By Wednesday night, the selection tournament process for America’s 2022 Greco-Roman World Team will at last come to an end — over eight weeks after it began.
From a strictly procedural aspect, there were plenty of athletes who had already qualified for the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament long before they arrived in Coralville late last month. But the spring tournaments, beginning with Iowa’s version of the Bill Farrell Memorial, are what had officially begun the race to Final X for the majority of the country’s Senior base. The Farrell, for all intents and purposes, opened the season, given the lack of events on the US calendar following Oslo ’21. And because that competition held the potential to at the very least influence seeding for the Trials, it was considered part of the process.
Next came the Open, which was tasked with expanding the field for the Challenge Tournament; then, of course, the Challenge Tournament narrowed each weight category down to two (with the exception of 97 kilograms).
Stillwater provided Team USA with five of its World Team members. Five more will be added no later than approximately 10:00pm ET on Wednesday night.
The main preview for Final X: New York has been published on FLOWrestling (which is handling the event broadcast). In it, the five remaining match-ups are overviewed with what are hopefully pieces of useful information.
Final X: New York
Session times — 2:00pm & 6:00pm (ET)
*Greco-Roman athlete names listed only (WFS = women’s freestyle; MFS = men’s freestyle).
1 — 77 kg: Britton Holmes (Army/WCAP, 5PM #4) vs. Kamal Bey (Army/WCAP, 5PM #3)
2 — WFS
3 — MFS
4 — 87 kg: Alan Vera (NYAC, 5PM #1) vs. Timothy Young (Unattached, 5PM #7)
5 — MFS
6 — 67 kg: Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP, 5PM #1) vs. Alston Nutter (Sunkist/NTS, 5PM #4)
7 — WFS
8 — 60 kg: Dalton Roberts (Army/WCAP, 5PM #1) vs. Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP, 5PM #2)
9 — WFS
10 — 97 kg: G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist, world #5, 5PM #1) vs. Braxton Amos (Sunkist/Wisconsin RTC, 5PM #3)
11 — WFS
12 — MFS
13 — WFS
14 — MFS
15 — MFS
As was the case in Stillwater on Friday, the card will cycle through until each series is exhausted. Rounds 2 and 3 of each series will be contested during the second session that begins at 6:00pm ET.
Szoeke Ready for Return
Three months ago, ’21 World silver Alex Szoeke (97 kg, HUN) announced that he would be unable to compete in the then-forthcoming European Championships due to his recovering from shoulder surgery. For top-level athletes like Szoeke, willfully missing an appearance at the Euros is no small matter. Wrestlers from the other side of the Atlantic traditionally focus on their respective domestic nationals, the aforementioned continental championship, and the Worlds. Starts at other events in between or afterwards are seen mainly as tune-ups or filler.
But Szoeke, 22, wanted to take rehabilitation slowly in an effort to ensure that his return to competition would bypass any and all setbacks. He has apparently succeeded in that regard, and is currently training in Porec, Croatia (which has become a hot spot training-wise) with eyes on staying active in the lead-up to the World Championships in September.
“It was bad to watch the European Championship from the stands but when I look ahead, the 2024 Olympics are the most important,” Szoeke said. “For the time being, I am not moving as I used to. But you know, patience is growing, we are building calmly, pretty slowly, gradually. We are currently training in Porec and the partners are excellent. I am working with rivals such as Olympic and World champ Artur Aleksanayan, Felix Baldauf of Norway, and Nikoloz Kakhelashvili.”
Circled on Szoeke’s calendar at the moment is Rome later this month before a trip to Pytlasinski (Poland) in July. The World Championships are the obvious biggest target, but Szoeke is also aiming for the top prize on the U23 level, as well.
“I’ll be on the mat at the end of this month at the Matteo Pellicone Memorial in Rome,” he said. “We will have a training camp before and after that; then at the end of July, I will be wrestling at Pytlasinski and I hope to be close to 100% by then. We plan to be in the World Championships in September, and the U23 Worlds in October. I want to be on the podium in both events, but in the case of the former this is not the same expectation from the coaches as they will take into account what happened. I’m sure I’ll do my best for it.”
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