Greco News

Monday Roundup: Rau, NMU; CRO Busy

David Stepanyan -- Photo: Sam Janicki

Coming up this week is the 2024 Nikola Petrov Memorial in Sofia, Bulgaria. A traditionally challenging event, the Petrov attracts top competitors from across the globe. The Bulgarian Wrestling Federation is already touting participants from nearly two dozen countries, including Russia, Serbia, Korea, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Italy, and China. Just as was the case last week at Thor Masters, Petrov is likely being seen by many as an important tune-up prior to both the European and Asian Olympic Games Qualifiers.

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The United States will also have a presence. Three-time World Team member Joe Rau (97 kg, TMWC) is among the American athletes who are scheduled to appear in Bulgaria. Rau, who turns 33 on March 17, has been training in Europe through much of the winter with stops in France and Germany, respectively.

Joining him are four athletes from Northern Michigan University’s National Training Site — such as Olympic Trials-qualified David Stepanyan (67 kg) and George Sikes (97 kg). Stepanyan gained entry into the upcoming Trials on the heels of his performance at the December Nationals while Sikes punched his ticket at the Bill Farrell Memorial in November.

Rounding out the NMU contingent are Patrick Curran (82 kg) and Casey Recrosio (82 kg). Both student athletes are in the “soak up experience” phase of their young careers, making this particular trip potentially extra-valuable to them as the spring season begins to come into view.

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2024 Nikola Petrov Memorial Schedule

The 2024 Nikola Petrov Memorial is observing a two-day format for each weight category. In addition, although perhaps tentative, tournament organizers have released the draws for the first day of action (Thursday). Notably, Curran is not listed as having a match. Recrosio starts in the quarterfinal round opposed by Kazakhstan’s Talas Ashirkhanov.

All times local (+7 hours ET). Weight categories listed next to tournament days are those belonging to USA competitors.

67 kg: David Stepanyan (NYAC/NTS)
82 kg: Patrick Curran (NMU/NTS)
82 kg: Casey Recrosio (NMU/NTS)
97 kg: Joe Rau (TMWC)
97 kg: George Sikes (NMU/NTS)

Thursday, March 7 — Day 1 (82 kg)
10:30am — Qualification rounds
5:00pm — Semifinals

Friday, March 8 — Day 2 (97 kg)
10:30am — Qualification rounds & Day 1 repechage
5:00pm — Semifinals
6:00pm — Finals & bronze matches for Day 1 athletes

Saturday, March 9 — Day 3 (67 kg)
10:30am — Qualification rounds & Day 2 repechage
5:00pm — Semifinals
6:00pm — Finals & bronze matches for Day 2 athletes

Sunday, March 10 — Day 4
11:00am — Repechage, bronze matches, & finals for Day 3 athletes

Croatia Notes

A group of USA Greco-Roman Seniors will be returning to Porec, Croatia later this month for training camp. Mainly comprised of National Team-type athletes, the roster is departing from the US on March 16 and returning stateside on March 29. Given its timing, the camp is positioned as the last significant overseas excursion for Americans prior to the Olympic Team Trials.

Porec in recent years has begun to rival both Hungary and Denmark when it comes to European training gatherings. Beholden to an expansive wrestling room that now serves as a destination for athletes from around the continent, preparation in Porec is, particularly in the wake of the pandemic, now a priority for many programs, including the US (who in January had a contingent compete at the Grand Prix Zagreb Open before heading to Porec).

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Listen to “5PM57: Kamal Bey and David Stepanyan” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM56: Rich Carlson and Spencer Woods” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM55: Recapping Final X with Dennis Hall with words from Koontz, Braunagel and Hafizov” on Spreaker.

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