There is a fast news cycle these days, though not that fast. The 2018 Greco-Roman World Championships came to an end Sunday afternoon in Budapest, Hungary when Russian Aleksander Chekhirkin (77 kg) decisioned former Olympic silver Tamas Lorincz (HUN, world no. 7), twisting the cap on four days of Greco-Roman action that won’t soon be forgotten.
Most of the tournament went according to script. A high percentage of the international stars expected to place did so. A few fell through the cracks, like multi-time World Champion Riza Kayaalp (130 kg, TUR, world no. 1) and Artur Aleksanyan (97 kg, ARM, world no. 5). Aleksanyan was an interesting case. Winner of the past four World-level events including the ’16 Olympics, Aleksanyan fell in the semis to the man he defeated in last year’s final, Musa Evloev (RUS). Evloev prevailed Sunday over Bulgaria’s Kiril Milov to seize gold, while Aleksanyan declined the opportunity to contend for bronze.
60 kilograms had itself a pair of noteworthy upsets on Friday morning. 2017 World bronze Kim Seung-Hak (KOR) was steamrolled by Andres Montano Arroyo (ECU) in the qualification round and 2016 Olympic silver Shinobu Ota (JPN, world no. 7) got bounced in the round-of-16 by ’17 U23 World bronze Aidos Sultangali (KAZ, world no. 3). To his credit, Sultangali put together a strong performance altogether and later finished third.
Chekhirkin stopping returning champ Viktor Nemes (SRB, world no. 5) in the 77-kilogram quarters shouldn’t be construed as an upset by an means, but it kept with a pattern: outside of Frank Staebler‘s (72 kg, GER) and Metahan Basar (87 kg, TUR), this was a predictably tough tournament for repeaters.
Seven of the eight World Champions from last year competed in Budapest, save for Kenichiro Fumita (JPN, who won at 59 kilos in ’17). Staebler and Basar are the only two who went the distance, but four of the seven still managed to medal. Below is how the group finished this past week. Remember: the weight classes changed entering January — and whether the weigh-in procedures and two-day format factor into results or not is a woeful exercise in hypothetical mental gymnastics.
67 kg: Ryu Han-Soo (KOR) — 26th
72 kg: Frank Staebler (GER) — gold
77 kg: Viktor Nemes (SRB) — bronze
82 kg: Maksim Manukyan (ARM) — bronze
87 kg: Metehan Basar (TUR) — gold
97 kg: Artur Aleksanyan (ARM) — 5th
130 kg: Riza Kayaalp (TUR) — 15th
The United States has a brand new World medalist in Adam Coon (130 kg, Cliff Keen WC), the first for this country since Andy Bisek three years ago. Coon’s four pins on Saturday provided nonstop adrenaline. After his first match against Rafal Krajewski (POL), a little charge could be felt. The fall over Lingshe Meng (CHN) ramped it up, and when Eduard Popp (GER) couldn’t convert more than one turn from par terre in their quarterfinal bout, there was a sense that Coon might be onto something special.
When they returned standing, Popp wanted to press inside. Coon responded by wrapping over/under’s, and the German became Victim #3. By the time eventual bronze Kim Min-Seok (KOR) strolled onto the mat, you were almost expecting a Coon pin. And unbelievably, that’s what you got.
The final against Sergey Semenov (RUS) obviously did not go the way American fans would have preferred. Semenov wanted the same position Coon did. Only one guy is going to be able to execute from there, and it wasn’t the US guy.
Still, a lot has been said about Coon and even more will be coming up. A novel could be written discussing what his performance means and how thrilling it was to see an American back in the spotlight on the Senior level.
It was nice to catch that reminder. Been too long. The US Senior program is full of too many outstanding athletes for there to ever be a drought. With a good number, including everyone on the 2018 World Team, either entering or still in their respective primes, it is not unreasonable to suggest that Coon’s performance was just a prelude to what lies in store for years to come.
We’re not there yet. But we’re closer than you might think.
