USA Greco

OLYMPIC TRIALS: 87 kg Turbulence; Semifinals Set

ellis coleman, 2024 olympic trials, usa greco roman
Ellis Coleman -- Photo: Tony Rotundo

STATE COLLEGE, PA — It has been quite the opening session for Greco-Roman at the 2024 Olympic Team selection tournament.

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

Day 1 of the 2024 US Olympic Team Trials began at 10:00am ET from the Bryce Jordan Center in State College, Pennsylvania and is streaming live on Peacock.

The relationship between seeding and prior credentials was expected to have little bearing with regards to 87 kilograms and, for the most part, that has been true thus far. #1 seed Mahmoud Sebie (NYAC) got past ’23 Final X runner-up Ryan Epps (Army/WCAP) 6-0 to break the cork on the quarterfinal round. Epps had previously decisioned Last Chance qualifier champ Fritz Schierl (Minnesota Storm) in the round-of-16, which was a tight affair between the two. Sebie did not have such issues due to having a bye. Against Epps, it was on the mat where the former Egyptian created the distance in the margins necessary for victory.

On the same side of the bracket, reigning Olympic Trials champ John Stefanowicz (Navy WC) defeated, in rather impressive fashion, Timothy Young (Army/WCAP) via technical fall. Stefanowicz held a 3-0 lead in the second and walloped an arm throw for an apparent five to end that match prematurely. Stefanowicz will now take on Sebie in the challenge semifinal.

Matthew 20 Graphic v2

On the chart’s bottom half, ’23 World Team member Zac Braunagel (IRTC) edged two-time Olympian Ben Provisor (NYAC/Dubuque RTC) 3-2. Braunagel was put in several precarious positions but held firm in the latter stages of the bout. A clutch showing against a beast of a competitor in Provisor.

That’s how it was for young Payton Jacobson (Sunkist/NTS), as well. Jacobson — who only recently moved up in weight — stared down #2 seed Rich Carlson (Minnesota Storm) and brought a lot of heat early. Carlson had a miscue on a headlock as Jacobson hung back on the attempt and covered for two. Jacobson would pick up another point in the second period en-route to a 4-0 decision that will now put him opposite Braunagel.

60 kg; Hafizov, Jones, Black, & Roberts

The action at 60 kg has likewise delivered. Phillip Moomey (TMWC/Spartan Combat RTC) earned his pay with a hard-fought 4-2 decision at the expense of ’23 World rep Brady Koontz (TMWC/Dubuque RTC), which in turn set up a meeting with ’20 US Olympian/multi-time World Teamer Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP). They had battled previously this quad, with Hafizov triumphing in a lopsided manner. This time around, Moomey started off with a more solid base as he prodded into the ties before looking to envelop his offense; before long, Hafizov was the beneficiary of a passivity/par terre chance on which he capitalized by using his patented high-gut lift to expose Moomey twice. Later in the match, Hafizov caught a run on an arm throw and spun for a takedown; he was then able to close Moomey out with another waterfalling high-gut, 9-0 being the final score.

Hafizov will face Northern Michigan standout Max Black in the semifinal. Black generated plenty of energy as he squared off against Dylan Gregerson (Minnesota Storm). Not an easy task, considering Gregerson’s strength and experience. But Black pounced on an scoring opportunity during the match’s most tenuous moments and walked away the 4-1 winner, much to the delight of the NMU faithful in attendance.

Taylor LaMont (Minnesota Storm) got off to a hot start by headlocking and pinning Billy Sullivan (Army/WCAP) in the round-of-16. Waiting for him in the quarterfinal was “The Swarm”, two-time World Team member Dalton Roberts (Army/WCAP). LaMont worked to gain ground in the beginning portion of the match and was rewarded with a passivity/par terre chance. Roberts defended adequately from bottom — and proceeded to pursue a takedown. Roberts would eventually collect three more takedowns (one of which was a nifty off-balance) to force a premature halt to the bout at 9-1.

67 kg

Several athletes have elicited reactions from the crowd during Session I, but none more so than Xavier Johnson (Army/WCAP). Johnson, who last year represented the US at the World Championships in the 63 kg class, faced off against ’19 Junior World bronze/’21 Senior Team member Peyton Omania (OCRTC) with fireworks between the two all but guaranteed. Indeed, dynamite did explode, but it was Johnson who was armed with the detonator. On the strength of two booming lifts, Johnson was able to move on right past the potent Omania 9-0.

