The effort towards an education in foreign Greco-Roman training and cultural understanding yielded encouraging results on Sunday as two Americans made the podium at the 2023 Sundsvall Open in Sundsvall, Sweden.
Aidan Squier (Scorpions/HPGP) surged to gold at 80 kilograms while fellow up-and-comer Will Scherer (65 kg, MO/Combat WC) earned silver. Coming in 4th for the US was Gunnar Hamre (67 kg, Combat WC), and Patrick Brackett (72 kg, CO) put up a strong fight before finishing 9th in what was his maiden international tournament.
Squier & Scherer
Squier and Scherer, both of whom U17 competitors, navigated well-populated fields on their respective journeys over the weekend. They were prepared, however, and all of the duo’s wins were recorded via stoppage.
For Squier, the tournament began with a VSU over Latvian Tom Irklis, but he wasn’t done. A second-straight tech fall was in the books at the expense of Rasmus Silen (SWE), which put Squier in his pool final. Once there, Finland’s Sebastian Abrant awaited but, in short order, Squier got him out of the way via pin. It all led up to the gold-medal round, which once again saw the youngster roll to victory following a searing points haul that was concluded with an 8-0 technical fall.
Scherer’s run was not too dissimilar. A fall over Lucas Lindgren (SWE) opened his competition; then Scherer superior’d Karl Raud (EST) prior to pinning Alfred Shonfedlt (SWE). The three wins elevated Scherer to the doorstep. After what was turning into a contentious affair with Ruben Strakeved, Scherer put the match on ice by earning the pin.
Only the gold-medal bout remained. Scherer went to battle against Hugo Riehunkangas (FIN) and, unlike his previous contests, this one went the distance, with Riehunkangas prevailing 3-2.
Hamre & Brackett
Hamre — whose growing experience and devotion to training has begun to expand his status as a prospect — might not have had as many competitors in his weight category as Squier and Scherer, but he certainly had substantial quality with which to deal.
Following a loss to Estonian (and eventual silver) Artur Jermejev, Hamre got in the win column with a points-friendly decision against Oskar Josarp (SWE). Given the Nordic system’s pooled format (A and B pools), Hamre was very much still alive in the medal hunt and had punched his ticket to the bronze round.
In a weight category that was won by a recent Junior World Champion in Russian Abu-Muslim Amaev (gold in ’19, who now competes for BUL), it only made sense that there would be at least one other tough Senior in the mix — Nestori Mannila of Finland. Mannila was fifth in the U20 Worlds this past August and owns various Senior medals on his resume, including two golds.
But that is precisely why young US athletes such as Hamre make this kind of trip.
Although he was ready for a prolonged struggle, and worked to make that happen, Hamre’s polish did not carry the same sheen as Mannila’s, with the bronze ultimately going to Finland by a 9-1 score.
Brackett, younger brother of American Senior Tommy Brackett, fell to Swedish Senior Gustav Dahl in the pool opener and was downed by Homam Limam (GB) in the proceeding round.
Combat founder and multi-time US Cadet World Team coach Lucas Stedlt is, as usual, the leader of this latest overseas tour — as well as a personal coach for Scherer, Hamre, and Squier. The objective for Stedlt when booking international trips for developing athletes is, just that, development. And because “development” is a synonym for progress, Steldt is understandably pleased with what the action in Sundsvall provided.
Here are his overviews of each performance.
“Will is really coming out his shell this year. The nice showing he had this weekend comes after the Malar Cupen earlier this season, and more improvements have been made since then. In the finals, he lost a nail bitter. I couldn’t be happier with his progression and professionalism.”
“Young and inexperienced on the international competition scene but he’s full of athleticism and promise. I’m new to Patrick, but anyone can see the potential from a mile away.”
“With the deepest bracket for talent in the competition, Gunnar battled hard and at this level, it’s the one mistake or area of deficiency that makes the difference. Cadets (U17) is about technique; but once it is U20, it’s about controlling the fight. With Seniors, it’s about everything. In Sundsvall, U20 and Seniors are combined, which is common overseas. Gunnar had some areas of concern exposed and at the same time, his areas of strength were shown to be very effective. That last sentence is the exact reason why we come to these international competitions and trainings.”
“Aidan is coming along as well as one could ask for. When coming home with gold from an outstanding performance, there’s time to smile and appreciate the progress.”
2023 Sundsvall Open
January 21-22 — Sundsvall, SWE
TEAM USA FULL RESULTS
65 kg: Will Scherer (MO/Combat WC) — silver
WON Lucas Lindgren (SWE) via fall
WON Karl Raud (EST) 8-0, TF
WON Alfred Shonfedlt (SWE) via fall
WON Ruben Strakeved (SWE) via fall
LOSS Hugo Riehunkangas (FIN) 3-2
80 kg: Aidan Squier (Scorpions/HPGP) — gold
WON Tom Irklis (LAT) 9-0, TF
WON Rasmus Silen (SWE) 8-0, TF
WON Sebastian Abrant (FIN) via fall
WON Elar Hinno (EST) 8-0, TF
67 kg: Gunnar Hamre (Combat WC) — 4th
LOSS Artur Jermejev (EST) 8-0, TF
WON Oskar Josarp (SWE) 11-5
LOSS Nestori Mannila (FIN) 9-1, TF
72 kg: Patrick Brackett (CO) — 9th
LOSS Gustav Dahl (SWE) 10-0, TF
LOSS Homam Limam (GB) 9-1, TF
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