United World Wrestling’s September rankings are out and all three USA Greco Roman wrestlers who made the cut last time around are still in the fold. There have been changes, however. Two-time World bronze medalist Andy Bisek (75 kg), coming off of a 1-1 performance at the Olympics, was dropped a full eight spots on the list. Bisek won his first bout in Rio before being upset in the quarterfinals by Bozo Starcevic (CRO), finishing up in 12th place. The American had been cemented in the top five for a while following last year’s World Championships, so the fall to 13th seems quite steep. Criteria for the UWW rankings involve recent results as well as some supplemental considerations (body of work, strength of opposition, and other extraneous factors). Andy Bisek’s career over the past couple of years would certainly suggest that he deserves a higher spot here, but it is ultimately inconsequential. There has been no news as to if/when Bisek is going to compete again.
Fellow 2016 Olympian Jesse Thielke (59 kg), who first appeared in the UWW rankings at 17th a few months ago, was knocked down to 19th before the Olympics and this month sees his placement rise to 15th. Thielke, you might remember, enjoyed a terrific 2016 campaign which began with a bronze at the Grand Prix Zagreb Open (at 66 kg) ahead of his winning the Olympic Trials. He then raced through an exceedingly tough bracket at the 2nd OG Qualifier to nail down his spot in Rio. Thielke, like Bisek, went 1-1 last month at the 2016 Olympics, tech’ing in his first bout before being eliminated by two-time Olympic silver medalist and 2011 World Champion Rovshan Bayramov (AZE).
USA’s “Lone Wolf” Patrick Martinez (80 kg) made his entrance into the rankings in late July at 17th and doesn’t see his placement altered. Martinez, who captured bronze at both the Pytlasinski International and the Grand Prix of Spain, had also been set to compete at the University World Championships in October but will no longer be making that trip since USA Wrestling is declining to send a delegation due to security concerns in Turkey.
For the most part, the Olympics served as the primary ranking factor (similar to the World Championships), meaning wrestlers were ranked according to where they placed, or close to it. This is especially the case with the top five in each weight class (e.g., Starcevic is listed as having finished fifth but is ranked sixth at 75 kg — there is no wrestle-off to determine fifth/sixth). Shinobu Ota (JPN, 59 kg) surges all the way from 12th to second on the strength of his silver medal performance. 2015 World Champion Rasul Chunayev (AZE), who previously topped the rankings at 71 kilos, is no longer listed at 71 thanks to his bronze medal showing in Rio. Accordingly, he is now ranked third at 66 kg.
Two-time World Champion Artur Aleksanyan (ARM) reclaims the number one spot at 98 kilos on the strength of his gold medal last month. Russia’s Nikita Melnikov, who did not compete in Rio, sees his ranking dip from first to seventh.