’12 Olympian Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP) might have entered this tournament with some rust. If so, little by little said rust is disappearing. And fast. Coleman found little trouble in defeating new teammate and ’22 Open runner-up Pete Ogunsanya via VSU in the round-of-16; one round hence, Coleman bit down to hand ’23 National Champion Robert Perez (Sunkist) a 4-0 loss. Johnson and Coleman, both from Army, will face off in the semis.

The other semifinal at 67 is also highly-attractive.

#1 seed — and ’20 Olympian/two-time World Team member — Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP) took a 10-4 decision against recent National Team rep Jamel Johnson (Marines). Johnson had qualified by virtue of placing second at the Armed Forces Championships and defeated “Last Chance” winner Duncan Nelson (OTC) in the opening round. In his second appearance at 67 kg (under the updated same-day weigh-in format), four-time World Team member Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) is operating at full capacity. His first opponent was an interesting one, however. Dalton Duffield (Army/WCAP) — who last year competed at 55 kg — was originally in the 60 kg bracket but climbed to 67 this morning. Smith pinned Duffield early in the second period; and in the quarterfinal, the Minnesotan got himself a taste of revenge against David Stepanyan (NYAC/NTS) to the tune of a 4-2 decision. Stepanyan had nudged past Smith in the Nationals this past December.

77 kg

Two-time World Team member Kamal Bey (Army/WCAP) and ’18 USA World representative RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) will, at last, engaged in an officially-sanctioned match. Bey ousted Air Force’s Vincent Dolce via VSU in the quarters; Perkins meanwhile was in quite a battle with Danny Braunagel (IRTC). Braunagel pushed a hard pace and led on passivity 1-0 heading into the second period. The passives flipped thereafter, and Perkins locked a gutwrench that provided two points to go up 3-1, a score that held till the bout’s conclusion.

#2 seed Benji Peak (Sunkist/NTS) worked against Tyler Eischens (Tar Heel WC) on the bottom side of the bracket. Peak — who made the World Team in ’22 — scored a succession of points against Eischens and emerged victorious via 9-0 VSU. Peak’s opponent in the semifinal will be ’23 Final X runner-up Aliaksandr Kikiniou (NYAC), who downed ’20 Olympic Trials champ Jesse Porter (NYAC) 6-0. Peak and Kikiniou have only a limited history, with the former having clipped the latter in the semifinal of the ’23 December Nationals.


Participation is not of the same volume in the sport’s two heaviest weight categories at this edition of the Olympic Trials. In the 130 kg field, ’18 World silver Adam Coon (NYAC/Cliff Keen), Courtney Denzel Freeman (Marines), and Aden Attao (Beaver Dam RTC) all enjoy byes to the semifinal round. Donny Longendyke (Minnesota Storm) defeated Jeremiah Imonode (Army/WCAP) 5-3 in the lone quarterfinal bout and will go against Coon.

At 97 kg, #1 seed/three-time World Team member Joe Rau (TMWC) received an impassioned effort from Brandon Marshall (Big Game WC) but still came out on top 7-0. Rau has ’19 U23 World Team member David Tate Orndorff (TMWC/Ohio RTC) in the semifinal.

Unfortunately, 97 kg going forward in this tournament will be without ’21 U20 World bronze/’20 OIympic Trials runner-up Braxton Amos (Sunkist/Wisconsin RTC). Amos was beginning to gather momentum against Diante Cooper (Air Force) until being forced to injury default. Cooper has advanced to the semifinal where he will take on third-seeded Nick Boykin (Sunkist). Boykin, one of the nation’s better upper-weights, survived a difficult battle with George Sikes (NYAC/NTS) in the quarterfinal.

Remaining 2024 Olympic Trials Schedule

— All times ET.
— Live streaming available on Peacock (subscription required).
— USA Network will carry both the Challenge Tournament finals (Friday) & best-of-three finals (Saturday).

