With US fans waiting for the finals of the 2018 Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Memorial in Warsaw so they can watch 2018 World Team member G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist) go for 97-kilogram gold, two other Americans this morning offered the potential for more medals, or at the very least, more gripping action. Unfortunately, neither prospect came to fruition.
Competing overseas for the first time in nearly 18 months was Brandon Mueller (77 kg), who recently became a full-time Greco-Roman athlete for the Air Force’s World Class Athletes Program. Well-traveled Oleksander Kukhta (UKR) represented Mueller’s round-of-16 opponent, and a match that was expected to reveal a hard-fought brawl ended before it truly began.
Mueller prodded forward at the outset and backed Kukhta up towards the line. It was a deliberate pace, not the frenzy of activity that is normally associated with Mueller’s contests. The pair briefly broke apart — and just as Mueller went to dig back in — Kukhta cranked down on a headlock. Mueller did what he could to stay alive and was not in immediate danger of being pinned. But Kukhta held firm, adjusting and re-adjusting his grip as Mueller tried wrapping around Kukhta’s body in hopes of rolling him over. Eventually Kukhta’s hold won out and the referee called the pin midway through the first period.
Josef Rau (87 kg, Chicago RTC) greeted 2013 Military World gold medalist Oleksander Shyshman (UKR) in the round-of-16 and seemed to adopt a slightly more patient style than is usually the case. An early exchange saw Rau tangled up with Shyshman in over/under’s, and since the position was static for both wrestlers, the referee broke it up. Rau shoulder blocked into Shyshman three straight times following the restart and the ref halted the action yet again.
Eventually, Rau was penalized for passivity and Shyshman received his first chance from top. Rau initially defended well and managed to stay planted on the mat. The Ukrainian then adjusted and stepped up to lift before crashing back down and turning Rau with a collapse gut. Rau did manage to nail a reversal soon after and trailed 3-1 entering the second period.
The problem was that the second period virtually mirrored the first. Neither athlete was able to make anything happen standing up and Rau was again called for passivity. This time around, Shyshman could not net a turn and Rau remained in the hunt. He made a few spirited attempts to narrow the 4-1 deficit, lowering in for high-dives and bullying forward to open up windows inside. But the scoreboard never changed and Shyshman prevailed via 4-1 decision. Last year, Shyshman defeated two-time Olympian Ben Provisor (NYAC/NLWC) with a late throw in the qualification round of the Paris World Championships.
As of time of publish, Shyshman has advanced to the semifinals where he is slated to face off with Junje Na (CHN). If he prevails, Rau is back in for tomorrow’s repechage round. Kukhta is in the 77-kg quarters opposite George Vlad Mariea (ROU). Should Kukhta make the final, Mueller, like Rau, can earn a shot at bronze on Sunday. We will update accordingly following Hancock’s final.
UPDATE: Shyshman advanced to the 87-kilogram final, which means that Rau is in the repechage on Sunday and will meet Tadeusz Michalik (POL); Kukhta was defeated by Armenia’s Arsen Jufalakyan, eliminating Mueller from further contention.
The medal round for Day 1’s weight classes are scheduled to begin at 5:00 pm local time (11:00 am EST). Hancock will be facing off with Nikolai Bayryakov (BUL) in the 97-kilogram final and US fans can watch that unfold live on Trackwrestling.
- Hancock and Rau have been training in Europe since the US Senior delegation arrived ahead of the German Grand Prix. Both athletes are expected to return home to the States for the second week of National Team camp at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs.
- Mueller will remain overseas for a while longer following this weekend’s action. He is set to participate in two training camps before competing in Sweden’s Gothamburg Grand Prix later in the month.
2018 Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Memorial
Warsaw, Poland – September 7th-9th
TEAM USA DAY 2 RESULTS
77 kg — Brandon Mueller (Air Force/WCAP)
LOSS Oleksander Kukhta (UKR) via fall
87 kg — Joe Rau (Chicago RTC)
LOSS Oleksander Shyshman (UKR) 4-1