USA Greco

12 MEDALS: USA Wins Two Age Divisions at Kolbotn Cup

kolbton cup 2023, usa greco-roman
Photo: Parker Betts

The overseas tear for Aidan Squier (80 kg, Combat WC) continues.

not all roads lead to gold, parent edition, jim gruenwald

On Saturday, Squier, Elyle Francisco (55 kg, NMU/NTS), and Brennan Carey (110 kg, Combat WC) each earned gold and contributed to a US effort that included nine other medalists as well as team titles in two separate age divisions at the Kolbotn Cup in Kolbotn, Norway.

For Squier — who walked away with top honors from the Malar Cupen (SWE) earlier this month after winning his first overseas tournament last January — it was another expression of dominance. He surrendered only a single point throughout the day and won four of his five matches by way of technical superiority. Squier saw his biggest test of the tournament in the very first round, courtesy of Lithuanian Marius Zajaukas. Following that 4-0 decision, Squier proceeded to dismantle Gustav Eriksson (SWE, for a second time this month), Zalan Toplak (HUN), Minijus Ceonavicius (LTU), and Vilmos Scheuring (HUN) by a combined score of 37-1. The performance was similar to the one from three weeks ago. At the aforementioned Malar Cupen, Squier won six bouts, four of which were recorded as technical falls to go along with one pin and one decision.


Carey, Nutter, Scherer & Parsons

Squier was joined by four other competitors in the Cadet portion of the Kolbotn Cup: fellow tournament champ Carey, silver medalist Amryn Nutter (65 kg, Combat WC), Will Scherer (71 kg, Combat WC), and Mason Parsons (80 kg, Sons of Thunder).

Carey is now two-for-two in overseas action after having also prevailed at Sweden’s Malar Cupen. His first match on Saturday was a starching of Malvin Berg (NOR) but he was then pushed by both Dires Sasurkeva (NOR) and Andreas Samuel Kern (SVK) and triumphed by scores of 2-0 and 4-2, respectively. Still high school-eligible, Carey recently committed to full-time Greco-Roman training and already claims two international medals on his resume.

Kolbotn was a first-time experience for Nutter but it was difficult to tell. He started with back-to-back technical falls before edging Latvian Jaromir Zukov to qualify for medal contention. Nutter kept the line moving with a crisp 10-4 decision over Niklas Tveiten (NOR) but was defeated in the final by Lors Timirbiev (NOR). With two older brothers who are established Senior stars — Alston and Aidan — Amryn Nutter was seen as a stout prospect prior to his overseas debut this weekend and that sort of conversation is only going to increase now that he has collected his first piece of international hardware.

Scherer’s showing at the Kolbotn Cup could at first glance fly just under the radar for those uninitiated with both how competitive the tournament is and how the Nordic system operates. In the most-populated bracket of the Cadet division, Scherer performed brilliantly, going 5-2 overall with his only defeats occurring at the hands of runner-up Teymor Sultanov (SWE) and bronze Vetle Mathisen (NOR). Before, in-between, and after those matches, the skilled up-and-comer earned wins over a variety of solid Scandinavian athletes and eventually persevered to pick up fifth place.

Parsons cracked open his time in the Kolbotn Cup with a tough decision victory over Zajaukas; and in the next round, he, like Squier, VSU’d Eriksson. The pair of wins put Parsons firmly in the medal argument but a loss to Scheuring in Round 4 kept him out of the final. For bronze, Parsons fell to Toplak and had to settle for 4th place. It was still an encouraging step for the age-grouper. Parsons — as is the case with several on this tour — is just beginning his international career and Kolbotn represented his second trip across the Atlantic.

U20: 9 Medalists

Francisco & Jakeway

At 55 kg, it was USA vs. USA as only ’22 U17 World Team member Francisco and Jakeway were present in the bracket. Francisco — a highly-touted wrestler with a growing list of credentials to his name — was able to sweep Jakeway in their round-robin series. Such a result does little to diminish the theme. Both competitors are still in the developmental stage and traveled to Norway in the pursuit of acquiring more meaningful time with foreign counterparts while most in their age range are focusing on regional folkstyle concerns.

