Army takes down the Marines with a clutch effort, 33-9, to win 18th straight Armed Forces freestyle title.

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

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Now that the U.S. Army has extended its winning streak at the Armed Forces Championships to 18 straight years with their freestyle title on Sunday, you might think that this has become routine and maybe even taken for granted. That, however, is not even close to the truth.


After the 10 matches were over, the scoreboard read: Army 33, Marine Corps 9. To win this year, with a talented and motivated Marine Corps team across from them on the mat, it required the Army team to have its best effort to keep the streak alive.


Army started off with confidence, as SSG Max Nowry defeated Sgt Christian Martin, 7-4 at 57 kg, and SPC Leslie Fuenffinger pinned 1stLt Colton Rasche in 4:35 at 61 kg.


Nowry, who was a three-style star in high school from Illinois, opened the dual with a solid victory. Fuenffinger, who was a two-time Div. III national champion for Augsburg before joining the Army, fired up the Army sideline with the pin.


The 65 kg match gave the Marines its first victory. Lt. Jamel Johnson defeated Hayden Tuma in an 11-0 technical fall. Tuma suffered an injury in his bout and continued regardless, but could not keep up with Johnson, who secured the bonus point victory. Army led 8-5 at that point, and the Marines were looking to start a rally of their own.


As has been the case in years past, after the Army suffered a setback, the next soldiers on the mat raised the stakes even higher to keep the Marines at bay. In this case, the Army response to Tuma’s defeat was to reel off a pair of technical fall wins.


At 70 kg, SPC Isaac Dukes, a Div. III national champion for Case Reserve in Ohio, lit up the scoreboard to beat 2019 Armed Forces Greco-Roman champion Sgt. Raymond Bunker, 10-0. It was Duke’s fourth straight Armed Forces freestyle title.


Not to be outdown, 2LT Michael Hooker added an 11-0 technical fall over LCpl Ali Marciano at 74 kg. On Saturday, Hooker’s streak of four straight Greco-Roman Armed Forces titles got snapped with a loss to Bunker, and he came back with extra fire in the freestyle tournament. This gave the Army a 16-5 lead halfway through the dual meet. 


The Marine Corps never, ever quits, and that was the case in this dual meet. In a classic battle which saw the lead change and had some fierce action, 1stLt Payton Walsh of the Marines edged SGT Vladyslav Dombrovskiy of the Army, 9-8. Walsh was an EIWA champion and three-time NCAA qualifier for the U.S. Naval Academy, and Dombrovskiy has been a multiple All-American at the U.S. Open in freestyle. Walsh’s win lifted the spirits of the Marine faithful, which still had hopes for a late rally.


It was not going to happen. MAJ Jon Anderson of the Army avenged a loss in the Greco-Roman finals to Sgt. Jon Stefanowicz on Saturday, with an inspiring 9-1 win over Stefanowicz on Sunday. At 34 years old, Anderson is the grandpa on the Army team, and is a walking definition of the word “grit.” Anderson’s win made a Marine Corps comeback highly unlikely.


The Army victory was sealed mathematically when powerful SPC James Souza of the Army pinned 2ndLt Terrence Zaleski of the Marines in 1:50 at 92 kg. 


But the Army was not done showing its skill and character. In a battle of former Div. I talents, SGT Lucas Sheridan avenged his loss to Capt. Daniel Miller from Saturday’s Greco-Roman finals dual. Sheridan was able to hit one of his patented headlocks in the first period and went on to defeat Miller, 5-0. Sheridan competed at Indiana and Miller at the U.S. Naval Academy in college, and Miller was a Junior World Team member in freestyle. Both of these guys are excellent at both styles.


With the match already finished, the Marines did not send out their heavyweight, and SPC Jacob Mitchell received a forfeit to end the match. 


In the first round, the Army stopped the Air Force, 42-3, winning all 10 bouts. The Marines opened with a 36-4 win over the Navy, claiming nine of the 10 bouts. 


