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Monday Roundup: Zagreb GP Wrapped; USA to SWE

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Sanan Suleymanov vs. Zoltan Levai -- Photo: UWW

On Sunday, the 2024 Grand Prix Zagreb Open in Zagreb, Croatia drew to a close with the United States having two fifth-place finishers, four-time World Team member Ildar Hafizov (60 kg, Army/WCAP) and Mahmoud Sebie (82 kg, NYAC).

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The US roster featured four of the six athletes who will, on behalf of the country, compete in the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier next month in Acapulco, Mexico. Recent National champs Kamal Bey (77 kg, Army/WCAP) and Cohlton Schultz (130 kg, Sunkist) did not enter the tournament, though Bey did make the trip and is currently training in Porec alongside the rest of the delegation. Hafizov was the lone competitor from the Pan-Am roster to have garnered United World Wrestling “ranking points”. That number is set at 9,000 and will not increase before the aforementioned qualifying tournament. The Pan-Am Championships does take place one week prior to the Olympic Qualifier, and that event will have ranking points available to earn; but wrestlers from the US Army’s World Class Athletes Program are as of press time not expected to enter that competition due to a scheduling conflict with the Armed Forces Championships.

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The Zagreb Grand Prix did not just offer UWW ranking points — it also reset the rankings for nearly every weight class. As such, each American Greco-Roman athlete (at an Olympic weight) in Zagreb who held a ranking prior to the tournament saw a drop in their position. It should be noted that not all of the weight categories have undergone an update relative to point totals, a circumstance that is thus far limited to several non-Olympic weight classes. For example, ’23 World Team members Brady Koontz (TMWC/Dubuque RTC), Xavier Johnson (Army/WCAP), and Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) all occupied non-Olympic categories last season and therefore maintain top-10 ranking positions. Neither of the three competed in Zagreb; and although non-Olympic weights were contested this past weekend, their ranking positions are as of yet unaffected. That is expected to change once UWW fully updates their system but, aside from optics, is inconsequential with the absence of a World Championships event in ’24.

Ranking points are indeed pertinent with regards to the continental Olympic qualifiers. Points/rankings will influence bracket separation at these tournaments, which is why the US program (among others) prioritized participation in Zagreb.

Post-Zagreb Grand Prix UWW Rankings


Current ranking point totals in red.
*– USA Pan-Am Olympic Qualifier roster.

55 kg

Brady Koontz (TMWC/Dubuque RTC) — 10th (14,300 pts)

60 kg

*Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP) — 16th (9,000 pts)
Hayden Tuma (Army/WCAP) — 49th

63 kg

Xavier Johnson (Army/WCAP) — 10th (14,300 pts)

67 kg

Robert Perez III (Sunkist) — 53rd 
Peyton Omania (Orange County RTC) — 54th
*Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP) — 18th (8,200 pts)

72 kg

Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) — 9th (17,000 pts)

77 kg

Kamal Bey (Army/WCAP) — 16th (14,300 pts)
Benji Peak (Sunkist/NTS) — 68th
RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) — 67th 

82 kg

Mahmoud Sebie (NYAC) — 18th (7,000 pts)

130 kg

*Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist) — 10th (14,300 pts)

Currently, Hafizov is the highest-ranked 60 kg athlete on the continent — but because he is not scheduled to appear in the Pan-Am Championships, his point total from Zagreb will go unchanged before the Qualifier. This means that the wrestlers who finish 1st and 2nd in his weight at the Championships will likely surpass him, which in turn would result in a lower seed (provided those same competitors enter the Olympic Qualifier the following week).

A steeper change can be seen with Bey, who previously was ranked 5th by UWW but has since dropped to 11th. Meanwhile, his main continental rival, Yovsanys Pena Flores of Cuba, is ranked 7th. Pena is the only Pan-Am athlete holding a higher ranking than Bey. But like Hafizov, Bey is not anticipated to be on the Pan-Am Championships roster and is therefore potentially vulnerable to a lower seed than he might have otherwise had.

Full 2024 Zagreb Grand Prix Placewinners

As far as the team race was concerned, Azerbaijan (AZE) finished first with 95 points, followed by Hungary (90) and Turkey (81). The surprise at the top of the leaderboard was Sweden, who were way behind the first three nations with 50 points but came away with one silver medalist (Alex Bica at 63 kg) and two bronzes (Lukas Ahlgren, 82 kg; Aleksandar Stjepanetic, 97 kg).

