
Provo was the fourth Connecticut finalist since Spencer’s victory in 2010. Hotchkiss’ Angus Cowell (220) in 2013, Southington’s Zach Murillo (100) in 2014 and Bristol Central’s Chris Trelli (106) in 2017 each reached the finals and finished second.