The second round had similar results, as Army swept its 10 bouts to beat Navy 42-0, while the Marines took nine of 10 to handle the Air Force, 37-4.


In the third place match, the Air Force won seven of the nine matches contested, including two technical falls and two pins, to defeat the Navy, 30-15


There were only two double champions this year, with Nowry and Souza the only wrestlers to claim gold medals in both freestyle and Greco-Roman this weekend. Nowry, Fuenffinger, Dukes and Mitchell defended their 2018 freestyle titles.


ARMED FORCES FREESTYLE CHAMPIONSHIPS

At Fort Bliss, Texas


First Place - Army 33, Marine Corps 9

57kg/125.6 lbs. – SSG Max Nowry (U.S. Army) dec. Sgt Christian Martin (U.S. Marines), 7-4

61kg/134.4 lbs. – SPC Leslie Fuenffinger (U.S. Army) pin 1stLt Colton Rasche (U.S. Marines), 4:35

65kg/143.3 lbs. – 2nd Lt. Jamel Johnson (U.S. Marines) tech. fall PVT Hayden Tuma (U.S. Army), 11-0

70kg/154.3 lbs. – SPC Isaac Dukes (U.S. Army) tech. fall Sgt. Raymond Bunker (U.S. Marines), 10-0

74kg/163.1 lbs. –2LT Michael Hooker (U.S. Army) tech. fall LCpl Ali Marciano (U.S. Marines), 11-0

79kg/174.1 lbs. – 1stLt Payton Walsh (U.S. Marines) dec. SGT Vladyslav Dombrovskiy (U.S. Army), 9-8

86kg/189.5 lbs. – MAJ Jon Anderson (U.S. Army) dec. Sgt. John Stefanowicz (U.S. Marines), 9-1

92kg/202.8 lbs. – SPC James Souza (U.S. Army) pin 2ndLt Terrence Zaleski (U.S. Marines), 1:50

97kg/213.8 lbs. – SGT Lucas Sheridan (U.S. Army) dec. Capt. Daniel Miller (U.S. Marines), 5-0

125kg/275.5 lbs. – SPC Jacob Mitchell (U.S. Army) won by forfeit


Third Place - Navy 30, Air Force 15

57kg/125.6 lbs. – SA Kevan Gentile (U.S. Navy) won by forfeit

61kg/134.4 lbs. – A1C Taylor Mercier (U.S. Air Force) tech fall PO2 Angel Oliveras (U.S. Navy), 10-0

65kg/143.3 lbs. – A1C Joseph Roberts (U.S. Air Force) dec. PO2 Michael Hollingsworth (U.S. Navy), 6-5

70kg/154.3 lbs. – SrA Dakota Ball (U.S. Air Force) tech. fall AA Leandro Rodriguez (U.S. Navy), 11-0

74kg/163.1 lbs. – PO3 Blake Borges (U.S. Navy) tech fall SrA Caleb Houser (U.S. Air Force), 16-2

79kg/174.1 lbs. –1stLt Richard Hicks (U.S. Air Force) dec. PO3 Jordan Ditro (U.S. Navy), 11-10

86kg/189.5 lbs. – SrA Dakota Moore (U.S. Air Force) pin PO3 Luke Mathney (U.S. Navy), 2:13

92kg/202.8 lbs. – A1C Justin Rau (U.S. Air Force) pin FA Marvin Vazquez (U.S. Navy), 1:15

97kg/213.8 lbs. – PO3 Joseph Blaes (U.S. Navy) tech fall Capt Karl Oeser (U.S. Air Force), 12-2

125kg/275.5 lbs. – SrA Diante Cooper (U.S. Air Force) tech fall PO2 Noah Wicks (U.S. Navy), 10-0


Second round


Army 42, Navy 0

57kg/125.6 lbs. – SSG Max Nowry (U.S. Army) tech. fall SA Kevan Gentile (U.S. Navy), 10-0