55 kg

GOLD: Adem Burak (TUR)
SILVER: Maksim Stupakevich

60 kg

GOLD: Sadyk Lalaev (AIN)
SILVER: Victor Ciobanu
BRONZE: Anvar Allakhiarov
BRONZE: Edmond Nazaryan

63 kg

GOLD: Leri Abuladze (GEO)
SILVER: Alex Bica
BRONZE: Georgi Tibilov
BRONZE: Jacopo Sandron

67 kg

GOLD: Parviz Nasibov (UKR)
SILVER: Gagik Snjoyan
BRONZE: Aslan Visaitov
BRONZE: Hasrat Jafarov

72 kg

GOLD: Ulvi Ganizade (AZE)
SILVER: Levente Levai
BRONZE: Dominik Etlinger
BRONZE: Muhammed Gocmen

77 kg

GOLD: Sanan Suleymanov (AZE)
SILVER: Zoltan Levai
BRONZE: Yunus Basar
BRONZE: Nao Kusaka

82 kg

GOLD: Erik Szilvassy (HUN)
SILVER: Alperen Berber
BRONZE: Deni Nakaev
BRONZE: Lukas Ahlgren

87 kg

GOLD: Milad Alirzaev (AIN)
SILVER: Alireza Mohmadipiani
BRONZE: Aleksandr Komarov
BRONZE: Alan Ostaev

97 kg

GOLD: Abubakar Khaslakhanau (AIN)
SILVER: Arvi Savolainen
BRONZE: Aleksandar Stjepanetic
BRONZE: Pavel Hlinchuk

130 kg

GOLD: Fardin Hedayati (IRI)
SILVER: Lingzhe Meng
BRONZE: Dariusz Vitek
BRONZE: Mantas Knystautas

Basci on HUN Team Selection

Hungarian Wrestling Federation Sports Director (and retired World champ) Peter Bacsi confirmed last week that the Grand Prix Zagreb Open would be used to determine roster placement for both the European Championships and their own continental Olympic qualifier.

“We are far from peak form, but we don’t have to get it right now,” Bacsi said. “Regardless, we are facing an important competition, the points gained here (in Croatia) will also influence the roster for the qualification competition, and it also serves as a selector in certain weight groups. Of course, the focus is on the Olympics, so the European Championships is a bit in the background. It is important to get as many quotas as possible in the spring qualification competitions, but there will be weight classes in which the same athlete from the European Championship will also participate in the qualification competitions. We will know more after Zagreb, I wonder how far our wrestlers will go. If we cannot make a decision about the National Team in one of the categories, we will issue a separate selection list for the competitors concerned.”

As mentioned, Hungary finished second to Azerbaijan in Zagreb and had four medalists — two of which were in Olympic categories (Zoltan Levai, silver, 77 kg; Dariusz Vitek, bronze, 130 kg).  Levai and Vitek are the clear #1’s for Hungary in their respective weight classes. But the powerhouse Greco program might have an interesting decision to make when it comes to 87 kilograms. Reigning co-World champ David Losonczi was routed by Russian Alan Ostaev in the qualification round on Thursday while U23/U20 World champ and multi-time age-group medalist Istvan Takacs got past decorated Azeri Islam Abbasov and Ihar Yarashevich (AIN) before falling to Cuban Daniel Gregorich Hechavarria in the quarterfinal. Losonczi has received the past two starts at the World Championships for Hungary and is two for two in terms of medals (bronze in ’22, silver upgraded to shared gold in ’23). Takacs — who last year earned top honors at the Senior Euros — has been slightly more consistent during the regular season and came away with five Senior international golds in six starts prior to the ’24 running of the Zagreb GP. Takacs has made just one appearance at a Senior Worlds (’21) and finished 5th.

USA Age-Group Tour Returning to SWE

Later this month, Lucas Steldt of the Combat WC will once again be making a trek to Sweden in advance of the Sundsvall Open. Athletes from Westley Bockert’s Interior Grappling Academy in Alaska will also be joining the delegation. The Sundsvall Open (for U20 competitors) is scheduled for February 2. Last year, wunderkind Aidan Squier (82 kg, Combat WC) finished first at the tournament while fellow top prospect Will Scherer (67 kg, Combat WC) earned bronze. Both wrestlers are on the roster for ’24, as well.

Additional details, the full list of competitors, and general tournament information will be released later this week.

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