Greco News

Monday Roundup: OLYMPIC WEEK; Full Updated Entry List; Notes on USA Cadets

united states greco-roman, 2020 tokyo olympics
Ildar Hafizov -- Photo: Richard Immel

This coming Sunday — or Saturday night if you happen to reside in the United States — will bring with it closure. Closure. The end of something. August 1, the first day of Greco-Roman wrestling  in Tokyo, will mark the conclusion of a full Olympic cycle. It will also firmly and formally dismiss the myriad hypotheticals which had been bandied about for over 16 months as to if and how this very tournament might ever come to fruition.

It’s happening. No, really. The Tokyo Olympics have almost arrived.

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Batting leadoff for Team USA on Sunday, August 1 will be Ildar Hafizov (60 kg, Army/WCAP, world #1). Hafizov, 33, is the only American scheduled for Day 1. The manner in which the weight categories are split per competition days is out of order with 77 and 97 kilos (G’Angelo Hancock) set for Monday, followed by Alex Sancho (67 kg, Army/WCAP) and John Stefanowicz (87 kg, Marines, world #4) on Tuesday. The two-day tournament format is, of course, in effect, which means that athletes who either prevail in the semifinals or are pulled into repechage will compete the following day. will stream each round of competition live. Tokyo is 13 hours ahead of American’s Eastern time zone (14 hours for Central, 15 for Mountain, and 16 for Pacific).

Updated Entries

Below, all 96 athletes for Greco-Roman are listed by weight category beginning with their respective seeding positions; the rest are displayed in alphabetical order according to nation.

60 kg

1 — Kenichiro Fumita (JPN) — 2X World Champion, ’18 U23 World Champion

2 — Sergey Emelin (RUS) — ’18 World Champion, ’19 World silver, ’17 U23 World silver

3 — Kerem Kamal (TUR) — 3X Junior World Champion

4 — Ali Reza Ayat Ollah Nejati (IRI) — ’19 World bronze, ’18 Junior World bronze

Abdelkerim Fergat (ALG) — Multi-time African Championships gold

Armen Melikyan (ARM) — ’19 U23 World Champion

Sailike Walihan (CHN) — ’18 World bronze

Luis Orta Sanchez (CUB) — 2X Pan-American Championships gold

Haithem Mahmoud (EGY) — ’19 African Championships gold

Etienne Kinsinger (GER) — ’16 Junior World silver, ’13 Cadet World Champion

Mirembek Ainagulov (KAZ) — ’17 World silver, ’19 World bronze

Zholaman Sharshenbekov (KGZ) — ’18 World silver, ’19 U23 World silver

Victor Ciobanu (MDA) — ’18 World silver

Lenur Temirov (UKR) — ’18 World bronze

ILDAR HAFIZOV (USA) — ’19 Pan-American Games bronze, ’17 Thor Masters gold, ’09 Golden Grand Prix bronze

Elmurat Tasmuradov (UZB) — ’18 World silver, ’14 World bronze

kenichiro fumita, 2020 tokyo olympics, greco-roman

Kenichiro Fumita locks to throw Sergey Emelin in the finals of the 2019 World Championships. (Photo: United World Wrestling)

67 kg

1 — Ismael Borrero Molina (CUB) — ’16 Olympic Champion, ’15 World Champion, ’19 World Champion

2 — Mohamed Elsayed (EGY) — 2X U23 World Champion, ’16 Junior World bronze

3 — Artem Surkov (RUS) — ’18 World Champion, ’19 World silver, ’17 World bronze, ’15 World bronze

4 — Mate Nemes (SRB) — ’19 World bronze

Abdelmalek Merabet (ALG) — ’19 African Championships gold

Karen Aslanyan (ARM) — 3X European Championships bronze

Julian Horta Acevedo (COL) — ’17 Pan-American Championships

Fredrik Bjerrehuus (DEN) — 5X Thor Masters gold

Ramaz Zoidze (GEO) — ’18 U23 World silver, 2X Junior World Champion

Frank Staebler (GER) — 3X World Champion, ’19 World bronze

Balint Korpasi (HUN) — ’16 World Champion, ’18 World silver, 2X world bronze

Mohammad Reza Geraei (IRI) — ’19 U23 World Champion

Ryu Han-Soo (KOR) — 2X World Champion, ’15 World silver

Aker Al Obaidi (REF)

Soleyman Nasr (TUN) — ’17 African Championships gold

ALEX SANCHO (USA) — ’17 Grand Prix Zagreb gold, ’17 Tbilisi Grand Prix silver, ’16 Pan-American Championships silver, ’20 Pan-American Championships bronze