61kg/134.4 lbs. – SPC Leslie Fuenffinger (U.S. Army) tech fall PO2 Angel Oliveras (U.S. Navy), 10-0

65kg/143.3 lbs. – PVT Hayden Tuma (U.S. Army) pin PO2 Michael Hollingsworth (U.S. Navy), 2:13

70kg/154.3 lbs. – SPC Isaac Dukes (U.S. Army) tech fall AA Leandro Rodriguez (U.S. Navy), 10-0

74kg/163.1 lbs. –2LT Michael Hooker (U.S. Army) tech fall PO3 Blake Borges (U.S. Navy), 11-0

79kg/174.1 lbs. – SGT Vladyslav Dombrovskiy (U.S. Army) tech fall PO3 Jordan Ditro (U.S. Navy), 10-0

86kg/189.5 lbs. – MAJ Jon Anderson (U.S. Army) tech fall PO3 Luke Mathney (U.S. Navy), 10-0

92kg/202.8 lbs. – SPC James Souza (U.S. Army) tech fall FA Marvin Vazquez (U.S. Navy), 10-0

97kg/213.8 lbs. – SGT Lucas Sheridan (U.S. Army) tech fall PO3 Joseph Blaes (U.S. Navy), 10-0

125kg/275.5 lbs. – SPC Jacob Mitchell (U.S. Army) pin PO2 Noah Wicks (U.S. Navy), 0:13


Marine Corps 37, Air Force 4

57kg/125.6 lbs. – Sgt Christian Martin (U.S. Marines) won by forfeit

61kg/134.4 lbs. – 1stLt Colton Rasche (U.S. Marines) tech fall A1C Taylor Mercier (U.S. Air Force), 10-0

65kg/143.3 lbs. – 2nd Lt. Jamel Johnson (U.S. Marines) tech fall Joseph Roberts (U.S. Air Force), 10-0

70kg/154.3 lbs. – Sgt. Raymond Bunker (U.S. Marines) tech fall SrA Dakota Ball (U.S. Air Force), 10-0

74kg/163.1 lbs. – LCpl Ali Marciano (U.S. Marines) tech fall SrA Caleb Houser (U.S. Air Force), 10-0

79kg/174.1 lbs. – 1stLt Payton Walsh (U.S. Marines) tech fall 1stLt Richard Hicks (U.S. Air Force), 10-0 

86kg/189.5 lbs. – Sgt. John Stefanowicz (U.S. Marines) tech fall SrA Dakota Moore (U.S. Air Force), 11-0

92kg/202.8 lbs.– 2ndLt Terrence Zaleski (U.S. Marines) tech fall A1C Justin Rau (U.S. Air Force), 12-0

97kg/213.8 lbs. – Capt. Daniel Miller (U.S. Marines) tech fall Capt Karl Oeser (U.S. Air Force), 10-0

125kg/275.5 lbs. – SrA Diante Cooper (U.S. Air Force) tech fall Sgt. Trent Osnes (U.S. Marines) 11-0


First round


Army 42, Air Force 3

57kg/125.6 lbs. – SSG Max Nowry (U.S. Army) tech. fall SSgt Jeffrey Warra (U.S. Air Force), 10-0

61kg/134.4 lbs. – SPC Leslie Fuenffinger (U.S. Army) tech. fall A1C Taylor Mercier (U.S. Air Force), 10-0

65kg/143.3 lbs. – PVT Hayden Tuma (U.S. Army) tech. fall A1C Joseph Roberts (U.S. Air Force), 12-2

70kg/154.3 lbs. – SPC Isaac Dukes (U.S. Army) tech fall SrA Dakota Ball (U.S. Air Force), 10-0

74kg/163.1 lbs. –2LT Michael Hooker (U.S. Army) tech fall SrA Caleb Houser (U.S. Air Force), 11-0

