I can remember being in Fargo, ND two years ago when Sammy Sasso and Trent Hidlay were the undisputed leaders of Team Pennsylvania. At the time both Sasso and Hidlay were rising seniors, each won their first State Championships months earlier, and were being courted by the top NCAA Division I schools across the Nation. Photo of Sammy Sasso by Tony Rotundo of Wrestlers Are Warriors.
They were roommates in Fargo but both Sasso and Hidlay left the 2017 Fargo Freestyle Junior Nationals disappointed. Competing at 145 pounds Sasso earned All-American honors taking fifth. In the semifinals he dropped a 10-10 loss on criteria to Anthony Artalona of Florida. Artalona would go on to win the title. Sammy was unable to rebound and lost in the consolation semifinals to Indiana’s Brayton Lee by a 7-2 score. Hidlay stormed through the field at 170 pounds outscoring his opponents 66-0 en route to the finals. There he was abruptly stopped by Maryland’s Aaron Brooks giving up three four-pointers to fall 13-3.
Fast forward two years and both Sasso and Hidlay are now at Ohio State and N.C. State respectively where they each finished up outstanding redshirt freshman seasons. They want to make some more noise before they break onto the NCAA stage next year – looking for a chance to represent Team USA at the Junior Freestyle World Championships.
Competing at 70 kilograms (154.3 pounds) in the 2019 Junior U.S. Open from Las Vegas Sammy Sasso took a significant step forward in his pursuit for a first career World Team spot. The Nazareth, PA native tore through the loaded bracket and earned some revenge along the way. His closest match was actually the opening round bout with Quincy Monday (Princeton). Sasso had a 10-2 advantage after the first period but Monday chipped away scoring eight points in the finals period. Sasso held on for a 13-10 win and never looked back. After two more wins Sasso took on Nebraska’s redshirt freshman Peyton Robb – also a Fargo All-American. As he defended a takedown attempt, Sasso crunched Robb in his lethal near-side cradle, picking up the fall.
In the semifinals Sasso faced a chance at revenge taking on Fargo National Champion, and his old foe, Anthony Artalona. The freshman was an NCAA qualifier at UPenn this past season. Sasso showed what a year inside the Buckeye’s wrestling room can do as he dismantled Artalona this time around.
Two years after falling to him on criteria 10-10 – Sasso teched the Florida native scoring a passivity point, four takedowns, a turn to win it 11-0. In the finals he once again took on a wrestler who two years ago in Fargo he lost to. Against Brayton Lee, now a redshirt freshman at Minnesota, Sasso completed his dismantling of the field defeating Lee by technical fall with a 10-0 victory. Lee had a front headlock on Sasso, who was able to pull Lee’s arm and dump him to his hip for an easy two point takedown. Sasso quickly went to work locking up a textbook leg lace and rolling through on four exposures to end the match 10-0 in just fifty seconds.
Hidlay’s run to a Junior U.S. Open Championship was slightly different. The 2-time Pennsylvania State Champion from Mifflin County competed up at 86 kilograms (189 pounds) – the highest weight Trent has officially competed at. Apparently the jump in weight only negatively the rest of the field. He outscored his five U.S. Open opponents 42-6 en route to the title including a 6-0 win over Cadet World Freestyle Bronze Medalist and Iowa recruit Abe Assad (Illinois) in the quarterfinals.
Trent took on his good friend and former Bison Legend training partner Gavin Hoffman in the semifinals. Hoffman, a 3-time PIAA State Champion from Montoursville, is now at Ohio State where he too had a successful redshirt season. It was an interesting match-up between two wrestlers who combined have five Pennsylvania State Championships but ultimately, Hidlay collected four one pointers to go up 4-1 on Hoffman late in the match when he earned a four pointer to win it 8-1. After top seed Kordell Norfleet was upset in the quarterfinals, fourth seed Zachary Braunagel (Illinois), took advantage and rolled into the finals to meet Hidlay. The two were tied up at two after the first period but in the second Hidlay broke the match open with a four pointer. He added on a takedown and two push-outs and closed out the win 10-3.
Now both Sammy Sasso and Trent Hidlay find themselves sitting in the Junior World Team Finals where they must win a best-of-three series to earn a spot on the USA Team heading to Tallinn, Estonia in August to compete in the Junior World Championships.
