On Thursday, the first United World Wrestling “Ranking Series” event of the year will get underway in Rome, Italy featuring 15 US National Team members and 18 American athletes in total.
The 2021 Matteo Pellicone Memorial arrives just as the homestretch to the Last Chance Qualifier and Olympic Trials begins to take shape. For all US wrestlers, this tournament will be their final competitive opportunity prior to potential Team selection. Nine Greco-Roman athletes in particular have not entered an event dating back to last season.
’20 U23 National Champion Dylan Gregerson (UVRTC) holds the distinction of being the only US athlete listed on the roster who is not a Trials-qualified entrant, something he will look to correct in four weeks. By all accounts, Gregerson — who fell to “Wildman Sam” Sammy Jones (NYAC/UVRTC, 5PM #5) via decision in the ’19 National Team match — gave stout German Etienne Kinsinger one whale of a fight two weeks ago in Hungary, where he recently completed training camp. Gregerson and Jones are now workout partners at the Brunson Utah Valley Training Center.
Nine Season Debuts
Jones is one of the nine athletes who has yet to compete this season but the picture becomes hazy when considering four others. RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC, 5PM #4 at 77 kg), Ben Provisor (NYAC, 5PM #3 at 77 kg), and G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg, Sunkist, world #6, 5PM #1) have all participated in exhibition matches over the course of the pandemic. Provisor himself has had three such opportunities, including one against Perkins as part of Wrestling Underground 1 on UFC Fight Pass. Hancock went head-to-head with ’20 National champ Alan Vera (87 kg, NYAC, 5PM #1) on FLO’s Burroughs vs. Valencia card in October. Both Perkins and Provisor are committed to 77 kilograms but listed at 82 for Pellicone along with ’20 Armed Forces gold Terrence Zaleski (Marines), who is thought to be on track for 87 kilos at the Trials.
Cohlton Schultz (130 kg, Sunkist, 5PM #2) is one of the nine but it is a misleading designation. While it’s true that Schultz has not suited up for a Greco-Roman tournament since placing fifth at Thor Masters over a year ago, he has done quite well collegiately this season for Arizona State. This past weekend, Schultz won the PAC-12 Championships and is currently undefeated heading into the NCAA Division I National Championships slated to start on March 18.
The nine United States Greco-Roman athletes who will be making their first appearances of the ’20-’21 season in Rome this week are represented below along with their most recent sanctioned competitive result (i.e. not counting exhibition and collegiate matches).
Ildar Hafizov (60 kg, Army/WCAP, 5PM #1) — silver, Pan-American Olympic Qualifier — March 13, ’20
Sammy Jones (63 kg, NYAC/UVRTC, 5PM #5 at 60 kg) — runner-up, US Nationals — December 22, ’19
Ray Bunker (72 kg, Marines, world #11, 5PM #3 at 67 kg) — gold, Pan-American Championships — March 6, ’20
RaVaughn Perkins (82 kg, NYAC, 5PM #4 at 77 kg) — third, US Nationals — December 22, ’19
Ben Provisor (82 kg, NYAC, 5PM #3 at 77 kg) — runner-up, Final X: Rutgers — June 7, ’19
Patrick Martinez (87 kg, NYAC, 5PM #3) — 5th, Matteo Pellicone — January 15, ’20
G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg, Sunkist, world #7, 5PM #1) — silver, Pan-American Olympic Qualifier — March 13, ’20
Adam Coon (130 kg, NYAC/Cliff Keen, world #6, 5PM #1) — bronze, Pan-American Olympic Qualifier — March 13, ’20
Cohlton Schultz (130 kg, Sunkist, 5PM #2) — 5th, Thor Masters — January 17, ’20
Matteo Pellicone Full Schedule
All times +6 hours EST. Tournament to stream on FLOWrestling.
Thursday, March 4
10:30am-3:00pm — Qualification rounds through repechage (55, 60, 63, 67, 87, 97, & 130 kg)
6:00pm-8:30pm — Finals
Friday, March 5
10:30am-3:00pm — Qualification rounds through repechage (72, 77, & 82 kg)
6:00pm-8:30pm — Finals
Team USA Roster
*US National Team
**Olympic Trials qualified
Dylan Gregerson (UVRTC)
*/**Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP, 5PM #1)
*/**Sammy Jones (NYAC/UVRTC, 5PM #5 at 60 kg)
*/**Jamel Johnson (Marines, 5PM #4)
*/**Ray Bunker (Marines, 5PM #3 at 67 kg)
*/**Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm, 5PM #1)
*/**Peyton Walsh (Marines, 5PM #9)
**RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC, 5PM #4 at 77 kg)
*/**Ben Provisor (NYAC, 5PM #3 at 77 kg)
**Terrence Zaleski (Marines, 5PM #10 at 87 kg)
*/**Patrick Martinez (NYAC, 5PM #3)
*/**Joe Rau (TMWC/IRTC, world #7, 5PM #2)
*/**John Stefanowicz (Marines, world #3 at 82 kg)
*/**G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist, world #7, 5PM #1)
*/**Daniel Miller (Marines, 5PM #3)
**West Cathcart (NYAC/IRTC, 5PM #6)
*/**Adam Coon (NYAC/Cliff Keen, world #6, 5PM #1)
*/**Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist, 5PM #2)
Wristbands & Whistles
Premiering this coming weekend will be a new regular column titled The Official Review. Featuring a rotation of referees who are members of the United States Wrestling Officials Association, the goal for The Official Review is to provide a more robust understanding of the Greco-Roman rule-set for the audience as well as shed light on some of the perspectives and stories from those who make the calls during matches. Wrestling in the US, particularly Greco, requires gaining a deeper appreciation for all of the intricacies on-the-mat governance entails. Thus, the hope with The Official Review centers around education and feeding fan interest in an effort for our sport and community to grow closer together.
Ringers with Fast Turnaround
It was less than four weeks ago when the Ringers Greco Showcase unfolded in Wisconsin with a card full of age-group bouts. Both Ringers head coach Bill Kahle and Combat WC founder Lucas Steldt immediately expressed interest in doing it again — and they are. This Friday, March 5, will see the second installment of the Showcase with a main event that will likely garner plenty of enthusiasm. ’20 Junior National champ Payton Jacobson (Ringers) will battle fellow Junior dynamo (and Fargo stud) Robert Perez III (USOPTC) at 67 kilograms to top off the night’s slate of action. Both Jacobson and Perez normally compete between 60 and 63, but weight isn’t expected to present an issue in this case.
The card, which offers over two dozen match-ups, is scheduled to begin at 6:00pm CT and will air live here.
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