55 kg — Sam Hazwinkel (Sunkist) Hazewinkel drew top-seeded Ekrem Ozturk (TUR) in the qualification round and made an impression by aggressively lunging forward at the whistle. Ozturk, who earned bronze on Friday, used an arm-drag to get behind Haze and ended the match soon after via tech. Disappointing, for sure, but mostly because we wanted to see what Hazewinkel could do in a close second period. That didn’t happen and one of the best all-around wrestlers of his generation was forced to an early exit.
60 kg — Dalton Roberts (NYAC/OTS) Similar story, different age bracket. Roberts lost 11-0 to 2016 Junior World silver Etienne Kinsinger (GER) in his first and only bout. Ignore the score, it’s just details. Roberts isn’t 11 points behind anyone on the planet. But he couldn’t turn his pressure into points and Kinsinger surged out to a 6-0 lead in the first, added a step-out point early in the second, and finished Roberts off soon after with a four-pointer. Crushing in its own way, because Roberts likely would have given runner-up Victor Ciobanu (ROU) problems stylistically, and who knows what would have happened from there?
63 kg — Jesse Thielke (NYAC/LOG) Thielke, one of Team USA’s biggest medal threats coming in, was stifled by a mostly non-engaging Donior Islamov (MDA) during their first-round matchup. What hurts the most is that Thielke rocketed to a 5-0 advantage after capitalizing on the first par terre with two guts. Islamov, who Thielke throttled in 2016 to qualify for Rio — answered back with a takedown and two guts of his own to claim the lead. The Moldovan scored on a correct-throw-arm-throw in the second and then went into survival mode the rest of the way. Thielke did receive two “negative wrestling” caution points with :30 left, so there was a shot. But Islamov shelled up to the whistle, and it wasn’t like the refs were going to bang him again.
67 kg — Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP) One of only three Americans to win a match in Budapest, Coleman’s bout with 2014 World bronze Edgaras Venckaitis (LTU) ended in the most justified manner possible. Venckaitis, a very good, but very volatile wrestler, had defeated Coleman a few years back on US soil, and Coleman paid him back via decision at Thor Masters 2017. But at the end of that match, Venckaitis purposely wrenched Coleman’s arm in frustration, resulting in a minor injury and Coleman’s subsequent withdrawal from the tournament.
The Lithuanian got the first passive and reverse-wrapped Coleman for four. Up 5-0, Venckaitis looked for more on a bodylock attempt with Coleman landing on top to secure the fall. It was really, really enjoyable.
In the next round, Coleman owned a 1-0 advantage entering the second period against two-time World bronze and eventual ’18 champ Artem Surkov (RUS, world no. 5). Surkov is a splendid technician and Coleman was dictating the action and moving him around with nary an issue. But — passivity. You knew it was coming, and they made sure to ding Coleman midway through the second. Surkov was able to turn Coleman once, and then avoided any and all potential banana peels to walk away with the decision.
Coleman was still alive for bronze on Saturday with Surkov advancing to the final. He jumped out in front of Mamadassa Sylla (FRA) 3-0 on a passive and two for fleeing on Sylla. In the second, the Frenchman used his passivity/par terre chance to turn Coleman twice — and that was pretty much that. Coleman had some looks late at potential body attacks but fell short of converting on any of them.
Although it ended without a medal, Coleman’s showing in Budapest was a bright spot. He looked healthy, viable, and stood in there with arguably one of the top-10 pound-for-pound Greco athletes in the sport.
72 kg — RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) Another heartbreaker. Perkins was up 3-0 on Murat Dag (TUR, world no. 5), fell behind 7-3 when Dag nailed a four, and then Perkins converted the first of his two takedowns to narrow the deficit to 7-5. In the second, Dag scored on a step-out point and later in the period Perkins got around back for two — but could not follow-up with more points off of that takedown. US athlete need to capitalize everywhere, especially because they are not going to get helped by the officials when opponents begin bailing and blocking.
Perkins’ side of the bracket was stacked and featured Mohammadali Geraei (IRI) if he had advanced to the next round; after that would have been 2015 World Champion/2016 Olympic bronze Rasul Chunayev (AZE), then Staebler. In your mind’s eye, Perkins matches up well with all three of them. Again, hypotheticals at this stage.
