USA Greco

Thor Masters Day 1: Seven USA Athletes Still In Medal Chase

lenny merkin, thor masters 2023
Lenny Merkin at Thor Masters 2023 -- Photo: Brydeklubben Thor

When Saturday morning rolls around, seven United States Greco-Roman athletes will plow forth in their respective pools with medal hopes alive and well.

Day 1 of Thor Masters 2023 began at 3:00pm local time in Nykobing Falster, DEN (10:00am ET) and streamed live on the event’s official website.

not all roads lead to gold, jim gruenwald

Max Black (60 kg, NYAC/NTS), Logan Savvy (60 kg, NYAC), two-time World Team rep Sammy Jones (63 kg, Sunkist/CTT), Lenny Merkin (67 kg, NYAC), Robert Perez III (67 kg, Sunkist), and ’21 World Teamer Jesse Porter (77 kg, NYAC) all earned wins on Friday as action got underway. All six lost, as well, with each sporting identical 1-1 records. ’21 Junior Word Team member Dominic Damon (67 kg, NMU/NTS) went 0-1, but is as of press time still in the running. Given Thor Master’s adherence to the Nordic system’s pooled format — along with an outstanding turnout at the tournament (with 55 kg the exception) — the Americans who achieved victories are in the most advantageous spots once wrestling resumes on Saturday morning.

Merkin can stake claim to having had the most exciting match of the day among the US delegation. In the first round, the Brooklyn native had poured it on against Rasmus Uriksen (DEN) and seemed close to creating enough distance to remove the outcome from doubt. But Uriksen struck back in the second period and wound up with a 10-9 lead as time became a factor. With just :10 hanging on the clock, Merkin wrapped a bodylock and retained his center of gravity as Uriksen planted to counter-throw. The position was Merkin’s, as were the points for the action, but he had no reason to budge with Uriksen counting ceiling lights. The fall was called with :03 left, allowing Merkin to advance into Round 2 with a win under his belt. Norway’s Haavard Joergensen defeated Merkin in the next round, and the ’19 US U23 World Team member will now get set to battle ’22 World Champion Sebastian Nad (SRB) in the morning.

Jones & Perez

A nailbiting 4-3 loss to William Reenburg (DEN) was not what “Wildman Sam” desired, nor expected, but things went differently for him in Round 2. It started slowly, however. Hungarian Jozsef Andrazsi owned a 2-0 advantage deep into the second period. Passivity had not been a factor, yet; but with one minute to go, Jones received a chance from par terre. He converted a gutwrench and then stepped up with a bomb from which there was no escape. Somehow in the process of landing, Andrazsi was injured. Following a long time-out for the training staff to get involved, the official result was a pin for Jones, who now moves into Round 3 opposite well-known Croatian Ivan Lizatovic.

Multi-time age-group World Team member Perez downed Tim Bergfalk (SWE) 4-1, which put the youngster up against Nad in Round 2. And, though this bout would not end with Perez having emerged triumphant, it was a further rendering of his status as an elite prospect.

Nad was awarded the bout’s initial passivity/par terre opportunity, and chose a reverse lock that he took over the top to pound out five additional points. Perez rose to his feet without the slightest bit of concern. Rather, he simply got to work and began giving Nad all he could handle in the ties, even if advantageous positions on the feet were difficult to find. The flip-flop effect was available early in the second frame, as Nad himself was dinged. From top PT, Perez managed to crank a front headlock for two points and was back in the match. He stalked from then on, gamely looking to pressure whilst attempting to compel workable tie-ups. The sledding was rough, Nad was not all that interested in the playback, and the 6-3 score held up till the end. Perez will face another top-level opponent in Round 3 tomorrow morning, ’17 World silver Mateusz Bernatek.

Porter

Porter might not have remembered Paulius Galkinas (LTU) on Friday if only due to their abbreviated history. It had come and gone in a flourish back at Thor Masters ’18, when Porter torched Galkinas via VSU. Their sequel this morning was not an exact replica of the first meeting. Galkinas held a 1-0 passive lead when Porter’s own point arrived in the second. He clasped for a lift, did Porter, from top par terre, but the attempt went sideways. He stayed with it nonetheless, with the second effort flurry careening off the line to give him another point. After the reset, Porter swiftly collected a bodylock takedown to go up 4-1 en-route to earning the decision victory.

jesse porter, thor masters 2023

Porter takes the mat to face Paulius Kalkinas (LTU) at Thor Masters 2023. (Photo: Brydeklubben Thor)

Next for Porter was Patryk Bednarz, who could be a possible World Team competitor for Poland in September. Porter was put down midway through the opening period, a development of which Bednarz took advantage by accumulating two points from a correct throw. A Porter attempt that had at first appeared to be a slip was subsequently ruled a takedown for Bednarz; but on Poland’s ensuing lift try, Porter contorted for what looked like a pair land-on-top points. But, no. The sequence was challenged, Poland got the call, and Porter was all of the sudden staring at a 7-0 deficit.

