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.
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.
NBCOlympics.com 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).
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.
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
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
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
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
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
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.
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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