The Spanish Grand Prix was the story over the weekend and four US Greco Roman wrestlers made the trip: Raymond Bunker (Marines, 71 kg); JayShon Wilson (Marines, 75 kg); Patrick Martinez (NYAC, 80 kg); and Daniel Miller (Marines, 98 kg). For Wilson and Miller, it was the second overseas tournament inside of a week, as both competed in Dortmund, Germany last weekend. And just like last weekend, neither athlete could find the medal stand. We touched on this already but for these wrestlers, getting over to Europe and jumping into competition is the name of the game if they want to build up their stock and their experience. Surely, they’d like to perform better, no question about it. But the very fact they are doing their best to enhance their development this way says a lot. It says they’re trying to raise their games. That’s big and will hopefully serve them well as they move forward.
Everyone knows that the draws at an event shape the entire scope of competition, but that is likely of little consolation to Miller. This dude just couldn’t escape top names. Last week in Germany it was Cenk Ildem (TUR, world no. 6) who got past Miller via a tight 2-0 score. This week, the Marine had to face 2013 World Champion Nikita Melnikov (RUS, world no. 1), who blitzed him 8-0. And then right after that, two-time Olympian Daigoro Timoncino (ITA) was standing across the mat. Miller didn’t fare any better there, either, getting tech’ed yet again. If you want to compete at the world level, these are the guys you’re going to have to hit it with. But yikes. No breaks there for Miller.
Martinez picks up another bronze
Patrick Martinez continued his summer’s journey with a bronze medal performance at the Spanish Grand Prix. In the first round, the 26-year old Martinez ran right through Juan Jose Ruiz (ESP) 9-0. He dropped his next bout to Egypt’s Mahmoud Fawzy Rashad 6-2 and didn’t get a chance to wipe that taste out of his mouth with another match. But there weren’t a ton of entrants at 80 kg, so Martinez cruised right to the podium. He probably would have liked the opportunity to tangle with Hungary’s Laszlo Szabo (world no. 14) or really anyone else just to get another dogfight in. Either way, Martinez is now going to be focusing his efforts on gearing up for the University Worlds in October and after that, we’ll see. It hasn’t been officially announced as to whether or not he’s going to try to make the non-Olympic World Team for December.
Some notable appearances at the Spanish Grand Prix
Minigiyan Semenov (RUS, 59 kg, world no. 4), Tamas Lorincz (HUN, 66 kg, world no. 4, wrestled at 71 kg), Roman Vlasov (RUS, 75 kg, world no. 1), the aforementioned Melnikov, and Cuban star heavyweight Mijain Lopez (world no. 2) all showed up in Madrid. Semenov was defeated by Armenian-born Russian and 2015 Russia Nationals runner-up Stephan Maryanyan 4-2, so that was interesting. Lorincz barely got past countryman Balint Korpasi (world no. 2 at 71 kg). Korpasi is a hammer in his own right and looked especially tough at the Euros a few months ago. It wasn’t a thrilling match, however. Vlasov waltzed through the field at 75 pretty much. Melnikov beat Yasmany Lugo (world no. 9) to claim gold. And Lopez controlled Sergey Semenov to take first.
The stream for the event was decent, not great. Some matches skipped in the middle, commercials came out of nowhere, the stream would go dead…so on and so forth. But getting to watch some really high-level Greco guys going at it a month out of the Rio Games was definitely cool anyway.
Olympic Camp opens this week
Here is it. The final push.
The US Greco Roman Olympic Team is beginning its final pre-Olympic camp starting today. If you follow Coach Lindland’s reports, you know that there is a scientific component involved in all of this, certainly on the conditioning side of things. Heart-rate monitors, vO2-max training, that sort of thing. But the athletes will also be fine-tuning their approaches and getting set for what’s going down in about a month. It’s a significant time in these wrestlers’ lives. Each has had their own path coming out of the Trials. Thielke endured the whole qualifying process, Bisek and Smith both went to Europe at one point (Austria and Hungary, respectively), and Provisor got work in at home and in Florida. They all came together for the first time as a unit in Concord before heading over to Azerbaijan for a few weeks. But now it’s different. They’re home, they’re entering camp in their building, and the mission is no longer way out on the horizon.
The 2016 Cadet and Junior Greco Roman Nationals begin in Fargo, North Dakota next Sunday and this year’s annual extravaganza is lumping together more talent than maybe ever before. The skill levels of these age-group athletes seems to keep growing from year to year. And if we’re going by the recent Cadet and Junior Duals, the excitement should be off the charts. Five’s all over the place. What’s more, is that for some of these athletes, Fargo is not the end-all be-all for the year. A good number of them will be populating both World teams, as well. Then again, everyone who walks into the dome wants to win and wants to win badly, making this one event that will just never lose its luster.
What’s coming up here…
- An all-new Coach Lindland’s report. We’re back on schedule.
- A piece about the USA Deaf Wrestling Organization headed by Mark McGowan. This is a big deal. If you didn’t know, McGowan is leading a program for deaf wrestlers and athletes with other disabilities. And these boys aren’t playing around. The plan is for these wrestlers to compete on the World stage against Seniors. Tentatively, they’re looking to make their official debut at next year’s Schultz. It’s an interesting, inspiring story you’ll definitely want to check out.
- An interview. Can’t say who yet, it’s a bit of a surprise.
- The final edition of the Fargo Survival Series by Coach Rob “Prebes” Prebish. The first three have gotten a lot of attention, but they were directed at the wrestlers headed to Fargo. The fourth and final one is all about how to handle the event from a coach’s perspective.