Top Ten Moments of 2016 for the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club

By: Jonny Ruggiano

2016 was an outstanding year with many hallmark moments. We took a look back and composed the Top Ten Moments of 2016 for the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club. Additionally, there are several links from throughout the year.

#1 Kyle Snyder becomes the first wrestler to ever win an Olympic, World, NCAA and Big 10 title in a year.

     The phrase, “To be the best, you must beat the best,” was epitomized in the rise of Titan Mercury’s Kyle Snyder. The young Ohio State standout was able to accomplish something no other wrestler has ever been able to do: win the Olympic, World, NCAA and Big Ten Championships in a twelve-month period. What makes this grand accomplishment more exciting is in the fashion in which Kyle pulled it off.

Kyle Snyder began his senior level competition in 2015, where at the US Open Kyle knocked off Jake Varner, the reigning Olympic gold medalist, to earn his first national title. Those battles continued with Varner has Snyder defeated him both to earn spots on the World and the Olympic teams.

In September of 2015 Snyder competed at his first Senior World Championships. This time he needed to defeat reigning World Champion Abdusalam Gadisov of Russia to claim his first title. Snyder came up with the 5-5 criteria win to become the youngest American to win the World Championships

Snyder’s dominance continued throughout the year. Wrestling internationally at 97 kg (213 lbs), Snyder pulled his Olympic redshirt and competed the final part of his college sophomore year for the Buckeyes. At the Big 10 Championships Snyder beat Michigan standout, Adam Coon 7-4 to win his first Big 10 title.

The NCAA saw the clash of two Giants as Snyder took on 2X NCAA Champion, Nick Gwiazdowski of North Carolina State. Gwiazdowski came into the finals match with an 88 match win streak. No matter, how undersized or overpowered Snyder may have seemed, the young buck ended Gwiazdowski’s streak with a 7-5 overtime win to earn his first NCAA title.

Snyder had one more title to win to complete the unbelievable: Olympic gold. Kyle’s road to Rio gold saw him defeat Javier Cortina of Cuba 10-3 in the prelims. In the quarterfinals Snyder dominated Albert Saritov of Romania 7-0. His semifinals bout was a familiar opponent; Elizbar Odikadze of Georgia. Odikadze had given Snyder some trouble forcing Kyle to win at the World Cup with a late takedown. However Snyder mentally and physically broke the Georgian down in the Olympic semis to win 9-4.

In the Olympic finals Kyle Snyder defeated 8X World and Olympic medalist Khetag Goziumov of Azerbaijan with a score of 2-1. By the end of August, 2016 Kyle Snyder not only became the youngest Olympic Champion in wrestling for the United States, he also became the only wrestler to ever win all 4 championships within a single year.

#2 Logan Stieber wins his first World Championship

     In what was one of the greatest single performances of the year, Logan Stieber earned is first World Title in epic fashion. The 4X NCAA Champion competed at 61 kg in Budapest, Hungary for the Non-Olympic Weight Class World Championships this December.

His road was anything but easy, starting off against one of the tournament favorites in the prelim rounds. Right off the bat Stieber dominated Vasyl Shuptar with a 10-0 to get things rolling. However, the margins narrowed as he needed two buzzer beating takedowns to win his quarterfinal and semifinal bouts. In the quarters he defeated Akhmed Chakaev of Russia 13-11 with 8 seconds left. The semis Stieber won in similar fashion taking down Behnam Ehsanpoor of Iran, with one second left to win 9-8. In the finals Logan won 8-4 win over Beka Lomtadze of Georgia with a series of winning scrambles, takedowns and a leg lace.

 #3 J’Den Cox earns bronze at the Rio Olympics

     What all started as a simple tweet from the newly crowned 197 lb. NCAA sent shock waves throughout the international wrestling world. J’Den Cox, fresh off of defeating Morgan McIntosh in Madison Square Garden for his national title, set his sights on the Olympic dream.

His announcement to the wrestling world was by no means cryptic, setting social media a buzz tweeting, “ 86 kg……. yeah I can make that. #olympictrials

What resulted was the rise of the newest and brightest star. At the Olympic Trials Cox bested 4X NCAA Champion Kyle Dake in one of the most entertaining and narrowest, two out of three match victories.