77 kg — Kamal Bey (Sunkist) For the second World tournament in a row, a lack of both knowledgeable and proactive on-the-mat governance for Bey to deal with.
Bey was lights out against Ridong Zhang (CHN), racing to a sensational tech fall. The round-of-16 saw Bey, up 3-0, put down in par terre. When Reiner Jimenez Terry (GUA) went to touch start, Bey instantly bounded up. But the officials — who should know better — demanded that the American go back down, claiming he had to “stay there.” Ridiculous.
Bey still persevered anyway, rolling to an 8-1 win. In the quarters, two-time World bronze Elvin Mursaliyev (AZE, world no. 8) received a step-out point to crack open the proceedings. Next, Bey lasered in with a duck-under and easily netted a takedown. Mursaliyev, now understanding of the unmistakable threat Bey’s skill-set represented, employed a frustratingly effective, though technically illegal, game from then on out.
Mursaliyev constantly held Bey at the wrists, the hands, and the elbows for the duration of the contest. Yes, he grabbed his passivity, another step-out, and then one more off of his lift attempt. But Mursaliyev was disengaging every available opportunity. The whole thing was eerily reminiscent of Bey’s Junior World semifinal with Islam Opiev (RUS). They won’t let him compete, won’t let him ignite interest in the sport. They refuse to enforce the very rules that could expand Greco-Roman’s fanbase. Why?
82 kg — Geordan Speiller (Florida Jets) No athlete deserves to see their tournament end the way Speiller’s did.
Luis Avendano Rojas (VEN) checked in as a serendipitous opponent. Two years ago, Speiller bombed Avendano Rojas to near oblivion at the Frisco Pan Ams. This past spring in Peru, the tables turned and the Venezuelan, surprisingly, defeated Speiller via tech. Not that you didn’t respect the latter result, or Avendano Rojas himself — but still, USA Greco supporters had to feel pretty confident about Speiller’s chances in this qualification-round matchup.
The problem became apparent in the first period. From top par terre, Avendano Rojas picked up two on a correct hold before coercing a standing Speiller off the line. However, after Speiller regained his feet, he fell out of bounds and injured his right arm. The first of several injury time-outs followed, but Speiller recovered enough to assume a 5-4 lead in the second period. But the injury hadn’t just healed itself.
With just over a minute to go, Avendano Rojas scored two when he attempted to hoist Speiller from over/under’s. Speiller’s arm/shoulder was now causing so much discomfort to where the US athlete was writhing in pain. He tried once more to continue the match but collapsed to the tarp after the next restart. The doctors and accompanying medical staff took their time to attend to Speiller, and with just :08 remaining they pulled him from the match. It was one more blow to the US squad on Day 1 that no one saw coming.
Reports indicate that Speiller may have dislocated his right shoulder, though that has yet to be confirmed.
87 kg — Patrick Martinez (NYAC) Depending on how you see draws, Martinez either had the fortune or misfortune of seeing two-time World bronze Viktor Lorincz (HUN, world no. 11) in his opening-round bout. Martinez’s side of the bracket was suitably deep, with ’17 bronze Robert Kobliashvili (GEO) waiting in the wings and now-two-time champ Basar in line if it got that far. Lorincz earned his points in this one on a first-period passive and two guts. Martinez was down 5-0 by the time his passive chance rang in, but Lorincz defended. Martinez tried chasing down looks at the body and dipped levels on a pair of occasions, which backed Lorincz up a bit. Still, the Hungarian did what they all tend to do, and that is sustain position and wait for the buzzer.
Lorincz, one of several candidates at 87 to make the final, was defeated by Kobliashvili in the following round.
97 kg — G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist) Hancock has no choice now but to set his sights on the U23 Worlds next month in Romania. Redundant, because no matter what happened in Budapest he’d be doing that anyway. It’s just that there were many who figured this week, talk about Hancock’s first Senior medal would dominate the discussion.
