The list of Top 10 USA Greco-Roman Matches for 2022 offers an anomaly: comeback wins via pin.
Most years of this list include one or two in this category; but for ’22, there are four, two of which from World Championships. Greco-Roman is not often as closely associated with pins as the other styles, so when they do occur (particularly at the Senior level), there is a story to be told.
That is not to say that ’22 was without highlights from other methodologies. Several bouts went down to the wire and required legitimate “last-second” scores on the part of the victors. Two matches on this year’s list do not fit either description but were engrossing and suspenseful for all six minutes.
How the Top 10 USA Greco-Roman Matches are decided can be found below.
- Perceived significance related to the athlete, the event, or both.
1 — Excitement/adrenaline
Matches featuring grand executions, thrilling maneuvers, and wild point exchanges fit this description; so too can bouts in which points are scarce. How a match was contested between the athletes is often as memorable as the outcome.
2 — Perceived significance
Matches are selected via numerous avenues, with the second listed criteria perhaps a critical factor. “Perceived significance” intends to suggest that a tournament is one of recognized esteem, such as at a US Open, selection process event, or World-level competition. Though the phrasing is admittedly malleable (for a defining moment can occur during any round of any tournament in the eyes of participants and their coaches), it is widely understood among the greater wrestling community what does, and does not, meet this criteria.
3 — An inconvenient change for 2022
In the past, only those videos which do not exist behind a paywall have been included. For ’22, this objective could not be attained as per the broadcast licensing agreement in place between United World Wrestling and FLOWrestling, as UWW has not availed videos featuring American athletes on YouTube and other similar outlets. Matches without embeds include links to their respective videos on FLOWrestling.
Top-10 USA Greco Matches of 2022
10. Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist) def. David Ovasapyan (ARM) 1-1
World Championships, 9/10/22 — qual. round
An understanding of how good Ovasapyan is might be necessary for those who scoff at single-point criteria victories. Also, it pays to realize that winning close is a legitimate skill at heavyweight, and one that comes in particularly handy at World-level events. One more for good measure: Ovasapyan had defeated Schultz previously (’18 Junior Worlds); that Schultz was able to squeak by the Armenian in the first round of the Senior Worlds made the outcome sufficiently satisfying for US fans.
Watch Schultz vs. Ovasapyan (Subscription to FLOWrestling required)
9. Tyler Cunningham (MWC) def. Ryan Epps (Minnesota Storm) 10-5
Bill Farrell Memorial, 4/2/22 — bronze-medal round
The first clash between these two young and hungry highly-touted prospects showcased what the next generation of American Seniors might be capable of down the road, if not sooner rather than later. In Epps, the dog-fighting mentality; with Cunningham, the fearlessness required to pull the trigger in situations most others in this weight range tend to avoid. And it was the latter’s approach that made all the difference as the first period was winding down — but really, the entire bout provided thrilling theater.
8. Lenny Merkin (NYAC) def. Peyton Omania (NYAC/CYC) 8-7
US Open, 4/30/22 — semifinal
‘Fighters fight’ — and ‘throwers throw’ — but Merkin and Omania were not able to execute much in the way of throws, which is exactly why this bout was so entertaining. They certainly tried to pop the cork on big moves, and their willful engagements from beginning to end organically created legitimate suspense during what were some dicey positions. Merkin did have a 5-0 lead in the first, but that was hardly a safe margin given Omania’s explosiveness. What Greco should look like when two skilled lightweights want to score but are evenly-matched.
7. Luke Sheridan (Army/WCAP) def. Khymba Johnson (NYAC) via fall
US Open, 5/1/22 — final
Khymba was close, really close, to securing his first Open title until Sheridan — who despite having been a previous Trials champ was also hunting for a first National crown — took the initiative with under :10 left on the clock. The bout prior to the last-gasp sequence was tight and tense, with the conclusion of the contest arriving in a flourish. Jubilance for one, heartbreak for the other.
6. Joel Adams (NE) def. Ahoura Bouveiri-Piani (IRI) 6-0
U17 World Championships, 7/26/22 — final
Throughout the U17 World Championships, Adams operated as though he were on a different level than his opposition, as he consistently escorted would-be vanquishers to Arm Drag City. But he was never once phased, never once daunted by the stage or the stakes. Adams wrestled with ice in his veins, including with gold on the line against Iranian Bouveiri-Piani. He knew he could score, so he did. Three takedowns, all of them slick and well-executed, represented how the points were recorded, but not why. The “why” was merely the byproduct of an athlete whose conviction outweighed the will of his opponents.
5. Rich Carlson (Minnesota Storm) def. Alan Vera (NYAC) via fall
Bill Farrell Memorial, 4/2/22 — final
Returning World Team member Vera was shooting for what would have been a return to the Pan-American Championships, a tournament in which he had won previously while a member of Cuba’s vaunted national program. That was the narrative. But first, Vera had to make the US roster by winning the April Farrell. Standing in his way the final round of the round-robin bracket was Carlson, who was coming off of yet another significant competitive layoff. To be sure, Vera was in command deep into the second period before Carlson locked and launched perhaps the most unforgettable throw of the season.
4. Aden Attao (Suples) def. Adolf Bazso (HUN) via fall
U20 World Championships, 8/19/22 — quarterfinal
Eventual U20 World bronze Attao’s electrifying performance in Sofia was in danger of being cut short by Hungarian prospect Bazso, who had opened an 8-2 advantage in the first period and did not appear to be slowing down. But static in the bodylock position was a dangerous proposition for him, and Attao brought that to his attention in the most dynamic manner possible.
Watch Attao vs. Bazso (Subscription to FLOWrestling required)
3. Randon Miranda (Unattached) def. Joao Benavides (PER) 8-7
Pan-American Championships, 5/26/22 — semifinal
Down 5-0 to Benavides in the second period, Miranda was forced to chip away, fight through a few odd and unexpected scrambles, and chip away some more. Miranda’s noted counter-attacking style helped pave the way for this win, but it wasn’t just about “wrestling” anymore. Grit played the biggest role; and even then, all had seemed lost as the clock ticked down to all zeroes with Benavides clinging to a one-point lead. But in refusing to yield on one last attempt, Miranda showed, once again, why it is absolutely necessary to keep wrestling until the whistle blows.
2. Max Nowry (Army/WCAP) def. Arjun Halakurki (IND) via fall
World Championships, 9/10/22 — quarterfinal
Earlier in the match, Nowry had landed awkwardly and quickly re-awakened a troubling arm injury that had plagued him throughout the summer. Halakurki himself was enough of an obstacle, and the driver’s seat was his as the bout ebbed towards the finish line. Nowry stayed composed, however, mixing patience with urgency as he sought a last-ditch scoring opportunity. When it finally appeared, there was no hesitation and the result was one of the most adrenalizing endings in recent memory.
1. Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP) def. Alston Nutter (Sunkist) 10-9
Final X: New York, 6/8/22 — Match 1, best-of-three series
Without question, the true top match of the year. Sancho/Nutter from Round 1 of Final X: New York was such a superb display of wrestling that it rivaled other, more high-profile bouts from around the globe. It was highly-competitive, full of crisp and timely technique, extremely intense, and featured plenty of drama. From Nutter’s explosive par terre reversal to a lift, all the way to the gotta-have-it score for Sancho towards the conclusion, what they accomplished on the black-and-white mat that night is not just a must-watch, it is actually worth re-watching every now and then as a reminder of what makes this sport so special.
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