79kg/174.1 lbs. – SGT Vladyslav Dombrovskiy (U.S. Army) tech fall 1stLt Richard Hicks (U.S. Air Force), 10-0

86kg/189.5 lbs. – MAJ Jon Anderson (U.S. Army) tech fall SrA Dakota Moore (U.S. Air Force), 13-2

92kg/202.8 lbs. – SPC James Souza (U.S. Army) tech fall A1C Justin Rau (U.S. Air Force), 12-1

97kg/213.8 lbs. – SGT Lucas Sheridan (U.S. Army) pin Capt Karl Oeser (U.S. Air Force), 1:59

125kg/275.5 lbs. – SPC Jacob Mitchell (U.S. Army) pin SrA Diante Cooper (U.S. Air Force), 0:37


Marine Corps 36, Navy 4

57kg/125.6 lbs. – Sgt Christian Martin (U.S. Marines) v SA Kevan Gentile (U.S. Navy), 9-8

61kg/134.4 lbs. – 1stLt. Colton Rasche (Camp Lejeune, N.C.) v PO2 Angel Oliveras (U.S. Navy), 10-0

65kg/143.3 lbs. – 2nd Lt. Jamel Johnson (U.S. Marines) v PO2 Michael Hollingsworth (U.S. Navy), 10-0

70kg/154.3 lbs. – Sgt. Raymond Bunker (U.S. Marines) v AA Leandro Rodriguez (U.S. Navy), 11-0

74kg/163.1 lbs. – PO3 Blake Borges (U.S. Navy) dec. LCpl Ali Marciano (U.S. Marines), 12-3

79kg/174.1 lbs. – 1stLt Payton Walsh (U.S. Marines) v PO3 Jordan Ditro (U.S. Navy), 10-0

86kg/189.5 lbs. – Sgt. John Stefanowicz v PO3 Luke Mathney (U.S. Navy), 10-0

92kg/202.8 lbs.– 2ndLt Terrence Zaleski (U.S. Marines) v FA Marvin Vazquez (U.S. Navy), 10-0

97kg/213.8 lbs. – Capt. Daniel Miller (U.S. Marines) v PO3 Joseph Blaes (U.S. Navy), 10-0

125kg/275.5 lbs. – Sgt. Trent Osnes (U.S. Marines) v PO2 Noah Wicks (U.S. Navy), 10-0


Individual medalists


57kg/125.6 lbs. 

Gold – SSG Max Nowry (U.S. Army)

Silver - Sgt Christian Martin (U.S. Marines)


61kg/134.4 lbs.

Gold – SPC Leslie Fuenffinger (U.S. Army)

Silver - 1stLt Colton Rasche (U.S. Marines)


65kg/143.3 lbs. 

Gold – 2nd Lt. Jamel Johnson (U.S. Marines)

Silver - PVT Hayden Tuma (U.S. Army)


70kg/154.3 lbs. 

Gold – SPC Isaac Dukes (U.S. Army)

Silver - Sgt. Raymond Bunker (U.S. Marines)


74kg/163.1 lbs. 

Gold –2LT Michael Hooker (U.S. Army)

Silver – PO3 Blake Borges (U.S. Navy)


79kg/174.1 lbs. 

Gold – 1stLt Payton Walsh (U.S. Marines)

Silver - SGT Vladyslav Dombrovskiy (U.S. Army)


86kg/189.5 lbs. 

Gold– MAJ Jon Anderson (U.S. Army)

Silver - Sgt. John Stefanowicz (U.S. Marines)


92kg/202.8 lbs. 

Gold – SPC James Souza (U.S. Army)

Silver - 2ndLt Terrence Zaleski (U.S. Marines)


97kg/213.8 lbs. 

Gold – SGT Lucas Sheridan (U.S. Army)

Silver - Capt. Daniel Miller (U.S. Marines)


125kg/275.5 lbs.

Gold – SPC Jacob Mitchell (U.S. Army)

Silver - SrA Diante Cooper (U.S. Air Force)