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Is Mekhi Lewis a 2020 threat?

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I'm not equating NCAA success to the Open level; there are levels to this, but this kid really is special in both styles.  My question is, how soon can Mekhi start challenging for a spot on the U.S. team?  Assuming he goes 74Kgs, right now I would strongly favor Burroughs, Dake, and Ringer over him, but I think he is at least on par with the next group of guys.  Should the top tier be worried?

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I’ll admit I’m a FS novice right up front. I didn’t really get into it too much until mehki and DMF went to U23. Mehki’s success in capturing gold in a world level event in only his 3rd FS tourney is crazy. I actually think he’s a better FS wrestler than he is in folk. He has a really good nuetral game and is almost impossible to take down. He has a lot to learn in par ter though but his ceiling is very high. 

Dake was definitely watching him very close at the Cornell vs VT dual this year. 

Lewis actually said he didn’t like FS that much prior to winning gold.  If he decides to fully commit at some point to exclusively training FS, he’s gonna make some noise sooner rather than later 

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I think it'll be 2024. He'll be fully developed then, not in college anymore and able to focus exclusively on FS, and have 10-20x more experience than he does now (only 3 tournaments).

He probably doesn't have to deal with Ringer but don't forget about Mark Hall and Jason Nolf.

Mekhi may keep Hall off the starting spot on Team USA for his whole career. I think Nolf will make several teams at 70 kg and medal.

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Well I have to think that he will be a factor, the only question is when. Personally I think JB keeps his spot this year and in 2020. I don't have any insight on JB, but given his age and his long track record of success, I suspect that he will retire after the 2020 Olympics as one of our all time greats.

The other question is Kyle Dake, who is 28 now, and will be probably 30 by the 2020 Olympics, what does he do? Does he stay and try to win a few more Championships or does he also call it after the 2020 Olympics as well. 

I think if both JB and Kyle stick around it may delay the emergence of Mekhi onto the Senior team. If they do retire after the 2020 Olympics we may see Mekhi make our team in 2021. 

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In short.  Lewis is very good, but right now everyone on the ladder would tech him. Probably in the fist.  Huge gap between them.  Ringer is 3rd best of those guys and he just decked a few world medalist recently.  We are just stacked around there like never before.  

JB will be done after 20/20.  I don't think Dake will be. I think Daje will replace JB and Ringer will replace Daje. USA won't  miss a beat there.  I think Snyder will continue. He will want to beat JB and Smith's medal count. To become the new goat. Also, people keep saying MMA.  That isn't happening.  It would not be smart financially.  Only the top UFC fighters probably make more than Snyder does/would with competition, coaching, and endorsements.  I'm guessing it would take Snyder getting close to a title fight to make what he can in wrestling.  We aren't talking about a wrestler who isn't placing at the world and Olympics thus not getting paid. He places at every tournament that provides a check, plus being on the ladder, and getting taken care of by the RTC, and endorsements. He isn't the average wrestler needing a different career for financial reasons.  Plus it would take a couple years to even get into UFC.  All that is assuming he can get to the UFC and climb to the top quickly. Most if those guys are in bellator a couple years.  It is a gamble to make big money several years from now when he is probably sitting well and can invest and have just as much in the end unless he actually won a UfC title

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It depends on how much he improves between now and 12 months from now.  Obviously he is an underdog, but I'm not counting out anyone who has had success at the junior world level and continues to show improvement (Lee, Fix, Yianni, Lewis, Hall, Valencia, Steveson, etc).  

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There's that raw potential/youth in Lewis that reminds me of young JB.  While he doesn't display the same speed (at least from what I saw at the NCAA tourney) that JB did he has just about all the power.  I think he would surprise a lot of people in that he can just stop whatever you're doing.  Just unbelievable that he made Cenzo look like he was shooting into a wall the whole match.  I wouldn't even count him out against our elite right now.  I may be wrong but I'm just reminded of everything people said about JB until JB did JB things.

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I’ve only seen three of Mekhi’s matches. But from what I’ve seen I’m excited about his prospects.

I don’t think he’ll beat JB by 2020. But he may be able to beat some of our top ten guys by then. And after 2020, he could very well be our guy.

He’s very positionally sound, and he has otherworldly strength. Scoring on him will be a problem.

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15 hours ago, Creek chub said:

He has a really good nuetral game and is almost impossible to take down.

I think Lewis has a bright future ahead of him. My first thought when thinking about senior level success is that he gives up his legs to easily. He didn't give up take downs at the NCAA tournament but multiple guys had a single leg up in the air which in freestyle is going to get his opponents 1 for the push out every time. Burroughs/Dake finish more often then not in that position. I think he would be somewhere in the 4-6 at the senior level behind JB,Dake,Martinez, and Mark Hall.

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Without significant injuries to multiple guys he's not a 2020 factor.  If a guy like Isaiah Martinez went out and beat Marinelli and Joseph last weekend we wouldn't suddenly forecast him over Burroughs.  But Lewis has lots of unknown so the same wins inspire awe and wonder.  

I think he will be a serious threat past 2020 but will not figure into 2020 at all.

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26 minutes ago, boconnell said:

Without significant injuries to multiple guys he's not a 2020 factor.  If a guy like Isaiah Martinez went out and beat Marinelli and Joseph last weekend we wouldn't suddenly forecast him over Burroughs.  But Lewis has lots of unknown so the same wins inspire awe and wonder.  

