Greco News

Monday Roundup: Rau & Black; LaMont in TUR

rau, petrov
Photo: BF Borba

When Joe Rau (97 kg, TMWC) pinned Zegang Wang (CHN) on Saturday in Bulgaria, he ensured that the US program had earned at least one medal in consecutive (Senior) overseas tournaments for the first time since 2019.

not all roads lead to gold, parent edition, jim gruenwald

Rau performed rather effectively and efficiently on Friday, the first day of the ’24 Nikola Petrov Memorial, before falling via heartbreaking decision to Amirreza Akbari (IRI) in the semifinal. He then regrouped for the bronze round on Saturday and was in command throughout against Wang before barring a right-side two-on-one and recording the win by way of fall. The week prior at Thor Masters in Denmark, Northern Michigan University’s Max Black walked away with 60 kg bronze after downing Sweden’s Mark Liotto.

The last time the United States had medalists in back-to-back overseas (as in across the Atlantic Ocean, in Europe or Asia, etc.) events was in late-’19. Chris Anderson (Rise RTC) earned bronze at the Lavrikov Memorial in St. Petersburg Russia; one week later at the Haparanda Cup in Sweden, John Stefanowicz (87 kg, Navy WC) placed first, Max Nowry finished second, and Nolan Baker, Ray Bunker, and Lucas Sheridan (97 kg, Army/WCAP) came away with bronze.

To Whom Belongs the Glory graphic

In March of ’20, the US had a string of medalists from the Pan-Am Championships in Ottawa, Canada and the next week qualified four weight categories for the Tokyo Olympics. Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) and ’18 World silver Adam Coon (130 kg, NYAC/Cliff Keen) both placed third in that event, as well. However, although Pan-Am tournaments are categorized as “international” by definition, they are continental and therefore do not fit the same description as events which occur in Europe, Asia, or Africa. This distinction is merely geographical and not intended to suggest a difference in competitive level.

LaMont in TUR

It flew under the radar, due in part to the US having four athletes competing in Bulgaria, but this past weekend ’16 Junior World bronze Taylor LaMont (60 kg, Minnesota Storm) was the only American Greco-Roman wrestler to enter the Vehbi Emre tournament in Antalya, Turkey. The tournament was not streamed live on an English-speaking platform but was purportedly broadcast in the host country. LaMont was defeated by longstanding Turkish competitor Mustafa Saglam (who eventually finished third) 5-3 in his lone match at the tournament.

LaMont came back to Greco-Roman this past fall after completing his NCAA career for the University of Wisconsin following his time as an All-American for Utah Valley. In December, LaMont qualified for the upcoming Olympic Team Trials at the US Nationals in Fort Worth, Texas.

What’s Next

A familiar delegation of United States Greco-Roman prospects competed (and trained) overseas last month and managed to bring home a collection of medals. The results from both tournaments along with context and descriptions from Combat WC coach Lucas Steldt will be released later this week.

Also set for imminent publication is a full-length interview with ’22 U20 World Team member Jonathan Gurule (60 kg, NMU/NTS). Gurule, 21, was a high school star in New Mexico but was unsure of which direction to take following graduation. He opted for NMU, and, now in third year at the school, has established himself as a potent contender in what is traditionally the country’s most electrifying weight class.

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