With the U23 World Championships now coming into view, business is picking up.
This week, it’s the Dave Schultz Memorial International, moved to the fall for the first time in its nearly 20-year history. Then on Saturday, a group of US Seniors, including four from the U23 World Team, are flying off to Belarus for a camp, a potential dual meet, and the highly competitive Oleg Karavaev tournament in Minsk. Following that event, the four World Team members — Kamal Bey (80 kg, Sunkist, world no. 18 at 75 kg), Barrett Stanghill (85 kg, Minnesota Storm), Blake Smith (98 kg, NMU/OTS), and G’Angelo Hancock (130 kg, Sunkist, world no. 16 at 98 kg) — will be staying in Europe to further prepare ahead of the World Championships, set to begin just four days later on November 21st in Bydgoszcz, Poland.
Bey, Stanghill, Smith, and Hancock would normally be expected to compete at the Dave Schultz this week since it is the first domestic event of the season. But with the World Championships taking precedence and the opportunity to get over to Europe for what will be a multi-national training camp and tough international tournament, the four wrestlers opted to sit out the Schultz so as to avoid cramming too much in before Poland.
Joining the U23 World Team members are three other well-known Senior athletes, chief among them being Patrick Martinez (85 kg, NYAC). Martinez, himself a two-time Senior World Teamer, enjoyed a strong 2016 campaign that included back-to-back bronze medals overseas. He looked to be on target to continue his rise up the ranks in 2017 when an injury suffered at the Thor Masters Invitational briefly set him back. The 27-year-old next went (back) up a weight class for the World Team Trials, where 85 kilograms offered the deepest domestic bracket in recent history. A close semifinal loss to two-time Olympian Ben Provisor (Nittany Lion WC) ended his bid for a third-straight appearance at the World Championships and he wound up finishing fifth after getting past the man below.
Kevin Radford (85 kg, Sunkist) is still fairly new to elite-level Greco competition but that hasn’t stopped him from establishing himself as a top domestic contender. The Arizona State alum first began competing on the Senior circuit in 2015 and was forced to take his lumps for awhile. He didn’t exactly come out like a ball of fire in the late-fall of 2016, either. Radford was chosen to represent the US at the World Wrestling Clubs Cup in Budapest last December and he was tech’ed out in each match. But then something clicked, and just over a week later, he shocked the field in Vegas by coming away with his first US National title. Six weeks after that, Radford finished second to Provisor at the Dave Schultz Memorial.
Like Martinez, Radford fell short of his goal at the World Team Trials, dropping a high-scoring semifinal bout to eventual runner-up Joe Rau (Minnesota Storm). Incidentally, both Martinez and Radford are also slated to compete at the Schultz, which begins tomorrow.
Rounding out the roster is “citizen of the world” Nick Tarpley (75 kg, NYAC). Tarpley left the US last year to train in Croatia, though he has traveled around other areas of Europe quite extensively, as well. The flag-collecting athlete has made it a habit of meeting up with the various US delegations that have competed overseas this year, and this Belarus excursion is no different. Tarpley wrestled well at the World Team Trials, ending up in sixth place, but a few weeks before that, he earned a nice bronze at the Kristjan Palusalu Memorial in Estonia for his first Senior international medal.
A proposed dual meet between the US and a Belarusian team is apparently in the works for this tour. Nothing has been scheduled/confirmed as of yet. When that happens, we will make that information available immediately.
Oleg Karavaev Tournament — Minsk, Belarus — November 17th, 2017
TEAM USA ROSTER (*U23 World Team member)
Nick Tarpley (NYAC)
*Kamal Bey (Sunkist, world no. 18 at 75 kg)
Patrick Martinez (NYAC)
Kevin Radford (Sunkist)
*Barrett Stanghill (Minnesota Storm)
*Blake Smith (NMU/OTS)
*G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist, world no. 16 at 98 kg)