He just did not look like himself out there against Peter Oehler (GER). It was the polar opposite of Hancock’s performance in Poland, where he was not only dominant, but aggressive, angry, and full of zeal. That wasn’t what you saw in Budapest. It’s not to take away from Oehler; unlike some of the other American opposition, at least Oehler exhibited a desire to fight it out.
Hancock did not have the forward movement, or juice necessary, to do to Oehler what he has done to opponents better than Oehler. It’s really that simple. That being said, he did gut the German in the second period, though he was already down 5-0 at the time.
Word out of camp in Hungary earlier this month was that Hancock battled strep throat and took antibiotics to stem the infection. Hancock, nor any other US athlete, would lean on such an excuse. Nevertheless, it is hard to imagine one or the other not playing a role during the homestretch training phase for a World Championships.
2018 Greco-Roman World Championship Notes:
- Aside from Coon, Hazewinkel is the only other USA Greco-Roman athlete to have lost to an eventual medalist (Ozturk, bronze).
- The individual USA Greco-Roman point total was 46, dismissing the match points Coon and Coleman were credited with prior to their victories by pin.
- Speaking of pins, the US came up with five — four for Coon, one for Coleman. Bey’s win over Zhang was the only tech for the Americans.
- Four of the US losses were by two points or less — Thielke/Islamov; Coleman/Surkov, Coleman/Sylla; and Perkins/Dag. Speiller trailed Avendano Rojas 6-5 when that match was called.
- Team USA officially finished in 17th place with 28 points (Coon, 20; Bey, 8), sandwiched between Korea (16th, 30 points) and Moldova (18th, 26 points).
- Hazewinkel, Thielke, Perkins, and Martinez all faced first-round opponents who were ranked in the top-10 by United World Wrestling.
Team USA Placings
55 kg — Sam Hazewinkel — 18th
60 kg — Dalton Roberts– 31st
63 kg — Jesse Thielke– 14th
67 kg — Ellis Coleman — 11th
72 kg — RaVaughn Perkins — 17th
77 kg — Kamal Bey — 7th
82 kg — Geordan Speiller — 24th
87 kg — Patrick Martinez — 25th
97 kg — G’Angelo Hancock — 23rd
130 kg — Adam Coon — silver
2018 Greco-Roman World Championships Medal Winners
GOLD: Edlaniz Azizli (AZE)
SILVER: Zholaman Sharshenbekov (KGZ)
BRONZE: Ekrem Ozturk (TUR)
BRONZE: Nugzari Tsurtsumia (GEO
GOLD: Sergey Emelin (RUS)
SILVER: Victor Ciobanu (ROU)
BRONZE: Salike Walihan (CHN)
BRONZE: Aidos Sultangali (KAZ)
GOLD: Stepan Maryanyan (RUS)
SILVER: Elmurat Tasmuradov (UZB)
BRONZE: Rahman Balici (TUR)
BRONZE: Lenur Temirov (UKR)
GOLD: Artem Surkov (RUS)
SILVER: Davor Stefanek (SRB)
BRONZE: Gevorg Sahakyan (POL)
BRONZE: Meihrzan SHermakhanbet (KAZ)
GOLD: Frank Staebler (GER)
SILVER: Balint Korpasi (HUN)
BRONZE: Rasul Chunayev (AZE)
BRONZE: Aik Mnatsakanian (BUL)
GOLD: Aleksander Chekhirkin (RUS)
SILVER: Tamas Lorincz (HUN)
BRONZE: Kim Hyeon-Woo (KOR)
BRONZE: Viktor Nemes (SRB)
GOLD: Peter Bacsi (HUN)
SILVER: Emrah Kus (TUR)
BRONZE: Viktar Sasunouski (BLR)
BRONZE: Maksim Manukyan (ARM)
GOLD: Metehan Basar (TUR)
SILVER: Zhan Belenyuk (UKR)
BRONZE: Robert Kobliashvili (GEO)
BRONZE: Artur Shahinyan (ARM)
GOLD: Musa Evloev (RUS)
SILVER: Kiril Milov (BUL)
BRONZE: Mikheil Kajaia (SRB)
BRONZE: Mahdi Feyziabadi (IRI)
GOLD: Sergey Semenov (RUS)
SILVER: Adam Coon (USA)
BRONZE: Oscar Pino Hinds (CUB)
BRONZE: Kim Min-Seok (KOR)
USA Tour of Sweden Continues
The American delegation, mainly comprised of athletes from Northern Michigan’s Olympic Training Site, is fresh off of a team victory at the 2018 Klippan Cup. Held in Klippan, Sweden on Saturday and led by gold medalist Benji Peak (67 kg, NMU/OTS), the US came away with seven overall medals and edged Belarus by a single point in the final standings.
