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West Fargo's Metz loses heartbreaker in Junior Greco-Roman title match

Brandon Metz of West Fargo reacts to a last-second call in favor of his heavy weight opponent Anthony Cassioppi of Illinois who won 4-3 during the Saturday, July 22, 2017, championship match of the USA Jr. Greco-Roman wrestling tournament at the Fargodome. (Dave Wallis / Forum News Service)

FARGO—West Fargo High School graduate and North Dakota State wrestler-to-be Brandon Metz paced frantically on the Fargodome turf on Saturday, July 22. He walked with purpose, but what he was looking for was nowhere to be found.

Metz had just lost the USA Wrestling Junior Greco-Roman championship match at 285 pounds 5-3. He lost to Illinois' Anthony Cassioppi, who defeated Metz in the freestyle title match 4-1 on Tuesday. He lost on a correct throw with one second remaining that gave Cassioppi a one-point lead and a Greco-Roman national title.

Metz, the defending Junior Greco-Roman champion, had lost and he wasn't sure how.

After the clock expired, for a moment the two stood in the center of the mat. As Metz's eyes caught the scoreboard he put his hands on his hips in disbelief, while Cassioppi clapped twice. It was as if neither wrestler was sure what happened until the scoreboard told them.

"It wasn't a great technique or anything, but I went for it and got it," Cassioppi said. "When I saw the clock start to tick down I just went for it. Tried to make it a smart, last-ditch effort."

Team North Dakota challenged whether or not the throw was made in time, but the call was upheld, and Cassioppi's hand was raised. The denied challenge added another point for Cassioppi, but the damage was already done. The University of Iowa commit earned the Junior Triple Crown, winning Greco-Roman, freestyle and folkstyle national titles.

"I attack and shoot and stuff in freestyle," Cassioppi said. "I wrestle Greco a lot, but I never really practice it or anything. I just kind of go out there and wrestle, so Greco is more of (Metz's) style."

Metz had a 3-2 advantage, heading into the second period. He had attempted a throw that Cassioppi stopped for two points. Metz got a point for Cassioppi stepping out of the circle, and was awarded two points for a correct throw with less than a minute left in the first period.

"We got a correct throw earlier in the match and ours was actually a throw," said Ryan Kringlie, one of the Team North Dakota coaches. "It's tough to lose like that in the last few seconds. Just tough for Brandon to lose it that way."

Kringlie felt Cassioppi should not have been awarded two points in the final seconds.

"I don't, but evidently they saw it different," Kringlie said. "Our throw was a throw, and theirs was more of a shoulder pull. It wasn't even where he's got to use his hips to throw us. When they say correct throw I asked the chair, 'If that was a throw, what kind of throw was it?' I had never seen that before, so I wondered what it was. He didn't want to answer that."

As Cassioppi was being interviewed after the match, Metz's yells could be heard nearby. After going on the podium and getting his second-place plaque, still with a piercing look in his eye, Metz sat down and his dad sat by him. His dad brought him to USA Wrestling tournaments at the Fargodome to buy him singlets when he was in elementary school.

"Tough match. We felt we wrestled the freestyle match as good as we could, put ourselves in position to win and we did that today," Kringlie said. "Unfortunately, the last 15 seconds of a match you get beat. Worked our butt off and just came up a little short, thought we had that one."

Metz now takes the sour taste of this week to NDSU as motivation.

"Brandon doesn't like any of this. He wants to finish on top," Kringlie said. "He's going to be fun to watch at NDSU."

Schulz takes finishes third

Bismarck Century graduate Mason Schulz finished third at 138 pounds in the Junior Greco-Roman tournament, using a 7-3 decision over Oregon's Aristotle Rockwell.

Schulz is headed to Minnesota State Moorhead to wrestle.

Junior Greco-Roman championship results

100: Anthony King, East St. Louis, Ill., VPO1 Parker Decker, Keller, Tex., 6-4.

106: Brendon Garcia, Pueblo, Colo., VSU Samuel Latona, Alabaster, Ala., 11-0 5:51.

113: Brandon Kaylor, Puyallup, Wash., VPO1 Anthony Molton, Crest Hill, Ill., 16-13.

120: Rayvon Foley, Ann Arbor, Mich., VPO1 Brady Koontz, Plover, Wisc., 6-1.

126: Alex Thomsen, Neola, Iowa, VPO1 Austin Macias, Burlington, Ill., 6-1.

132: Dalton Young, Nine Mile Falls, Wash., VPO1 Jason Sahner, Hood River, Ore., 3-1.

138: Mason Phillips, Stanwood, Wash., VFA Alston Nutter, Fennimore, Wisc., 11-9, 4:07.

145: Jaden Enriquez, Tulare, Calif., VPO1 Peyton Omania, Concord, Calif., 11-9.

152: Peyton Robb, Medford, Minn., VPO1 Anthony Aralona, Seffner, Fla., 8-3.

160: Jaron Chavez, Boise, Idaho, VPO1 Tyler Dow, Stoughton, Wisc., 8-7.

170: Andrew Berreyesa, Reno, Nev., VPO1 Trent Hidlay, Lewistown, Pa., 7-2.

182: Jack Jessen, Villa Park, Ill., VFA Cameron Caffey, Carbondale, Ill., 4-0 0:32.

195: Jacob Warner, Washington, Ill., VSU Dalton Hahn, Loganville, Wisc., 12-0 2:16.

220: Haydn Maley, Roseburg, Ore., VSU1 Darrell Mason, Chicago, Ill., 16-4 3:00.

285: Anthony Cassioppi, Roscoe, Ill., VPO1 Brandon Metz, West Fargo, N.D., 5-3.

Chris Murphy

Chris Murphy is a sports reporter for the Forum. He's covered high school and college sports in Chicago, North Dakota and Minnesota since 2009 and, for some reason, has been given awards for doing so.

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