Pair of Gophers Reach Challenge Finals at U23 Nationals and U20 World Team Trials

MINNEAPOLIS – All five Minnesota wrestlers made at least the semifinals, with two advancing to the finals, this past weekend at the 2024 U23 Nationals and U20 World Team Trials in Geneva, Ohio.

The Golden Gopher representatives competed in the Challenge aspect of the tournament, hoping to earn a berth in a best-of-three championship matchup.

Minnesota redshirt freshman Max McEnelly was one of two Gophers to reach the Challenge Finals. He had no problem in his opening match as he cruised past Lars Michaelson (Nwwc) in the U20 World Team Trials 86kg quarterfinals, 10-0, in just 1:49. McEnelly then moved on to the Challenge finals thanks to an 11-0 win at 4:35 over Tate Naaktgeboren (Cyclone Regional Training Center C-RTC). A hard-fought contest in the finals saw McEnelly go down to Joshua Barr (Nittany Lion Wrestling Club), 4-1.

Like McEnelly, incoming freshman Charlie Millard also reached the U20 Challenge Finals. Millard opened his run in the 74kg quarterfinals in U20 Freestyle with an 11-2 victory over Kody Routledge (Husky Wrestling Club) then continued on thanks to a 13-5 win in the semis against Zach Hanson. In the finals, Millard was stopped 10-0 by Beau Mantanona (Cliff Keen Wrestling Club).

Fellow incoming freshman Koy Hopke reached the U20 semifinals at 125 kg. He prevailed in his quarterfinals match with an 11-4 win against Nicholas Pavlechko (M2 Training Center), but in the semifinals Hopke was topped in a high-scoring matchup, 15-10, by Nicholas Sahakian (Sunkist Kids Monster Garage). Hopke bounced back with a 10-0 win over Connor Barket (Indiana) to reach the third-place match where he lost 2-1 to Aden Attao (Beaver Dam RTC).

Newcomer Clayton Whiting took part in the U23 Nationals at 79kg. The No. 3 seed, Whiting opened with a win by fall against Jack Bobeck (Noke Wrestling RTC) then advanced further behind a 5-2 win over Rafael Knapp (Bulls Wrestling Club). In the Round of 16, he took out Evan Canoyer (Spartan Combat RTC/ TMWC) by a 12-7 score and moved on to the next round following a dominant 13-1 win over Will Miller (Boone RTC) at 3:25. In the semifinals, Whiting saw his run end with a 10-0 loss to eventual champion Patrick Kennedy (Hawkeye Wrestling Club). Bumped down to the third-place match, Whiting once again faced Miller and emerged victorious again with a 15-9 victory.

Redshirt freshman Rhett Koenig was the lone Gopher to compete in Greco-Roman as he finished fourth in U20 at 63kg. He dropped his semifinal bout to eventual Challenge winner Amryn Nutter (Combat W.C. School of Wrestling) and then fell in the third-place match against top-seeded Landon Drury (NYAC/Betterman WC).

U23 Nationals and U20 World Team Trials Results

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