The third and final day of the 2017 Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup in Warsaw, Poland showcased only two Greco-Roman weight classes. Good thing both of them offered a few of the best wrestlers in the sport.
Russian fireballer Artem Surkov (world no. 1) is a popular pick to stand atop the podium in Paris and that doesn’t figure to change after how he looked on Sunday. Surkov, a World bronze medalist in 2015, has been on a sizzling run dating back to last summer, scoring individual honors at every event he has competed in. Considered one of the most efficient and aggressive scorers in Greco-Roman wrestling, Surkov didn’t put on a bookended dominant performance in Poland, but it was more than enough to nail down his third gold medal of the year.
Then there was Viktor Lorinz (HUN, world no. 1), the ultra-experienced 27-year-old who just seems to be getting better and better. With all the two-time World bronze medalist has accomplished in his career, he probably never had it too much tougher than he did this weekend. On Sunday, Lorincz went up against three of the most talked-about names in his weight and thanks to his eagerness for contact and steady technical prowess, had little trouble being the last one standing at the end.
Surkov Too Tough to Handle
Surkov’s first action of the day saw him matched up with Dawid Karecinski, one of Poland’s most consistent, reliable competitors. As is his calling card, Karecinski played a physical inside game to work up a lather and tried to out-hustle Surkov with darting underhooks. A brisk pace it was, though Karecinski also made sure he kept his elbows tucked enough so as not to provide his Russian counterpart with any openings. He’d be rewarded with a passivity point soon enough. The energy rose in the final minute of the first as both athletes began to clash with more urgency and a passivity point rang in for Surkov to even the score at 1-1.
Karecinski carried the same head of steam into the second period, but that would be part of his undoing. He widened out a little too much breaking off of an exchange, allowing Surkov ample space to wrap around a deep bodylock. Surkov adjusted and torqued, taking Karecinski straight to his back for four and another four off of two proceeding turns to go up 9-1, moving him onto the next round.
Starting out, Surkov didn’t have the easiest time with Kawase Katsutoshi (JPN). Katsutoshi was adamant about taking the center, busily moving from one tie-up to another while Surkov calmly used his right lead leg to pivot out of any potentially precarious positions. A passive point rang out for Katsuoshi, giving the Japanese wrestler an early 1-0 edge. The pendulum swung the other way eventually as Surkov eventually received his point. The wrestlers were tied at one apiece midway through the first when Katsuoshi attempted a duck under Surkov sniffed out right away. He then bellied-down on Katsuoshi, who exposed, to go up 3-1. Surkov next locked around and gutted Katsuoshi over three times. However, Katusoshi challenged the last turn and won, making the score 7-1. In the ensuing par terre chance, Surkov rendered the preceding histrionics a non-issue as he made a nifty adjustment on a gutwrench attempt to take Katsuoshi over once more for the match-ending points.
The quarterfinals saw Surkov resume pleasantries with Polish star-in-the-making Mateusz Bernatek, a Senior World Team member in 2015 and last year’s U23 European Championships winner. The pair had met two times previously with both owning a win over the other. Most recently, it was a Surkov victory at the Senior European Championships back in May. The pattern repeated itself here at the 2017 Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup. Tactical, purposeful tie-ups ruled the beginning stages of this one with Bernatek perhaps demonstrating a little more intent. A passivity warning was issued to Surkov and he responded by instantly extending for a go-behind that forced Bernatek to spin out of.
Bernatek got his passive point :90 in before using a high overhook to hip Surkov out for another point and a 2-0 lead. A passivity point for the Russian was awarded soon after, cutting the score in half going into the second. Surkov was much more business-like in the conclusive frame, burrowing in with two-on-one’s from a distance and jutting in underhooks. Bernatek wanted to turn this into a pummel war so he could salvage position. The problem was that Surkov remained steadfast in his attack, resulting in a passive point coming his way. 2-2, Surkov on criteria, and he was onto the semifinals.
Waiting for Surkov was 2013 Junior Asian Championships bronze medalist Daniar Kalenov (KAZ), who defeated American Alex Sancho (NYAC-OTS) for gold last month in Tbilisi. Surkov worked Kalenov for a passivity early on. It was just all Surkov with high double-unders. He held position for virtually the sum of the first, walking Kalenov around the mat while occasionally shifting his hips for quick glimpses at high-scoring opportunities. A second passivity point for Surkov came in with :30 left in the opening period, giving him a 2-0 cushion. Following a brief flurry, Surkov found himself with double underhooks again and hastily coerced Kalenov to his knees and off the edge for another two. 4-0, Surkov. There were a few rough exchanges in the second period, but nothing too threatening. Surkov applied enough pressure on Kalenov to keep him honest. No further scoring took place and Surkov moved into the finals via the same 4-0 score.
