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Pytlasinski Day 1: Sancho Decisioned by UKR

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Photo: United World Wrestling

A trip like this one, a mere 40 or so days away from the Tokyo Games, is not about results. It is more about performance and arriving home with notes geared towards potential adjustments. That said, 2020 US Olympian Alex Sancho (67 kg, Army/WCAP) was hoping for a larger sample size.

Day 1 of the 2021 Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Memorial began at 11:00am local time in Warsaw, Poland and aired live in the US on FLOWrestling.

Last week, Sancho spoke of the 67 kilogram bracket at this weekend’s Pytlasinski with a steely edge of determination in his voice. He hadn’t competed since the Olympic Trials, and was eager to make an impression on what was expected to be a field stacked with premier athletes. Several of those names mentioned were no-shows, leaving Sancho paired up with Bogdan Kovernyuk (UKR), whose list of credentials is less impressive than his actual competitive ability.

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From the start, Sancho appeared eager to wade in the tie-ups in search of a reliable handle. The pace was not frenetic, but they were jockeying enough to give the impression of intent. Passivity rang with Ukraine receiving the knock. Par terre top is seen as Sancho’s biggest strength — but before he could even achieve a meaningful lock, Kovernyuk bounded back to his feet. It was a startling development, though Sancho went back to work scanning for underhooks and reasonable angles until the first period reached its conclusion.

In the second, passivity flipped. Kovernyuk did not hesitate to wrap, hastily lassoing Sancho’s midsection for a lift that netted two. A brief time-out followed, as Kovernyuk was attended to by the training staff. When action resumed, Sancho — down by a pair — began creating more movement despite his opposition’s reluctance to fully engage. Near the edge was a skirmish, the result of which appeared to present a Kovernyuk step-out. No call was made but the US challenged, cutting Sancho’s deficit to one (but really two due to criteria). Just as the proverbial “race to the finish” had begun to unfold, Sancho was unceremoniously penalized for a caution-and-two, providing Kovernyuk a three-point cushion with under :10 remaining. No further scoring was availed, and Sancho was on the wrong end of a 5-2 decision.

Kovernyuk was downed in the semifinal by two-time U23 World Champion Mohamed Elsayed (EGY), thus eliminating Sancho from contention for bronze.


The relative drama surrounding the Russian Federation’s representative at 77 kilograms in Tokyo was turned up another notch on Saturday morning after multi-time World/Olympic champ Roman Vlasov was criteria’ed 1-1 in the semis by  ’21 Euro silver Tamas Levai. Complicating matters for Vlasov has been the performance of countryman Abuyazid Mantsigov, who will meet Levai for gold tomorrow. As reported in the latest Monday Roundup, Russian head coach Gogi Koguashvili explained that 77 kilos is a three-horse race between Mantsigov, Vlasov, and Aleksander Chekhirkin (RUS, who will compete at Vehbi Emre later this month) with a determination based largely on event results expected to be made following this pair of tournaments. Vlasov, 30, represented Russia at the past two Olympiads, coming away with top honors both times.

Day 2 at Pytlasinski begins tomorrow morning at 11:00am/5:00am ET with a pair of well-known Americans taking the mat — three-time US Open Champion Max Nowry (55 kg, Army/WCAP) and ’20 US National titlist Alan Vera (87 kg, NYAC). Draws for both Nowry and Vera have not yet been released. When they are, this page will be updated accordingly.

2021 Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Memorial

June 12-13 — Warsaw, POL


67 kg: Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP)
LOSS Bogdan Kovernyuk (UKR) 5-2

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