First Croatia and then it was Bulgaria, and now various individuals attached to the United States Greco-Roman program are in Sweden to finish off the final leg of the winter tour.
Although, it has occurred in pieces. For example, several athletes who competed and/or trained in Croatia did not travel to Bulgaria (the trip culminated on Sunday with the Nikola Petrov Memorial). Similarly, the overwhelming majority of US wrestlers who were in BUL are not hopping over to Scandinavia — but one who was in CRO and did compete but returned home to the States will be on-board for the Sweden camp.
The 2022 winter tour for USA Greco has had more than a few moving parts and it all began just prior to departure when the Army’s World Class Athletes Program was forced to remove their wrestlers from the roster.
As the Euro homestretch rounds into view, there are only two holdovers from both CRO and BUL (one of whom is the National Team head coach) along with a small infusion of fresh faces; and, as mentioned, an athlete who trained and competed in CRO, flew back to the US, and will arrive in SWE sometime on Tuesday.
US National Team head Matt Lindland and G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg, Sunkist, world #5, 5PM #1) are in Malmo, Sweden (after first encountering a long layover in Frankfurt) for training camp. ’21 World Team member Cohlton Schultz (130 kg, Sunkist, 5PM #1) is en-route and set to participate, as well, and should be there in time for tomorrow’s second practice session. The trio of Lindland, Hancock, and Schultz will also not be the only Americans in Malmo.
As mentioned in Saturday’s Petrov recap, ’21 World Teamer “Wildman Sam” Sammy Jones (63 kg, NYAC, 5PM #1), Erik Spence (67 kg, NMU/NTS), Riley Briggs (72 kg, NMU/NTS), and Julian Beltran (77 kg, NMU/NTS) were already in Malmo for the Tarlot Cup yesterday. The Tarlot Cup, despite the presence of several international stars, was more of a friendly, informal training tournament than a significant major event. Official results and records from the competition were not logged, the tournament was not streamed nor listed on United World Wrestling’s platform, and all who entered from the US are and were much more focused on the training camp, which began today.
Another athlete who is in Malmo but was not included in the above list is Jessy Williams (67 kg, NYAC/Spartan Wrestling RTC, 5PM #10). This is important to note. In ’18, Williams had two separate stints in Malmo where he trained under Swedish coach Kim Holk. In between those camps, Williams put together a scorching run that ended with a runner-up finish at the US Open. Overseas activity has been sparse ever since. Before he touched down in Malmo a couple of days ago, Williams had not trained in Europe dating back to Thor Masters in ’19.
The 2022 Nikola Petrov Memorial did not disappoint in terms of star power, even with the absences of Russia and Turkey. 77 kilograms, as usual, was the weight class that attracted the most attention. Gold went to two-time World medalist Aik Mnatsakanian (one of three champs from home country Bulgaria), who had to get past Zoltan Levai (HUN) in the quarterfinal and ’20 Olympic silver Azkhol Makhmudov (KGZ) in the semis. Mnatsakanian then blitzed India’s Sajan Sajan to take the top spot. Ilo Iliev won at 67 for BUL, as did ’18 World silver Kiril Milov at 97. Milov was supposed to face fellow recent medalist Revaz Nadareishvili (GEO) in the gold-medal match but was instead awarded the victory via forfeit (forfeits occurred multiple times over the weekend).
In another piece of news, Petrov rang in the first tournament for Ali Arsalan (72 kg) as a member of Serbia’s squad. Arsalan, 26, defected to SRB from Iran in December. The owner of an Asian Championships bronze in addition to a handful of respectable international medals, Arsalan’s last appearance for Iran came in September, when he placed first at the Ljubomir Gedza …which was held in Serbia. Arsalan did not struggle very much in picking up gold at Petrov. A forfeit put him in the round-of-16 where he right away had an athlete from his former country in ’21 Cadet World silver Alireza Abdevali. Arsalan moved on with a VSU, emerged victorious 3-1 over ’17 Junior bronze Otar Abuladze (GEO), and in the final steamrolled iron-tough Hungarian Robert Fritsch to pick up gold and his second tech of the tournament.
2022 Nikola Petrov Memorial Placewinners
GOLD: Balbai Dordokov (KGZ)
SILVER: Florin Mihai Denis (ROU)
BRONZE: Ajay Ajay (IND)
BRONZE: Denis Demirov (BUL)
GOLD: Esmaeili Saeid (IRI)
SILVER: Irakli Dzimistarishvili (GEO)
BRONZE: Abdelkerim Fergat (ALG)
BRONZE: Zholaman Sharshenbekov (KGZ)
GOLD: Meysam Dalkhani (IRI)
SILVER: Pridon Abuladze (GEO)
BRONZE: Tynar Sharsenbekov (KGZ)
BRONZE: Erik Torba (HUN)
GOLD: Ivo Iliev (BUL)
SILVER: Sebastian Nad (SRB)
BRONZE: Eldilar Satarov (KGZ)
BRONZE: Marlen Asikeev (KGZ)
GOLD: Ali Arsalan (SRB)
SILVER: Robert Fritsch (HUN)
BRONZE: Shmagi Bolkvadze (GEO)
BRONZE: Alireza Abdevail (IRI)
GOLD: Aik Mnatsakanian (BUL)
SILVER: Sajan Sajan (IND)
BRONZE: Azkhol Makhmudov (KGZ)
BRONZE: Pavel Liakh (BLR)
GOLD: Gela Bolkvadze (GEO)
SILVER: Tamas Levai (HUN)
BRONZE: Alireza Mohmadipiani (IRI)
BRONZE: Tornike Dzamashvili (GEO)
GOLD: Kiryl Maskevich (BLR)
SILVER: Robert Kobliashvili (GEO)
BRONZE: Istvan Takacs (HUN)
BRONZE: Gurami Khetsuriani (IRI)
GOLD: Kiril Milov (BUL)
SILVER: Revaz Nadareishvili (GEO)
BRONZE: Uzur Dzhuzupbekov (KGZ)
BRONZE: Giorgi Katsanashvili (GEO)
GOLD: Alin Alexuc-Ciurariu (ROU)
SILVER: Delian Alishahi (SUI)
BRONZE: Dariusz Vitek (HUN)
BRONZE: Lenny Berei (ROU)
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