Freshmen-to-be Ben Brancale, Fredy Stroker and Larry Early all capture coveted stop signs as junior national champions
The future of Gopher Wrestling was on display in Fargo, N.D. last week during the ASICS Junior Greco-Roman and Freestyle National Championships, an annual showcase of the nation’s best young wrestling talent. Three incoming Gopher freshmen – Ben Brancale, Fredy Stroker and Larry Early – each claimed an individual national championship by the end of the week-long event. Rylee Streifel, another newcomer to the U of M, placed second to earn All-America honors.
Brancale, the younger brother of current Gopher wrestling Sam Brancale, brought home the 138-pound title in Greco earlier in the week. The first half of Brancale’s six wins in the tournament came by bigger winning margins – a combined score of 35-6 – before a nail-biting 5-4 victory in the quarterfinals. A 5-1 decision over fellow Minnesotan Ty Johnson sealed the championship for Brancale.