Day 1 of the 2018 Granma Cup in Havana, Cuba saw six United States Greco-Roman competitors take meaningful steps towards their World Championship aspirations, even if in some cases, how that actually happened resulted in some confusion.
Reigning Junior World Champion Kamal Bey (77 kg, Sunkist) started off with a tough opponent in the form of Yurisandi Hernandez (CUB), who snared a bronze at this event in 2017 and has been around the international block a time or two. Bey didn’t come out of the gate in a blaze as is custom and Hernandez held position early on. But once the points began arriving for the American, they didn’t stop, with Bey igniting his offense to the tune of a 9-1 tech to move into the next round.
Juan Angel Escobar (MEX) didn’t fare any better against what was a similar onslaught. Bey found little trouble angling his attacks to the body and finished it off from there with an 8-0 drubbing. Important, because this win advanced Bey to the semifinals and with the 2018 Granma Cup being a UWW ranked event, placing well matters for Seniors who wind up in Budapest.
In the 77-kilogram semifinal, Bey had appeared to end things early against Venezuela’s Luis Avenolano on two separate occasions before the inevitable result finally sank in. One early sequence saw the Olympic Training Center resident athlete catch Avenolano on his back and seemingly pinned. Avenolano had inched himself just far enough off the edge to be saved, though with that came a caution and a restart from par terre. Bey picked up another score on top, but it still wasn’t enough. Nor was a bodylock soon after. Instead, Bey required one more four-point dump to nail this one down 15-4. In the finals tomorrow, the American will be meeting up with Ariel Fiz (CUB).
Roberts, Sancho & Kass
2017 U23 World Team members Dalton Roberts (60 kg, NYAC/OTS) and Alex Sancho (67 kg, NYAC) enjoyed solid overall performances with just a touch of saccharin mixed in for good measure. For Roberts, the 2018 Granma Cup was yet one more exercise in the never-stop-always-push approach that has followed him around the past few years. Competing in a seven-man round-robin, Roberts was ousted by Luis Orta (CUB), a bronze here in ’17. But the Michigan native recovered nicely with a 7-1 clearing out of Cristobal Torres (CHL) followed by a dominating 10-2 tech of Jorge Gonzalez (HON), which meant a trip to the semis. This is when the taste turned back to bitter.
Two-time Pan Am Championships gold medalist Javier Dumenigo (CUB) was supposed to present Roberts with a stiff test and that’s exactly how this shook out. So that wasn’t the issue. The issue was that there were potential points left off the board that shouldn’t have been. Dumenigo led 2-0 when Roberts converted an attack to a takedown, giving him the criteria edge. A four by Dumenigo in the second seemed to widen the gap out of reach for a moment, but there was Roberts again, using his leverage to get around on the Cuban for two more. Only, he wasn’t given hardly any time to work from top par terre. Was that the deciding factor in this 6-4 loss for Roberts? Who could know, but it certainly didn’t help given how much time was left in the bout.
Roberts will now face Germany’s Andrej Ginc for bronze.
Speaking of tests, Sancho needs as many of them as he can get, and that’s what he got today. A grind-it-out 2-1 victory over Defrion Sambola (HON) gave way to a 7-4 loss at the hands of 2016 Olympian and 2015 Pan Am Games winner Wuileixis Rivas (VEN). It didn’t get easier from there. Sancho’s next opponent, 2016 Olympic Champion Ismael Borrero Molina (CUB), up a weight (or two) for this event, did not leave much time for a dramatic struggle to take place. Despite Borrero’s immense talent and glittering credentials, this figured to be an entertaining battle capable of unfolding in myriad different ways. All suspense was quickly washed away when the Cuban unfurled a massive five-point arm throw en-route to sealing it up 9-0 in the first period.
Sancho still has a shot at enacting some revenge, although not against Borrero. In the bronze medal match he’ll be tangling with Rivas, who lost to Miguel Martinez (CUB) in the other semifinal.