Ercanbrack, Smith, & Khalimsky

Another round-robin was on the table at 60 kg where Kaden Ercanbrack (Combat WC) duked it out with Ryder Smith (NMU/NTS) to determine silver and bronze. Both wrestlers were defeated by champ Al-Bara Chopalaev (NOR). With bronze on the line, Ercanbrack downed Smith via technical fall.

Maddox Khalimsky (NMU/NTS) had to rebound following an opening-round loss to William Ekeroth (SWE) in order to come away with bronze. One round later, Khalimsky steamrolled Yaman Mohamed Abdo (SWE) 8-0; in the bronze round, the Illinois native had stormed back from a sizable deficit and was leading Bers Idal Timirbiev with 7-6 the score — but things between the athletes became heated, as Timirbiev, who was visibly fatigued, wound up being disqualified after attempting to start a fight on the mat. For Khalimsky, the Kolbotn Cup provides his first overseas medal — in addition to providing an ending he won’t soon forget.

67 kg: Bearden & Hamre Lead a Long List

Jaxon Bearden (NMU/NTS) had himself a full day at the office by engaging in six contests for a 4-2 record that was good for second place. Bearden prevailed in his first three matches of the tournament before dropping a 4-3 decision to Kipras Puikis (LTU). A lopsided win over Magnus Rasmussen (DEN) kept him in the running for gold, but William Reenberg (DEN) — who has achieved numerous accolades on the Nordic circuit — got past Bearden 8-0.

The US had four other entrants at U20 67 kg, with Gunnar Hamre (Combat WC) just missing out on the podium. Hamre actually defeated Puikis in the second round, but his string was cut by Bearden in the following match. A win against Rasmussen then elevated Hamre to the bronze round where he was clipped by Renat Kryzhko (SWE). Finishing behind Bearden (silver) and Hamre (4th) for the Americans were Julian Slaastad (IL, 5th), Charlie McKune (NMU/NTS, 6th), and Leffel Garan (NMU/NTS, 8th).

Miess, Baronowski, & Groncki with Silver

Ashton Miess (77 kg, Combat WC) — one week after making his Senior international debut in New York — finished second on Saturday by decimating Kipras Gvosdaz (LTU) 11-3 in his first bout of the event. An opponent with just a bit more seasoning was waiting with gold hanging in the balance, Frederik Mathiesen of Denmark. Miess was defeated by Mathiesen and exited the event with silver. Miess, a Fargo champ this past summer, was also a bronze medalist from the ’22 Malar Cupen.

One weight class north, Henry Baronowski (82 kg, Combat WC) seized his second overseas medal of the month — but it took a comeback to make it happen. Baronowski was ousted by Jonathan Bugge (NOR)in the opening round and thus required winning his next two matches to reach medal qualification. The impressive young upper-weight accomplished just that. Baronowski first delivered a beatdown to Frederik Moe (NOR) before adding another against Oddbjorn Krakoy-Pedersen (NOR) to secure Kolbotn silver. 

Promising heavyweight Cameron Groncki (NMU/NTS) now owns an international medal after earning silver on Saturday. Groncki, originally from New York, pounded out Estonian Rasmus Liisma and decisioned up-in-weight teammate Daniel Eubanks to make the final, where he was on the wrong end of an 8-2 score against Barnabas Tolnai (NOR). Eubanks qualified for the bronze round but was defeated by Liisma. 

The Coaches’ Perspectives

With the athletes in Norway are Northern Michigan University-National Training Site assistant coach Parker Betts and Combat WC founder Lucas Steldt. Steldt in particular has become closely associated with overseas travel as the most prolific developer of young USA Greco-Roman talent in recent years. Betts, who began this third season as a coach for NMU this past September, remembers tours like this one in Kolbotn from his days as a competitor, which allows for him both an empathetic and objective-driven perspective on Saturday’s performance.

