Northern Michigan’s Alston Nutter (69 kg) ran through his bracket in convincing fashion while teammate (and fellow Wisconsinite) Benji Peak (63 kg) came back late to earn a bronze medal in his first competition since returning from shoulder surgery. The action took place earlier today at the 2017 Bear Cup in Nykøbing Falster, Denmark, the first tournament for both Greco-Roman wrestlers during their prolonged stay overseas.
Nutter, 18, found little trouble dominating his way to the finals in the Nordic system format. He defeated his first two opponents of the day, Roholla Hassan (Hästveda BK) and Marius Megier (Stützpunkt Frankfurt Oder), via technical superiority. His proceeding two bouts didn’t go the distance, either. First was a pin over Nils Buschner (RV Sachsen) and then he picked up another against Oliver Jensen (Danish Wrestling-NKC). Nutter led comfortably in both bouts prior to the falls. That set him up with a chance to win his first international event as a full-time competitor, a journey he began last year.
In the finals opposite Aleksi Seppälä (Ilmajoen Kisailijat), Nutter remained on fire. Early in the opening period, he countered a Seppälä arm throw attempt for two and immediately went to work on top. Nutter then locked on a straight lift and threw it over for four. Upon the restart, he was in on Seppälä again towards the edge, where he scampered around back for the match-winning points.
His compadre had himself a solid day, as well. Like Nutter, Peak, 17, got off to a hot start with a 9-3 victory over Santeri Korpela (Ilmajoen Kisailijat) before tech’ing out Niclas Petersen (Viking). For his penultimate bout, Peak did battle with two-time Junior Nordic Championships runner-up Mikkel Lassen (Danish Wrestling-NKC), who has also accumulated some meaningful mat time on the Senior level. The American put some points on the board, but eventually fell 10-6 to move into the bronze medal round.
That is when drama entered into the equation. To sew up his medal, Peak was forced into quite the dogfight versus Lauri Karjalainen (Ilmajoen Kisailijat). After some spirited jousting to begin, Karjalainen broke the ice with an arm throw attempt that scored two. They reset and Peak began intently trying to get to the body. As he pressured Karjalainen to the edge, the Finnish wrestler pivoted and hipped around on Peak just enough at the boundary and appeared to collect two more, but it was called off. Nevertheless, a passivity point went in Karjalainen’s direction right before the break to increase his lead to 3-0.
Shortly into the second, Peak started coming alive. He clamped around Karjalainen for a bodylock and drove him down and off the edge for two to narrow his deficit by a point. They traded passivity warnings and then Karjalainen struck again with a bodylock he tried to arch over before swooping around for a 5-2 advantage. Time wasn’t on Peak’s side. Nutter, who was manning the corner, knew it. So did Peak. The intensity of the exchanges was climbing and to Karjalainen’s credit, he was still working his own offense by uncorking a couple of arm throw attempts that were snuffed out and not a serious threat.
Peak repeatedly tried swarming in, either with high dives or by simply extending his long arms to find an over/under clinch. Karjalainen kept slipping away and it certainly didn’t seem like there were going to be too many more reasonable chances for some last-second offensive explosion. Until it happened. With only :05 remaining, Peak slid in on a high dive, popped up, and snared Karjalainen in a headlock that he dumped over to earn four points at the buzzer. Down by three, he had come all the way back against a tough opponent on foreign soil. It was an incredibly exciting conclusion to what was an overall successful day for the duo of US wrestlers who were essentially, competing by themselves.
Next up for Nutter and Peak is another two weeks of training in Denmark before they head to Sweden for the Klippan Cup, where they will be joined by a large contingent of US teammates from Northern Michigan and elsewhere. The final stop of their Scandinavian tour comes at the beginning of November with the 2017 Malar Cupen, also in Sweden.
- Nutter was named the Outstanding Wrestler of the 2017 Bear Cup.
- There were four wins via tech between both US wrestlers, with Nutter earning three of them.
- Nutter and Peak’s age division was a combination of Cadet and Junior competitors.
2017 Bear Cup — Nykøbing Falster, Denmark, October 14th, 2017
TEAM USA RESULTS
Benji Peak — 63 kg, NMU/OTS — bronze
WIN Santeri Korpela (Ilmajoen Kisailijat — FIN) 9-3
WIN Niclas Petersen (Viking — SWE) 8-0, TF
LOSS Mikkel Lassen (Danish Wrestling-NKC — DEN) 10-6
WIN Lauri Karjalainen (Ilmajoen Kisailijat — FIN) 6-5
Alston Nutter — 69 kg, NMU/OTS — gold
WIN Roholla Hassan (Hästveda BK — SWE) 10-0, TF
WIN Marius Megier (Stützpunkt Frankfurt Oder — GER) 8-0, TF
WIN Nils Buschner (RV Sachsen — GER) via fall
WIN Oliver Jensen (Danish Wrestling-NKC — DEN) via fall
WIN Aleksi Seppälä (Ilmajoen Kisailijat — FIN) 8-0, TF