Parviz Nasibov (UKR) — ’19 Thor Masters gold, ’18 Junior World bronze, 2X Cadet World silver

karen aslanyan

Physicality is a big part of Karen Aslanyan’s game, as seen here during a match with Mamadassa Sylla of France. Although Aslanyan has yet to break through at Senior, the two-time Euro medalist is considered a potentially huge obstacle for the 67-kg field in Tokyo. (Photo: United World Wrestling)

77 kg

1 — Tamas Lorincz (HUN) — ’19 World Champion, ’12 Olympic silver, 2X World silver, ’14 World bronze

2 — Alex Kessidis (SWE) — ’19 World silver, ’20 European Championships bronze, ’17 U23 European Championships gold

3 — Karapet Chalyan (ARM) — ’20 European Championships bronze, ’16 European Championships bronze

4 — Mohammadali Geraei (IR) — 2X World bronze

Rafiq Huseynov (AZE) — ’19 World silver

Aik Mnatsakanian (BUL) — 2X World bronze

Bozo Starcevic (CRO) — 5X Grand Prix Zagreb Open gold

Yovsanys Pena Flores (CUB) — 2X Pan-American Championships gold

Shohei Yabiku (JPN) — ’19 Oleg Karavaev Memorial silver, ’18 Vehbi Emre bronze

Demeu Zhadrayev (KAZ) — ’17 World silver, multi-time Asian Championships medalist

Azkhol Makhmudov (KGZ) — ’16 Cadet World gold, ’17 Junior World silver, ’18 Junior World bronze, ’18 Asian Championships gold

Zeid Ait Ouagram (MAR) — 3X African Championships gold

Alfonso Leyva Yepez (MEX) — Multi-time Pan-American Championships medalist

Aleksandr Chekhirkin (RUS) — ’18 World Champion, ’19 European Games gold

Lamjed Maafi (TUN) — ’18 African Championships gold, 2X African Championships medalist

Jalgasbay Berdimuratov (UZB) — ’19 World bronze, ’21 Asian Championships gold

87 kg

1 — Viktor Lorincz (HUN) — ’19 World silver, 2X World bronze

2 — Zhan Belenyuk (UKR) — 2X World Champion, ’16 Olympic silver, ’18 World silver, ’14 World bronze

3 — Rustam Assakalov (UZB) — ’15 World silver, 3X Asian Championships gold

4 — Daniel Gregorich Hechavarria (CUB) — ’18 U23 World silver, ’19 U23 World bronze

Bachir Sid Azara (ALG) — 3X African Championships gold

Islam Abbasov (AZE) — 2X U23 World bronze, ’19 European Championships silver, ’19 European Games silver

Kiryl Maskevich (BLR) — ’19 U23 World bronze, ’21 European Championships silver

Fei Peng (CHN) — ’12 Junior World bronze, multi-time Asian Championships medalist

Ivan Huklek (CRO) — ’17 U23 World silver

Mohamed Moustafa Metwally (EGY) — ’19 African Championships gold

Lasha Gobadze (GEO) — ’19 World Champion, ’15 World bronze, ’17 U23 World silver

Denis Kudla (GER) — ’16 Olympic bronze, ’17 World silver, ’19 World bronze

Nursultan Tursynov (KAZ) — ’15 Asian Championships silver

Atabek Azisbekov (KGZ) — 3X Asian Championships silver

Zurabi Datunashvili (SRB) — 2X European Championships gold

JOHN STEFANOWICZ (USA) — 2X Pan-American Championships gold, ’19 Pytlasinski Memorial bronze

zhan belenyuk

Ukraine’s Zhan Belenyuk is one of the most decorated athletes who will appear in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, and one of two returning medalists at 87 kilos from ’16 Rio. In that tournament, the ’15 World champ took silver, and Denis Kudla (GER) placed third. (Photo: United World Wrestling)

97 kg

1 — Musa Evloev (RUS) — 2X World Champion, ’17 World silver, 2X European Championships gold

2 — Artur Aleksanyan (ARM) — ’16 Olympic Champion, ’12 Olympic bronze, 3X World Champion, ’19 World silver