“I think that the tournament was a success for us,” Betts said after the tournament. “For a lot of our guys, it was their first time overseas, so several factors come into play with travel, fatigue, nerves, and etc., but they handled it all very well. Everyone from NMU got at least one win, which I’m very happy about because last year we walked away from Sweden with our heads down after a bad performance as a team. Everyone has their heads high right now with a handful of medals and the team championship. Everyone on the team showed something positive during the tournament, but we have plenty to work on, as well. We’re looking forward to a good week of training with a couple Norwegian clubs including the Senior National Team.”

Parker Betts, Lucas Steldt

Steldt (left) and Betts (second from left) with one of the two team trophies earned for the US on Saturday at the 2023 Kolbotn Cup in Norway.

Steldt agrees with Betts’ words but, as is customary for him, attaches a harder line to his own insights.

“Overall, the guys competed well and finished where they should have,” began Steldt. “A couple of our athletes were reminded that the lack of time in Greco-Roman at a international level is a real deficiency. Some had other shortcomings exposed. Both are reasons why we are here and why we spend a large portion of our year overseas. The athletes who make that possible for themselves fare the best. This is also why we recommend that athletes start competing and training overseas at 16, but not before that. Domestically, they can begin as soon as possible. What is reality, and the biggest admission we must make as a program, is to reconcile that it is paramount for Americans to spend the vast majority of their competition time overseas, and to train overseas, as well. Evaluating American Greco-Roman potential based on U15 and U17 performances is a very poor assessment for a multitude of reasons. U20 is where real evaluation should take place. U15 and U17 are extremely important, too, but should not be used as anything more than for training evaluations. Anything else is short-sighted.

“With a competition such as the Kolbotn Cup, athletes who come from the Fargo type of Greco quickly learn how their experience from that brand of the sport is useless. Here overseas, it is real Greco-Roman at a World level. The international athletes Americans defeat when they are U15 or U17 are now dominant over them at U20. The lack of respect for time-on-task in America is unfortunately a demonstration of our ignorance to Greco-Roman as well as having become our country’s biggest failure.

“For me, this competition did serve its purpose. Deficiencies were exposed, and the strengths we do have were shown to be effective. Also, it was a reality check for some of our athletes to discern how if their training is not 100% consumed by Greco-Roman, then they should not expect any type of measurable success. We will spend this week’s training in a hyper-focused environment and hone in on a few key areas for each athlete. We will then return home and prepare for the US Nationals next month in Texas.”

2023 Kolbotn Cup

November 25 — Kolbotn, NOR


65 kg

Amryn Nutter (Combat WC) SILVER
WON Alfred Schonfeldt (SWE) 12-4, TF
WON Paul Erwin Hildebrandt (SWE) 10-0, TF
WON Jaromir Zukov (LAT) 4-3
WON Niklas Tveiten (NOR) 10-4
LOSS Lors Timirbiev (NOR) 11-2, TF

71 kg

Will Scherer (Combat WC) — 5th
WON Erik Andersen Berg (NOR) 7-2
WON Kristoffer Birkeland-Eriksen (NOR) 6-0
LOSS Teymor Sultanov (SWE) 9-4
WON Mathias Rasmussen (SWE) 3-1
LOSS Vetle Mathisen (NOR) 2-0
WON Oleksandr Shynkarchuk (NOR) 8-0, TF
WON Mikkel Clausen (DEN) 5-1

80 kg

Aidan Squier (Combat WC) GOLD
WON Marius Zajaukas (LTU) via fall
WON Gustav Eriksson (SWE) 8-0, TF
WON Zalan Toplak (HUN) 12-1, TF
WON Minijus Ceonavicius (LTU) 9-0, TF
WON Vilmos Scheuring (HUN) 8-0, TF

Mason Parsons (Sons of Thunder) — 4th
WON Emir Ulusov (SWE) 4-0
WON Marcus Ravn (SWE) 8-0, TF
LOSS Vilmos Scheuring (HUN) 10-2, TF
LOSS Zalan Toplak (HUN) 8-0, TF

