USA Greco

Carey Gets Gold, Miess with Silver for USA at 2024 Sundsvall Open

2024 sundsvall open, ashton miess, brennan carey
Photo: Lucas Steldt

Full-time Greco-Roman newcomer Brennan Carey (130 kg) came away with gold and ’23 Fargo National champ Ashton Miess (77 kg) earned silver to lead the United States performance at the 2024 Sundsvall Open on Sunday in Sundsvall, Sweden.

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The USA delegation, comprised solely of athletes who train under Lucas Steldt at Combat WC in Blue River, Wisconsin, should have also had another potential medalist. At 67 kilograms, Gunnar Hamre went 4-1 in pool competition and had — by the rules of the format — earned an opportunity to enter the bronze-medal match. But, rather inexplicably, the tournament organizers made an administrative error that installed Hugo Riehunkangas of Finland in his stead. Hamre had defeated Riehunkangas in Round 4 via 11-5 decision, and both athletes were downed by eventual champ Tuuko Peltokangas (FIN) elsewhere in the bracket. Riehunkangas lost 7-5 to Onni Makela (FIN) in the bronze round and Hamre officially finished 5th.

Carey & Miess

The heavyweight bracket was a round-robin affair with only two competitors and Carey actually dropped his first match of the morning to Andre Grinbergs (LAT). Carey then edged Grinbergs in Round 2 (5-4) and the Latvian forfeited the third and decisive battle, thus paving the way for Carey to pick up his third international gold of the season following tournament wins at both the Malar Cupen and Kolbotn Cup, respectively.

“Dropping the first match to a real 130 kg athlete was an eye opener that 97kg is where he needs to be,” Steldt said after the tournament. “Brennan made some really intelligent adjustments during the second match. He went to an underhook and scored some step-outs and some takedowns to win the second match. He really gassed his opponent. In the third match, the opponent showed up to the match but forfeited before the whistle blew. I have no idea why.”

Miess — who has over the past two years become a top Greco-Roman prospect in the US — had to wade through a dense 77 kg bracket in order to advance to the final. A tight decision over Miro Leinonen (FIN) in the opening round proceeded a pin against Aiyom Khabirov (TKM); Miess next VSU’d Gustav Eriksson (SWE) before getting past Oscar Petersson (SWE) 7-5, which put him in the final opposed by Senior competitor Adam Strandner (SWE). Strandner prevailed 3-1, leaving Miess with his second silver of the season (Kolbotn).

“Man, every match for Miess was a grinder,” began Steldt. “There were no easy wins. His fourth match against the hometown hero (Petersson, who trains in Sundsvall) was a great gut check. The match was tied all up and Miess was losing on criteria. Miess pushed the pace even harder and was able to get to a nice seatbelt underhook and secure a takedown that sent him to the finals.”

Hamre, Scherer, & Baranowski

The aforementioned Hamre got off to as hot of a start as is reasonable. In his first two matches, the Wisconsin product put up a combined 28 points in defeating Noah Normann (NOR) and Imranullah Safi (SWE), respectively. A forfeit from Alexander Vafai (SWE) came next, and Hamre dusted Riehunkangas to make the pool final, where he fell to Makela.

“He looked really good. I mean really good,” said Steldt. “I was so happy to see him putting it all together. After four solid wins, he dropped his pool play final. Later in the afternoon, and a little tired, he lost and then subsequently was eliminated from a medal match even though he had the most completion points from pool play. How he wasn’t wrestling for bronze, I’ll never know. Overall, I am very happy with his performance. A better time-sleep acclimation plan and we should have solid matches all day long from Gunnar.”

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For Will Scherer, the Sundsvall Open was a step up in two ways: 1) it was his first event above U17; 2) he went up to 72 kg from his previous 65. None of that seemed to matter in Round 1, as Scherer found little difficulty in disposing of Elias Mikko (FIN) by way of technical fall. A disqualification loss to Gustav Dahl (SWE) in Round 2 disrupted his tournament trajectory, and Oscari Talala (FIN, and who would later finish second) eliminated Scherer from medal contention on the heels of a 9-0 VSU. “He just ‘over-wrestled’,” opined Steldt. “Sometimes, athletes get too confident and then matches get away from them. I have high expectations for Scherer. As a first year U20 athlete, he’s going to have some ups and downs. It’s not the Cadet (U17) level anymore.”

Baranowski won via technical superiority over Omer Ozyildirim of Turkey but was defeated by both Charlie Sand (SWE) and Johan Garbell (SWE), ultimately finishing in 4th place. Baranowski, like Miess, earned silver in Kolbotn last fall. “For athletes like Hank, the focus is to keep your emotions in control and accept that it’s going to take a long time to be a Greco-Roman athlete with such a late start,” assessed Steldt. “Hank had a nice showing in Malar Cupen and in Norway. In this competition, he just lost two matches. It’s all about putting the time in right now, just as it is for most athletes.”


Although all of the athletes who competed on Sunday have been active throughout the season, Sundsvall’s spot on the calendar was aimed to provide a refresher that will further build a foundation for the spring World Team selection processes. That is in particular why Steldt likes taking the trip, but there are other variables factored into the equation, as well. “Sundsvall is our first competition of the year traditionally and we go in a little out shape as we spend the first part of the year on technical skills,” explained Steldt. “From Sundsvall going forward, our training will focus more on Greco-Roman conditioning to be fully prepared for April’s domestic competitions and WTT in June.

“Sundsvall and the following competitions we have scheduled in February and March are all organized to be acclimation devices to Greco’s diversity from Western Europe to Eastern Europe.
Overall, I was extremely happy with our par terre defense in this tournament. It is our par terre offense that needs to get back in gear. Typically I’m happy with our offense in par terre and concerned about our defense. We just need to get our offense back on par.”


  • As mentioned, the Sundsvall Open was Scherer’s first appearance above the U17 age division. The same was also true for Carey.
  • Greco wunderkind Aidan Squier (Combat WC) — who entered the week having won three consecutive international golds — was scratched from the competition due to injury.
  • Earlier this week, Carey and Baranowski declared their commitments to attend Northern Michigan University where they will continue to pursue World and Olympic aspirations.

2024 Sundsvall Open

February 4 — Sundsvall, SWE


67 kg

Gunnar Hamre (Combat WC) — 5th
WON Noah Normann (NOR) 14-7
WON Imranulla Safi (SWE) 14-4, TF
WON Alexander Safi (SWE) via forfeit
WON Hugo Rienhunkangas (FIN) 11-5
LOSS Tuuka Peltokangas (FIN) 9-0, TF

Will Scherer (Combat WC) — 8th
WON Elias Mikko (FIN) 11-2, TF
LOSS Gustav Dahl (SWE) via DQ
LOSS Oskari Talala (FIN) 9-0, TF

77 kg

Ashton Miess (Combat WC) — SILVER
WON Miro Leinonen (FIN) 4-1
WON Aiyom Khabirov (TKM) via fall
WON Gustav Eriksson (SWE) 8-0, TF
WON Oscar Petterson (SWE) 7-5
LOSS Adam Strandner (SWE) 3-1

87 kg

Hank Baranowski (Combat WC) — 4th
WON Omer Ozyildirim (TUR) 8-0, TF
LOSS Charlie Sand (SWE) via fall
LOSS Johan Garbell (SWE) 8-0, TF

130 kg

Brennan Carey (Combat WC) — GOLD 
LOSS Andris Grinsberg (LAT) 6-3
WON Andris Grinsberg (LAT) 4-3
WON Andris Grinsberg (LAT) via forfeit

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