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Monday Roundup: Haavisto Cup Notes; Gaber; NOR Roster; Rankings Update

mantas knystautas, haavisto cup
Mantas Knystautas -- Photo: Tony Rotundo

The annual Arvo Haavisto Cup (also referred to as The Open Nordic Championships) in Ilmajoki, Finland takes place this coming Saturday and it will be the final Senior international tournament of the year.

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At press time, there are 86 participants spread across eight weight categories (60, 67, 72, 77, 82, 87, 97, & 130 kg) — which is a respectable number when compared to recent other iterations of the event. As expected, there is a healthy allotment of athletes registered for Haavisto who also competed this past weekend in Haparanda, Sweden. A common occurrence given how the pair of Nordic events traditionally run in consecutive weekends with a training camp in-between. For example, the two wrestlers who comprised the 67 kg final from Haparanda, champ Mohamed Elsayed (EGY) and Dominik Etlinger (CRO), are entered for Haavisto, as are 60 kg runner-up Helary Magisalu (EST), 77 kg gold Antonio Kamenjasevic (CRO) and silver Akseli Yli-Hannuksela (FIN), among others.

One marked improvement and one regression: 130 kg in Haparanda was limited to just two entrants (Ukrainians Artur Boichuk, gold, and Vladyslav Chertorynskyi); in Finland, the class has ballooned to eight (neither Boichuk or Chertorynskyi are in the mix). The key player at heavyweight in Ilmajokie is likely Mantas Knystautas of Lithuania. The tall and rangy Knystautas earned a World bronze in ’21, this after coming away with the same medal color on the U23 level back in ’17.

Meanwhile, 60 kg had 11 entrants in Haparanda and on Saturday will have decreased to just six.

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The most notable entrant in the field is ’04 Olympic Champion/’12 Olympic silver Karam Gaber (EGY), who came back to competition by way of the Veteran World Championships in October — and won the tournament. Gaber’s most recent Senior-level showing was at the ’14 World Championships. In ’15, he was sanctioned for a doping violation following the evasion of a drug test and thus found himself suspended for two years.

In his prime, Gaber was, pound-for-pound, one of the most explosive and athletic wrestlers on the planet whose penchant for dynamic throws was appreciated even by those outside of the Greco fanbase. He is also somewhat of a celebrity. When Gaber earned Olympic gold in Athens, he became the first Egyptian in nearly five decades to accomplish the feat. He has been featured in various forms of media and popular culture in his home country, as well. Now 44, Gaber is making his return to the Senior circuit at 87 kilograms. His bracket in Haavisto should present him with challenges depending on the pool draw. ’22 World silver Turpal Bisultanov (DEN) is registered at the weight; so is ’21 Olympian Ivan Huklek (CRO), who walked away with gold last week in Haparanda.

NOR Roster for Haavisto

Norway is sending three competitors onto the mat in neighboring Finland, two of whom in the same weight class — Sebastian Aak and Per-Anders Kure at 77 kg. It is too early in the Olympic Year for Haavisto to carry much in the way of significance towards Norway’s concerns regarding the European Championships and/or Olympic Qualifier. Early in ’24, they will run their National tournament and use results from other competitions to inform those types of roster decisions.

72 kg: Ludvig Herman Gunheim-Hatland
77 kg: Sebastian Aak
77 kg: Per-Anders Kure

5PM Rankings Update

As noted yesterday in the piece featuring Alex Sancho (67 kg, Army/WCAP) and John Stefanowicz (87 kg, Navy WC) — who both earned bronze at the ’23 CISM Military World Championships along with Dalton Roberts (60 kg, Army/WCAP) — an update in the latest 5PM Greco-Roman Rankings has been implemented.

The CISM World Military Championships is designated by this platform as a “Tier 1 International” tournament. Bronze in this tier is worth 20 points. Britton Holmes (77 kg, Army/WCAP) finished fifth, which equates to 16 points. Their updated 5PM point totals can be found below. Note: the ranking order for the four athletes has not been amended, as the US Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier is less than two weeks away and that event will invite the opportunity for domestic head-to-head criteria to address ranking sequences in each weight category.

60 kg: Dalton Roberts (Army/WCAP, 5PM #2) — 204.92
67 kg: Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP, 5PM #1) — 167.44
77 kg: Britton Holmes (Army/WCAP, 5PM #5) — 133.4
87 kg: John Stefanowicz (Navy WC, 5PM #8) — 52

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