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Nkosi Moody of Illinois acted like he had been there before.
And he had been.
For the third time this year, Moody walked onto the mat with an opportunity to capture a Junior Nationals championship.
And for the third time, he had his hand raised in victory.
Moody downed Illinois teammate Tommy Pawelski 6-3, 5-1 to win the Junior Nationals freestyle title at 98 pounds on Saturday morning in the FargoDome. Moody had lost to Pawleski in the Illinois state freestyle tournament.
?It was important. It feels great to win this,? Moody said of the Triple Crown. ?I worked so hard this past year to make up for what I didn?t do last year. We had wrestled each other before, and I knew his strengths and weaknesses. I just went out there and capitalized on all of them.?
Moody won a Junior Nationals title in Folkstyle this past April in Cedar Falls, Iowa. He captured a Junior Nationals Greco-Roman crown on Tuesday.
Moody becomes the third Junior to capture a USA Wrestling Triple Crown. He joins Montana?s Jade Rauser (2009) and Michigan?s Freddie Rodriguez (2010). Juniors became eligible to win the Triple Crown in 2007.
Moody?s Illinois teammate, Jahwon Akui, fell just short of winning a Junior Triple Crown. Akui, the Outstanding Wrestler in the Junior Greco-Roman tournament on Tuesday, fell to Wisconsin?s Devin Peterson in the 189 freestyle finals. Peterson won the first period 7-0 before recording a fall just before time ran out in the second period.
Peterson, a 2009 Triple Crown winner in Cadets, won a Junior Greco title earlier in the week. Peterson now has five Fargo titles. He also won a Junior Nationals Greco crown in 2010. He also won a Cadet Nationals Folkstyle title in Iowa in 2009.
Akui, an Iowa Central recruit, bumped up to 189 for the freestyle event after winning a Junior Greco title at 171.
Wisconsin?s Alex Dieringer repeated as a Junior Nationals freestyle champion after sweeping Oklahoma?s Zac Skates 4-0, 4-0 in the 160 finals. Dieringer, an Oklahoma State recruit, won a Junior Nationals Greco-Roman title here on Tuesday.
Dieringer was named Outstanding Wrestler in the freestyle tournament. He moved up a weight class in freestyle after winning a Junior Nationals Greco title at 152 earlier in the week.
?The competition is unbelievable. The best wrestlers in the country are here,? Dieringer said. ?Being here is an honor. All the years here, I have gone up in weight in freestyle. It was a little different here this time. Once you get to the bigger guys, they are a whole lot stronger. I guess my strength was enough.?
ASICS High School Wrestler of the Year Morgan McIntosh of California (215) repeated as Junior freestyle champion. The powerful McIntosh, a Penn State recruit, beat Iowa?s Blaize Cabell 5-0, 5-0 in the finals.
?I talked to the coaches, and they wanted me to focus on getting better and not worry about my weight,? McIntosh said. ?I want to get used to the bigger, stronger guys. There was a difference. A lot of these guys were 10-15 pounds bigger than me. It was a good experience for me. I tried to stay with what I do. I tried to be quicker on my feet, get on low shots and not get underneath these big guys.?
?I wanted to come here to help the California team. I love being here. I like being on the big stage in front of everyone.?
Illinois won the team title with Iowa second and Wisconsin third.
Matt Garelli of Illinois repeated as Junior Nationals freestyle champion after earning a tough three-period win over California?s Johson Mai. Garelli won 3-3, 7-0, 3-3 in the 105 finals.
Junior Greco-Roman champion Ben Whitford of Michigan completed a Fargo double after winning the freestyle finals at 135. He swept Ohio?s Ty Davis 7-0, 2-0 in the finals.
Whitford won a freestyle title in Fargo for the third straight year after claiming Cadet Nationals crowns here in 2009 and 2010. He has now won five titles in Fargo. He also won a Cadet Greco title in 2010.