3 — Mohammadhadi Saravi (IRI) — ’18 Junior World Champion, ’19 U23 World bronze

4 — Tadeusz Michalik (POL) — ’16 European Championships bronze

Adem Boudjemline (ALG) — 4X African Championships gold

Kiril Milov (BUL) — ’18 World silver, ’19 European Championships silver

Gabriel Rosillo Kindelan (CUB) — ’19 Junior World Champion, ’19 Pan-American Championships gold, ’20 Pan-American Championship silver

Artur Omarov (CZE) — ’20 Individual World Cup bronze

Giorgi Melia (GEO) — ’16 Junior World Champion, ’19 U23 World silver

Arvi Savolainen (FIN) — ’19 U23 World Champion, ’18 Junior World Champion, ’17 Junior World bronze

Alex Szoeke (HUN) — ’16 Cadet World Champion, ’17 Cadet World bronze

Uzur Dzhuzupbekov (KGZ) — ’19 Asian Championships gold

Mihail Kajaia (SRB) — 2X World bronze

Haikel Achouri (TUN) — ’20 African Championships silver

Cenk Ildem (TUR) — ’16 Olympic bronze, 2X World bronze, 2X European Championships bronze

G’ANGELO HANCOCK (USA) — ’16 Junior World bronze, 20 Pan-American Championships gold, ’19 Hungarian Grand Prix gold

130 kg

1 — Riza Kayaalp (TUR) — ’16 Olympic silver, ’12 Olympic bronze, 4X World Champion, 2X World silver, 2X World bronze

2 — Abdelatif Mohamed (EGY) — ’18 U23 World bronze, 4X African Championships gold

3 — Muminjon Abdullaev (UZB) — 2X Asian Championships silver

4 — Amin Mirzazadeh (IRI) — ’18 Junior World Champion, ’17 Junior World bronze, ’20 Asian Championships gold

Eduard Soghomonyan (BRA) — ’16 Pan-American Championships silver

Yasmany Acosta Fernandez (CHI) — ’17 World bronze

Mijain Lopez (CUB) — 3X Olympic Champion, 5X World Champion, 3X World silver

Artur Vititin (EST)

Matti Kuosmanen (FIN) — ’17 U23 World silver, 2X European Championships bronze

Iakobi Kajaia (GEO) — ’19 World bronze, 2X European Championships silver

Eduard Popp (GER) — ’21 European Championships bronze, ’16 Military World silver

Mantas Knystautas (LTU) — ’17 U23 World bronze, ’14 Junior World silver, 2X U23 European Championships medalist

Kim Min-Seok (KOR) — ’18 World bronze, ’19 Asian Championships silver

Alin Alexuc-Ciurariu (ROU) — ’20 European Championships gold, 2X European Championships bronze

Sergey Semenov (RUS) — ’18 World Champion, ’16 Olympic bronze, ’17 U23 World Champion, ’14 Junior World Champion, ’19 European Championships bronze

Amine Guennichi (TUN) — ’20 African Championships silver, ’21 Vehbi Emre bronze

Cadet Worlds Wrapped

Land, Black, & Mullen

This past Saturday, Cory Land (55 kg, Ironclad) ended his run at the ’21 Cadet World Championships with a silver medal after putting together a striking, encouraging performance that the US program sorely needed. It had been four years since the Americans had themselves a Cadet finalist (Cohlton Schultz, who won it all in ’17) and three dating back to the last medalist (Jacob Kaminski, bronze, ’18). Land’s great good work in Budapest, however, was not a shock to the system; he had demonstrated unique ability and appropriate age-group success prior after having appeared on the ’19 Cadet World squad, and Land is also a highly-touted prospect in both the classical style and scholastic leg-grabbing.

The Alabaman sure looked exceedingly confident and comfortable throughout, including in his finals match-up with eventual gold Valerii Mangutov of Russia. It’s Greco. Far too many — and athletes and coaches can be counted in this group — become hung up on what the scoreboard reads. Land might have fallen victim to a tech fall, but he was competitive in each moment of the bout against Mangutov. Points are earned quickly in this discipline, as most should be aware. And in between Mangutov’s scores, Land was in his antagonist’s face at every available opportunity. All in all, it was a tremendous trip to Hungary for Land, an athlete on whom the US would do well to impart a severe focus in the years ahead (in other words, keeping him involved and engaged).

