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Monday Roundup: Complete Thor Masters 2022 Entry List; Losonczi Speaks

thor masters 2022, turpal bisultanov
Turpal Bisultanov -- Photo: Tony Rotundo

Friday rings in the 20th running of the Thor Masters Invitational in Nykobing Falster, Denmark. Scandinavia’s grandest Greco-Roman tournament, Thor Masters’ popularity can be broken down into three key components: 1) the brutish style brought to bear by the majority of participants; 2) the accommodations provided by the Danish federation and host entity Brydeklubben Thor; and 3) the oft-discussed training camp that follows the competition.

In fact, Thor Masters’ success, especially over the past six seasons, is actually what works against it being included as part of United World Wrestling’s “Ranking Series”. The pooled structure of the Nordic system format on display at Thor Masters is favored by athletes and coaches because entrants are virtually guaranteed a minimum of two matches. At worst, meaning in low-yielding brackets, competition is round-robin’ed. In highly-populated brackets, wrestlers who advance may compete in as many as four or five bouts — even if they do not appear in a medal round. Although the Nordic system is not a recent innovation, it is perhaps best rendered by Thor Masters thanks in large part to the scope of competition that is typically available. But it is for that very reason why UWW has been resistant towards considering it for the Ranking Series, which sees all events observe the traditional championship bracket format with repechage.

not all roads lead to gold, jim gruenwald

While Thor Masters deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the Hungarian Grand Prix or Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Memorial, the tournament enjoys its status as an outlier. If inclusion in the Ranking Series requires the dissolution of the Nordic system, Thor Masters is likely better-served to continue to function on its own terms. After all, it is what helps the tournament stand apart from the rest.

Thor Masters 2022 Entry List

Strong Youth in the Upper-Weights

There is no question who the banner athlete for Thor Masters ’22 happens to be — Turpal Bisultanov (87 kg, DEN). Still just 20 years of age, Bisultanov grinded his way to the World final earlier this month in Belgrade and is one of Greco’s best overall young wrestlers, maybe of any weight range. He won this, essentially his home tournament, last year, and would appear to sit in prime position for a repeat in ’22. But he might have a nice test in the form of ’21 Junior World champ/’22 U23 Euro gold Marcel Sterkenburg. Sterkenburg put the Netherlands back on the map last year with his run to the U20 title. The whole thing created quite the buzz, but this is a wrestler who would attract eyeballs anywhere. Sterkenburg can pack a big punch from par terre and is also beholden to a solid pace in a weight category not normally associated with an upticked tempo.

’21 Junior World silver Exauce Mukubu (NOR) will do battle in a competitive 82 kilogram bracket that also features Lukas Ahlgren (SWE). Mukubu had been on a tear this season before Norway removed him from the roster for Belgrade. He is still penciled in for the U23 World Championships and, like several others, will look to use Thor Masters as a stay-sharp gauge prior to the last phase of tapering. Mukubu has the tools and talent to forge an outstanding career, and is certainly one to watch at the U23 Worlds in two-and-a-half weeks. Ahlgren — well-familiar to US fans — is himself a polished wrestler whose physicality has increased on the Senior level, as has his ability to gain consistency. Mukubu and Ahlgren both sat out of the ’22 Worlds but placed third in the same bracket last month at the Druskinikai Cup in Lithuania.

60 kg

Grzegorz Kunkel (POL)
Nikolai Mohamadi (DEN)
Alexander Norstrom (SWE)

63 kg

Tim Bergfalk (SWE)
Artor Hagerup (NOR)
Mason Hartshorn (CYC/West Coast Greco RTC)
Jonatan Jednell (SWE)
Tino Ojala (FIN)
William Reenberg (DEN)
Brian Kurt Santiago (DEN)
Logan Savvy (NYAC)

67 kg

Jeremy Bockert (IGA)
Andrë Jönsson (SWE)
Håvard Jørgensen (NOR)
Frederik Mathiesen (DEN)
Niklas Öhlen (SWE)
Colton Parduhn (IGA)
Vilius Savickas (LTU)
Alexander Vafai (SWE)
Jessy Williams (NYAC/Spartan RTC)

72 kg

Samuel Ballscheidt (GER)
Georgios Barbados (SWE)
Kamil Czarniecki (POL)
Christoffer Dahlen (SWE)
Joni Komppa (FIN)
David Loher (SUI)
Elmer Mattila (FIN)
Aleksander Milewczyk (POL)
Miru Olsson (SWE)
Giorgos Sotiriadis (GRE)
Randel Uibo (EST)
Eimantas Vilimas (LTU)