Relatively new to the international wrestling World Cox had to still qualify the weight class for team USA. In Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, Cox won the qualifying tournament and punched his ticket to Rio.

However his international training continued. Cox wrestled in the annual Beat the Streets New York Gala, held in Times Square. In the duals Cox defeated Iran’s Meisam Mostafajoukar, 10-5. The Iranian was ranked 10th in the World at the time. J’Den’s competition continued in Los Angeles at the 2016 World Cup of Wrestling where he went 3-1 for the event. At the World Cup

Cox defeated number three ranked wrestler Alexander Gostiev of Azerbiajan and then number six ranked wrestle, Alireza Karimi of Iran.

In Rio the training paid off as Cox claimed bronze. J’Den easlity won his first bout 7-1 against  Amarhajy Mahamedau of Belarus. In the quarterfinals he once again defeated Alireza Karimi of Iran: this time 5-1. His lone loss came in the semis to Selim Yasar of Turkey, where it seemed that Cox believed he was winning with only seconds left. For the bronze medal bout, the Senior at the University of Missouri defeated Reineris Salas Perez of Cuba 3-0. Though the bout was considered a disqualification for Perez, it was Cox who controlled the entire match. With a last minute takedown to add to his lead, Cox found himself winning the bout 3-0 with only 6 seconds left before Perez’s disqualification.

#4 TMWC Wrestlers Dennis, Molinaro, Cox, Snyder, Pirozhkova and Mensah all win the 2016 Olympic Trials

     The 2016 Olympic Trials were one of the most dynamic in recent history. Titan Mercury came out in full force with over fifty wrestlers competing in front of a capacity crowd at Carver Hawkeye Arena. The Ultimate prize of capturing a spot on the Olympic team was realized by six current Titan Mercury Wrestlers.

At 57 kg Daniel Dennis bested Tony Ramos in two matches. The first bout saw Dennis edge Ramos 2-1. However in the second match Dennis steamrolled through Ramos with his trademark gutwrench to tech Ramos 10-0 and earn a spot on the Olympic Team.

The 65 kg weight class was perhaps the most stacked and anticipated of all weight classes with wrestlers like World bronze medalist James Green, World Team members Brent Metcalf and Reece Humphrey as well as Cadet World Champion and Junior World bronze medalist Aaron Pico, amongst many others, all vying for the Olympic Spot. It was Penn State and future TMWC wrestler Frank Molinaro who battled through the gauntlet to earn his berth to Rio.

In the 65 kg finals Molinaro and Pico traded off winning the first two matches. Pico had the initial advantage winning bout one 4-2. However Molinaro fought back to win bouts two and three both with the scores of 4-3.

86 kg also saw the rise of a new Titan Mercury wrestler take on a fellow TMWC star. 4X NCAA Champion Kyle Dake faced a young, yet capable J’Den Cox. Cox, who joined TMWC in 2016, came up big with a 8-1 win in the first bout against Dake. However, Dake did not give up the series lightly winning the second bout 5-3. It was Cox who ultimately came up victorious with the third and final win, besting Dake 4-3 and earning the Olympic spot.

The most anticipated match up came at 97 kg where the youngest member of the World Team and reigning World Champion, Kyle Snyder faced off against reigning Olympic Champion Jake Varner to make the team. In the first bout Varner edged Snyder with a 4-4 criteria decision. However, Snyder bounced back in bouts two and three, winning 4-0 and 6-1 to qualify for the Olympic team.

In women’s competition multiple World medalist Elena Pirozhkova ran through her opponent Erin Clodgo with a pin and the first bout and a 2-0 decision in the second to secure the spot at 63 kg.