Not enough can be said about Land’s World Teammates Otto Black (48 kg, Black Fox) and Jim Mullen (110 kg, NJ). Black’s tenacity and movement were largely responsible for his breakout on Friday, when he decked Armenia (Yuri Karapetyan), shutout Hungary (Peter Totok), and came oh-so-close to decisioning Turkey (Servet Angi) in the semifinal. Against all three opponents, Black operated as though he was non-plussed with the country codes on the backs of their singlets. If he felt any trepidation at all, there were no signs of it. Three wrestlers from “powerhouse” nations, and Black treated them with a suitable amount of on-the-mat respect — zero. He was out there to fling and dart to his positions, and then score any way that he could. There are some Seniors in the US who could perhaps take a page out of Black’s book from Budapest.

Every US fan who watched Mullen on Saturday enjoyed a surge of adrenaline before subsequently suffering from a little heartbreak. The New Jersey standout was on the verge of a tech loss to Lyova Sargsyan (ARM) in the morning’s repechage round until a drastic turn of events. Sargsyan had just run a string of guts, and Mullen stepped over following the third rotation to hold Sargsyan down for the fall and a trip to the bronze-medal match. There, Mullen capitalized on the passivity/par terre chance to crank a pair of guts for a 5-0 lead on Artur Sarkisjan (CZE). Control in a match is an illusion, for the most part, but Mullen had seemed as close to in-command as it gets. Except, Sarkisjan had other ideas. When a second bodylock attempt for him was too good to pass up, he seized and tossed Mullen. The pin was called soon after. But the perseverance Mullen showed in coming back in the repechage should not be forgotten, regardless of how the bronze match saw its curtain drop.

Williams, Skellenger, & Rogotzke

Kaedyn Williams‘ (51 kg, LAW) re-drag was so potent that it caused Iranian Abolfazi Shahraki Niya to lose balance and expose on the way down. Not everyday an arm drag is a four-pointer, but it was for Williams, who maintained a high pace for the duration of what turned out to be a 6-3 decision. Again, Williams’ victory was at the expense of Iran, another of the sport’s best programs. Shahraki Niya did not have the gusto to keep up with Williams. By the time he managed to chip a few points late, the situation was hardly in doubt. This is what the current generation of American youths are capable of regularly — quick, angular technique and driving tempos that fluster foreigners.

After Jadon Skellenger (65 kg, Suples) decimated his first two opponents en-route to the quarterfinal, he was felled in a wild, contentious, and points-happy affair by Ankit Gulia (IND). One reason why Skellenger was defeated is the one attribute that all age-groupers should have: he was answering back for points without prejudice. He was also overextending and leaving himself vulnerable to Gulia’s body attacks, but that is certainly fixable considering who coaches him. Skellenger was simply trying to win; the match had spiraled out of control due to their shared keenness for scrambly scores, putting Skellenger in a spot where he was taking risks that, in the future, he will know to avoid. Even in a loss, Skellenger demonstrated the competitive gifts and undeniable talent for this sport that should help continue his rapid development.

jadon skellenger

In his first bout of the 2021 Cadet World Championships, Skellenger (blue) piled on for a tech win against Rokas Cepauskas (LTU). (Photo: United World Wrestling)

What happened is that Ryder Rogotzke (80 kg, PINnacle) actually had Mihael Salajec (CRO) pinned following his first half-sag headlock. It wasn’t called, Rogotzke got to his feet, scored again, and then Salajec was the one who isolated head-and-arm. And Rogotzke re-headlocked him, and had to hold Salajec down for far too long before the fall was awarded. Rogotzke was far-and-away the physically dominant force on the mat during his opener with Salajec. That might have also been true of his bout with eventual bronze Joju Samadov (AZE) in the quarters. Samadov had a decent look at a throw, Rogotzke contorted for the land-on-top two, and proceeded to lock a high gut for a 4-0 lead. Samadov did nail a beautiful bodylock in the second that was accompanied by a caution-and-two on Rogotzke for fleeing… Then from the PT restart, Samdov rolled two gutwrenches, resulting in 11 unanswered points. The thing had become quicksand for the hard-working Minnesotan. But he’s a such special athlete with a bright career in this discipline if he wants one.

USA Greco Cadet World Notes

  • Team USA was in 6th place entering the third and final day of Greco-Roman competition but wound up finishing 9th. The top-3 in order were Georgia (as is near-custom), Ukraine, and Russia.
  • The Cadets posted a record of 10-12 in Budapest. Not counting Land (who was automatically eligible for a medal by virtue of making the final) or Black and Mullen (who both competed for bronze), three others were defeated by eventual medalists: Skellenger (Gulia, bronze); Braden Stauffenberg (Ruslan Nurullayev , bronze); and Rogotzke (Samadov, bronze).
  • Six of the Americans’ ten wins were stoppages (three VSU, three falls).

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