Past FILA Cadet Nationals champion Jason Tsirtsis of Indiana topped 2011 Junior Nationals Folkstyle champion Jake Short of Minnesota 1-0, 1-0 in the Junior Nationals freestyle finals at 140.
Florida?s Pat Downey capped an impressive tournament by downing Washington?s Jordan Rogers, a double Cadet Nationals champion in 2010, in the Junior freestyle finals at 171. Downey rallied past Rogers 1-1, 3-1, 3-0.
Past Cadet and FILA Cadet Nationals champion Thomas Gilman of Nebraska capped a superb tournament by winning the title at 119. Gilman swept Hawaii?s David Terao 4-1, 2-1 in the finals.
Gilman, whose stock as a top college recruit went up considerably in the past two days, will compete in the FILA Cadet World Championships next month in Hungary.
Virginia?s Joey Dance continued his run of success in Fargo by winning the 125 freestyle title. Dance beat Washington?s Joey Palmer 3-0, 0-1, 2-1 in the finals. Dance won a Cadet Nationals freestyle title in 2009.
Past Cadet Nationals champion Connor Medbery of Colorado became a Junior Nationals champion when he downed Iowa?s Cody Krumwiede 3-1, 2-0 in the 285 finals. Medbery is a Wisconsin recruit. Krumwiede won a Junior Nationals Folkstyle title in April.
Zane Richards of Illinois capped a superb week by topping Virginia?s Brandon Jeske 2-1, 2-0 in the 130 finals. Richards placed second in Greco-Roman earlier in the week. Richards won Cadet Nationals here in Greco in 2009 and 2010.
Past FILA Cadet Nationals champion Nathan Tomasello of Ohio defeated Indiana?s Jarred Brooks 5-1, 0-4, 4-1 in the 112 finals.
New York?s Brian Realbuto delivered one of the most dramatic wins of the night when he rallied past Brian Murphy of Illinois in the 145 finals. Realbuto dropped the first period, but came back to score a pin with one second left in the second period to prevail.
Oregon?s Zach Brunson dropped the first period, but regrouped to down Edwin Cooper of Illinois 0-4, 1-0, 6-0 in the 152 finals. Brunson was second in FILA Junior Nationals this year and third in the FILA Junior World Team Trials.
Article Written By Craig Sesker of USA Wrestling*
JUNIOR NATIONALS FREESTYLE FINALS RESULTS
Nkosi Moody (Illinois) dec. Tommy Pawelski (Illinois), 6-3, 5-1
Matt Garelli (Illinois) dec. Johnson Mai (California), 3-3, 7-0, 3-3
Nathan Tomasello (Ohio) dec. Jarred Brooks (Indiana), 5-1, 0-4, 4-1
Thomas Gilman (Nebraska) dec. David Terao (Hawaii), 4-1, 2-1
Joey Dance (Virginia) dec. Joey Palmer (Washington), 3-0, 0-1, 2-1
Zane Richards (Illinois) dec. Brandon Jeske (Virginia), 2-1, 2-0
Ben Whitford (Michigan) dec. Ty Davis (Ohio), 7-0, 2-0
Jason Tsirtsis (Indiana) dec. Jake Short (Minnesota), 1-0, 1-0
Brian Realbuto (New York) pinned Brian Murphy (Illinois), 0-1, 1:59
Zach Brunson (Oregon) dec. Edwin Cooper (Illinois), 0-4, 1-0, 6-0
Alex Dieringer (Wisconsin) dec. Zac Skates (Oklahoma) 4-0, 4-0
Pat Downey (Florida) dec. Jordan Rogers (Washington), 1-1, 3-1, 3-0
Devin Peterson (Wisconsin) pinned Jahwon Akui (Illinois), 7-0, 1:59
Morgan McIntosh (California) dec. Blaize Cabell (Iowa), 5-0, 5-0
Connor Medbery (Colorado) dec. Cody Krumwiede (Iowa), 3-1, 2-0
Complete Brackets & Results for Junior Freestyle Nationals