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Provo earns All-American honors at Junior Nationals; wins Dave Schultz Award for state

Stratford’s Nico Provo earned finished seventh in freestyle at the Junior Nationals Tuesday in Fargo. He was also named the Dave Schultz Award winner from Connecticut. (Photo courtesy Sarah Jadach)

It was a special day Tuesday for Stratford’s Nico Provo.

The Greens Farms Academy graduate earned All-American honors in a national tournament for the third time in the last four months at the USA Wrestling Junior Nationals in Fargo, North Dakota and was also named the Dave Schultz Award winner in Connecticut by the National Wrestling Hall of Fame.

Provo, who will attend Cornell in the fall, finished seventh in freestyle at 126 pounds at the Junior Nationals at the FargoDome with a 10-0 win by technical fall in 2:09 over Florida’s Sebastian Melguizo. Provo went 7-2 in the tournament with all seven wins by technical fall (a lead of at least 10 points).

It is Provo’s second All-American finish in the Junior Nationals. He finished second in freestyle at 113 pounds in 2019. The tournament was cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Provo won his first three matches by technical fall – two in less than 30 seconds. He lost in the round of 16 to Illinois’ Vincent Robinson, 5-4, who got a takedown with 56 seconds left in the second period. But Provo responded with three straight technical fall victories in the consolation round to earn All-American honors and a spot on the medal podium.

Provo dropped a 12-7 decision to Oregon’s Gabe Whistenhunt before finishing seventh with a victory over Melguizo. Both of Provo’s losses came to All-Americans. Whisenhunt finished fourth while Robinson finished fifth.

In April, Provo won the National High School Coaches Association (NHSCA) Senior National championship at 126 pounds and two weeks later, he won the Prep School national championship for Greens Farms at 120 pounds.

Dave Schultz Award
On Tuesday, Provo became just the second non-public school winner of the Dave Schultz Award from Connecticut.  Matt Powers of Loomis-Chaffee in Windsor won the award in 2005.

The award is presented annually to a high school senior based on outstanding wrestling success, scholastic achievement and citizenship and/or community service.

The Dave Schultz Award was established in 1996 to honor Schultz, an Olympic and world champion whose career was cut short when he was murdered in January 1996. He is a member of the National Wrestling Hall of Fame (1996) and the United World Wrestling Hall of Fame (2016).

“This year has been so hard for so many seniors whose seasons and state championships were either shortened, postponed or canceled as a result of the pandemic,” said Hall of Fame Executive Director Lee Roy Smith.

There was no wrestling season in Connecticut this year and opportunities for practice were limited until late March due to the pandemic.

But it was still a productive year for Provo. Along with his two national tournament victories, he was third at the UWW U-23 nationals at 57 kilograms (125 pounds) in May, finished second at the Super 32 tournament in October 2020 and was a freestyle gold medal with Team USA at the Cadet Pan American Games in June 2020.

Wrestlers with multiple victories
Several other Connecticut wrestlers came away with multiple victories in the Junior Nationals freestyle competition on Monday and Tuesday.

Brookfield’s Zahir McClean-Felix, Foran-Milford’s Ethan Edmundson, Fairfield’s Peter Kane and Milford’s C.J. Shea each went 3-2 in freestyle competition at the Junior Nationals in Fargo.

McClean-Felix was 3-2 at 170 pounds while Edmundson won three bouts at 182 pounds. Shea, who attended Greens Farms Academy with Provo and will attend Wesleyan this fall, competed at 138 pounds. Kane competed at 152.

Fairfield’s William Ebert (160), Ledyard’s Connor Doran (126) and Westport’s Caleb Seyfried (132) each went 2-2.

Connecticut All-Americans at 2001 USA Wrestling Junior and 16U Nationals

Nico Provo (126), Stratford Junior freestyle 7th
William Henckel (145), Southbury 16U freestyle 1st
Nathan Taylor (170), Newtown 16U freestyle 7th
Julianna Morris (122), Middlebury 16U women’s freestyle 2nd
Calli Gilchrist (112), Norwalk 16U women’s freestyle 3rd
Camryn Brown (122), Amity 16U women’s freestyle 7th

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 40 years. He was inducted into the New England High School Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2018.

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