Army seeks to defend titles at Armed Forces Championships at Fort Bliss, Texas, Feb. 23-24

By Mr. Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling U.S. Armed Forces Sports

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The 2019 Armed Forces Wrestling Championships are set for the Soto Physical Fitness Center at Fort Bliss, an Army base in El Paso, Texas, February 23-24.

This event features Greco-Roman and freestyle teams from four branches of the U.S. military battling for team titles, and individual medals. Traditionally, some of the nation’s best international wrestlers have been members of U.S. military wrestling programs and have competed in this event.

The 2018 Armed Forces Championships were held at Camp Lejeune, N.C, where the U.S. Army won both the Greco-Roman and freestyle team titles, and continued a 17-year streak of capturing the team titles.

The competition features dual meets, where all four military teams compete against each other. The results of these dual meets determine the final team standings. Individual medalists are also recognized in each weight class, based upon the results at that weight class in the dual meets. 

Many people enjoy watching the Armed Forces Championships, which are highly competitive, and where the athletes compete for honor and pride in their service branch. There is also a tremendous level of respect and camaraderie between these athletes, who are active duty members of the U.S. military serving their nation.

Rosters from the U.S. Army, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy and U.S. Air Force have been submitted. In some cases, athletes may wrestle in both styles, or the team may present a different athlete in Greco-Roman than in freestyle. 

Five athletes who were double champions at the 2018 Armed Forces Championships, winners in both the Greco-Roman and freestyle tournaments, are scheduled to return this year. 

The U.S. Army has three returning double champions SSG Max Nowry (Fort Carson, Colo.), SGT Ryan Mango (Fort Carson, Colo.) and SGT Ellis Coleman (Fort Carson, Colo.). Last year, Nowry won his freestyle titles at 55 kg in Greco-Roman and 57 kg in freestyle, and he is entered in both weights again. Mango won both of his titles at 63 kg last year. Mango will compete in freestyle this year. Coleman won his 2018 Armed Forces titles at 72 kg in Greco-Roman and 70 kg in freestyle. This year, Coleman is only entered in Greco-Roman, and is down at 67 kg.

The U.S. Marine Corps also has a pair of double champions from last year, Sgt. John Stefanowicz (Camp Lejeune, N.C.) and Capt. Daniel Miller (Camp Lejeune, N.C.). In 2018, Stefanowicz won his Greco-Roman gold medal at 82 kg and his freestyle title at 92 kg. This year, he is at 82 kg again in Greco-Roman, but will wrestle 86 kg in freestyle. Miller won his two titles in both styles at 97 kg last year, and is returning to compete at the same weight classes again.

Other 2018 Armed Forces champions in Greco-Roman who will be competing again include Army wrestlers 2LT Michael Hooker (Wisconsin Army National Guard) at 72 kg and 2LT Toby Erickson (Fort Carson, Colo.) at 130 kg. Last year, Hooker won his title up at 77 kg.

In freestyle, other 2018 Armed Forces champions who are expected to return include U.S. Army athletes SPC Leslie Fuenffinger (Fort Carson, Colo.) at 61 kg, SGT Ryan Mango (Fort Carson, Colo.) at 65 kg, SPC Isaac Dukes (Fort Carson, Colo.) at 79 kg and SPC Jacob Mitchell (Fort Carson, Colo.) at 125 kg. All return at the same weights, except for Dukes, who was the 74 kg champion last year.

One of last year’s Armed Forces freestyle champions is entered in Greco-Roman this year, Army wrestler SGT Vladyslav Dombrovskiy (California Army National Guard) at 77 kg.

A number of other past Armed Forces champions appear on the rosters this year. From the Army, MAJ Jon Anderson (Fort Carson, Colo), who won Armed Forces titles in both styles in 2014, returns in Greco-Roman this year at 82 kg. Army wrestler SPC Ildar Hafizov (Fort Carson, Colo.), a 2017 Armed Forces Greco-Roman champion, will compete at 60 kg in Greco-Roman this year. 

A 2017 Armed Forces Greco-Roman champion from the Army, SGT Lucas Sheridan (Fort Carson, Colo.) is competing in Greco-Roman at 97kg this year. Another Army wrestler, SPC James Souza (Fort Carson, Colo.) is competing at 87 kg in Greco-Roman this year. Souza was a 2015 Armed Forces champion competing for the U.S. Navy. 

