Two major items dominated the weekend but we’ll start with the one involving international medals.
Northern Michigan wrestlers Alston Nutter (69 kg) and Benji Peak (63 kg) both made the podium on Saturday at the 2017 Bear Cup in Nykøbing Falster, Denmark. Nutter positively stomped through his bracket, rattling off two pins and three tech falls, including one in the finals over Aleksi Seppälä (FIN). The win was also his first at an international tournament.
In the bouts that were available to view via stream, Nutter not only looked good, he looked confident. In charge. There was no indecisiveness. He could just blitz forward, set up his positions, and attack. That is not usually how it is for the 18-year-old domestically. Setting aside the fact that Nutter is a young Junior and has regularly faced older competition, the style presented to him most often in US events is counterintuitive to his European-like approach. Here, he gets bogged down in stalemated pummeling and is forced to play that game. He can’t open up. Overseas action suits Nutter better right now because it allows him a sense of liberation as he continues to tack on meaningful experience.
Peak’s day was just as exciting, and moreover, just as important. The Bear Cup represented both his first event as a full-time Greco-Roman competitor and also, his first event following labrum surgery. Apparently, he healed just fine. Peak won two matches in a row to open up the day before dropping a high-scoring bout to two-time Junior Nordic Championships runner-up Mikkel Lassen (DEN). That sent him to the bronze medal bout where he put together one of the most adrenalizing comebacks of the year. Down 5-2 to Lauri Karjalainen (FIN) with under :10 left to go in the match, Peak dipped down on a high dive, popped up, and laced a four-point headlock to snag the last-second win.
Nutter and Peak have been in Denmark since the middle of last week and will remain there until next weekend, when the pair meets up with a large delegation of US wrestlers just in time for the Klippan Cup in Klippan, Sweden. After that is another week of training followed by the Malar Cupen in Västerås, Sweden. Nutter competed at both events last fall.
1st Midland Greco Exhibition Series a Success
If you’ve been keeping up, over the weekend was the first-ever Midland Greco Exhibition Series in Fremont, Nebraska, a one-of-its-kind event that offered nearly 100 Greco-Roman matches stretching across four age groups. Conceived by Cody Goessl, a USAW/UWW official who is also involved in the Nebraska state federation, the objective was to provide a competitive outlet for Greco athletes during a space in the year that is usually reserved for folkstyle, while also giving refs from around the region (and country) the opportunity to become better acquainted with the international rule-set.
A lot of notable athletes took the mat on Saturday — 2012 Junior World bronze medalist/2016 Olympian Jesse Thielke (Legends of Gold), 2017 University National champ Wesley Dawkins (MWC), 2017 Fargo Cadet runner-up Conor Knopick (MWC), Cody Pack (Legends of Gold), Camden Russell (MWC), Tyler Cunningham (MWC) and Logan Hatch (CWC) — plus many more. It also marked the debut of the Williams Baptist Greco-Roman team, led by head coach Jonathan Drendel.
Another feature of the Midland Series? It was used as an unofficial testing ground for the proposed changes par terre will see prior to its reinsertion into the rules early next year. However — only four bouts even necessitated forced par terre, likely due to the disparate age levels/abilities of the combatants. But all in all, the experience was an overwhelmingly positive one according to Combat Wrestling Club/HGPT3 founder Lucas Steldt, who himself brought nine athletes to the Midland Series.
“This was an awesome event at a great location,” Steldt said earlier today. “Very central, and with the women’s freestyle going on, it was a feel-good environment. Cody, Zack Wilcox, and Zack Dominguez did a great job of putting this together. The best thing to be said is that we are creating a competitive environment for Greco-Roman in the US for age-level athletes on a consistent schedule throughout the year.”
We’ll have more follow-ups from others involved later in the week.
The dreads might be gone, but the fire isn’t
A new interview with 2016 Olympic Trials champ RaVaughn Perkins (71 kg, NYAC) premiered today and it contains some rather interesting information. For starters, Perkins, for the first time publicly, addressed the injuries he sustained in the spring after he had just come back from spinal fracture rehabilitation and right before the World Team Trials. He also revealed that he cut his hair and although that might not seem like a newsworthy item, it is. Perkins claims that his hair sometimes acted as both a distraction and hindrance when competing. With that no longer an issue, and his injuries behind him, he feels rejuvenated. The first test to see just how healthy and back on track he is comes two weeks from now at the Dave Schultz Memorial.
We also recently released a new Q&A with Dalton Roberts (59 kg, NYAC/OTS), who just over a week ago defeated teammate/sporadic rival Randon Miranda (NYAC/OTS) in two straight to earn a spot at the 2017 U23 Greco-Roman World Championships in Poland next month. In addition, Roberts and fellow World Team members Alex Sancho (66 kg, NYAC/OTS) and Jesse Porter (75 kg, NYAC/OTS) are raising funds for their trips to Europe, so if you can help out in any way, please do. Links are included below.
Hear from more coaches
Appearing soon will be regular check-ins with two head coaches — NMU’s Rob Hermann and Williams Baptist’s Jonathan Drendel. By now, everyone is familiar with the popular reports featuring US National Team head coach Matt Lindland, and because there has been such a high demand from the respective fanbases of both NMU and WBC, it seemed like the natural next step to move in this direction. The reports focused on Hermann and Drendel will not be quite as frequent as the Coach Lindland Report, but certainly often enough to keep fans informed as to what’s going on with their programs.
What’s coming up here
- A look at the aforementioned Sancho, his win in Rochester as well as the overall impressive year he had that included two dynamic performances overseas.
- MERCH! Official Five Point Move tees will be available this week via pre-order. Of course, you will be notified further regarding how to get your hands on this fashionable attire. Join the hardcore!
- Rosters for the upcoming US mega trip to Sweden.
- Pieces showcasing Brandon Mueller (71 kg, Air Force) and multi-time World Team member Bryce Saddoris.
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