10:00am-3:45pm — Session I
6:30pm-10:00pm — Session II

10:00am-2:30pm — Session III
6:30pm-10:00pm — Best-of-three Olympic Trials finals

2024 US Olympic Trials

April 19-20 — State College, PA


60 kg

Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP) vs. Sammy Jones (Sunkist/CTT)
Dalton Roberts (Army/WCAP) vs. Max Black (NMU/NTS)

67 kg

Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP) vs. Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm)
Xavier Johnson (Army/WCAP) vs. Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP)

77 kg

Kamal Bey (Army/WCAP) vs. RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC)
Benji Peak (Sunkist/NTS) vs. Aliaksandr Kikiniou (NYAC)

87 kg

Mahmoud Sebie (NYAC) vs. John Stefanowicz (Navy WC)
Zac Braunagel (IRTC) vs. Payton Jacobson (Sunkist/NTS)

97 kg

Joe Rau (TMWC) vs. David Tate Orndorff (TMWC/Ohio RTC)
Nick Boykin (Sunkist) vs. Diante Cooper (Air Force)

130 kg

Adam Coon (NYAC/Cliff Keen) vs. Donny Longendyke (Minnesota Storm)
Courtney Freeman (Marines) vs. Aden Attao (Beaver Dam RTC)


60 KG

Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP) def. Phillip Moomey (TMWC/Spartan Combat RTC) 9-0, TF
Sammy Jones (Sunkist/CTT) def. Randon Miranda (NYAC) 5-0
Max Black (NMU/NTS) def. Dylan Gregerson (Minnesota Storm) 4-1
Dalton Roberts (Army/WCAP) def. Taylor LaMont (Minnesota Storm) 9-1, TF

67 kg

Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP) def. Jamel Johnson (Marines) 10-4
Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) def. David Stepanyan (NYAC/NTS) 4-2
Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP) def. Robert Perez III (Sunkist) 4-0
Xavier Johnson (Army/WCAP) def. Peyton Omania (OCRTC) 9-0, TF

77 kg

Kamal Bey (Army/WCAP) def. Vincent Dolce (Air Force) 9-0, TF
RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) def. Danny Braunagel (IRTC) 4-1
Aliaksandr Kikiniou (NYAC) def. Jesse Porter (NYAC)
Benji Peak (Sunkist/NTS) def. Tyler Eischens (Tar Heel WC) 9-0, TF

87 kg

Mahmoud Sebie (NYAC) def. Ryan Epps (Army/WCAP) 6-0
John Stefanowicz (Navy WC) def. Timothy Young (Army/WCAP) 8-0, TF
Zac Braunagel (IRTC) def. Ben Provisor (NYAC/Dubuque RTC) 3-2
Payton Jacobson (Sunkist/NTS) def. Rich Carlson (Minnesota Storm) 4-0

97 kg

Joe Rau (TMWC) def. Brandon Marshall (Big Game WC) 7-0
David Tate Orndorff (TMWC/Ohio RTC) def. Mike Altomer (Curby 3-Style) 6-0
Nick Boykin (Sunkist) def. George Sikes (NYAC/NTS) 3-2
Diante Cooper (Air Force) advances over Braxton Amos (Sunkist/Wisconsin RTC) via injury default

130 kg


60 kg

Phillip Moomey (Spartan Combat RTC) def. Brady Koontz (TMWC/Dubuque RTC) 4-2
Dylan Gregerson (Minnesota Storm) def. Sidney Flores (Air Force) 14-4, TF
Taylor LaMont (Minnesota Storm) def. Billy Sullivan (Army/WCAP) via fall

67 kg

Jamel Johnson (Marines) def. Duncan Nelson (OTC) 4-1
Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) def. Dalton Duffield (Army/WCAP) via fall
Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP) def. Pete Ogunsanya (Army/WCAP) 9-0, TF
Xavier Johnson (Army/WCAP) def. Hayden Tuma (NYAC) 10-0, TF

77 kg

Vincent Dolce (Air Force) def. Terrence Zaleski (Marines) 16-7, TF
Tyler Eischens (Tar Heel WC) def. Justus Scott (Army/WCAP) 13-3, TF

87 kg

Ryan Epps (Army/WCAP) def. Fritz Schierl (Minnesota Storm) 5-3

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Listen to “5PM57: Kamal Bey and David Stepanyan” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM56: Rich Carlson and Spencer Woods” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM55: Recapping Final X with Dennis Hall with words from Koontz, Braunagel and Hafizov” on Spreaker.

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