At 69 kg TMWC’s Tamyra Mensah finished offer her opponent in similar dominating fashion scoring 8-1 in two straight bouts the win the Olympic Trials

Complete roster of TMWC wrestlers to qualify for the Olympic Trials:

57 kg: Joe Colon, Daniel Dennis, Nahshon Garrett**, Nico Megaludis*, Tony Ramos, Nathan Tomasello, Alan Waters*

65 kg: Jason Chamberlain, James Green, Frank Molinaro*, Aaron Pico, Logan Stieber

74 kg: Alex Dieringer, Quinton Godley, Adam Hall, Isaiah Martinez***, Chris Perry

86 kg: J’Den Cox*, Kyle Dake, Gabe Dean***, David Taylor*, Keith Gavin, Myles Martin***,

Austin Trotman

97 kg: Micah Burak, Jeffery Felix, Wynn Michalak, Kyle Snyder

125 kg: Tyrell Fortune, Nick Gwiazdowski*, Connor Medbery, Matt Meuleners, Bobby Telford

48 kg: Victoria Anthony**, Marina Doi, Regina Doi, Breonnah Neal, Cody Pfau, Candace Workman

53 kg: Amy Fearnside, Michaela Hutchison

58 kg: Teshya Alo, Randi Beltz, Becka Leathers

63 kg: Amanda Hendey, Shai Mason, Jennifer Page, Elena Pirozhkova, Mallory Velte

69 kg: Tamyra Mensah, Forrest Molinari, Lorrie Ramos

75 kg: Victoria Francis, Jackie Surber

 *Added later to the TMWC Roster

** No longer TMWC

*** Qualified but did not compete

#5 Titan Mercury is crowned the best club in the World after winning the World Clubs Cup

     In December of 2016, in Kharkov, Ukraine the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club was able to show the World that they are the best wrestling club in the World. In a competition that watched many of the World’s best Olympic freestyle wrestlers fall in dual meet competition. Titan Mercury boasted a power line up that any team would die for. USA’s brightest starts, Nico Megaludis, BJ Futrell, Nazar Kulchytskyy, Alex Dieringer, David Taylor, Kyle Snyder and Nick Gwiazdowski were joined by Georgian Olympic gold medalist Vladimer Khnichegashvili.

Never the less, the finals of the World Clubs Cup was the war that everyone expected. As two giants of the wrestling world clashed: TMWC and Iran’s Bimeh Razi. TMWC’s Nico Megaludis started off battling Olympic bronze medalist Hassan Rahimi is a contrasting match of the seasoned veteran versus the young Megaludis. At the end Rahimi walked away victorious with a 5-2 win. The next match featured one of TMWC’s top ranked wrestlers, Olympic champion Vladimer Khnichegashvili. The Georgian took on Masoud Esmaeilpour who himself was a world silver medalist. In the course of the battle things got out of hand, with both wrestlers attacking each others face. However, it was Esmaeilpour who flagrantly flopped after being hit in the face and fell to the mat. The outcome was that both contestants were disqualified and Titan Mercury lost their first Olympic champion’s chance at a win. The team score remained 0-1 with the favor going to Bimeh Razi.

The 65 kg. bout was one sided with Ilyas Bekbulatov for Iran taking out BJ Futrell in a quick tech fall. Titan Mercury could feel their backs against the wall. In an eight match dual that now turned into seven contested bouts, Titan Mercury was down 0-2. The team had to win 4 of the next five matches to take it all.

At 70 kg Nazar Kulchytskyy took the mat. Originally a native of Ukraine, the week’s competition did not go as planned for the Titan Mercury wrestler Kulchytskyy. However, his performance in the finals kick started the team’s chances to stay in the bout. In an all heart victory Nazar defeated Atsamaz Sanakoev and Titan Mercury was on the board.

Down 1-2 Titan Mercury moved into their power line up with Alex Dieringer, David Taylor and Kyle Snyder up consecutively. However, the Bimeh Razi team had set up worthy adversaries each step of the way. As Dieringer stepped to the mat, the only remaining undefeated TMWC wrestler seemed conservative at the beginning. It was not long until Iran’s Reza Afzali blasted through the NCAA standout and gained a four-point advantage. Well into the end of the match, it seemed that Titan Mercury’s chances of winning were dwindling away. Every attempt from Dieringer was thwarted by the Iranian. Until a flicker of hope came at the last seconds of the bout and Alex capitalized off of it. With the clock winding down Dieringer hit a last minute takedown and gut wrench to win the match 5-4.

Titan Mercury and Bimeh Razi were tied up 2-2 with only three matches left.

