If there was one thing expected going into the 2017 Refik Memišević–Brale Tournament in Subotica, Serbia, it was that the high-level ferocity of the competition is virtually unmatched anywhere else, save for the World Championships. Athletes from Russia, Sweden, Norway, Romania and of course, the host country Serbia, find their respective ways to this event each year simply for its challenges. The whole “If you want to be the best, you have to beat the best” line of thinking. That is what the Go Greco USA Developmental Program is trying to do, and this second (and last) tournament on the tour provided the Cadets a glimpse at what the top levels of the sport look like on a global scale.
Nate Rubino (42 kg, MWC/NE) dropped his first bout to Konstantin Tudor (ROU) but was pulled back in when Tudor made the final against eventual champ Aleksei Vlasov (RUS). This gave Tudor a shot at a medal. Facing off with another Romanian, this time Florian Rubej, Rubino just couldn’t get going. In the first period, Rubino was taken down and turned to fall behind 4-0. In the second, Rubej landed a pair of correct throws to wrap it up. But there are bright spots to take away from the experience according to 2017 Cadet World Team coach Lucas Steldt, who put this tour together. “Rubino was battling hard, hitting ducks, and pummeling tough. It was just size and experience that were the factors.”
Two other US Greco-Roman wrestling Cadets laced them up for Day 1 of the 2017 Refik Memišević–Brale Tournament — Austin Almaguer (58 kg, Tri-Cities/WA), and Cayden Robson (63 kg, Combat WC/WI), and both lost to seasoned opposition. Almaguer drew an especially tough cookie for his bout in 2017 Nordic Championships silver medalist Erik Hulaas (NOR) and dropped the bout 5-0. “Austin had a hook in the whole match, but is learning Greco still, so he has trouble finding scores,” said Steldt afterwards. “He pushed in a little too much one time and got thrown and then he gave up a step-out. But he’s a great kid. Austin just needs more time on a Greco mat.”
It was a similar story for Robson, who was defeated by Driss Khaled (FRA). “He’s a first-year Cadet and it’s a process learning to manage your weight when overseas,” Steldt said. “Plus, this is real Greco, and it takes time to learn this feel.”
Tomorrow, the Americans are loaded up with nine athletes, including multi-age-group World Team member Cohlton Schultz (100 kg, NYAC/CO), 2017 Croatia Open silver medalist Camden Russell (54 kg, MWC/NE), Conor Knopick (54 kg, MWC/NE), Frankie Tal-Sharer (63 kg, SWAT/FL), and Bryan Alsteen (76 kg, Combat WC/WI).
2017 Refik Memišević–Brale Tournament Day 1 USA Cadet Results
42 kg — Nate Rubino (MWC/NE) — 5th
LOSS Konstantin Tudor (ROU) 4-1
LOSS Florian Rubej (ROU) 8-0, TF
58 kg — Austin Almaguer (Tri-Cities/WA)
LOSS Erik Hulass (NOR) 5-0
69 kg — Cayden Robson (Combat WC/WI)
LOSS Driss Khaled (FRA) 8-0, TF
USA Cadets — Day 2 Draws
Raiden Johnson (SWAT/FL) vs. Andrei Savu (ROU) — Conor Knopick gets winner
Camden Russell (MWC/NE) vs. B. Parszewski (POL)
Dominic Damon (Tri-Cities/WA) vs. G. Sotiriadis (GRE)
Frankie Tal-Sharer (SWAT/FL) vs. G. Nejc (SLO)
Bryan Alsteen (Combat WC/WI) vs. A. Tanasevic (MDA)
Damion Smith (Combat WC/WI) vs. Bence Holocsi (SVK)
Cohlton Schultz (NYAC/CO) vs. A. Duerdjevic (CRO)
*Chase Thompson (SWAT/FL) will be competing in exhibition matches due to being underage for this event.