On Saturday from the World Team Trials in Raleigh, North Carolina – Sasso will get a re-match with Brayton Lee in the 70 kilogram best-of-three final. On Friday Lee stormed back against Jacori Teemer in the Challenge Tournament semifinals to win 12-9. He next defeated Peyton Robb in the finals for a chance to take on Sasso once again. Hidlay will take on Ohio native Victor Marcelli on Saturday. The redshirt freshman at Virginia had a great Friday in the World Team Challenge tournament defeating top seed Braunagel in the semifinals and Jack Jessen (Northwestern) in the finals. Hidlay did not face Marcelli at the U.S. Open but will need two wins in order to punch his ticket to Estonia.
Junior World Team Trials
65 KG – Ed Scott (M2 Training Center/DuBois Area)
Keegan O’Toole (Askren Wrestling Academy Lake Country) VSU Edward Scott (M2 Training Center), 10-0 4:10
PJ Oqunzanya (West Point Wrestling Club) VSU1 Edward Scott (M2 Training Center), 12-1 4:34
70 KG – Justin McCoy (Cavalier WC/Chestnut Ridge)
Brayton Lee (Minnesota RTC) VSU1 Justin McCoy (Cavalier WC), 13-3 6:00
Justin McCoy (Cavalier WC) VPO Jaden Van Maanen (Bison WC), 8-0
Harold Mauller (Unattached) VPO1 Justin McCoy (Cavalier WC), 12-7
70 KG – Sam Sasso (Ohio RTC/Nazareth Area)
Best-of-Three Finals: Sam Sasso (Ohio RTC) vs. Brayton Lee (Minnesota RTC)
79 KG – Jake Hendricks (Pennsylvania RTC/Wyoming Seminary)
Jake Hendricks (Pennsylvania RTC) VPO1 Tyler Dow (Wisconsin RTC), 9-8
Jake Allar (Minnesota RTC) VPO1 Michael O’Malley (Pennsylvania RTC), 6-4
Parker Keckeisen (Askren WANS) VPO1 Jake Hendricks (Pennsylvania RTC), 7-6
Michael O’Malley (Pennsylvania RTC) VSU Jake Hendricks (Pennsylvania RTC), 10-0 0:41
86 KG – Gavin Hoffman (Ohio RTC/Montoursville Area)
Jack Jessen (Chicago RTC/Wildcat WC) VSU1 Gavin Hoffman (Ohio RTC), 11-1 2:53
Cameron Caffey (Michigan State RTC) VPO1 Gavin Hoffman (Ohio RTC), 6-3
86 KG – Trent Hidlay (Wolfpack WC/Mifflin County)
Best-of-Three Finals: Trent Hidlay (Wolfpack WC) vs. Victor Marcelli (Old Hickory WC)
92 KG – Jakob Woodley (Oklahoma/North Allegheny)
Jakob Woodley (Unattached) VSU1 Dakota Howard (Unattached), 11-1 3:31
Brandon Whitman (Tarheel Wrestling Club) VPO1 Jakob Woodley (Unattached), 5-3
97 KG – Tyler Bagoly (Clarion WC/Exeter Township)
97 Jake Boyd (Unattached) VPO1 Tyler Bagoly (Clarion WC), 11-5
97 Tyler Bagoly (Clarion WC) VSU Aric Bohn (Unattached), 10-0 1:53
U.S. Open Junior Results
1st Malik Heinselman Castle Rock, CO (Ohio State-Unattached) VSU Sam Latona Blacksburg, VA (TMWC/ SERTC), 10-0 0:59
3rd Rayvon Foley East Lansing, MI (TMWC) VFA Chris Cannon Blairstown, NJ (Blairstown WC), 20-9 4:26
5th Trevor Mastrogiovanni Blairstown, NJ (Blairstown WC) VSU Wyatt Henson Morgantown, WV (Sunkist Kids WC), 10-0 1:19
7th Justin Cardani Champaign, IL (IRTC) VPO1 Eric Barnett Greenville, WI (Aviators), 14-14
1st Gabriel Tagg Broadview Heights, OH (Elite Accelerator Program) VFA Roman Bravo-Young State College, PA (Nittany Lion WC), 8-4 4:15
3rd Jevon Parrish Lincoln, NE (Nebraska) VPO1 Jaime Hernandez Chapel Hill, NC (Tar Heel WC), 6-4