I think he will be a serious threat past 2020 but will not figure into 2020 at all.

That's true, but I still think some excitement is warranted.  Martinez had seemingly plateaued by his Junior year.  Lewis looks like he might be just scratching the surface.  

Burroughs is a bridge (or a couple of bridges) too far at the moment, though.  

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Recall in one of Lewis' Junior World matches, maybe in the final, he was getting run out of bounds and then just tosses the other guy out for the push out at the edge.  Imar, like much of the rest of the current college 165lb field, does not have the physical prowess like Lewis does.  That's the one factor that can just overwhelm exceptional technique and that's really what makes me think Lewis has a good shot of upsetting a few of the current freestyle elites.  

Having said that, JB is my dude.  I don't forecast anyone over him.  Not even our own World Champs.  

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I'm high on Lewis too, but I don't agree with your assessment of Imart not having the physical goods. Dude is an absolute hoss and one hell of an athlete. He's got some of the best hips in the game and is extremely strong. He's not as fast as Lewis but can go toe to toe with anyone at his weight in terms of strength and power.

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1 hour ago, steamboat_charlie v2 said:

That's true, but I still think some excitement is warranted.  Martinez had seemingly plateaued by his Junior year.  Lewis looks like he might be just scratching the surface.  

Burroughs is a bridge (or a couple of bridges) too far at the moment, though.  

I think more than some excitement is warranted.  I think he's a good athlete with great technique and a great feel for wrestling.  I think he showed up huge in the 2 biggest tournaments of his life and that speaks to a competitive nature that can't be taught.  

I just think he hasn't done anything to indicate he will challenge for an olympic team next year (and everyone in thread agrees).  The initial post was a foolish way to bring up a topic worthy of great consideration and excitement.

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28 minutes ago, wrestlingnerd said:

I'm high on Lewis too, but I don't agree with your assessment of Imart not having the physical goods. Dude is an absolute hoss and one hell of an athlete. He's got some of the best hips in the game and is extremely strong. He's not as fast as Lewis but can go toe to toe with anyone at his weight in terms of strength and power.

It was all in comparison to Lewis, and not to imply Imar himself didn't have any physical goods.   

Maybe I just don't remember their matches well enough, but I just don't remember Imar doing to Cenzo what Lewis was able to do.  And maybe Lewis' one match with Cenzo is misleading in what he truly is capable of.  It is easier to shut someone down when you know they are desperate to make up 4 points.

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It's sort of cliche for me to say this, but I think it's really true: Cenzo is a terrible matchup for Imart. Imart generates most of his offense by jacking the other guy up with an underhook. He has extremely powerful hips that put you in a state of constant danger in that position. After Bo Jordan wrestled him for the first time, he commented that Imart generated the weirdest pressure he'd ever felt (paraphrasing), and it was unsettling to be underhooked by him. Half of Cenzo's bodyweight is his ass. He has even better hips than Imart. And his best move is set up when the other guy underhooks. Nightmare matchup.

We all know how incredible Nolf is. If you want to see some of Imart's qualities, his matches against Nolf are more indicative of his athleticism than the Cenzo beatings he took.

I'm very interested in seeing how Lewis would do against Imart, actually. Very curious about who'd come out on top in a best of 3.

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3 hours ago, misterc said:

It was all in comparison to Lewis, and not to imply Imar himself didn't have any physical goods.   

Maybe I just don't remember their matches well enough, but I just don't remember Imar doing to Cenzo what Lewis was able to do.  And maybe Lewis' one match with Cenzo is misleading in what he truly is capable of.  It is easier to shut someone down when you know they are desperate to make up 4 points.

Lewis won the match with a cradle from top, not with athletic ability or physical gifts.  I'm not sure why everyone is so quick to credit his natural gifts when he showed far superior technique to Joseph.

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4 hours ago, boconnell said:

Lewis won the match with a cradle from top, not with athletic ability or physical gifts.  I'm not sure why everyone is so quick to credit his natural gifts when he showed far superior technique to Joseph.

I think it was due to the way he defended that single in the end. That late in the match, from a relative unknown against a guy with a legit shot at being the next 4-timer, it was insane!

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6 hours ago, boconnell said:

Lewis won the match with a cradle from top, not with athletic ability or physical gifts.  I'm not sure why everyone is so quick to credit his natural gifts when he showed far superior technique to Joseph.

Lewis is both an uber athlete and a great technician. But what tends to stick out is that he does things we didn’t think we’d see.

 

Edited by Katie

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I could be wrong as I did not watch his first round match, but I don’t think Lewis gave up a takedown the entire NCAA tournament. Obviously senior competition is a different level, but Lewis’ defense is definitely his most impressive attribute and seems to be a readily transferable skill to freestyle. He isn’t a leg passer who relies on rolling across his back like a lot of other elite defensive guys at the college level-he relies on rock solid position, handfighting, and stone hips like elite international guys. Hopefully we see him in some freestyle competition this summer to get a better measuring stick of where he is exactly on our ladder. His results (and potential for more in the future) already speak for themselves, but team USA is also absolutely stacked around his weight, and freestyle seems to favor guys with high level experience over raw talent

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