77 kg

Patryk Bednarz (POL)
Jacob Fisher (Curby 3-Style)
Avtandil Giogolasvili (SWE)
Benjamin Hansen (NOR)
Edvin Kin (EST)
Oliver Krüger (DEN)
Aistis Liaugminas (LTU)
Adam Strandner (SWE)

82 kg

Lukas Ahlgren (SWE)
Adam Gardziola (POL)
Marcel Hein (DEN)
Andre Isberg (SWE)
Otto Ketonen (FIN)
Alexander Johansson (SWE)
Vilhelm Larsson (SWE)
Erik Löser (GER)
Exauce Mukubu (NOR)
Deni Nakaev (GER)
Anton Olsson (SWE)
Jonni Sarkkinen (FIN)
Arsenas Stankevicius (LTU)

87 kg

Turpal Bisultanov (DEN)
Oscar Johansson (SWE)
Ilias Pagkalidis (GRE)
Marcel Sterkenburg (NED)
Andreas Välis (EST)
Christian Zemp (SUI)

97 kg

Mathias Bak (DEN)
Arthur Devoldere (BEL)
Gerard Kurniczak (POL)
Walid Said (SWE)
Tyrone Sterkenburg (NED)
Mindaugas Venckaitis (LTU)
Anton Vieweg (GER)

130 kg

Franz Richter (GER)
Tomasz Wawrzyezyk (POL)

Losonczi Talks World Bronze

Hungary did not intend to pull a swerve by sending David Losonczi to the ’22 Worlds instead of Erik Szilvassy or Istvan Takacs. It was simply the byproduct of wrongfully perceived optics. Despite Lonsonczi coming off of an impressive string of showings dating back to March of last year, the ’21 U23 World runner-up was playing second-fiddle in press clippings to what many assumed was a stand-off between Szilvassy and Takacs for Belgrade. In hindsight, the situation is, was, understandable. Szilvassy had briefly climbed up to 97 and back down to 87 without missing a step, and Takacs was busy piecing together one stout performance after another. But there was Losonczi the entire time, doing nothing other than making the finals in four out of six premier tournaments in the span of 12 months.

For Hungary, the best solution was the most obvious one, even if it wasn’t so obvious to everyone else.

And Losonczi rewarded HUN’s trust in his ability by pounding out three straight wins at his first World Championships appearance before falling to eventual gold Zurabi Datunashvili (SRB) in the semifinals. He then rebounded with a victory over ’19 World silver Alex Kessidis (SWE) for bronze, and now it would seem that Losonczi, 22, is the frontrunner to commandeer Hungary’s spot left vacated by multi-time medalist Viktor Lorincz.

Speaking to the Hungarian Wrestling Federation last week, Losonczi shared several interesting insights as they related to Belgrade and how he views the short-term circumstances at 87 in Hungary.

On how much he has improved in only a year

“A lot of water has flowed down the Danube since then. This year, wrestling among the Seniors went so well that I thought I could really win the gold. The reason I was sad in Belgrade was because I lost in the semifinals very close. I was beaten 4-3 by the eventual winner Zurabi Datunashvili from Serbia. That day I felt that I was the best, but because of that I had a feeling of loss. Of course, I know that I shouldn’t bother with this now. I’ll beat him next time.”

On how he felt at the ’22 Worlds

“With the exception of the round-of-16, I made mistakes in all my matches. I wrestled better in the prior competitions. I wasn’t in top shape in Serbia, but not physically, instead, mentally. It was still my first Senior Worlds and I already felt the weight on my shoulders in the semifinals and the bronze medal match. I was already very nervous during those matches, which is why I got knocked out by Datunashvili. We have analyzed all my matches and are working to eliminate my mistakes.”

On how his training over the past year has influenced his performance

“I became more focused. I shut everything out. I only deal with wrestling. I work a lot. I go to a physiotherapist, a masseuse, a sports psychologist, and I even train in a cold room. All of these are necessary for me to achieve good results like I have now. I think my secret lies in my endurance. Few people can handle the pace I dictate, just as my intense starts to matches are also difficult to deal with.”

On why he won’t be wrestling at the U23 Worlds this month

“We got some rest (after the World Championships) and this week we started training again. Before the competition in Belgrade, it was agreed that I would go to the Senior Worlds while Istvan Takacs, the Junior World champion and fifth at last year’s Senior championship, would be in the U23 field. So I’m already concentrating on the next year with all my might. The foundation work will start soon. It needs to be pushed hard. Even though this weight group is the hardest at home, I believe that if I wrestle as well next year, then I will be able to represent Hungary again. And if that’s the case, I want to improve on the Olympic qualification at the World Championships.”

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