At 86 kg the Iran team had the upper advantage with season wrestler Alireza Karimi at the helm. The 2015 World bronze medalist was wrestling a younger, less experienced David Taylor. It was not long after the whistle blew, that Karimi was on the scoreboard with a two-point takedown. Taylor, who is known in the U.S. for his great leg attacks and ability to capitalize off of any position did not waiver. Quickly the young star changed the pace of the match and turned it into a pro-USA style bout where funky moves and great scrambles dictated the outcome. At the end of the match Taylor propelled TMWC to take the lead 3-2 with a final individual score of 12-6.

With Taylor’s win the tables turned in favor of Titan Mercury. The team’s Olympic champion, Kyle Snyder was next. As seen throughout the tournament no wrestler was safe from tough competition and Kyle was no different. With a slow paced bout, the match was left into the hands of the official. After an exchange of flurries, Snyder found his opponent Abbas Tahan deep on a single leg attack which left both wrestlers on the edge of the mat. With only two seconds left in the bout Tahan drove Snyder out of the circle, in what looked like a grounded attempt. Never the less the official gave Iran the point for a push out and the win.

Going into the final match Titan Mercury and Razi were tied 3-3.

The match saw the deck stacked against TMWC. While Nick Gwiazdowski was a standout college wrestler, he walked onto the mat with limited international competition and a losing record from the previous day. His opponent, Parvis Hadi was the quintessential anchor heavyweight. As a three-time World Cup champion, Hadi had been in this position many times before. Yet Gwiazdowski kept pushing the pace throughout the entire match. With only forty seconds left in the bout Gwiazdowski was down 1-2 but Hadi began to waiver. TMWC’s young star took advantage, scoring the final takedown, winning the match 3-2 and ultimately winning the dual for team Titan Mercury

#6 Spencer Lee wins third World title

     The trend of having the youngest and brightest wrestling stars does not stop with J’Den Cox and Kyle Synder. In fact it was junior wrestler Spencer Lee that maintained the momentum this fall for team TMWC with his World Championship at the Junior Worlds held in Macon, France.

The future Iowa Hawkeye wrestler claimed his third world title in an epic and hard fought finals battle. While Lee steamrolled his way through the prelims, he found himself trailing against Kyrgyzstan’s Khurshid Parpiev. At one point in the match Lee was at the receiving end of a 8-3 deficit. Yet, with grit and perseverance, Spencer Lee was able to capture his junior World title with a last minutes takedown and turn for a final 11-9 win.

#7 TMWC Serves as the host of third straight Men’s Freestyle World Cup at the historic Los Angeles Forum

     Titan Mercury Wrestling Club served as the club host for the Freestyle World Cup of Wrestling for three consecutive years. In 2016 the World Cup left American soil with fans yearning for it to once again come stateside. The main reason was due to the amazing festivities presented by Titan Mercury.

The World Cup became a week full of events for local and international wrestling fans. One of the most impactful moments came as the Major of Los Angeles, Eric Garcetti presided over the proclamation of wrestling at L.A. City Hall. Members of all competing delegations as well as members of the United World Wrestling participated in this historic event.

Other activities in the week leading up to the World Cup itself included a coaches’ clinic and social featuring Olympian Eric Guererro. Photographers Justin Hoch, Joey Krebs and Jonny Ruggiano featured work at the inaugural art show, “The Wrestler’s Esthetic” in the Los Angeles Arts District. BTSLA hosted their annual benefit and the USWF hosted a gala featuring keynote speaker Randy Couture. The United World Wrestling also offered a coaches’ college throughout the week.

The efforts of Titan Mercury and USA Wrestling helped position the city of Los Angeles as one of the top candidates for 2024 Olympic Games.

#8 TMWC strengthens up their roster with the additions of stars, Cox, Molinaro,

Megaludis, Taylor and Gwiazdowski

     As the year advanced Titan Mercury picked up some of the youngest and brightest stars of the wrestling World. J’Den Cox joined TMWC along with fellow Mizzou standout Alan Waters.

Three of Penn State’s top wrestlers, David Taylor, Nico Megaludis and Frank Molinaro joined TMWC. Molinaro earned a berth to the Rio Olympics after claiming bronze at the Rio last chance qualifier. Though Molinaro initially missed the placing needed to punch his ticket to Rio it was found that Poland’s Magomedmurad Gadzhiev and Ukraine’s Andriy Kvyatkovskyy both were removed to the Olympics for doping. Molinaro made the most of his opportunity, taking 5th at the Rio Olympics.

