LAS VEGAS, Nevada — Some match-ups fail to follow the script.
At 85 kilograms, Khymbakhy Johnson (NYAC-OTS) upset two-time Olympian Ben Provisor (NYAC) 3-2, but that was just one of the surprises in the semifinals of the 2016 US Greco Roman Nationals. Jon Jay Chavez (NYAC) also raised plenty of eyebrows by turning back Jon Anderson (Army/WCAP) 11-5 at 80 kilos. It was all part of what was an overall exciting but strange morning where several of the sport’s top athletes will not be competing for titles.
Johnson was aggressive in pursuit of Provisor throughout the first period of their showdown. A sequence in the first period saw Johnson get awarded a passivity point before getting behind Provisor and driving him to the mat for two more and a 3-0 lead. Provisor, an enduringly powerful athlete, stood up from the bottom, faced Johnson, and squeezed a bodylock he used to escort Johnson off the edge. 3-1, Johnson.
Early into the second it appeared Provisor was starting to get warm. An over-under clinch, a position Provisor excels from, proved to be effective once again as he persuaded Johnson out for another point to close the gap to 3-2. Johnson’s activity level did not wane. Arm-drag attempts and two-on-one’s provided him with mechanisms to stay busy. However — Provisor was demonstrating a sense of urgency that wasn’t as readily apparent in the opening period.
Down by one but needing two due to Johnson’s two-point maneuver earlier, Provisor dug inside and around to try and get to the body. Johnson held firm, meeting the Wisconsinite’s clashes with capable defense that did not result in a passivity warning of his own. It wasn’t a dynamic display of pop, but Johnson holds on for the biggest win of his career to date and a spot in the finals opposite Kevin Radford (Sunkist).
Newly-minted National Team member Chavez sustained a balanced yet energetic pace to frustrate Anderson in the early going. Up 1-0 on a passive point, Chavez came around the side and dragged Anderson in front and down at the edge for a takedown that the WCAP coaches did not agree with. Either way, it was a 3-0 lead for the young wrestler heading in the second.
Soon into the final period, Anderson got inside on Chavez with a bodylock and arched it over for four points and one-point lead. He’d add another point via passivity a short time later to extend his lead to 5-3. But that would be the end of the scoring for Anderson and just the start for Chavez.
With under a minute left, Chavez got behind Anderson again with a high reverse bodylock and brought the WCAP wrestler to the mat for four. In the ensuing scramble, Anderson popped up with a front headlock attempt only to step out while holding onto Chavez’s head, giving up another point. WCAP challenged the sequence, which was four and then one for Chavez and a sudden 8-5 lead. WCAP initially offered a challenge, but Anderson declined.
Shortly thereafter, Chavez got around Anderson again for another takedown to take a commanding 10-5 lead with little time remaining. This time, a challenge was presented. It was denied, making the final score 11-5, thrusting Chavez into the finals this evening against Cheney Haight (NYAC).
Jacob Mitchell (Army/WCAP) should have been expected to make the finals at this tournament. But not in the way he secured his spot.
Eric Fader (Marines) came out firing against Mitchell in their semifinal bout, nailing two consecutive arm throws. Both were scored as correct holds but nevertheless, they were good for a quick 4-0 lead. Fader, who must have gained confidence from both his trip overseas as well as his performances earlier in the day (and already in this match) kept on Mitchell, scoring two more off the edge for a wide 6-0 lead. Then it all fell apart.
Off of a double-underhook throw attempt, Fader didn’t have the positioning to continue the movement. Mitchell realized it immediately and simply locked around Fader’s body to coerce him to the mat. All Mitchell had to do was hold him there, and he did, to come away with a come-from-behind pin at the 1:35 mark of the first period. He will go to battle with number-one seed and WCAP teammate Toby Erickson later today.
Predictably, G’Angelo Hancock (NYAC) has been a terror this morning. Trent Osnes (Marines) was his first victim, falling to Hancock in under a minute via tech fall 9-0. James Souza wasn’t much more fortunate. Hancock made similarly quick work of Souza, scoring two on a takedown, four on a throw, and two more off of Souza attempt he caught. A breezy 8-0 win for Hancock sends him into the finals where it will be a rematch with Hayden Zillmer, who Hancock defeated in November 2-1.
- High schooler Tommy Brackett (Tennessee) has been a big story today. In his first bout he defeated past National and World Team Trials finalist Courtney Myers 3-3 on criteria. Next, he beat Trey Hardy (NMU-OTS) via tech 9-0. He fell to Cheney Haight (NYAC) 8-0 in the semis and Barrett Stanghill (Minnesota Storm) in the consolation bracket before losing to Marine John Stefanowicz for fifth place. None of that matters — all in all, it has been a shockingly impressive day for the young wrestler, who (obviously) could have a very bright future in this sport.
- Finals are set for 4pm/1pm EST.
- We will have video interviews and recaps later after the event.