An at-times frustrating Day 2 at the 2018 Thor Masters Invitational in Nykøbing Falster, Denmark resulted in several United States Greco athletes winding up on the wrong end of contentious decisions, but even those bouts that came to head-scratching conclusions couldn’t obscure an overall successful morning for the program thus far.
Randon Miranda (55 kg, NYAC/OTS) and Jesse Thielke (63 kg, NYAC) both prevailed in their matches to earn the right to battle for gold while RaVaughn Perkins (72 kg, NYAC) looked sharp in each of his bouts only to drop a maddening decision to wipe away his shot at the top spot.
Miranda was forced to wait awhile for his first bout on Saturday but when it finally arrived, he didn’t waste any time. Facing off against 2018 Grand Prix Zagreb Open bronze medalist Krisztian Kecskemeti (HUN), Miranda got to work quickly, darting in on the body and wailing a two-point throw before immediately converting to a turn. Up 4-0, the end was already near, even if Kecskmeti was unaware of it. Back on their feet and Miranda struck again, virtually repeating the same sequence. He found a bodylock, arched, was awarded two, and then rolled Kecskmeti over one more time to wrap this one up at just 1:18 into the first period.
To punch his ticket to the final, Miranda had himself a tough, game opponent in fellow two-time Junior World Team member Helary Maegisalu (EST). Maegisalu brought heavy pressure to start off and Miranda needed a minute to adjust. A 2-0 lead for Maegisalu was not a deterrent, however. From par terre bottom, the American reversed and was able to turn the Estonian wrestler twice to hop ahead 6-2. Things became a little dicier late in the second frame. Leading 6-3, Miranda gave up a Maegisalu takedown; back on the feet, and Maegisalu began wringing Miranda in with an over-under clinch; but when the attempted throw came, Miranda deftly repositioned his hips and ushered Maegisalu to his back off the edge for four, capping the scoring at 10-5.
Miranda will next face two-time Maccabi Games gold medalist Ilya Tsaryuk (ISR) in the 55-kilogram finals.
For 2016 Olympian Thielke, his first order of business was getting past 2015 Junior World Team member Travis Rice (NMU/OTS), who entered into this event down a weight from his usual 66/67 kilos. An early takedown near the edge opened the scoring in the first as Thielke raced out in front 2-0. Rice was battling as best as he could but Thielke’s transitions were too much. A duck-under to a high-dive gave Thielke another pair of points just before the break. Shortly into the second, Thielke used another duck-to-bodylock to nab two more points and he put the finishing touches on soon after with a gutwrench, advancing to the bracket’s semifinal on the heels of an 8-0 tech.
One of the 63-kilogram weight class’ most stout competitors at the 2018 Thor Masters Invitational was Mate Krasznai (HUN), a rough, rugged combatant who had appeared in two Junior World Championships and took a bronze at Tbilisi last year. Krasznai might be hardened, but he wasn’t nearly as smooth or technical as Thielke on this day. A passivity point provided Thielke with an early advantage but the US athlete added more soon enough via another slick duck-under to bodylock that saw Krasznai momentarily go to his back. Ahead 4-0 in the conclusive stanza, Thielke cruised the rest of the way from then on. In the gold medal match Thielke will meet up with 2015 Junior World bronze medalist Mihai Mihut (ROU), who was defeated by Alex Sancho (67 kg, NYAC) in the Zagreb finals a year ago.
Perkins Drops a Tough One But Bounces Back In Style
Two-time Trials winner Perkins earned one of the most exciting wins of the tournament on Friday and looked equally imposing this morning, but how he found himself in the consolation round must have felt bothersome.
The Nebraska native began action on Saturday opposite Christoph Burger (AUT), who was outgunned right from the beginning. Perkins executed a nifty arm drag into points and once they returned to their feet, a big bodylock at the edge increased his lead to 7-0. Perkins then clambered inside on Burger and when the counterpressure was received, he simply shucked him by for the match-ending takedown.
His next order of business was young Swede Lukas Ahlgren, a considerably improved wrestler who had a pair of entertaining matches with Minnesota prospect Peyton Robb back in the fall. Ahlgren also narrowly defeated 2016 Senior Nationals runner-up Anthonie “Twinkie” Linares (NYAC/OTS) on Friday. Perkins wanted to set the tone straight away, only it was Ahlgren who drew first blood thanks to a four-point arm throw. Undaunted, Perkins returned fire by reversing and gutting Ahlgren over three times to snare a 7-4 lead.
To give Ahlgren credit, he kept trying to score. He went for another arm throw that Perkins sat out on and morphed into his own headlock for two. Down by five, Ahlgren next tried for a big throw. As he went to arch — and as Perkins adjusted to land on top — Ahlgren hit the deck head first, instantly writing in pain. The bout was called off following a prolonged visit from the training staff with Perkins leading 11-4.
After coming close to the medal rounds in 2017, Perkins was one match away from making the final. To do so, he had to get past returning Thor Masters champ Timo Badusch (GER). It didn’t happen, though part of the reason why had to do with the officiating (which had been inconsistent at best all morning). Badusch yielded a 3-0 lead when he was awarded takedown points off the boundary. The US challenged and lost, resulting in the third point. Perkins rebounded and worked behind Badusch to get on the board, but the German answered back with a step-out right before the break.
The second period saw two things: Perkins diligently fighting for position while Badusch held his wrists and the referee on the mat holding onto his whistle. The American tirelessly crashed into the ties trying to create angles to the body. Each time, he was met with a brick wall of resistance. Still, no passivity/par terre chance arrived and a late two provided Badusch with all the cushion he needed to halt Perkins’s chance at gold.
In the bronze medal match, Perkins faced off with multi-time Nordic Championships placewinner Toni Ojala (FIN) and made an emphatic statement. A bodylock at the line saw Perkins net two a minute and a half into the first. A couple of near-misses came and went, and Ojala managed to hold on long enough to see the second period, but not much more than that. A bodylock that scored two (plus another off of a denied challenge from Finland) widened the gap to 5-0. With just under two minutes remaining, Perkins walked into double underhooks. He hoisted Ojala up and forcefully deposited him onto the tarp for four points, but it was immaterial, as the pin came next. The Thor Masters bronze represents Perkins’s first overseas medal of 2018.
Full USA Greco-Roman results from Thor Masters coming up after the finals!