On Friday, the 2022 Bill Farrell Memorial did its job in helping the United States Greco-Roman National program select their roster for the Pan-American Championships.
There were, indeed, various news-making results from the tournament. ’18 World Team member/multi-time Trials champ RaVaughn Perkins (77 kg, NYAC) finishing atop a crowded field qualifies as one. Perkins, 29, has not ceded his status as a premier performer; but injuries on and off throughout the years have caused him pockets of consternation. With that, he has never complained or given up on his ambitions, instead choosing to by and large remain silent on the subject and focus on each next opportunity. The National Team member did just that on Friday in Cedar Falls — focus. Perkins’ immense resolve brought forth his first tournament win since the ’19 Pan-Am Championships while also ensuring that 77 kilograms will continue to attract the most chatter now that Trials season has fully arrived.
Rich Carlson‘s (87 kg, Minnesota Storm) come-from-behind victory at the expense of ’21 World Team member Alan Vera (NYAC) delivered the day’s most dramatic outcome. Carlson was staring at a 7-0 deficit to the best technical upper-weight in the US when he cinched a bodylock and executed with all his might. Vera was in unmistakable trouble immediately upon landing, and the Stormer simply held position for the pin.
The competitive return of Kamal Bey (77 kg, Army/WCAP) was a definitive highlight. The sport, the program, missed him dearly. And right off the bat, Bey recorded a pair of explosive VSU’s over Quentin Perez (California RTC) and ’19 Junior World Teamer Jack Ervien (Viking), respectively. Next came controversy. In the semifinal, Bey was mired in a predictably tense struggle opposite reigning World Team member Jesse Porter (NYAC) that soon gave way to massive confusion. Bey had clasped a bodylock and arched — with Porter trying to defend by bringing the weight down from his hips. On video, it appeared an inadvertent leg foul. That was not the call. Army responded quickly on Bey’s behalf with a challenge that eventually went nowhere. One more point was distributed to Porter on the lost challenge, and Porter prevailed 4-3.
Porter cannot and should not hold any blame due to the circumstances, nor does he according to the dozens of displeased voices in the tournament’s aftermath. No, their ire is directed towards the officials; those officials who were involved in that particular match, as well as others from the event in its totality. The ’22 Farrell offered a few positive items for Greco. Solid, consistent officiating wasn’t one of them.
Farrell Undercover Stars
They might not have won the tournament but their efforts are more than worthy of recognition.
Max Black (60 kg, NMU/NTS, 4th place) — Figured to be a 55’er prior to Friday, Black showed that he could certainly hang at 60 down the road if he so chooses. His only two losses were to a monster, Randon Miranda (Rise RTC). In between, he was stellar. Black’s feel for offense comes with intensity and conviction. He’s in a good room, but those qualities can’t be taught.
Mason Hartshorn (63 kg, CYC, 3rd place) — Hartshorn, a U23 National champ in ’20, showed plenty of toughness in Iowa. He had to bear down and play a tactical game when it counted on the backside of the bracket. His triumph over “The Quiet Man” Corbin Nirschl (MWC) might not make his list of favorites, but matches like that need to be won at the Senior level. Hartshorn then went on to decision up-and-coming Aidan Nutter (NMU/NTS) for third, his second Farrell bronze (’18).
Lenny Merkin (67 kg, NYAC/NJRTC, 3rd place) — Not bad for a first tournament back from shoulder surgery and rehab for the ’19 U23 World rep. Eventual runner-up Hayden Tuma (Suples) spoiled Merkin’s run to the final, but the New Yorker more than made up for it with an electric shootout versus Calvin Germinaro (Minnesota Storm) in the bronze round.
Orlando Ponce (72 kg, Minnesota Storm, 2nd place) — Normally, runner-ups do not make this list. Ponce is an exception. Out of the game for a long time (and for whom success came at the collegiate level), expectations among the populous were low. But then Ponce caught and pinned Michael Hooker (Army/WCAP) and Dominic Damon (NMU/NTS) in back-to-back matches. Stuff like that, it doesn’t happen everyday. Teammate Patrick Smith had the honor of clipping Ponce’s wings in the final. Nevertheless, an impression was made.
Tyler Cunningham (82 kg, MWC, 3rd place) — Cunningham was down only 2-0 to Ben Provisor (NYAC) entering the second period of their semifinal. You don’t go crazy over narrow margins, it is just that Provisor has a tendency to feast on the younger bunch early in matches. Provisor moved on all the same, and Cunningham moved into the consolation bracket. Where, he boomed a five against Joseph Williams (Saints WC) before finishing for a tech — and then hoisted ’21 Trials finalist Ryan Epps (Minnesota Storm) up and over for another five in what became a 10-5 decision that also required a substantial amount of grit. A very encouraging performance from an experienced next-gen athlete.
Pan-Am Camp in Springs
Training camp for the upcoming Pan-American Championships will get underway at the US Olympic & Paralympic Training Center later this week. The full roster in addition to insights from select participants should be expected.
On the heels of the Farrell, Five Point Move’s Greco-Roman rankings have been updated accordingly and will be released on Thursday.
Two-time Olympian, Wheaton College head coach — and 5PM contributor — Jim Gruenwald will be the guest for Episode 52 of the podcast to discuss his new book Not All Roads Lead to Gold, along with his perspectives on several recent topics surrounding the sport.
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