USA Greco

Petrov Day 3: Stepanyan Downed by China

david stepanyan, 2024 nikola petrov memorial
David Stepanyan -- Image: BF Borba

David Stepanyan (67 kg, NYAC/NTS) certainly did not lack for zeal as he faced China’s Haonan Liu on Saturday morning, but the same eagerness that normally well-serves the Northern Michigan athlete’s style might have played a role in his exit from the tournament in the qualification round.

Day 3 of the 2024 Nikola Petrov Memorial began at 10:30am local time from Sofia, Bulgaria (3:30am ET) and streamed live on the Bulgarian Wrestling Federation’s YouTube channel.

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They did not waste any time once the whistle blew as both wrestlers energetically raced into the tie-ups. Stepanyan — a U23 World Team member in ’21 in addition to having made both the Senior National and World Trials that year — was quickly able to achieve a right underhook and soon became perilously close to a Liu arm throw. The technique landed but Stepanyan contorted to avoid surrendering points. They re-engaged, and, again, Liu lasered a try at the arm throw. And, again, Stepanyan cartwheeled out of danger. More playback in the ties with Stepanyan searching for a handle. Liu remained committed to his opponent’s right arm and eventually scored on a correct hold. Passivity soon rang with Liu the beneficiary. He worked for a reverse lift as Stepanyan did his best to stay pasted. China could not wrangle an adequate lock, compelling the official to order a restart. Liu gestured that Stepanyan had not sufficiently cleared from bottom — and then Stepanyan needed a moment before resetting for he was motioning that his neck was an issue.

On the next restart, the duo jousted as they had previously with Liu ambling behind Stepanyan towards the boundary to collect a step-out point.

To Whom Belongs the Glory graphic

Down 4-0, Stepanyan appeared rather undaunted and resumed hunting for advantageous positions. A potentially-promising tie-up materialized in the form of a left underhook as he also clamped down on Liu’s left wrist. But Liu was ready, and unfurled another arm throw. The attempt did not score — but almost as quickly as Stepanyan recovered, Liu went for one more arm try and completed the maneuver to pick up four more points, thus ending the match at 8-0 in his favor.

Liu was defeated 7-3 in the next round by Georgi Anachkov of host country Bulgaria to eliminate Stepanyan from possible re-entry into the tournament via repechage.

Rau Upcoming

Three-time World Team member Joe Rau (97 kg, TMWC) will square off against Zegang Wang (CHN) for bronze at 6:00pm local time (11:00am ET). Fans interested in watching the match live can do so here (at press time the precise mat assignment is unknown). Rau is the only American to compete for a medal in this year’s edition of the Nikola Petrov Memorial.

2024 Nikola Petrov Memorial

March 7-10 — Sofia, BUL


67 kg

David Stepanyan (NYAC/NTS)
LOSS Haonan Liu (CHN) 8-0, TF


87 kg

Patrick Curran (NMU/NTS)
LOSS Sultan Eid (JOR) 9-0, TF
LOSS Lukas Staudacher (AUT) 11-2, TF
LOSS Yoan Dimitrov (BUL) 8-0, TF

97 kg

Joe Rau (TMWC)
WON Daniel Gastl (AUT) 9-0, TF
WON George Sikes (NYAC/NTS) 8-0, TF
LOSS Amirreza Akbari (IRI) 10-7

George Sikes (NYAC/NTS)
LOSS Joe Rau (TMWC) 8-0, TF


82 kg

Casey Recrosio (NMU/NTS)
LOSS Talas Ashirkhanov (KAZ) 9-0, TF

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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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