USA Greco

Zagreb ’23 Day 2: Sancho Goes 1-1; Jones Falls to Lizatovic

sancho, grand prix zagreb open
Alex Sancho -- Photo: UWW

Alex Sancho (67 kg, Army/WCAP) impressively delivered to the United States an individual victory, their first of the tournament. But after two full days of the classical style in Zagreb, the American program is still waiting on a medal contender.

Day 2 of Greco-Roman at the 2023 Grand Prix Zagreb Open began at 10:00am local time from Zagreb, Croatia (4:00am ET) and aired live in the US on FLOWrestling.

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Sancho, Team USA’s Olympic representative in Tokyo as well as a World Team member last year, battled against Domagoj Celicek in the qualification round, who in ’22 represented Croatia at the U20 World Championships.

Celicek assumed an early 1-0 passive lead in the first period with the proceeding par terre failing to add to his margin. Sancho remained patient on-the-feet, pursuing underhooks and two-on-ones as Celicek fought to catch up positionally. Said tactics worked, and eventually led to Sancho coaxing his adversary towards the edge before securing a takedown just before the break.

:38 into Period 2, Celicek was cited for passivity, which would, in short order, usher in the bout’s conclusion. From top par terre, Sancho locked and hoisted one lift to net four points — and then repeated the maneuver for an additional four to seal the 11-1 VSU.

For the quarterfinal round, Sancho went toe-to-toe with Adomas Grigaliunas (LTU) and got moving quickly by taking a barred two-on-one that allowed him to amble behind for a takedown. With top par terre one of best areas of operation, it was a fine opportunity for him to tack on follow-up points. Sure enough, Sancho locked for a lift and executed, though the yield was two points rather than two.

Grigaliunas put himself back in the match with one score early in the second thanks to a four-point arm throw. Criteria belonged to him, as well, thus putting the onus on Sancho to make up the difference.

It appeared Sancho had done precisely that when, after the reset, he dipped beneath Grigaliunas’ clutches to wrap the body and nail a takedown. But, CRO challenged the call, claiming that Sancho’s attack was partially below the waist. The officials agreed, and the two points were wiped off the board. Grigaliunas eventually was able to hip Sancho off the line for one point, and the 5-4 decision was all his.

Grigaliunas was defeated by Reza Abbasi (IRI) in the semifinal to eliminate Sancho from re-entry into the tournament via repechage.


“Wildman Sam” enjoyed a bye into the quarterfinals, where he met up with well-traveled Ivan Lizatovic from the host country. The match’s first passivity/PT went to Croatia, but Jones defended adequately and they reset. The tempo was tactical without plodding, which assisted in rendering the contrast in explosiveness between the two, an attribute for which Jones is oft recognized. Therefore, it was no surprise when the Northern Michigan product hustled a step-out point to snare a 1-1 criteria lead heading into the second period.

But Lizatovic would respond. A little over one minute into the second period, he held Jones over-the-top and counter-pressured into a spin-behind takedown. Once again, Lizatovic came up empty from top par terre, but he occupied the driver’s seat as far as the scoreboard was concerned. Jones gave a valiant effort the rest of the way but could not convert a last-ditch attack. Lizatovic, the 3-1 winner, was downed in the semifinal by Aref Hossein Mohammadi (IR) to officially eliminate Jones from the tournament.

Day 3 on Sunday

Six weight categories still remain to be contested at the 2023 Grand Prix Zagreb Open, and the US has eight who will take the mat on Sunday.

55 kg

Dalton Duffield (Army/WCAP)

60 kg

Randon Miranda (Unattached)
Dalton Roberts (Army/WCAP)

72 kg

Britton Holmes (Army/WCAP)
Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm)

82 kg

Spencer Woods (Army/WCAP)

97 kg

Luke Sheridan (West Coast Greco RTC/Army/WCAP)

130 kg

Tanner Farmer (NYAC/IRTC)

Wrestling commences at 10:00am local time (4:00am ET) and can be viewed live in the US on FLOWrestling.


February 3-5 — Zagreb, CRO


63 kg

Sammy Jones (NYAC/CTT) — 10th
LOSS Ivan Lizatovic (CRO) 3-1

67 kg

Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP) — 11th
WON Domagoj Celicek (CRO) 11-1, TF
LOSS Adomas Grigaliunas (LTU) 5-4


77 KG

Kamal Bey (Army/WCAP) — 25th
LOSS Rui Lui (CHN) via injury default

Payton Jacobson (Sunkist/NTS) — 23rd
LOSS Pavel Puklavec (CRO) 3-1

87 KG

Alan Vera (NYAC) — 28th
LOSS Erik Szilvassy (HUN) via injury default

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Listen to “5PM053: Northern Michigan assistant Parker Betts and USMC Captain Jamel Johnson” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM52: Two-Time Olympian Jim Gruenwald” on Spreaker.

Listen to “5PM51: Lining up with Tanner Farmer” on Spreaker.

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