Just three weeks ago, the United States boasted five athletes listed in the top-20 of United World Wrestling’s “Ranking Series”, with two others present a few slots lower. But because the 2022 European Championships demanded an update in point totals, there has been a shift in the numerical pecking order.
Each of the seven Americans have seen a drop in their UWW ranking on the heels of the Euros, which concluded on April 3 in Budapest. Given that Europe’s continental championship tends to field the largest (and most competitive) brackets of this tournament type, all of the medalists either added to what were already significant point margins — or hurriedly raced up the charts. The result, as it is with any points-dependent system, was that ranked athletes from outside of the region have dropped, if ever so slightly — though their respective point totals remain unchanged.
Two-time World Team member Max Nowry (Army/WCAP) fell only one spot from #9 to #10 at 55 kilograms. Nowry’s stablemate — and fellow two-timer — Dalton Roberts (60 kg) tumbled five rungs, from #20 to #25; and Olympian Alex Sancho (67 kg) went from #17 to #20. Unfortunately for Nowry, Roberts, and Sancho, they will not have an opportunity to make up ground in the “Ranking Series” when the Pan-American Championships take place next month in Mexico due to the Army program removing all of its athletes from that roster due to security concerns.
Two of the seven US athletes who are ranked will be able to tack on more points at the Pan-Ams: two-time Olympian Ben Provisor (82 kg, NYAC) and ’21 World bronze G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg, Sunkist). Provisor, who owns three Pan-Am medals including two golds, tumbled eight spots to #22, while Hancock took one step down to 5th. ’20 Olympic Teamer John Stefanowicz (87 kg, Navy-Marines RTC) went from #26 to #29, and Oslo World rep Cohlton Schultz (130 kg, Sunkist) dropped from #24 to #29. All seven of the aforementioned USA wrestlers are currently ranked #1 on this platform.
WORLD-RANKED USA GRECO-ROMAN ATHLETES
(*as of 4/11/22)
55 kg: Max Nowry (Army/WCAP) — #10 – 13,500 pts
60 kg: Dalton Roberts (Army/WCAP) — #25 – 8,200 pts
67 kg: Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP) — #20 – 14,300 pts
82 kg: Ben Provisor (NYAC) — #22 – 6,600 pts
87 kg: John Stefanowicz (Navy-Marines RTC) — #29 – 6,200 pts
97 kg: G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist) — #5 – 47,200 pts
130 kg: Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist) — #29 – 6,600 pts
Big Name(s) Registered for the Nationals
The ’22 US Open returns to Las Vegas April 30-May 1 — and unlike the Farrell, entries are piling up fast. Top-6 in each weight category qualify for the World Team Trials.
Nine years after claiming his last National title, and seven years since competing in the event, two-time World Team member/four-time Open winner Joe Betterman (Betterman Elite) is returning to action in Vegas at 67 kilograms. 37-year-old Betterman stepped away from competition in ’15 following myriad injuries to his neck and back. He has remained extremely active as a coach and, on and off for several years, contemplated the idea of perhaps one day re-appearing on the scene for one final go-round.
The topic had come up on many occasions, such as in ’20 on the Five Point Move Podcast. During his segment on Episode 36, Betterman said of returning, “I never fully retired, so I can’t say ‘come out of retirement’. I never put my shoes on the mat, and I missed those opportunities. I don’t know when that might have been (had he not become hindered by injuries). It could have been 2024 if I kept wrestling, as long as my body let me do it.”
Betterman’s “body”, as it were, has played a predictably large role in this decision. His physical capabilities are not subject to the same limitations which prompted his exit from competition, and his “walking around weight”, which at one point last year climbed to approximately 82 kilograms, has diminished to the low-70’s. Though Betterman originally declined to speak on the record regarding his upcoming re-emergence at the US Open, he will address all of the above (and more) on 5PM shortly.
One athlete whose competitive status has urged more questions than answers over the past seven months is Jamel Johnson. The dissolution of the All-Marine Team in conjunction with new responsibilities as the S-4 for Marine Aviation Logistics forced Johnson to, for the second time, disrupt his career. 11 months ago, Johnson won the Pan-Ams before hitting the pause button in an effort to organize his altered schedule. He was back for the September Trials and placed third despite a make-shift training environment. At the moment, Johnson is on deployment in Norway and is set to arrive on US shores days prior to first whistle in Vegas.
Schultz, fresh off of his runner-up finish at the NCAA Division I championships, is registered and as a two-time winner (among many other things) will swiftly command the top seed at heavyweight. Interestingly, one-time Schultz nemesis Tyler Curd (Kobra Kai) is emerging from the shadows for the event. Curd had an impressive albeit brief start to a full-time Greco career in ’18 while at Northern Michigan but left the program shortly after.
The Koontz Twins — Brady (55 kg, TMWC/Ohio RTC, 5PM #3) and Dylan (60 kg, TMWC/Ohio RTC, 5PM #6) — are likewise both in the matrix. Brady Koontz — whose list of domestic achievements seems to grow by the year — will represent the United States at the Pan-Ams next month in place of Nowry. National Team member “Mr. Fantastic” Benji Peak (72 kg, Sunkist/NTS 5PM #2) and ’19 Junior World bronze Alston Nutter (67 kg, Sunkist/NTS, 5PM #4) have signed on, as well. Peak suffered a serious shoulder injury in October while training for the U23 World Championships but as of this past winter had already begun making ecouragining improvements during the rehabilitation process.
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