Jesse Thielke (NYAC, 59 kg) has blitzed through his side of the bracket at the 2nd OG Qualifier in Istanbul, Turkey and in the process, achieved the objective: Qualify the weight for the US. From his very first bout of the day, Thielke looked like a man on a mission. In the first round, Thielke locked up with 2012 Olympic bronze medalist Peter Modos (HUN) and used his patented duck-under to get on the board with a takedown. From there, it nearly appeared academic. The train just kept rolling, as Thielke would later slide him by and come around for a gut which would later lead to a decisive, statement-making 8-0 technical fall victory.
It wasn’t supposed to get easier and it didn’t. Next up was Olympic silver medalist Revaz Lashki of Georgia. Lashki, a gritty and explosive vet, looked to slow down the oncoming assault. It didn’t work, as Thielke piled on the points for an early 6-0 lead. However, things would soon get tight. A passivity call gave Lashki a par terre opportunity which he used for three consecutive guts to tie the score. Going into the second period, Thielke seemed to be chomping at the bit. This approach would serve him well. Thielke went after Lashki with no remorse, searching for openings he could exploit. They were waiting for him. A beautiful sequence from a modified bodylock resulted in just enough airtime for Thielke to keep the momentum. He then had no trouble turning the Georgian over and before you could blink, the score was 13-6, moving the Wisconsin native into the quarterfinals.
Waiting for him there was Faruze Harutyunyan (SWE). Thielke got started right away with a nifty toss for two quick points. Harutyunyan tied the score soon after with a takedown of his own. An elbow-to-elbow gut from the Swede put Thielke at a 4-2 disadvantage. But just when Harutyunyan went to reset his lock, Thielke hipped right over and reversed the position. It was a stunning turn of events, and Thielke didn’t let it go to waste. He maintained his place on top of Harutyunyan long enough to get the fall, leaving him one win away from qualification.
The next obstacle came in the form of Donior Islamov (MDA), who immediately landed an arm spin for four. Thielke would bound away and pick up two reversal points. He just wouldn’t go away. Thielke then lowered his level and bore into the Moldavian, pushing him out of bounds for another point. 4-3, Islamov. And yet another arm spin found its mark for Islamov for four points and by now, many were holding their breath. But Jesse Thielke has had too much going for him at this juncture and just like in his previous matches, found scoring opportunities everywhere he looked. First, it started with a takedown for two. That got the fire burning hot again. Then it was a duck to a trapped-arm gut for another four. It was 9-8 before the first period had even ended.
Soon into the second, Thielke once again pounced on the first opportunity, swooping in for a bodylock that ran Islamov over his back for four points. 13-8, Thielke. It was as if Thielke had a taste for blood and Islamov was the source from which he would feed. Another takedown, this one as clear as the rest, followed by an immediate turn gave Jesse Thielke four more points for a 17-8 tech-fall, qualifying-clinching win. The American scored 14 unanswered points to punctuate the carnage.
In the finals, Jesse Thielke will be battling against none other than Hamid Soryan (IRI). The six-time World champ and 2012 Olympic gold medalist hadn’t looked like his old self of late but has had an impressive run of his own today. That being said, Thielke has the momentum and his style is difficult to keep up with when he’s clicking right. And all day long, he has been clicking right.
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