Two athletes who have competed in both the Senior World Championships and the Olympic Games are entered this year, Army wrestlers SGT Ellis Coleman (Fort Carson, Colo.) and SPC Ildar Hafizov (Fort Carson, Colo.). Coleman competed in the 2012 Olympic Games for the USA, as well as the 2013, 2017 and 2018 World Championships. Hafizov, a 2017 World Team member for the USA, competed in three other World Championships and the 2008 Olympic Games for Uzbekistan.

The top two placewinners in Greco-Roman qualify to compete at the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament in Raleigh, N.C, May 16-19.

The Greco-Roman competition will be held on Saturday, February 23 with session times of 10:00 for Opening Ceremonies, 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m. The freestyle competition is set for Sunday, February 24, with session times of 11:00 a.m., 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

The event is open to the public and free of charge. For the general public to get on post, they must get a pass at the Visitor Control Center (VCC) at the Buffalo Soldier gate. Each person must show their driver’s license and vehicle registration. They do not enter there, but should proceed to the MSG Pena gate, where they enter the base.

The event will be broadcast live by Trackwrestling, and it will be free for the public to enjoy. Van Stokes and Gary Abbott of USA Wrestling will make the call.

Click here for TrackWrestling free broadcast

Click here for full coverage on armedforcessports.defense.gov


2019 ARMED FORCES WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Fort Bliss, Texas, Feb. 23-24

U.S. Army Roster 
Greco-Roman
55kg/121.2 lbs. – SSG Max Nowry (Fort Carson, Colo.)
60kg/132.2 lbs. – SPC Ildar Hafizov (Fort Carson, Colo.)
63kg/138.8 lbs. – PVT Hayden Tuma (Fort Carson, Colo.)
67kg/147.7 lbs. – SGT Ellis Coleman (Fort Carson, Colo.)
72kg/158.7 lbs. – 2LT Michael Hooker (Wisconsin Army National Guard)
77kg/169.7 lbs. – SGT Vladyslav Dombrovskiy (California Army National Guard)
82kg/180.7 lbs. – MAJ Jon Anderson (Fort Carson, Colo).
87kg/191.8 lbs. – SPC James Souza (Fort Carson, Colo.)
97kg/213.8 lbs. – SGT Lucas Sheridan (Fort Carson, Colo.)
130kg/286.6 lbs. – 2LT Toby Erickson (Fort Carson, Colo.)
Men’s Freestyle
57kg/125.6 lbs. – SPC James Hicks (Fort Bragg, N.C.)
61kg/134.4 lbs. – SPC Leslie Fuenffinger (Fort Carson, Colo.)
65kg/143.3 lbs. – SGT Ryan Mango (Fort Carson, Colo.)
70kg/154.3 lbs. – SPC Connor Myers (Colorado Army National Guard)
74kg/163.1 lbs. – SPC Austin Farabaugh (Fort Hood, Texas)
79kg/174.1 lbs. – SPC Isaac Dukes (Fort Carson, Colo.)
86kg/189.5 lbs. – PVT Thaddeus Breitsprecker (Fort Carson, Colo.)
92kg/202.8 lbs. – PFC Emmanuel Cabello (Fort Hood, Texas)
97kg/213.8 lbs. – SGT Panagiotys Gounaridis (Fort Sill, Okla.) 
125kg/275.5 lbs. – SPC Jacob Mitchell (Fort Carson, Colo.)
Delegation
Coach – Shon Lewis (Fort Carson, Colo.)
Asst. Coach – SSG Spencer Mango (Fort Carson, Colo.)
Asst. Coach – Bruce Robinson (Fort Carson, Colo.)
Medical – Kyle Eckert (Fort Carson, Colo.)
Service Rep. – Claudia Berwager (Fort Indiantown Gap, Pa.) 

