USA Greco

USA Prepares for World Championship ‘Dress Rehearsal’ This Week in Hungary

spencer woods, 2023 polyak imre memorial
Spencer Woods -- Photo: Tony Rotundo

The tournament is officially being billed as the Polyak Imre Memorial. Colloquially, everyone is still referring to it either as the Hungarian Grand Prix, or, just as importantly, this year’s final United World Wrestling “Ranking Series” event.

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

UWW’s “Ranking Series” for 2023 began in February with two competitions, the Grand Prix Zagreb Open in Croatia and the Ibrahim Moustafa Memorial in Egypt. Both tournaments were well-attended with participation from a surprisingly high number of the sport’s top athletes. Next came four of the five annual continental championships (European, Pan-American, Asian, and African) with the Oceania region not scheduled until later this summer. Last month saw Kyrgyzstan host the third ranking event of the season, Kaba Uulu Kozhomkul & Raatbek Sanatbaev, though that one struggled to bring together the same type of involvement that was present in both Croatia and Egypt.

Hungary’s showcase, which for Greco-Roman is slated to begin on Saturday, promises to once again elevate the bar that was set by the first two tournaments held this past winter. That the competition will offer the conclusive opportunity for wrestlers to earn UWW ranking points is one reason. Another is timing: for many of the athletes who will suit up in Budapest, their participation will serve as a pre-World Championships warm-up.

A Sample

If one were to ask ‘just how many World/Olympic medalists are registered for the Polyak Imre Memorial?’, the answer would simply be ‘yes’. As in, a lot of them. Nearly every major medal-winning competitor in throughout the past quadrennium (and in some cases stretching further back than that) is on the entry list — with the exception of wrestlers from Russia, of course. Along with those who have earned World or Olympic hardware are dozens of others who have come close and are themselves considered to be top candidates heading into September’s World tournament in Belgrade.

The list below is a mere sampling of the breadth of competition awaiting the Americans (and the rest of the field).

Eldaniz Azizli (55 kg, AZE) — 2X World Champion, 2X World bronze
Nugzari Tsurtsumia (55 kg, GEO) — ’19 World Champion, ’21 World bronze, ’22 World silver
Edmond Nazaryan (60 kg, BUL) — ’22 World silver
Murad Mammadov (63 kg, AZE) — ’21 World bronze
Victor Ciobanu (63 kg, MDA) — ’21 World Champion, ’18 World silver
Leri Abuladze (63 kg, GEO) — 2X World silver
Hasrat Jafarov (67 kg, AZE) — ’22 World bronze
Ramaz Zoidze (72 kg, GEO) — ’21 World bronze
Ryu Han-Su (72 kg, KOR) — 2X World Champion, ’15 World silver
Mate Nemes (72 kg, SRB) — ’22 World Champion, ’19 World bronze
Zoltan Levai (77 kg, HUN) — ’22 World silver
Sanan Suleymanov (82 kg, AZE) — ’21 World silver
David Losonczi (87 kg, HUN) — ’22 World bronze
Alex Kessidis (87 kg, SWE) — ’19 World silver
Rafiq Huseynov (87 kg, AZE) — ’21 World Champion, ’20 Olympic bronze, ’19 World silver
Islam Abbasov (87 kg, AZE) — ’17 World bronze
Arif Niftullayev (97 kg, AZE) — ’22 World bronze
Alex Szoeke (97 kg, HUN) — ’21 World silver
Sabah Shariati (130 kg, AZE) — ’16 Olympic bronze
Heiki Nabi (130 kg, EST) — 2X World Champion, ’17 World silver, ’12 Olympic silver, 3X World bronze
Riza Kayaalp (130 kg, TUR) — 6X World Champion, 2X World silver, 2X World bronze, ’12 Olympic bronze, ’16 Olympic silver, ’20 Olympic bronze
Oskar Marvik (130 kg, NOR) — ’21 World bronze
Kim Min-Seok (130 kg, KOR) — ’18 World bronze
Iakobi Kajaia (130 kg, GEO) — ’20 Olympic silver, 2X World bronze
Yasmani Acosta Fernandez (130 kg, CHI) — ’17 World bronze

Team USA

As of press time, each member of the ’23 USA World Team is expected to compete in the Polyak Imre Memorial along with three athletes who were Final X runner-ups (Dalton Roberts, Robert Perez III, and ’18 World silver Adam Coon) from last month and RaVaughn Perkins (77 kg, NYAC), who made his fifth National Team as well on June 10.

The competition in Budapest is positioned to provide the Americans with potential formidable opposition in every weight category. This is nothing new. The entire purpose of the US Team in entering the event is, especially for those who have been training overseas recently, to continue adaptation to the manner in which athletes from other nations operate. It is also critical for them to regain a sense of rhythm with regards to how international officials govern matches, a priority given the differences which are evident between the US style of refereeing compared to everywhere else.

2023 Polyak Imre Memorial

Team USA Roster

*’23 US World Team

*55 kg: Brady Koontz (TMWC/Dubuque RTC)
*60 kg: Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP)
60 kg: Dalton Roberts (Army/WCAP)
*63 kg: Xavier Johnson (Army/WCAP)
67 kg: Robert Perez III (Sunkist)
*67 kg: Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP)
*72 kg: Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm)
*77 kg: Kamal Bey (Army/WCAP)
77 kg: RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC)
*82 kg: Spencer Woods (Army/WCAP)
87 kg: Zac Braunagel (IRTC)
97 kg: Joe Rau (TMWC)
*130 kg: Adam Coon (NYAC/Cliff Keen)
130 kg: Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist)

Tournament Schedule

Available to view in the US on FLOWrestling (subscription required).
All times local (+6 hrs ET).

Saturday, July 15 — (Koontz, Hafizov, Roberts, & Johnson)

10:30am-2:30pm — Qualification rounds through semifinals
5:00pm-7:00pm —
Finals/bronze-medal matches

Sunday, July 16 (Perez, Sancho, Smith, Bey, Perkins, Woods, Braunagel, Rau, Coon, & Schultz)

10:30am-2:30pm — Qualification rounds through semifinals
5:00pm-7:00pm —
Finals/bronze-medal matches

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Listen to “5PM55: Recapping Final X with Dennis Hall with words from Koontz, Braunagel and Hafizov” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM54: WCAP’s Ryan Epps and a Final X Greco-Roman Preview” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM53: Northern Michigan assistant Parker Betts and USMC Captain Jamel Johnson” on Spreaker.

iTunes | Stitcher | Spreaker | Google Play Music

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