The draws for Day 3 of the 2019 World Championships were released way earlier today, and the three athletes going tomorrow represent the United States’ last chance to leave Kazakhstan with successful qualification for the Tokyo Olympics.
Team USA is coming off of a rough Day 2 of action that saw each athlete go 1-1, including in all three Olympic weight classes. Compounding matters is that no one was pulled back into the repechage, so no second chances were made available.
But that’s the past. What matters now for both medal and qualifying implications is the immediate future. And the Americans showing up for work Monday morning are experienced — and capable of putting together strong performances.
For a full preview of these three weight classes, just go here.
60 kg: Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP) vs. Etienne Kinsinger (GER) — round-of-32
Hafizov will meet 2016 Junior World runner-up Kinsinger, who has competed against other US competitors before, including last year’s rep, Dalton Roberts (NYAC/OTS). That bout took also took place in the opening round of the Worlds with Kinsinger victorious by a lopsided decision. The German is tough. Powerful for the weight class. But he is not as adept from par terre as Hafizov is, and if Hafizov can defend while also getting his own chance from top, it could go a long way towards securing an important win out of the gate. Should Hafizov prevail, the likely next opponent would be 2018 World bronze Lenur Temirov (UKR). Going forward, if Hafizov were to reach the quarterfinal, returning World champ Sergey Emelin (RUS) is favored to be the opposition.
77 kg: Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) vs. Roland Schwarz (GER) — round-of-32
Schwarz is a wrestler (and another German) US fans might recall. At this season’s Thor Masters, he defeated Smith via tech fall. That was a par terre situation. Plus, Schwarz — who won the event — wound up hitting another high note a month later by advancing to the European Championship finals. He is a rapidly developing athlete, but the prescription remains the same. When Smith is on, and able to stay in opponents’ faces, he wears them down. Defense up and down the board is critical, but it’s also critical for Smith to just do what he does best. Coincidentally, if Smith advances, he could have another opponent from the 2019 Thor Masters, Volodymyr Yakovliev (UKR). Yakovliev defeated Smith 5-1 (passive, guts). But he did little on the feet aside from twist fingers and slam with his head. A berth in the quarters for Smith could present 2012 Olympic silver/multi-time World medalist Tamas Lorincz (HUN), the #3 seed.
130 kg: Adam Coon (NYAC/Cliff Keen) vs. Lingzhen Meng (CHN) — round-of-32
Three straight opening-round pairings, three examples of either prior history or familiarity. With Meng, there is both. Everyone remembers. Meng was Coon’s second victim in Budapest. They were engaged in a tight affair midway into the second period when Coon bodied, dumped, and pinned Meng, igniting that spectacular run to the final. In addition, two-time Junior World medalist Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist) had also pinned Meng at the ’18 Junior event. None of this means history will repeat itself here. Meng is undoubtedly improved, knows who Coon is, and just took second at Pytlasinski. If Coon gets past Meng, the climb gets rockier — either three-time World champ (among many other things) Riza Kayaalp (TUR) or ’17 World bronze Yasmani Acosta Fernandez (CHL). One at a time. One at a time.
Day 3 of the 2019 World Championships begins at 11:00am from Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan (1:00am ET) and can be viewed live in the US on Trackwrestling (subscription required).