USA Greco

Thor Masters: USA with Six Athletes Still Alive for Day 2

aden attao, 2024 thor masters recap
Aden Attao -- Photo: Richard Immel

Northern Michigan stars Max Black (60 kg) and Payton Jacobson (87 kg) led the way for the United States during the opening session of this year’s Thor Masters with both Olympic Trials-qualified athletes earning victories. Recent Junior World bronze medalists Braxton Amos (97 kg, Sunkist) and Aden Attao (130 kg, Suples) were unable to do the same but still have opportunities to make a statement. Then again, perhaps they already have.

Day 1 of Thor Masters 2024 began at 1:00pm local time from Nykobing Falster, Denmark (7:00am ET) and streamed live on the tournament’s official website as well as YouTube.

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

Black, Jacobson, Amos, and Attao were among an American delegation consisting of 11 total athletes and they are not the only ones who are still alive in this grandest of Nordic system tournaments (pool competition, double elimination). First-year Senior wrestler Rhett Peak (OPTC) and ’21 U23 World Team member Tommy Brackett (NYAC) likewise remain in the hunt and will conduct further business on Saturday morning despite starting their performances in the loss column.

Black was assertive, if not expressive, as he checked into the ties opposite Nikita Dementiev (UKR). Moving with conviction, Black plunged underhooks from space on a couple of occasions through the preamble before later snapping-and-spinning for two points. In the second period, a similar sequence unfolded when Dementiev pursued Black from a lowered-level only to succumb once again to a snap-spin takedown. It became dicey soon after, as Black transitioned to a bodylock attempt when his side lift crumbled; Dementiev adjusted on the maneuver with both wrestlers careening off the edge. Ukraine felt that they should have been awarded exposure points, so they challenged. The call on the mat was upheld, however, and Black’s lead increased to 5-0.

After a Dementiev attempt nearly resulted in correct-hold points, Black was cited for passivity. Dementiev locked a reverse lift and, following successive hops to each side, pulled Black over for two points. A subsequent try from the position came loose and they reset with the score at 5-3 in favor of the US. Black still had points in his pocket. He navigated into position on Dementiev and executed a crisp lift for four points and eventually secured the 9-3 decision. Tomorrow morning, Black will face experienced Swede Adam Silverin. Residing in the same pool is German Olympian (’20) Eitienne Kinsinger.

To Whom Belongs the Glory graphic

Although 77 kilograms is where Jacobson has surged towards the top of the domestic ladder, 87 kg is the category in which he is competing at Thor Masters. His first assignment on Friday was ’19 U23 World runner-up Vjekoslav Luburic (CRO). A fine match-up. They fought it out tight to the chest in the bout’s early stages until Jacobson drew first blood with a correct-throw arm throw. In short order, Luburic was called for passivity. From top, Jacobson’s lock came close to availing a full rotation, but Luburic bounded out of the hold and they reset before intermission arrived with Jacobson holding a 3-0 lead.

The second period saw the passivities flip, along with Luburic taking advantage of said development via gutwrench. That made the score 3-3 with criteria belonging to Croatia. There was no question that Jacobson was the better-conditioned athlete, for he was pressing with urgency and haste as he pounded in the ties to gain a handle. But Luburic clung in survival mode and defended the oncoming fire to take the razor-thin nod. In the proceeding round of pool competition, Jacobson defeated American Lukas Poloncic and on Saturday morning will greet Arkadiusz Kulynycs of Poland.

Amos’ Return

Injury halted Amos from participating in last year’s US domestic selection process and he had not been able to compete in Greco-Roman since the ’22 World Championships. His bracket at Thor Masters is one of the event’s densest but that is the type of test he prefers.

On Friday, Amos’ re-launch commenced against Mathias Bak (DEN) and he knocked a dint of rust off quickly by dashing in on a body attack to convert a takedown. Follow-up from par-terre was unsuccessful and they were back to the feet with solid action on both wrestlers’ minds. Amos sought the body immediately upon the restart, Bak defended, Amos re-engaged, and then Bak had a decent look at an arm throw before Amos nearly turned the attempt into a scramble opportunity. Passivity on Denmark came next and Amos felt for a gutwrench but could not gain exposure. 3-0 USA after the first period.

Keeping with the theme, Amos desired lowering his level for a try at the body on the whistle to start the second. The attempt flashed and they resumed jousting, occasional snaps interspersed with an underhook from Amos had Bak playing back inside. Not long into the frame, the officials deemed Amos passive and Bak capitalized with a short lift that barely met the requirement for a four-point yield. Down by two, Amos stayed with his protocol by dipping down for attacks on Denmark’s midsection. An uptick in urgency was unnecessary if only because the American’s workrate had already been sufficiently high. The sledding remained tough, of course, particularly with Bak owning the lead and therefore not in any hurry to force potentially-vulnerable contact. The score did not change and Bak logged the 5-3 decision.

On Saturday morning, Amos will face Christian Zemp of Switzerland and needs to win in order to continue in pool competition.


