On the surface, it’s a simple formula United World Wrestling’s “Ranking Series” prescribes: earn points at the events, enjoy a high placement. And if you keep at it, you just might find yourself with a top-four seed entering the World Championships.
Thanks to his back-to-back medals at the first two ranking tournaments of the season, G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg, Sunkist) is in position to do just that. The phenom put together an impressive performance at the Grand Prix Zagreb Open, not only earning a bronze medal, but also 12 “Ranking Series” points, as well. He then followed that up with one of the strongest outings thus far in his career two weeks later.
At the Hungarian Grand Prix on February 23rd, Hancock downed two-time University World champ Fatih Baskoy (TUR, world no. 11) in the finals to walk away with gold — and 18 more ranking points on top of it. That puts Hancock at 30 points total, good for #3 in UWW’s top-20 rankings — by far the highest he has ever risen on the list.
But the 21-year-old is not too concerned with the number now attached to his name. As a legitimate contender for a World medal in September, there are bigger things on his mind. When informed of this development earlier today while in Germany, Hancock had this to say: “Well, that’s news to me. It’s just ink on a piece of paper. I know what I’m in this for, and it isn’t rank.”
Two USA Greco-Roman athletes at 63 kilograms are also occupying spots in the rankings. 2018 U23 World Team member Travis Rice (IRTC) initially popped up at 16th in the top-20 last month after taking fifth in Zagreb. He then placed fifth again in Hungary, giving him a total of 16 points and the #9 spot. National Teamer Xavier Johnson (Marines) exploded in Croatia last month, wowing onlookers with the manner in which he dispatched three high-quality foreign opponents en-route to silver. Johnson didn’t compete at the Hungarian Grand Prix, but the 12 points he earned in Zagreb are still there, though his ranking has dropped from 12th to 14th.
2018 World silver Adam Coon (130 kg, Cliff Keen) remains at #2 — and 2017 Junior World Champion Kamal Bey (77 kg, Sunkist) is still at #7. Coon has been on the shelf since the Budapest Worlds, but not Bey. The popular and electrifying Olympic Training Center resident athlete went a combined 2-2 at the pair of “Ranking Series” tournaments.
For athletes to either maintain or improve a ranking, participation in the tournament series is critical, hence the US’ reasons for traveling to Europe last month. There are still three ranking events on the calendar in 2019 — the Pan Am Championships, Sassari City, and the Oleg Karavaev Memorial. The Pan Ams are a required event for the USA, but it is also expected that several athletes will compete in the other two events.
UNITED WORLD WRESTLING GRECO-ROMAN RANKINGS
Travis Rice (IRTC) — #9
Xavier Johnson (Marines) — #16
Kamal Bey (Sunkist) — #7
G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist) — #3
Adam Coon (Cliff Keen) — #2