Wrestlers Megaludis and Taylor made their first team impact as members of the 2016 World Clubs Cup Championship team. Megaludis was 4-1 throughout the competition. Taylor came up big with a win against World bronze medalist Alireza Karimi in the finals.

Along with the rest of the Wolfpack Wrestling Club. 2X NCAA Champion Nick Gwiazdowski joined TMWC in 2016. As a member of the World Clubs Cup team, Gwiazdowski sealed the deal for Team TMWC by defeating Parvis Hadi in the final bout of the dual.

 #9 Ohio RTC and Wolfpack RTC become part of the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club

     As TMWC continues to grow nationally, its partnerships have expanded too. Already Titan Mercury has served as the umbrella club for many Hawkeye Wrestling Club members, as well as members of Finger Lakes and more. In 2016 Titan Mercury added two main exciting partnerships with the Ohio Regional Training Center as well as with the Wolfpack RTC.

The Ohio RTC is based out of Columbus Ohio and serves the members of Ohio State and others throughout the region. World Champion wrestlers Kyle Snyder and Logan Stieber are both members of the Ohio RTC. The Ohio RTC also has a number of exciting young wrestlers in Myles Martin, Bo Jordan and Nathan Tomasello as well as many others. Coaches Tom Ryan, Tervel Dlagnev, J Jaggers and newly appointed TMWC Youth Head coach Reece Humphrey are all members of the TMWC/ Ohio RTC partnership.

In the fall of 2016 TMWC announced its partnership with the Wolfpack Regional Training Center. Based out of Raleigh, North Carolina, the Wolfpack RTC is coached by Pat Popolizio, Frank Beasley, and TMWC wrestlers Obe Blanc and Adam Hall. Much like Titan Mercury the members of the Wolfpack have made a swift impression on the wrestling world. The team consists of top stars Tommy Gant, Pete Renda, and most notably 2X NCAA Champion Nick Gwiazdowski.

 #10 TMWC wins the 2016 US Open by placing a wrestlers in the finals of each weight class in both Men’s and Women’s Freestyle

     Since the inception of the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club, the team has made waves at the national level, winning both the men’s and women’s national title every single year. 2016 was no different. However, the main story lines have changed. The 2016 U.S. Open was pushed forward to December of 2015 due to the Olympic Trials being held in the spring. The timeline was irrelevant as TMWC continued their dominance, putting a wrestler in the finals at each weight class.

On the women’s side TMWC boasted champions at each contested weight class. Cody Pfau upset Erin Golston at 48 kg with a pin midway through the match. Michaela Hutchison defeated future Olympian Haley Augello 3-0 at 53 kg. High School phenom

Teysha Alo dismantled veteran Olympian Kelsey Campbell 8-1 in the 58 kg finals. At 63 kg we saw two TMWC wrestlers go for the title. Amanda Hendey earned the pin and the win against teammate Jennifer Page. Page herself was able to earn a national title herself at the Senior Nationals, where she also was named the Outstanding Wrestler.

Also winning titles were Jackie Surber and Tamyra Mensah. Surber defeated fellow TMWC wrestler to claim the 75 kg championship. It was Mensah’s performance that would earn her the Outstanding Wrestler award and propel her to top spot at 69 kg. Mensah defeated former Olympic Bronze medalist Randi Miller 5-2 in the finals

For the men, TMWC’s first wrestler, Wynn Michalak earned his first US Open title. Also joining Michalak for the men were Daniel Dennis and Kyle Dake. Dake found himself against a familiar opponent: David Taylor. The finals bout saw Dake earning his stop sign with an 11-4 win over Taylor.

Dennis’ title surged him into the top spot as a contender for making the Olympic team.

After taking years off from competition, TMWC wrestling coach Royce Alger, along with others urged Dennis to come back to competition in 2015. After the first year back Dennis was able to claim his first title by dominating former Olympian Sam Hazewinkel.

Other TMWC Wrestlers to make the finals included Tyrell Fortune, Chris Perry and Logan Stieber. Logan Stieber would go on the finish the 2016 year as the World Champion at 61 kg.

 Addition Article links from 2016 
























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