The Americans’ performance from the 2022 World Championships ended nearly one week ago with Ildar Hafizov (60 kg, Army/WCAP) falling to Krisztian Kecskemeti (HUN) in the repechage round on Tuesday morning. Hafizov, 34, enjoyed an otherwise solid showing in Belgrade. He had recorded a pair of victories the day prior at the expense of two reputable opponents, Dicther Toro Castaneda (COL) and Michal Tracz (POL), respectively, and appeared spry and in command throughout both of those matches. Eventual World champ Zholaman Sharshenbekov (KGZ) cut Hafizov down in the quarterfinal; and then Kecskemeti stopped the WCAP rep from advancing to the bronze round where he would have been opposed by Aidos Sultangali (KAZ), who defeated Kecskemeti to claim his second World medal after also finishing third in ’18.
Hafizov’s loss to the Hungarian signaled the definitive conclusion to what had been a turbulent months-long World Team season for the US program. The domestic selection process was especially cramped this season, and most of ’22 has offered its fair share of challenges (particularly for Army athletes). The majority of these items had previously been covered on this platform. For brevity’s sake, and because the forthcoming 53rd episode of the podcast will dive deeper into issues surrounding the National program, below is a crude timeline of events/incidents with which the US Seniors have had to contend since January.
— USA Seniors leave for Croatia and the winter European tour (Grand Prix Zagreb Open, training camp in Porec, and then Bulgaria for more training as well as the annual Nikola Petrov Memorial). Days prior to departure, the US Army removes all WCAP wrestlers from the trip due to security concerns, which at the centers mainly around Russia’s posturing at the Ukrainian border. Russia would in fact invade Ukraine in early-February.
24th — USA Wrestling advertises for the first time the newly-created role of “General Manager-Greco-Roman” and begins accepting candidate applications.
2nd — The Bill Farrell Memorial/NYAC International Open, one of the cornerstone events for US athletes (moved from its homebase in New York to Iowa) unfolds with winners from each weight category set to comprise the USA roster for the Pan-American Games. Three Army wrestlers place first (Max Nowry, 55 kg; Dalton Roberts, 60 kg; and Alex Sancho, 67). Not long after the Farrell, the Army once again determines that the region of an event (this time in Mexico) presents a safety risk, which leads to Nowry, Roberts, and Sancho being excluded from the competition.
14th — Suples founder and former Northern Michigan USOEC head coach Ivan Ivanov is announced as General Manager for Greco-Roman by USA Wrestling.
30th-May 1st — The US Open is held in Las Vegas for the first time since ’19.
6th-7th — Behind four golds and three bronze, Team USA thrashes the field at the Pan-American Championships in Acapulco to come away with the team title.
21st-22nd — The World Team Trials (Coralville, IA) is contested only through the semifinals (with the exception of 97 kilograms) as a mechanism to inform pairings for the two Final X dates in June.
22nd-23rd — A US roster, featuring seven members of the ’22 World Team (including six from the Army), competes at the Matteo Pellicone “Ranking Series” event in Rome, Italy.
7th — Matt Lindland and Mohamed Abdelfatah are relieved of their respective duties as US National Team head coach and Greco-Roman Resident coach; Ivanov assumes unofficial role as acting National Team coach.
8th — Day 1 of the first leg of World Team camp opens at the Olympic & Paralympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, which was to conclude on the 15th. It is immediately determined that the camp will instead run straight through the summer until departure for the World Championships. Trips overseas for training and competition in July and August that were previously scheduled are cancelled.
8th — ’21 World bronze G’Angelo Hancock officially declares his retirement from competition; Final X runner-up/’21 Junior World bronze Braxton Amos takes Hancock’s place on the roster.
30th — World Team members (and coaches) from Army/WCAP leave for Serbia.
1st — Remaining World Team members and National staff leave for Serbia.
10th-13th — 2022 World Championships. Team USA finishes with a combined individual record of 7-12 (21st place) with one athlete advancing to a medal match (Nowry).
— Three athletes who earned their spots on the 2022 World Team via Final X were eventually replaced before competition in Belgrade: Jesse Thielke (63 kg, Army/WCAP), Ben Provisor (82 kg, NYAC), and Hancock.
— At least five members of the ’22 US World Team endured injuries during camp that required them to miss significant periods of training time.
- Two athletes entered the summer already necessitating surgery.
- Two athletes will undergo surgery due to training-related injuries.
- One athlete who had recovered following a procedure last season saw his pre-existing injury exacerbated but was still able to complete camp.
— The roles of National Team head coach and OPTC resident coach are still vacant. Both positions are expected to be filled sometime in the fall.
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