Logan Kass (72 kg, NMU/OTS) entering into a primetime Senior international tournament definitely deserves to be acknowledged. The Minnesotan came out like a ball of fire in his first match, running up the score on Mexico’s Vincente Fernando. The quality of opposition staring down Kass in the next round presented a vastly different picture, as 2016 World Champion Balint Korpasi (HUN) raced out in front right immediately and never looked back on the way to a 9-0 tech. Two-time Granma Cup bronze Yosvani Pena (CUB) represented Kass’s third bout of the day and another chance to work out some adjustments against an experienced foreigner. Unfortunately for Kass, Pena got rolling early with a takedown, a turn, and a takedown before ending the bout with resounding five off the edge. But wait — Kass is wrestling for bronze tomorrow against Anthony Sander (GER), so his taking home some hardware is still an option.
Zillmer & Radford
Coming off of two international medals in his last two events entering today was Hayden Zillmer (97 kg, Minnesota Storm) and he began his morning locking horns with another American, hybrid talent Enock Francois (NYAC). The pair had met previously with Zillmer coming out on top and that was the same story this morning, complete with a 5-0 score. His proceeding challenge was a good one, Gabriel Rosillo (CUB), a strong-from-everywhere type who happens to have a penchant for throws. Zillmer wanted to make his physicality a problem for Rosillo from the outset, but before that strategy could pay off, Rosillo zipped an arm throw and he was on his way from there. Uncharastically, Zillmer just couldn’t get back in the match, falling via tech 10-0. Monteaqudo Reinier (CUB) now awaits in the bronze medal round.
“Today went pretty good, just my semis didn’t go so hot,” Zillmer said afterwards. “I got hit with that arm throw right away and I don’t know, I just kind of lost it a little bit. I wrestled passive and it cost me. That kid went out there with nothing to lose after he hit that four and I just didn’t recover from it very well. I guess that’s the great thing about competing right now, getting back on the mat, and getting to these tournaments, because you don’t get that feel in the room. You can go for how long in the room and you know you’re going to get him back. But when you’re in these matches and that happens (arm throw), maybe you freeze up a little bit. I guess that’s just the pressure you get from a tournament and it’s a good learning experience. I have a lot more offense to work with and I didn’t use it.”
Kevin Radford (87 kg, Sunkist) had himself a formidable assignment in 2017 U23 World Champion Erik Svilvassy (HUN) and while he had a moment or two, opportunities for offense were scarce and the Hungarian stayed in safe mode for most of the bout to sew up the 5-0 win. But since 87 kilograms offered a full bracket with Svilvassy advancincing to the finals, Radford gets a chance at his first overseas bronze tomorrow when he matches up with Daniel Gregorych (CUB).
Medal matches are scheduled to begin on Sunday at 2:00pm EST.
2018 Granma Cup — Havana, Cuba
Day 1 Team USA results
Dalton Roberts (NYAC/OTS)
LOSS Luis Orta (CUB) 8-0, TF
WON Cristobal Torres (CHI) 7-1
WON Jorge Gonzalez (HON) 10-2, TF
LOSS Javier Dumenigo (CUB) 6-4
Alex Sancho (NYAC)
WON Defrion Sambola (HON) 2-1
LOSS Wuileixis Rivas (VEN) 7-4
LOSS Ismael Borrero Molina (CUB) 9-0, TF
Logan Kass (NMU/OTS)
WON Vincente Fernando (MEX) 12-0, TF
LOSS Balint Korpasi (HUN) 9-0, TF
LOSS Yosvani Pena (CUB) 11-0, TF
Kamal Bey (Sunkist)
WON Yurisandi Hernandez (CUB) 9-1, TF
WON Juan Angel Escobar (MEX) 8-0, TF
WON Luis Avenolano (VEN) 15-4, TF
Ryan Cummings (NMU/OTS)
LOSS Ariel Fiz (CUB) 8-0, TF
LOSS Luis Gutterez (CUB) 11-0, TF
Kevin Radford (Sunkist)
LOSS Erik Svilvassy (HUN) 5-0
Hayden Zillmer (Minnesota Storm)
WON Enock Francois (NYAC) 5-1
LOSS Gabriel Rosillo (CUB) 10-0, TF
Micah Burak (TMWC)
LOSS Pablo Reinier (CUB) 2-0
Enock Francois (NYAC)
LOSS Hayden Zillmer (Minnesota Storm (5-1)