U.S. Marine Corps Roster
Greco-Roman 
55kg/121.2 lbs. – Sgt. Jamone Carter (MALS II San Diego, Calif.)
55kg/121.2 lbs. – Sgt Josh Medina (Camp Lejeune, N.C)
60kg/132.2 lbs. – Sgt Xavier Johnson (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
60kg/132.2 lbs. – 1stLt. Colton Rasche (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
63kg/138.8 lbs. – LCpl. German Diaz (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
67kg/147.7 lbs. – 2nd Lt. Jamel Johnson (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
72kg/158.7 lbs. – Sgt. Raymond Bunker (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
77kg/169.7 lbs. – 1stLt. Payton Walsh (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
82kg/180.7 lbs. – Sgt. John Stefanowicz (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
82kg/180.7 lbs. – 2ndLt Terrence Zaleski (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
87kg/191.8 lbs. – Sgt Vaughn Monreal Berner (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
97kg/213.8 lbs. – Capt. Daniel Miller (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
130kg/286.6 lbs. – Sgt Trent Osnes (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
Men’s Freestyle
57kg/125.6 lbs. – Sgt. Jamone Carter (MALS II San Diego, Calif.)
57kg/125.6 lbs. – Sgt Josh Medina (Camp Lejeune, N.C)
61kg/134.4 lbs. – 1stLt Colton Rasche (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
61kg/134.4 lbs. – Sgt Christian Martin (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
65kg/143.3 lbs. – 2nd Lt. Jamel Johnson (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
70kg/154.3 lbs. – Sgt. Raymond Bunker (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
74kg/163.1 lbs. – LCpl Ali Marciano (MCAS Miramar, Calif.)
79kg/174.1 lbs. – 1stLt Payton Walsh (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
86kg/189.5 lbs. – Sgt. John Stefanowicz (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
86kg/189.5 lbs. – 2ndLt Terrence Zaleski (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
92kg/202.8 lbs.– Sgt Vaughn Monreal Berner (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
97kg/213.8 lbs. – Capt. Daniel Miller (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
97kg/213.8 lbs. – Jaime Miranda (Ft. Myer, Va.)
125kg/275.5 lbs. – Sgt. Trent Osnes (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
125kg/275.5 lbs. – Cpl Chase Daniels (29 Palms, Calif.)
Delegation
Coach – Jason Loukides (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
Medical – Dana Johnston (Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
Service Rep – Jim Medley (Quantico, Va.)

U.S. Navy Roster 
Greco-Roman Roster 
55kg/121.2 lbs. – PO3 Bobby Raines (MCRD San Diego, Calif.) 
60kg/132.2 lbs. – PO2 Angel Oliveras (NB Guam)
63kg/138.8 lbs. – PO2 Michael Hollingsworth (NH Jacksonville, N.C.)
67kg/147.7 lbs. – PO1 Cory Asato (USS Carl Vinson)
72kg/158.7 lbs. – PO3 Blake Borges (SWRMC - San Diego, Calif.)
77kg/169.7 lbs. – PO3 Derekston Williams (USS Nimitz)
82kg/180.7 lbs. – PO3 Austin Craig (USS Nimitz)
87kg/191.8 lbs. – FA Marvin Vazquez (USS Mustin)
97kg/213.8 lbs. – PO3 Joseph Blaes (NAS North Island, Calif.)
130kg/286.6 lbs. – PO2 Noah Wicks (NAS Keywest, Fla.)
Men’s Freestyle Roster 
57kg/125.6 lbs. – SA Kevan Gentile (NAS Whidbey Island, Wash.)
61kg/134.4 lbs. – PO2 Angel Oliveras (NB Guam)
65kg/143.3 lbs. – PO2 Michael Hollingsworth (NH Jacksonville, N.C.)
70kg/154.3 lbs. – AA Leandro Rodriguez (NS Norfolk, VA)
74kg/163.1 lbs. – PO3 Blake Borges (SWRMC - San Diego, Calif.)
79kg/174.1 lbs. – PO3 Jordan Ditro (USS Dwight D Eisenhower)
86kg/189.5 lbs. – PO3 Luke Mathney (USS Sterett)
92kg/202.8 lbs. – FA Marvin Vazquez (USS Mustin)
97kg/213.8 lbs. – PO3 Joseph Blaes (NAS North Island, Calif.)
125kg/275.5 lbs. – PO2 Noah Wicks (NAS Keywest, Fla.)
Delegation
Coach – CPO Jesse Delapena (MCB Camp Lejeune, N.C.)
Asst. Coach – PO2 Robert Yamashita (Yokosuka, Japan) 
Service Rep. – James Senn (CNIC HQ Washington DC)