The 66 kilogram finals pitted Surkov up against 2016 Olympian/University World silver medalist Soslan Daurov (BLR), who advanced after a tough win over one of the bracket’s favorites, Fredrik Bjerrehuus of Denmark. Surkov did not have a ton of offense left for the finals, but he didn’t need any. Daurov was penalized early on in the first for grabbing the fingers. With the caution-and-two call putting him in a somewhat deep hole right off the bat, Daurov now had the unenviable task of trying to break through Surkov’s defenses when all the Russian had to do was stay just about busy enough not to get called for anything dodgy himself. Before long, Surkov added a passivity point to his total to go up 3-0 and enjoyed his time in the driver’s seat.
For a guy who was behind by three points in a tournament final, Daurov did not betray the kind of urgency necessary to turn it all around until the latter part of the second. That’s when he began firing away more at Surkov. The hand-fighting became less about grinding and checking and more about trying to key inside on his foe– a difficult assignment when the score is even, never mind being down by a few. The effort did get Surkov knocked for a passive point — but that was it. In the end, Surkov cruised with a 3-1 victory, his second tournament win of 2017, and his third individual title of the calendar year.
Lorincz Downs Chakvetadze
There are a good number of World medal contenders at 85 kilograms. The weight class is just crammed with glimmering pedigrees, tons of experience, and talent oozing from every direction. The 2017 Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup alone offered two Rio medalists, including one champ, and several others who have taken steps onto the podium at a World Championships event.
Fans will sit and wonder whether or not 2016 Olympic gold medalist Davit Chakvetadze (RUS, world no. 4) is still the man to beat at this weight, especially after his surprise loss in the qualification round of the European Championships two months ago. It’s a worthwhile discussion. The 24-year-old did what he had to do to make the final here, though none of his four wins on the day were what you might call dominating. Chakvetadze began with a 5-0 win over Azamat Kustubayev (KAZ), followed that up with another 5-0 blanking against Stankevicius Eividas (LTU), and then took out 2016 U23 European Championships gold medalist Erik Svilvassy (HUN), who a week ago won the Ljubomir Ivanovic Gedza International in Serbia, 5-3.
On the other side of the bracket resided 2014 World bronze medalist Lorincz. Lorincz won the Euros this past May, the very same one Chakvetadze hit the showers early at. The two aren’t embroiled in some kind of bitter rivalry, though Chakvetadze did breeze past Lorincz in the Olympic semifinals a little less than a year ago.
Lorincz’s slate of competition on Sunday was stacked. His first bout saw him turn back Georgian Robert Kobliashvili (GEO, world no. 12) 4-1. After a round of 16 tech fall against Javid Hamzatav (BLR), it was a rematch with Denis Kudla (GER, world no. 7), the gifted young star who kept Lorincz off the medal stand in Rio. It was a small dose of vengeance for Lorincz, as he shut out Kudla 3-0 to advance to the semifinals. There, Lorincz once again kept an opponent off the scoreboard, downing Ivan Huklek (CRO) 4-0.
It all set up what on paper, promised to be a close yet spirited final between two of the very best in the world at 85 and the tension throughout did not disappoint. Lorincz took the initiative from the whistle, bullying in on Chakvetadze and immediately clawing for underhooks. Lorincz does not play a pretentious game this way — he hawks forward and works pummels across the body repeatedly until he either gets an opening or his opponent disengages. Chakvetadze hung in there well and the two jostled in the hand-fighting for most of the first :30. Lorincz stayed busy by forcing his right arm underneath Chakvetadze’s forearm, which would cause the Russian to have to reset. A passive warning on Chakvetadze came in and the point followed after the first minute. 1-0, Lorincz. Lorincz’s pressure was such that another passive warning was issued to Chakvetadze, but he managed to escape the first period without being paddled again.
Lorincz wasn’t completely disrupting Chakvetadze’s balance so much as he was simply owning the exchanges, forcing Chakvetadze on his heels and having to step forward. This was the rhythm — Lorincz fishing for two-on-ones and underhooks, Chakvetadze constantly offering playback. Another passivity warning on Chakvetadze soon led to another point for Lorincz, who was now nursing a 2-0 advantage deep into the second period. Chakvetadze hopped on his horse at this juncture. An attempted headlock didn’t score, so when the action was stood up, he saw a lane and went for a high dive. Lorincz thwarted that, too, but the uptick in activity on Chakvetadze’s part was enough to earn himself a passivity point with under :20 left. Too little, too late. Lorincz held position for the remainder of the period, thus walking away with the gold and his fourth tournament win this year.
- Kobliashvili defeated Kudla in the first repechage round at 85 kilograms 2-0 and wound up with a bronze. Kudla officially finished in eighth place.
- Lorincz did not give up an offensive point in any of his five matches and only two points overall.
- Bernatek and Bjerrehuus both earned bronze medals at 66 kilos.
2017 WLADYSLAW PYTLASINSKI CUP DAY 3 FINALS
66 kg: Artem Surkov (RUS) def. Soslan Daurov (BLR) 3-1
85 kg: Viktor Lorincz (HUN) def. Davit Chakvetadze (RUS) 2-1
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