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Monday Roundup: Current World-Ranked USA Athletes; ’24 Olympic Qualifying Process; Dobrev

ildar hafizov, 2022 world championships versus hungary, stoyan dobrev, rankings
Ildar Hafizov -- Photo: Tony Rotundo

United World Wrestling recently updated its rankings for all ten Greco-Roman weight categories in the wake of the 2022 World Championships held last month in Belgrade, Serbia.

UWW “Ranking Series” point values were attributed to each athlete during the World tournament and displayed on the organization’s proprietary domain in real-time, though the precise order in which wrestlers might be ranked relative to those in their respective weight categories who did not compete in Belgrade was as of then unknown.

not all roads lead to gold, jim gruenwald

As of October 3, 19 United States Greco-Roman athletes are present within UWW’s rankings — which starting two seasons ago have expanded past the original top-20 lists due to points tabulation tracking.

Fall 2022 UWW Ranking Series Update

  •  15 of the 19 American athletes listed by UWW have seen a ranking increase.
  • Two wrestlers are ranked within the top-10, Max Nowry (55 kg) and Ildar Hafizov (60 kg).
  • Nine of the ten USA wrestlers who competed in the ’22 World Championships are ranked with the exception of Benji Peak (72 kg), who was unable to compete in a “Ranking Series” tournament prior to the World Championships.

55 kg

#6 — Max Nowry, Army/WCAP (previous rank: #9) — 27,600 pts
#24 — Brady Koontz, TMWC/Ohio RTC (previous rank: #29) — 5,000 pts

60 kg

#9 — Ildar Hafizov, Army/WCAP (previous rank: #31) — 18,060 pts
#22 — Randon Miranda, Rise RTC (previous rank: #30) — 10,000 pts

63 kg

#35 — Sammy Jones, NYAC (previous rank: #40) — 5,000 pts
#46 — Jesse Thielke, Army/WCAP (previous rank: #50) — 3,760 pts

67 kg

#27 — Alex Sancho, Army/WCAP (previous rank: #22) — 9,800 pts
#53 — Hayden Tuma, Suples (previous rank: #66) — 4,400 pts

72 kg

#40 — Patrick Smith, Minnesota Storm (previous rank: #40) — 5,000 pts

77 kg

#27 — RaVaughn Perkins, NYAC (previous rank: #27) — 9,500 pts
#73 — Kamal Bey, Army/WCAP (previous rank: 88) — 3,200 pts

82 kg

#30 — Ty Cunningham, MWC (previous rank: #35) — 6,500 pts
#53 — Spencer Woods, Army/WCAP (previous rank: #60) — 3,520 pts

87 kg

#56 — Rich Carlson, Minnesota Storm (previous rank: #62) — 4,000 pts
#68 — Alan Vera, NYAC (previous rank: #76) — 3,100 pts

97 kg

#21 — Braxton Amos, Sunkist/Wisconsin RTC (previous rank: #20) — 14,300 pts
#37 — Nick Boykin, Sunkist/Ohio RTC (previous rank: #43) — 6,500 pts

130 kg

#21 — Cohlton Schultz, Sunkist (previous rank: #29) — 9,800 pts
#47 — Tanner Farmer, NYAC/IRTC (previous rank: #51) — 4,000 pts

Olympic Qualifying for ’24

The biggest piece of news to hit international wrestling last week was UWW’s announcement that they had approved of new qualifying procedures for the ’24 Paris Games. As was the case with Tokyo, brackets for Paris will be limited to just 16 athletes, and continental qualifiers will stick to awarding licenses to the top-two finishers in each weight category, which is and has by and large been customary.

The most notable change that UWW has in their plans will arrive with the ’23 World Championships. In the recent past, all athletes who participated in medal matches qualified their respective weight categories on behalf of their nations. At next year’s Worlds (which at press time is still to be held in Krasnoyarsk, RUS), the four medal-winners from each weight class will qualify — but both wrestlers who fall in their bronze-medal bouts will compete for a fifth and final qualifying spot.

In addition, three Olympic tickets will be up for grabs at the ’24 World qualifier (tentatively scheduled for May 9-12, location TBD), with those wrestlers who earn bronze medals competing in a “true third” bout to determine the third Olympic license.

2024 olympic wrestling qualifying procedures

Dobrev Talks Bulgaria

Head National coach for Serbia — and once upon a time a World bronze for his native Bulgaria — Stoyan Dobrev is coming off of a banner achievement. At the World Championships last month on his adopted home turf, Dobrev watched as four Serbian athletes earned gold medals and helped their country become the talk of the tournament.

Under Dobrev’s leadership, which now encompasses nine years, Serbia’s results on the international level have been consistent and noteworthy. 35 World-level medals have gone to SRB during Dobrev’s reign thus far; and with the Balkan nation staking claim to what is now a more robust developmental system, it does not appear that his work is anywhere near finished.

But the 53-year-old coach’s heart is still with Bulgaria, where he also served as an assistant under head Bratan Tsenov. Very much so, in fact. When speaking to his former country’s official outlet, Dobrev did not intimate the desire for a victory lap with regards to Serbia’s finish in the ’22 World Team standings. Rather, he felt conflicted. “This was one of the most difficult moments for me, when I had to stand in the corner against our (BUL’s) wrestlers,” said Dobrev. “I have never felt good about that because I am Bulgarian and will remain so for the rest of my life. One day, sooner or later, I know that I will return to Bulgaria.”

Dobrev wants to see Bulgaria flourish, with or without his involvement. But in order for that to happen, he believes that the Bulgarian government needs to increase financial efforts in a big way for its athletes.

“In Serbia, sport is currently a state policy,” began Dobrev. “The state gives 200 million Euros ($196,550,000 USD) for sports. As far as I know in Bulgaria, it is 40 million. The difference is five times more. In Serbia, for each European, World, and Olympic medal, the state provides national recognition or a pension, which is a kind of incentive for these young guys who know that if they reach some result, such as third in the European Championships, he has some security in case something happens. When he turns 38, he begins to receive a pension for the rest of his life. This is something that really gives the whole thing meaning.”

He then went on to further illustrate areas of concern in which he sees Bulgarian athletes.

“You cannot retire from the sport as a World and European champion, as we have now in Bulgaria, and not know where to go, left or right,” he said. “And in reality, you gave the best years of your life, you invested all your energy and everything into your sport. Unfortunately, there is no way to change that. There are no sports schools here (in Serbia), work is done on an amateur basis. But there is support, and this is because of the attitude of the state. Hopefully, this will happen in Bulgaria, because many of our wrestler friends are currently in a very bad condition. Not just wrestlers, but all athletes, and I am most sickened by this thing. I cannot say that Serbia has greater opportunities than us. On this, I cannot agree. There are 6.5 million people in Serbia, and Bulgaria also has that many. How come they can spend so much money and attention on their athletes and we can’t?”

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Listen to “5PM52: Two-Time Olympian Jim Gruenwald” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM51: Lining up with Tanner Farmer” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM50: Mr. Fantastic Benji Peak” on Spreaker.

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