Greco News

Monday Roundup: The BIG Three; RUS & BLR

schultz, coon, farmer, us open
From left: Adam Coon, Cohlton Schultz, & Tanner Farmer -- Photos: Tony Rotundo

As of press time, 2018 World silver Adam Coon (130 kg, NYAC/Cliff Keen), two-time World Team member Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist), and ’22 Final X runner-up Tanner Farmer (NYAC/IRTC) are all registered for the US Open later this month in Las Vegas, Nevada.

not all roads lead to gold, jim gruenwald

Coon, 28, last competed in May of ’21 at the World Olympic Qualifying tournament in Sofia, Bulgaria. An appearance in the finals was required in order for Coon — who a month prior had won the US Trials — to guarantee himself a spot in the Tokyo Olympic Games. After easily disposing of Murat Ramonov (KGZ), the Michigan star fell by decision in the quarterfinal round to Mykola Kuchmii (UKR). Less than one month later, Coon agreed to a contract with the NFL’s Tennessee Titans.

When Coon’s return to active competition was announced this past February, the declaration was accompanied by another important piece of news: the addition of ’76 Olympic Champion and former US Olympic Training Center head resident coach Momir Petković to the Cliff Keen Wrestling Club staff. Petković retired from USA Wrestling four seasons ago and was one of the most influential and successful cultivators of Greco-Roman talent in the country’s history.

Schultz’s reign atop the domestic ladder began with the ’21 World Team Trials and continued last season following a two-match series victory over Farmer at Final X. In the first round of the ’22 Worlds, Schultz downed multi-time U23 medalist David Ovasapyan (ARM, and who had defeated Schultz in the ’18 U20 World semifinal) but fell to ’21 World bronze Oskar Marvik (NOR) in the next round.

In less than three years, Farmer has developed into both a legitimate domestic contender as well as potentially-viable international competitor — which everyone learned on the heels of his first European trip last winter. His improvements and overall Greco-Roman IQ have grown by leaps and bounds, a fact made possible thanks to his time-on-target with Schultz in addition to being coached by Bryan Medlin.

Heading into the US Open, Coon, Schultz, and Farmer are considered, rightfully, “The Big Three”. But there are other cases to be made, perhaps, and that will occur with our batch of US Open previews later this month. In the meantime, there are also…

Donny Longendyke (Minnesota Storm) — Longendyke is not registered yet. If that changes, he must be watched with a careful eye. Longendyke at his best is possibly the most well-rounded heavyweight in the country, this despite still waiting to summit the domestic mountaintop.

Luke Luffman (IRTC) — Cadet World Team member, Junior World Teamer, and crammed with promise. Not all 130’s have the athleticism and dynamics to which Luffman is beholden. He is not on the registration list but is expected to make the trip to Vegas. (UPDATE: Luffman registered for the US Open on April 6.)

Courtney Freeman (Marines) — Has been active (Armed Forces Championships) and consistent since jumping on-board in ’21. An excellent “total wrestler” whose abilities transcend what is a growing skill-set. What also makes Freeman an issue is his competitiveness. He does not fade or plod in quite the same manner many heavyweights do.

Russia & Belarus

Last week, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) “recommended” that Russian and Belarusian athletes may return to international competition so long as each sport’s governing body approves of their inclusion. On Tuesday, United World Wrestling responded with their own statement, which echoed the sentiments of the IOC.

The statement reads, in part:

United World Wrestling’s Bureau reiterated the organization’s commitment to promoting peace and brotherhood through sports and its solidarity with the people of Ukraine. UWW will continue to support the Ukrainian wrestling community, as it has done since the war broke out.

As a general principle, the Bureau unanimously favored the return of wrestlers to competition from Russia and Belarus under the conditions of participation set forth by the IOC.

For the Senior age categories, an independent panel shall be formed to verify the eligibility of all athletes from Russia and Belarus based on the IOC’s recommended conditions of participation. The exact criteria and the members of the panel shall be decided in the coming weeks.

However, parameters determining eligibility from the IOC had already been demonstrated on March 28.

1. Athletes with a Russian or a Belarusian passport must compete only as Individual Neutral Athletes.
2. Teams of athletes with a Russian or Belarusian passport cannot be considered.
3. Athletes who actively support the war cannot compete. Support personnel who actively support the war cannot be entered.
4. Athletes who are contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies cannot compete. Support personnel who are contracted to the Russian or Belarusian military or national security agencies cannot be entered.
5. Any such Individual Neutral Athlete, like all the other participating athletes, must meet all anti-doping requirements applicable to them, and particularly those set out in the anti-doping rules of the IFs (international federations).
6. The sanctions against those responsible for the war, the Russian and Belarusian states and governments, must remain in place:
— No international sports events organized or supported by an IF or NOC (national Olympic committee) in Russia or Belarus
— No flag, anthem, colors or any other identifications whatsoever of these countries displayed at any sports event or meeting, including the entire venue.
— No Russian and Belarusian government or state official can be invited to or accredited for any international sports event or meeting.

The news pertaining to athletes from Russia and Belarus being permitted to participate in international events is separate from eligibility concerns for the ’24 Paris Olympics. Decisions to that effect will be rendered at a later time.

What the IOC might appear to be aiming for is tantamount to a public disavowing of national loyalty on the part of Russian and Belarusian athletes; based on team selection in various sports, that could produce a hindrance (e.g., 45 of Russia’s 71 medals at the Tokyo Olympics were earned by competitors attached to the Central Sports Club of the Army — AP). But it is also nothing new, given Russia’s recent history at the Olympic Games in light of doping sanctions, something around which they have managed to work.

One noteworthy item relates to age-group wrestling matters. In their statement on April 4, UWW said that their executive bureau “approved to immediately allow wrestlers in the U15 and U17 (Cadet) age categories to compete as neutral athletes in international competitions”.

Key Takeaways

  • Russia and Belarus are likely to be reinstated for international competition imminently.
  • According to the IOC, athletes from Russia and Belarus will be forced to wear uniforms that exclude any and all affiliation with their respective countries.
  • Athletes from Russia and Belarus will only be allowed to compete under the French acronym for Individual Neutral Athletes (AIN).

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Listen to “5PM053: Northern Michigan assistant Parker Betts and USMC Captain Jamel Johnson” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM52: Two-Time Olympian Jim Gruenwald” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM51: Lining up with Tanner Farmer” on Spreaker.

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