A response was on the way in the form of a sizzling four-point counter from Porter soon into the second. No follow-up points were scored, and they returned standing. Passivity on Bednarz later in the second provided a shot for Porter to make another sizable dent, but Bednarz defended. There was no further scoring in the match, with Porter on the wrong side of the 7-5 decision. In tomorrow’s third round, the former NMU athlete will meet Aleksa Ilic (SRB).

60 kg

With three athletes at 60 kilograms and in the same pool, USA vs. USA matches were unavoidable. Savvy went first and edged Mitch Brown (Air Force); after Black fell to Giorgi Tibilov (SRB), he defeated Savvy 9-3. Brown lost to Tibilov in the same round. On Saturday, Savvy will be opposed by Tibilov while ’22 National runner-up Black goes against Mateusz Szewczuk (POL).

Notes:

  • ’21 Junior World Team member Dominic Damon (67 kg, NMU/NTS) was defeated by recent Russian star Zaur Kabaloev¬†(ITA) in the first round of Pool A. Damon did not get a second match on Friday but will see Roman Pacurkowski (POL) in Saturday’s morning session.
  • Rich Carlson (87 kg, Minnesota Storm) was decisioned 5-2 by Poland #1 Szymon Szymonowicz in the opening round. In Round 2, Carlson went up 2-0 against Damien von Euw (SUI) and, after scoring correct-throw points from an arm throw, was put down in passivity and called for legs twice. von Euw had a reverse lock and put Carlson over for apparent exposure points. Carlson was penalized for interference once, and then again following the restart. Switzerland challenged, since Carlson had defended. Despite video replay of the second supposed infraction not revealing discernible illegal contact, Carlson was disqualified.

Below is the schedule for tomorrow, the second and final day of Thor Masters 2023.

Saturday, March 25
10:00am-3:30pm — Preliminary rounds
3:30pm-4:00pm — Bronze medal rounds
4:30pm-6:00pm — Finals

Fans can watch live via this link.

Thor Masters 2023

March 24-25 — Nykobing Falster, DEN

TEAM USA DAY 1 RESULTS

60 kg

Max Black (NYAC/NTS)
LOSS Giorgi Tibilov (SRB) 8-0, TF
WON Logan Savvy (NYAC) 9-3

Mitchell Brown (Air Force)
LOSS Logan Savvy (NYAC) 3-1
LOSS Georgi Tibilov (SRB) 8-0, TF

Logan Savvy (NYAC)
WON Mitch Brown (Air Force) 3-1
LOSS Max Black (NYAC/NTS) 9-3

63 kg

Sammy Jones (Sunkist/CTT)
LOSS William Reenburg (DEN) 4-3
WON Jozsef Andrasi (HUN) via fall

67 kg

Dominic Damon (NMU/NTS)
LOSS Zaur Kabaloev (ITA) 8-0, TF

Lenny Merkin (NYAC)
WON Rasmus Uriksen (DEN) via fall
LOSS Haavard Joergensen (NOR) 9-0, TF

Robert Perez III (Sunkist)
WON Tim Bergfalk (SWE) 4-1
LOSS Sebastian Nad (SRB) 6-3

72 kg

Aaron Dobbs (NMU/NTS)
LOSS Erik Persson (SWE) 8-0, TF
LOSS Giliani Dzortov (NOR) via fall

77 kg

Jesse Porter (NYAC)
WON Paulus Galkinas (LTU) 4-1
LOSS Patryk Bednarz (POL) 7-5

82 kg

Fritz Schierl (Minnesota Storm)
LOSS Filip Sacic (CRO) 5-1
LOSS Zakarias Berg (SWE) 8-0, TF

87 kg

Rich Carlson (Minnesota Storm)
LOSS Szymon Szymonowicz (POL) 5-2
LOSS Damien von Euw (SUI) via DQ

Lukas Poloncic (Minnesota Storm)
LOSS Hannes Wagner (AUT) 9-0, TF
LOSS Lukas Staudacher (AUT) 8-0, TF

97 kg

Christian DuLaney (Minnesota Storm)
LOSS Arvi Savolainen (FIN) 9-0, TF
LOSS Oskar Johansson (SWE) 8-0, TF

130 kg

Tom Foote (NYAC)
LOSS Oskar Marvik (NOR) 8-0, TF
LOSS Jello Krahmer (GER) via fall

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