The 86 kg matchup features a pair of former Big Ten brutes, Nick Heflin of Team Dake and Sammy Brooks of Team Taylor. Both wrestlers had successful college careers and are now looking to take that next step on the Senior men’s freestyle ladder.
Brooks is the third member of the Hawkeye Wrestling Club selected by Taylor to compete in his lineup. With a strong Hawkeye based lineup, and Iowa native Kyven Gadson (97 kg) it would appear that Taylor’s lineup game plan was to tailor his team to the crowd, putting those in the U.S. Cellular Center in a position to cheer for his team, and hoping that his athletes will feed off of that energy.
A product of USA Wrestling’s developmental circuit, Brooks has represented the USA on every single youth level: Cadet (2011), Junior (2013), and U23 (2017). After dealing with a few injuries Brooks missed out on this year’s trials process, but did return in time to compete at the Poland Open, which he won silver at in September.
On the other side is former Ohio State standout Nick Heflin, who had been competing at 92 kg before making the decision to drop down to 86 kg earlier this spring. While at 92 kg Heflin was the gold medalist at Dave Schultz Memorial International and he just missed out on medaling at the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix this January, where he finished fifth. Heflin also took third at this year’s U.S. Open.
This will be a battle between two bruisers that many fans are looking forward to. With a win, Brooks can cement his status as a National Team threat in 2019. For Heflin it's another opportunity to down a Hawkeye on their home mat.
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