We’re still awaiting word regarding the proposed midweek dual meet versus host club Team Skåne Brottning. If that comes to fruition, we will be sure to update.
This coming weekend the tour wraps up at the enormous Malar Cupen in Västerås. Last year, the US won the Malar Cupen in both the age-group and Senior divisions.
One more Worlds in 2018
The U23 Greco-Roman World Championships are right around the corner, beginning on November 12th in Bucharest, Romania. Unlike the Budapest Senior Worlds, Greco is going first this time.
It is time to start getting hyped up for that event. Team USA features two age-group World medalists and five athletes with previous World Championships experience. The remaining five are talented, rough, motivated individuals you should look forward to watching do battle.
55 kg: Dalton Duffield (NMU/OTS, two-time Fargo National champ, first Worlds appearance)
60 kg: Randon Miranda (NYAC/OTS, two-time Junior World Team member)
63 kg: Travis Rice (IRTC, 2015 Junior World Team member
67 kg: Nolan Baker (NIRTC, first Worlds appearance)
72 kg: Logan Kass (Minnesota Storm/OTS, first Worlds appearance)
77 kg: Jesse Porter (NYAC/OTS, 2017 U23 World Team member)
82 kg: Carter Nielsen (NMU/OTS, first Worlds appearance)
87 kg: George Sikes (NMU/OTS, first Worlds appearance)
97 kg: G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist, 2016 Junior World bronze)
130 kg: Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist, 2017 Cadet World Champion, 2018 Junior World bronze)
U23 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE
Monday, November 12th
55 kg, 63 kg, 77 kg, 87 kg, and 130 kg (repechage and finals the following day)
Tuesday November 13th
60 kg, 67 kg, 72 kg, 82 kg, and 97 kg (repechage and finals the following day)
WRESTLERS ON SOCIAL MEDIA
Your (somewhat) weekly dose of inspiring words, knuckleheaded antics, or thought-provoking questions from your favorite US (and sometimes international) Greco-Roman athletes and coaches.
We’re going to miss this guy.
So happy to be back in the great USA. Pumped to play with my kids and take a break from Twitter.
Thanks again for everyone’s prayers and support!
Lastly, two days away from our first Home dual. Come on out 7pm at the OCU Freede Gymnasium.
— Sam Hazewinkel (@SamTheHaze) October 28, 2018
This one, however? He’s going to be around for quite a while.
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A time for reflection. This sport will break you. It will mold you. It will change you. It’s not easy. And that’s why I love it. Too often I can get caught up in the results, my performance, and the “whys”. When I take a step back the picture is more clear. I do it because I love it. I don’t have anyone to prove other than myself. I work hard so I am confident in myself. It’s a peace of mind. The result wasn’t what I had wished for. Or was it? Life works in weird ways. We all run our own races. And this is just the start of mine. I will be back. I will be a better human because of this.
Ellis on remembering where you came from.
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He’ll be back.
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And so will he. Quite soon, in fact.
There’s beauty in the struggle 😔
— G’angelo Hancock (@OlympicKidd) October 28, 2018
A nod to the moment.
To photographer Jim Thrall of MatFocus, who was instrumental all week from Budapest providing incredible images of the US athletes in action so we could put out our recaps. Greco is a community effort in the United States and we’re extremely grateful Jim stepped up for us.