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Arujau, Shapiro Champs at US Open



Following his Most Outstanding Wrestler performance at the NCAA Tournament, Vito Arujau continued his dominance on the mat at the US Open in Las Vegas, capturing the 61 kg title and an automatic bid to Final X.


Arujau will face the winner of the World Team Trials Tournament at Final X on June 10 in a best-of-three series with the victor representing Team USA at the World Championships.


The 61 kg field included five former NCAA champions and several other accomplished freestylers. However, Arujau began with a pair of technical falls (10-0 over Gage Curry and 14-2 over J. Huffman) before a 9-2 victory over Cornell great Nahshon Garrett (who came back to take third). In the semis, Arujau topped Nathan Tomasello, 8-3, before a lightning fast 10-0 technical fall in the finals over Austin DeSanto that took less than a minute.


Arujau wasn't the only Spartan Combat RTC wrestler to make the finals in Senior Freestyle. Nick Gwiazdowski was in total control of his first four bouts at 125 kg, outscoring his foes 43-6 to earn a spot in the title bout against Olympic champion Gable Steveson. Steveson prevailed, but the two could see each other again at Final X, as Gwiazdowski will participate in the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament.


Spartan Combat RTC featured a number of additional placers in Senior Freestyle. Michael Kemerer (79 kg) and Andrew Morgan (86 kg) both earned five victories during the event and took fifth place. 2023 NCAA All-American and U23 Freestyle silver medalist Jacob Cardenas notched seventh at 92 kg, while Devin Skatzka nabbed eighth at 79.


In U20 Freestyle competition, Meyer Shapiro was impressive in every match on the way to the 70 kg championship. Five of his seven wins were by technical fall, including a 11-0 result over NCAA Round of 12 finisher Daniel Cardenas in the semis. In the finals, Shapiro nearly pinned (or many would say pinned) Antrell Taylor in a 7-2 decision.


Shapiro, a former Cadet World Champion, will now face the winner of the U20 70 kg Challenge tournament in a best-of-three series for a spot on this year's U20 World Team.


Last year's 65 kg World Team member Vince Cornella won six times at that weight in Las Vegas to nab fifth place at the U20 tournament. He will look to once again make the World Team as he competes at the Challenge event in a few weeks.



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