U.S. Air Force Roster
Greco-Roman Roster 
55kg/121.2 lbs. – SSgt Jeffrey Warra (Elgin AFB, Fla.)
60kg/132.2 lbs. – A1C Cordney Chairs (Hollman AFB, NM)
63kg/138.8 lbs. – SSgt Christen Hunt (JBSA-Lackland, Texas)
67kg/147.7 lbs. – SrA Dakota Ball (Ramstein AFB, Germany)
72kg/158.7 lbs. – SrA Jason Brennan (Ramstein AFB, Germany)
72kg/158.7 lbs. – SrA Brennan Giffin (Barksdale AFB, La.)
77kg/169.7 lbs. – Capt Brandon Mueller (JBSA-Lackland, Texas)
82kg/180.7 lbs. – 1stLt Richard Hicks (Malmstrom AFB, Montana)
82kg/180.7 lbs. – SrA Haydon Codden (Osan AB, Republic of Korea)
87kg/191.8 lbs. – A1C Justin Rau (Cannon AFB, N.M.)
97kg/213.8 lbs. – SrA Diante Cooper (Ft. Campbell, Ky.)
130kg/286.6 lbs. – Capt Karl Oeser (Hurlburt Field AFB, Fla.)
Men’s Freestyle Roster 
57kg/125.6 lbs. – SSgt Jeffrey Warra (Elgin AFB, Fla.)
61kg/134.4 lbs. – A1C Taylor Mercier (Holloman AFB, N.M.)
61kg/134.4 lbs. – A1C Cordney Chairs (Hollman AFB, NM)
65kg/143.3 lbs. – SSgt Christen Hunt (JBSA-Lackland, Texas)
65kg/143.3 lbs. – A1C Joseph Roberts (Tinker AFB, Okla.)
65kg/143.3 lbs. – SrA Caleb Houser (Mountain Home AFB, Idaho)
70kg/154.3 lbs. – SrA Dakota Ball (Ramstein AFB, Germany)
74kg/163.1 lbs. – SrA Jason Brennan (Ramstein AFB, Germany)
79kg/174.1 lbs. – 1stLt Richard Hicks (Malstrom AFB, Montana)
79kg/174.1 lbs. – SrA Haydon Codden (Osan AB, Republic of Korea)
86kg/189.5 lbs. – SrA Dakota Moore (Malmstrom AFB, Montana)
92kg/202.8 lbs. – A1C Justin Rau (Cannon AFB, N.M.)
97kg/213.8 lbs. – Capt Karl Oeser (Hurlburt Field AFB, Fla.)
125kg/275.5 lbs. – SrA Diante Cooper (Ft. Campbell, Ky.)
Delegation
Coach – Dustin Kilgore (U.S. Air Force Academy, Colo.)
Service Rep – TSgt Giselle Stone (JBSA-Lackland, Texas)

Event Schedule (ET) 

Saturday, February 23 (Greco-Roman Matches) 
10:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Opening Ceremonies 
11:00 a.m. – First Session – Army vs. Air Force; Navy vs. Marine Corps
1:00 p.m. (approx.) Second Session - Army vs. Navy; Marine Corps vs. Air Force
3:00 p.m. – Third Session – Army vs. Marine Corps; Navy vs. Air Force

Sunday February 24 (Freestyle Matches) 
11:00 a.m. – First Session - Army vs. Air Force; Navy vs. Marine Corps
1:00 p.m. (approx.) Second Session - Army vs. Navy; Marine Corps vs. Air Force
3:00 p.m. – Third Session – Army vs. Marine Corps; Navy vs. Air Force

2018 Armed Forces Greco-Roman champions 
55kg/121.2 lbs. – SGT Max Nowry (U.S. Army)
60kg/132.2 lbs. – Sgt. Xavier Johnson (U.S. Marines)
63kg/138.8 lbs. - SGT Ryan Mango (U.S. Army)
67kg/147.7 lbs. – 1LT Marco Lara (U.S. Army)
72kg/158.7 lbs.– SPC Ellis Coleman (U.S. Army)
77kg/169.7 lbs. – 2LT Michael Hooker (U.S. Army)
82kg/180.7 lbs. – Sgt. John Stefanowicz (U.S. Marines)
87kg/191.8 lbs. – SGT Courtney Myers (U.S. Army)
97kg/213.8 lbs. – Capt. Daniel Miller (U.S. Marines)
130kg/286.6 lbs. – 2LT Toby Erickson (U.S. Army)

2018 Armed Forces Men’s Freestyle champions
57kg/125.6 lbs. – SGT Max Nowry (U.S. Army)
61kg/134.4 lbs. – SPC Leslie Fuenffinger (U.S. Army)
65kg/143.3 lbs. – SGT Ryan Mango (U.S. Army)
70kg/154.3 lbs. – SPC Ellis Coleman (U.S. Army)
74kg/163.1 lbs. – SPC Isaac Dukes (U.S. Army)
79kg/174.1 lbs. - 1LT Matt Brown (U.S. Army)
86kg/189.5 lbs. – SGT Vladyslav Dombrovskiy (U.S. Army)
92kg/202.8 lbs. – Sgt. John Stefanowicz (U.S. Marines)
97kg/213.8 lbs. – Capt. Daniel Miller (U.S. Marines)
125kg/275.5 lbs.– PFC Jacob Mitchell (U.S. Army)

2018 Armed Forces Women’s Freestyle champion
55kg/121.2 lbs. – SPC Samantha Klingel (U.S. Army)