5th Pat Glory Princeton, NJ (NJRTC) VFO Jarrett Trombley Raleigh, NC (Wolfpack WC)
7th Teague Travis Columbia, MO (Missouri) VPO1 Chance Rich Bakersfield, CA (Bakersfield RTC), 23-16
1st Yahya Thomas Chicago, IL (Northwestern) VPO Andrew Alirez Greeley, CO (Northern Colorado WC), 4-0
3rd Real Woods Stanford, CA (Stanford – California RTC) VPO Joshua Saunders St. Louis, MO (TMWC), 6-0
5th Victor Voinovich Brecksville, OH (Seasons) VPO1 Peter Ogunsanya (West Point RTC), 3-2
7th Keegan O`toole Hartland, WI (Askren Wrestling Academy) VSU1 Jojo Aragona Piscataway, NJ (NYAC/NJRTC), 15-4 4:31
1st Sam Sasso Nazareth, PA (Ohio State-Unattached) VPO Brayton Lee Brownsburg, IN (Minnesota Storm), 10-0
3rd Peyton Robb Lincoln, NE (Nebraska) VFA Quincy Monday Chapel Hill, NC (NJRTC), 3-0 0:59
5th Jacori Teemer Tempe, AZ (ASU Wrestling) VPO1 Anthony Artalona Seffner, FL (Pennsylvania RTC), 2-2
7th Kendall Coleman West Lafayette, IN (Boilermaker RTC) VPO1 Jaden Van Maanen La Crosse, WI (Bison WC), 8-6
1st David Carr Ames, IA (Cyclone RTC) VSU1 Danny Braunagel O’Fallon, IL (IRTC), 12-1 4:26
3rd Nelson Brands Iowa City, IA (U of Iowa) VFA Julian Ramirez Blairstown, NJ (Blairstown WC), 8-0 2:06
5th Travis Wittlake Jr. Broadbent, OR (Cowboy RTC/TMWC) VPO1 DJ Shannon Lake Saint Louis, MO (Elite Accelerator Program), 10-4
7th Philip Conigliaro Dedham, MA (Unattached) VSU1 Joshua Kim Corona, CA (Harvard), 12-1 6:00
1st Aaron Brooks Hagerstown, MD (TMWC/ EAP) VPO Shane Griffith Stanford, CA (Stanford – California RTC), 10-0
3rd Dustin Plott Tuttle, OK (Unattached) VSU Parker Keckeisen Glendale, WI (Askren Wrestling Academy), 10-0 1:19
5th Tyler Dow Stoughton, WI (University of Wisconsin) VFA Jake Allar MN (Minnesota Storm), 4-4 2:19
7th Michael O`Malley Hasbrouck Heights, NJ (PRTC) VPO1 Jake Hendricks Philadelphia, PA (Pennsylvania RTC), 4-3
1st Trent Hidlay Raleigh, NC (Wolfpack WC) VPO1 Zachary Braunagel O’Fallon, IL (IRTC), 10-3
3rd Abe Assad Carol Stream, IL (Izzy Style) VPO Gavin Hoffman Montoursville, PA (Ohio State-Unattached), 3-0
5th Victor Marcelli Charlottesville, VA (Cavalier WC) VPO Thomas Penola West Lafayette, IN (Boilermaker RTC), 10-0
7th Peter Acciardi Woodcliff Lake, NJ (Bulls WC) VFO Kordell Norfleet Tempe, AZ (ASU Wrestling)
1st Lucas Davison Evanston, IL (TMWC) VPO1 Jakob Woodley Pittsburgh, PA (Oklahoma), 6-3
3rd Brandon Whitman Chapel Hill, NC (Tar Heel WC) VPO1 Joel Shapiro West Des Moines, IA (Cyclone RTC), 4-2
5th Dakota Howard Blacksburg, VA (SERTC-VT) VPO1 Jacob Cardenas Kearny, NJ (Cordoba Trained), 14-4
7th Connor Corbin Urbandale, IA (U of Iowa) VPO1 Tyrell Gordon Cedar Falls, IA (Panther WC RTC), 6-2
1st Sam Schuyler Buffalo, NY (Bulls WC) VPO1 Tanner Sloan Brookings, SD (Jackrabbit WC), 17-13
3rd Austin Harris Stillwater, OK (Cowboy RTC/TMWC) VSU Aric Bohn Big Bend, WI (Southern Illinois), 10-0 0:44
5th Kyle Lightner New Brunswick, NJ (NJRTC) VFO Wyatt Hendrickson Newton, KS (Unattached)
7th Antonio Andrade Hollister, CA (Oklahoma) VPO1 Tyler Bagoly Reading, PA (Clarion RTC), 6-1