As a contingent of young United States Greco-Roman wrestlers were busy competing in Sweden, another group of Americans were finishing up their second and final day of action in France with Brian Grabner (65 kg) leading the charge by placing third.
The second day of the 2024 Rosny Cup began at 10:30am local time from Paris, France (4:30am ET) and featured a delegation of athletes from the Interior Grappling Academy in Alaska. With the exception of Colton Parduhn (67 kg), this weekend’s tournament was a first-time international competition for all involved.
Operating in one of the U17 division’s most-populated brackets, Grabner got off to a quick start by overwhelming Rachid Ettarbouch (NOR) via 9-0 technical superiority. The tables turned in the proceeding round, as Nicklas Tveiten (NOR) got past the American 8-0. There would be a response to that contest, but not until later. Grabner was then deposited into the “wrestleback” part of the bracket (as was the case with the Henri Deglane last month, French events typically observe a double-elimination format that is undependent on repechage). An understatement it would be to suggest that Grabner merely recovered from his loss.
Rather, he steamrolled. He VSU’d Ismayil Aliev (AUT) and pinned Luka Oniani (FRA) to put himself on the brink of a medal chance. One more bout was required. In the consolation semifinal, Grabner decisioned Shain Briki (FRA) 5-2 — and ultimately finished off his quest for bronze by gaining revenge on Tveiten, triumphing 6-4. The medal for Grabner is IGA’s first from an overseas tournament.
Parduhn — who like teammate Jeremy Bockert is considered a highly-valued prospect for the American program — was himself close to having an opportunity to come away with hardware. After prevailing via technical fall over Magnus Rassmusen (DEN), Parduhn bit down for a 4-1 decision at the expense of Elijah Aanes-Neve (NOR). A narrow defeat to Saya Brunner (SUI) in the semifinal meant a trip to the bronze round. There waiting for him was Rasmussen, who had won several matches in the wrestleback portion of the bracket. As tight as is possible in the current rule-set, it was Rasmussen who held on for a 1-1 criteria decision that came attached to bronze, thus forcing Parduhn to settle for 5th.
Rodriguez & Bolton
Two other promising upstarts for the Interior Grappling Academy also received their first tastes of international Greco-Roman — Frank Rodriguez (60 kg) and Ezekiel Bolton (65 kg), both of whom in the U17 division. Rodriguez went 1-2, with his lone win being recorded via fall. Bolton was on the wrong end of a 12-3 VSU to Bulgarian Kristyan Petkov in the opening round before fighting hard only to come up just short on criteria to Briki in the wrestleback bracket.
The Rosny Cup was the first stop of an overseas trip that is geared towards providing the IGA athletes with a pronounced introduction to top-level foreign competition. Next on the journey is Denmark, which will offer a more concentrated degree of technique and drilling. IGA founder and head coach Westley Bockert understands the educational value that overseas training can impart on Americans, and he has also witnessed first-hand what the process entails, as well as what it can inspire.
“I saw our two older athletes, Jeremy and Colton, have a light switched on in 2022 when we traveled to Romania for an international camp, and then after they went to Denmark to train,” Bockert said on Sunday afternoon following the tournament. “Last year, we did not repeat this concept in a manner that we would have preferred. I want to imitate and adapt the foundation and culture of international Greco-Roman wrestling and bring it back with us into our wrestling room.”
Part of that to which Bockert is referring corresponds with nuance. Greco-Roman at the elite, World-caliber level is replete with intricate details when it comes to both positioning and technical movements that are difficult to simulate stateside. Hence IGA’s prioritization of international training and competition. “I see the differences overseas in par terre and on the feet,” continued Bockert. “I believe some of IGA’s success is our offense because we attempt to execute with fluid transition whilst maintaining pressure. As we are in Denmark for the next two weeks, I plan on studying the feet. I’m already watching one of their coaches discuss placement of contact, deflection and angles, or an opponent’s pressure.
“I don’t want to put a lot of attention on the takedown that encompasses, perhaps, three to five seconds of an attack. The other six minutes is vital to master and dominate. Another goal is for my three U17 athletes to grow and have the same spark ignited for them that Jeremy and Colton experienced. All four who competed this weekend really showed up. Even among our losses, there was not a match that was a quick tech on us, and we lost some on criteria. IGA earned its first international medal, which is a step in the right direction. Our movements are forward only, and we are coming. I’m proud of my guys and my Alaska family for supporting us out here. Our travel is longer, and it costs more — but our dream is bigger.”
2024 Rosny Cup
February 3-4 — Paris, FRA
TEAM USA FULL RESULTS
Frank Rodriguez (IGA)
LOSS Bilal Madiev (FRA) via fall
WON Raphael Peretz (FRA) 9-0, TF
LOSS Stamat Vorrias (DEN) via fall
Ezekiel Bolton (IGA)
LOSS Kristyan Petkov (BUL) 12-3, TF
LOSS Shain Briki (FRA) 5-5 (criteria)
Brian Grabner (IGA) — BRONZE
WON Rachid Ettarbouch (NOR) 8-0, TF
LOSS Nicklas Tveiten (NOR) 8-0, TF
WON Ismayil Aliev (AUT) 8-0, TF
WON Luka Oniani (FRA) via fall
WON Shain Briki (FRA) 5-2
WON Nicklas Tveiten (NOR) 6-4
Colton Parduhn (IGA) — 5th
WON Magnus Rasmussen (DEN) 11-0, TF
WON Elijah Aanes-Neve (NOR) 4-1
LOSS Saya Brunner (SUI) 6-1
LOSS Magnus Rasmussen (DEN) 1-1 (criteria)
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