Even in defeat, Attao was very impressive as he went to work against ’21 World bronze Mantas Knystautas (LTU). Attao, who is no stranger to giving up an inch or two to opponents, did need a brief feeling-out process for the 6’7 Lithuanian. Shortly after the whistle, Knystautas extended his arms and pressed the issue on Attao, who was forced off the line for a step-out. Passivity did not take long to materialize with the call benefiting Knystautas. It was a dangerous spot for the young American but he was just fine. Knystautas went for his lock, repeatedly, but Attao resisted admirably and held firm until the reset. Even more encouraging was what came next. With the heavyweights clashing off of an exchange, Attao angled and then pounced to get behind Knystautas and score a takedown to walk into the break ahead on criteria 2-2.

But the officials did not allow Attao to get comfortable with that lead. Just past :30 into the second period, Knystautas received another passivity point and chance from top par terre. And, again, he could not acquire a lock worth leveraging due to Attao’s defensive tactics. Back on the feet, and fatigue was beginning to hit Knystautas. Attao doggedly pursued actionable ties but was bottled-up in the trenches. With a minute to go, Knystautas was finally dinged for passivity — yet Attao opted to keep the match standing rather than try to score from top PT. Retaining the same high degree of activity, he poured inside on Knystautas in search of a score. A bodylock attempt looked promising, but LTU managed to adjust before points could be considered. There was no further scoring in the contest as Attao was defeated 3-2. Saturday morning, he will square off against ’17 U23 World bronze Jello Krahmer (GER.

87 kg

The United States brought four athletes in addition to Jacobson at 87 kg: National Team member Rich Carlson (Minnesota Storm), ’18 Junior World silver Andrew Berreyesa (NYAC), Brackett, and Poloncic. Of the group, Jacobson was the lone competitor to grab a victory on Friday but that came at the expense of Poloncic, thus for the moment essentially cancelling it out from a USA performance perspective. And aside from Jacobson, Brackett is the only 87 from the US still in the picture tomorrow morning.

Carlson was first defeated by ’21 U20 World silver medalist Tyrone Sterkenburg (NED), who has been on the come-up lately; and in the proceeding round, it was recent U23 World runner-up Matej Mandic (CRO) who managed to get past the Minnesotan, leading to Carlson being eliminated from the tournament. Berreyesa struggled, as well, falling to Martin Ljosak (NOR) and top Polish competitor Szymon Szymonowicz in consecutive matches, respectively. Poloncic had been decisioned by Artem Shapovalov (FIN) prior to seeing Jacobson.

Brackett was stopped by Kulynycs, who as mentioned is paired with Jacobson once wrestling resumes on Saturday. Next for Brackett will be Hannes Wagner of Germany.

Peak, Brackett, & Dobbs

Peak wrestled a tough Brian Kurt Santiago (DEN) and took it to the wire but could not gather a comeback, falling 6-1. His first match on Saturday will come against Alexander Norstrom (SWE).

Patrick Brackett (72 kg, CO) — younger brother of Tommy Brackett — battled two exceedingly-skilled and experienced Europeans: Witas Behrendt (GER) and ’22 World Champion Sebastian Nad (SRB). Brackett lost both bouts and was eliminated.

NMU’s Aaron Dobbs (77 kg) also contended with a pair of highly-experienced competitors in Pavel Puklavec (CRO) and Adam Strandner (SWE), respectively. Dobbs — who has made consistent, important progress at Northern Michigan — lost by identical scores of 4-0.

Saturday’s Schedule

*All times +6 hrs ET
Live stream available at this link.

Saturday, March 2
10:30am-3:30pm — Preliminary rounds
3:30pm-4:00pm — Bronze-medal rounds
4:30pm-6:00pm — Finals

2024 Thor Masters

March 1-2 — Nykobing Falster, DEN


60 kg

Max Black (NMU/NTS)
WON Nikita Dementiev (UKR) 9-3

Rhett Peak (OPTC)
LOSS Brian Kurt Santiago (DEN) 6-1

72 kg

Patrick Brackett (CO)
LOSS Witas Behrendt (GER) 8-0, TF
LOSS Sebastian Nad (SRB) 12-1, TF

77 kg

Aaron Dobbs (NMU/NTS)
LOSS Pavel Puklavec (CRO) 4-0
LOSS Adam Standner (SWE) 4-0

87 kg

Andrew Berreyesa (NYAC)
LOSS Martin Ljsoak (NOR) 7-1
LOSS Szymon Szymonowicz (POL) 8-0, TF

Tommy Brackett (NYAC)
LOSS Arkadiusz Kulynycs (POL) 10-1, TF

Rich Carlson (Minnesota Storm)
LOSS Marcel Sterkenburg (NED) 8-0, TF
LOSS Matej Mandic (CRO) 8-0, TF

Payton Jacobson (Sunkist/NTS)
LOSS Vjekoslav Luburic (CRO) 3-3 (criteria)
WON Lukas Poloncic (Minnesota Storm) 11-0, TF

Lucas Poloncic (Minnesota Storm)
LOSS Artem Shapovalov (FIN) 7-2
LOSS Payton Jacobson (Sunkist/NTS)

97 kg 

Braxton Amos (Sunkist)
LOSS Mathias Bak (DEN)

130 kg

Aden Attao (Suples)
LOSS Mantas Knystautas (LTU) 3-2

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