Fuenffinger to compete for U.S. World Team spot at Final X on Saturday

LINCOLN, Neb. — Augsburg University men’s wrestling alumnus Leslie (Mike) Fuenffinger ’15, a two-time NCAA Division III national titlist and three-time All-American, will compete for a spot on the U.S. Senior Greco-Roman National Team during the Final X series this Saturday (6/15) at the University of Nebraska’s Bob Devaney Center.

Fuenffinger, a specialist in the United States Army, competes for the U.S. Army’s World Class Athlete Program (WCAP), based in Colorado Springs, Colo. He joined the Army in April 2015. Fuenffinger qualified for the Final X competition after winning the U.S. Open title in the 60 kg (132 pounds) weight class in Las Vegas, Nev., in April.

Final X features a best-of-three series in each weight class, with the winners earning spots on the U.S. Senior National Teams that will compete at the 2019 World Wrestling Championships in Nursultan, Kazakhstan on Sept. 14-22. Competition will be held in men’s Freestyle and Greco-Roman divisions, along with women’s Freestyle. The first half of the national team was determined during the opening weekend of Final X in Piscataway, N.J., last Saturday.

Fuenffinger’s Final X series will be during the opening session of Final X in Lincoln, which will start at 11 a.m., Central time on Saturday (6/15). The 60 kg series will be the second of six bouts in the opening session.

In the Final X event, Fuenffinger will face fellow U.S. Army WCAP member Ildar Hafizov in a rematch of the U.S. Open final, which Fuenffinger won by a 6-4 decision. Fuenffinger also topped 2018 World Team member Dalton Roberts 8-0 in the semifinals. A two-time Junior World team member, Fuenffinger advanced directly to the Final X match with the U.S. Open win, while Hafizov, a 2017 World Team member, reached Final X by winning the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament with a two-match win over Randon Miranda (7-0, 6-1). Hafizov was a 2008 Olympian while competing for Uzbekistan, before moving to the United States.

The two wrestlers have met four times in the past year, with each winning twice. In addition to the U.S. Open win in 2019, Fuenffinger claimed a 4-3 win over Hafizov in the U.S. Open semifinals in 2018. Hafizov topped Fuenffinger by an 8-0 technical fall in the Dave Schultz Memorial International finals in January, while also scoring a 5-0 win in the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament finals in June 2018.

One of the top lightweight wrestlers in Augsburg history, Fuenffinger won NCAA Division III national titles at 125 pounds in both 2014 and 2015, earning the national tournament’s Most Outstanding Wrestler honor in 2015. He also earned All-American honors with a seventh-place finish at 125 in 2013, and was part of Auggie teams that won the national title in 2015, while finishing second in 2013, fifth in 2014 and 10th in 2013.

Fuenffinger finished his Augsburg career with a 110-21 record, including 25 pins, 11 technical falls and 26 major decisions. He was 34-1 in his senior season and 34-3 in his junior campaign.

A native of Hibbing, Minn., Fuenffinger won a Minnesota state tournament title in 2010, while placing third in 2011. He qualified for state tournaments three times in his high school career. Fuenffinger finished 10th at 55 kg (121 pounds) at the 2012 Junior World Championships and 12th at 55 kg at the 2011 Junior World Championships.

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