One of the more pressing requests the US program has asked of its athletes in recent years is to take risks in search of offensive scores. Chayse LaJoie (63 kg, California RTC) is not the type of competitor who would find such a memo required reading, though he did prove the theorem earlier today in Bulgaria despite being eliminated from medal contention.
Day 1 of the 2022 Nikola Petrov Memorial began at 10:30am local time in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria (3:30am ET) and aired live on YouTube.
LaJoie — a ’21 Junior World Team member and multi-time Fargo champ who was competing in his first Senior international tournament — greeted Ilya Mustakov in the round-of-16. It wasn’t long before Mustakov found double-underhooks, which compelled LaJoie to battle back into an even pummel. More preamble ensued until LaJoie wrested a front-headlock to bring Mustakov to his knees. The opportunity was not wasted, as LaJoie hurriedly scampered around for a takedown. A follow-up gutwrench attempt near the edge failed to come to fruition with the mat official blowing the whistle. After the reset, LaJoie snagged a right underhook and looked to push Mustakov off the line. He was taking command.
They jousted for several moments and it soon became apparent that the referee was eyeing the American for passive. Whether LaJoie sensed an impending call or otherwise is immaterial, for his next action changed the complexion of the contest. As Mustakov hawked just slightly over the top, LaJoie unfurled an arm throw that netted four. They restarted — and on the back-end of more histrionics, LaJoie raked another arm throw, this time for two points. Although concurrent points were sought via gutwrench, the bout was stopped and LaJoie had impressively moved on with the clean 8-0 VSU.
Steeper was the hill for LaJoie in the proceeding round with ’21 European Championships bronze Erik Torba (HUN) standing across the circle. Torba, 27, entered Petrov as one of the favorites at 63 and is considered a World-level contender.
In which case, LaJoie might not be too far away from enjoying a similar designation.
Throwing pretense to the wind, LaJoie gamely coaxed Torba into availing his left side. Initially, this was in the form of a righty underhook for the American. A skirmish unfolded between the two as they chipped at the edge. LaJoie was coming in hot, and Torba was doing his best to circle away from a potential step-out. They broke, and a similar tie-up was availed. It also gave way to a highlight-reel takedown. LaJoie, who had favored the right underhook when opposed by Mustakov, opted to leverage his left overhook against Torba. Of course, it all happened too fast for Hungary to realize. In a flash, LaJoie popped Torba’s right arm and ducked underneath; he then maintained enough control of the appendage for what could be defined as a legless fireman’s carry. The finished sequence garnered four and the US was ahead 4-0.
Alas, Torba would not remain silent. Later in the first period, he used over/under’s to bodylock LaJoie and added two more from a trap-arm turn. And with just :05 left to go before the break, Torba got behind for a throw/turn combo that ended the match in his favor. Still — in two matches from his first overseas event, LaJoie managed to accumulate 12 offensive points, which is exactly what the Americans want from their next generation of Seniors.
Day 2 in Veliko Tarnovo will have ’21 World bronze G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg, Sunkist, world #5, 5PM #1) and Tanner Farmer (130 kg, NYAC/IRTC, 5PM #3) up next for the American squad. Farmer opens in the qualification round opposite Sing Mehar of India while Hancock sets sail in the same round against Aleksandar Simovic (SRB). Wrestling is slated to start at 10:30am in Bulgaria (3:30am ET) at this link.
- Torba was ahead of reigning World champ Meysam Dalkhani 6-1 with under a minute remaining in the semifinal when the officials decided to call him for passivity. Dalkhani went on to launch a side lift (plus one more following a review) to advance 7-6. Torba’s loss to Dalkhani erased LaJoie’s chances of coming back for bronze through the repechage.
- Petrov is the first tournament of the year to feature United World Wrestling’s rule update which includes only one point plus a warning for fleeing along with an option for wrestlers to place their hands in other locations on their opponents’ backs during par terre.
2022 Nikola Petrov Memorial
February 17-20 — Veliko Tarnovo, BUL
TEAM USA DAY 1 RESULTS
63 kg: Chayse LaJoie (California RTC)
WON Ilya Mustakov (BUL) 8-0, TF
LOSS Erik Torba (HUN) 12-4, TF
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