The 2021 U23 World Championships start one week from today in Belgrade, Serbia. To view the entire schedule (with all of the action set to broadcast in the US on FLOWrestling), simply jump over here. And because the U23 Worlds arrives on a Monday, there will not be a Roundup next week. Instead, look for a recap intended to summarize Day 1’s results, which will also be the case for the proceeding days of the tournament.
As discussed previously — and will be again this week — the USA roster for Belgrade is an interesting one. Three of the ten American athletes have prior World-level experience, two of whom own medals. Taylor LaMont (55 kg, Sunkist/UVRTC, 5PM #2) and Alston Nutter (67 kg, Sunkist/NTS, 5PM #5) both hold Junior bronze hardware (’16 for LaMont, ’19 for Nutter). Nick Boykin (97 kg, Sunkist/Ohio RTC, 5PM #3) made his World debut in ’19 as a Junior, and is a vastly-improved athlete compared to two years ago.
When LaMont makes his way to the mat on Belgrade, it will represent his seventh appearance in a World event — far and away the most among the collective. Elsewhere on the roster are several with “relevant international experience” (i.e., have more than two foreign tournaments logged, or have earned hardware). David Stepanyan (63 kg, NYAC/NTS, 5PM #2), Britton Holmes (77 kg, Army/WCAP, 5PM #9), Tommy Brackett (82 kg, Gator, 5PM #5), and ’21 National champ Spencer Woods (87 kg, Army/WCAP, 5PM #2) have all made trips to Europe before (most prominently Scandinavia and Austria) and come home with medals. In the fall of ’19, Woods snared gold at the MalarCupen in Sweden, which helped propel his Senior career stateside. Brackett has been on the podium in Klippan, as well; and Holmes burst on the scene in ’16 by winning the Malar Cupen in Vasteras. As for Stepanyan, his first noise-making foray internationally came at the ’19 Austrian Open, where he vaulted to gold.
“Inexperience” is a relative term in relation to the ’21 U23’ers. “Greco’s Son” Dylan Gregerson (60 kg, UVRTC, 5PM #4 at 63 kg) has become a very serious Senior threat, and last November reigned supreme at the U23 National tournament. But — he had still been waiting to head overseas as the calendar flipped to ’21. That opportunity arose in the form of a trip to Hungary just prior to the Euro Olympic qualifying event. Hungary ran a small’ish tournament, Gregerson’s first such escapade, and the Utah native wound up giving eventual German Olympian Etienne Kinsinger a run for his money. Brandon Metz (130 kg, Bison WC) has not yet had the chance to compete against foreigners, usually a cause for consternation with a Worlds on the horizon. Except, Metz was an age-group powerhouse before enrolling in college — and has already done a nice job transitioning to Senior after his U23 jaunt in the spring.
The most glaring “x-factor” is, of course, Nate Moore (72 kg, UNCO), who is stepping in as the injured Benji Peak‘s (Sunkist/NTS, 5PM #2) replacement. Moore — who did acquit himself well in spaces at Junior previously — does not carry the glitz of someone like Peak (few do), and is certainly without the type of foreign familiarity that would automatically build confidence in the eyes of outsiders. But — in his domestic National-level appearances, he has demonstrated uncommon toughness to complement what are otherwise transferrable and effective all-style skills.
Below is the plan to ring in the U23 Worlds:
- The post-Oslo Coach Lindland’s Report.
- Q&A’s with Brackett & Nutter.
- An all-new Marquette Matters with NMU Head Coach Andy Bisek.
- Overview on FLO.
Plus recaps during and following the tournament.
Not the Autumn For Which Most Had Hoped
Twice in recent Roundups, the remaining Senior international schedule was trumpeted. The thought, among both many athletes and some coaches, was that the new season would usher in a return to normalcy for the sport. What that presumed to entail for Americans (as well as their contemporaries from Europe) were flights to Russia, Sweden, and Finland. Also this year, Egypt. While the fate of these tournaments is not unanimously confirmed, it is unfortunately beginning to look like the U23 World Championships will serve as the last international competition of the year on the red-white-and-blue side of things.
— The Oleg Karavaev Memorial, slated for November 18-20, is still listed according to United World Wrestling — but there will not be a US delegation.
— As of press time, the the SA Lavrikov Memorial (RUS) is officially canceled. Lavrikov is annually a reliable, fruitful hop to St. Petersburg for the Americans, and the National Program has exited that tournament more often than not with a parade of medal-winners. This year, a purported uptick in COVID cases around the region have resulted in its becoming x’ed out.
— The Ibrahim Moustafa (EGY, November 26-27) is still displayed on UWW’s calendar. But word is beginning to swirl that the tournament will likewise wind up not being run.
— The Haparanda Cup (SWE, November 27), a longstanding favorite for the US, has been removed from UWW’s list of events and is reportedly canceled.
— Finally, the Haavisto Cup (FIN, December 4) is still (as of Monday, October 25) on the books. But without Haparanda on the front-end of what is usually a back-to-back deal for American Seniors, Haavisto’s attractiveness might be diminished.
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