110 kg

Brennan Carey (Combat WC) GOLD
WON Malvin Berg (NOR) 10-0, TF
WON Dires Sasurkeva (NOR) 2-0
WON Andreas Samuel Kern (SVK) 4-2


55 kg

Elyle Francisco (NMU/NTS) GOLD
WON William Jakeway (Sons of Thunder) 9-0, TF
WON William Jakeway (Sons of Thunder) 8-0, TF

William Jakeway (Sons of Thunder) SILVER
LOSS Elyle Francisco (NMU/NTS) 9-0, TF
LOSS Elyle Francisco (NMU/NTS) 8-0, TF

60 kg

Kaden Ercanbrack (Combat WC) SILVER
LOSS Al-Bara Chopalaev (NOR) 10-0, TF
WON Ryder Smith (NMU/NTS) 9-0, TF

Ryder Smith (NMU/NTS) BRONZE
LOSS Al-Bara Chopalaev (NOR) 7-5
LOSS Kaden Ercanbrak (Combat WC) 9-0, TF

63 kg

Maddox Khalimsky (NMU/NTS) BRONZE
LOSS William Ekeroth (SWE) 8-0, TF
WON Yaman Mohamed Abdo (SWE) 8-0, TF
WON Bers Idal Timirbiev (SWE) via DQ

67 kg

Jaxon Bearden (NMU/NTS) SILVER
WON Noah Elias Normann (NOR) 12-4, TF
WON Eetu Lamberg (FIN) 8-2
WON Gunnar Hamre (Combat WC) 8-0, TF
LOSS Kipras Puikis (LTU) 4-3
WON Magnus Rasmussen (DEN) 9-0, TF
LOSS William Reenberg (DEN) 8-0, TF

Gunnar Hamre (Combat WC) — 4th
WON Eetu Lamberg (FIN) 12-2, TF
WON Kipras Puikis (LTU) 13-2, TF
LOSS Jaxon Bearden (NMU/NTS) 8-0, TF
WON Magnus Rasmussen (DEN) 9-1, TF
LOSS Renat Kryzhko (SWE) 8-0, TF

Charlie McKune (NMU/NTS) — 6th
LOSS Renat Kryzhko (SWE) 2-1
WON Noah Bekk Johansen (SWE) 11-0, TF
WON Leffel Garran (NMU/NTS) 8-0, TF
LOSS William Reenberg (DEN) 8-0, TF
LOSS Magnus Rasmussen (DEN) 8-0, TF

Leffel Garran (NMU/NTS) — 8th
LOSS William Reenberg (DEN) 10-0, TF
WON Danyil Polyakov (NOR) 2-0
LOSS Charlie McKune (NMU/NTS) 8-0, TF

Julian Slaastad (IL) — 5th
LOSS Petter Lund (SWE) 8-0, TF
LOSS Lars Letvik (NOR) 12-5
WON Alend Jasem Babiri (NOR) via forfeit

77 kg

Ashton Miess (Combat WC) SILVER
WON Kipras Gvosdaz (LTU) 11-3. TF
LOSS Frederik Mathiesen (DEN) 9-1, TF

82 kg

Hank Baronowski (Combat WC) SILVER
LOSS Jonathan Bugge (NOR) 8-0, TF
WON Frederik Moe (NOR) 9-1, TF
WON Oddbjorn Krakoy-Pedersen (NOR) 8-0, TF

130 kg

Cameron Groncki (NMU/NTS) SILVER
WON Rasmus Liisma (EST) 9-0, TF
WON Daniel Eubanks (NMU/NTS) 5-0
LOSS Barnabas Tolnai (NOR) 8-2

Daniel Eubanks (NMU/NTS) — 4th
LOSS Banrabas Tolnai (NOR) 9-0, TF
LOSS Cameron Groncki (NMU/NTS) 5-0
LOSS Rasmus Liisma (EST) 6-1

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