The momentum, it hasn’t changed.
For the second straight month, five United States Greco-Roman wrestlers are ranked in the top 20 by United World Wrestling. The two most notable changes involve two of the country’s most potent weapons. Geordan Speiller (Florida Jets), perhaps best known to American fans due to his time at 75 kilograms, appeared back in the rankings last month at #19 in that weight. But for April, Speiller surges all the way to ninth — at 80 kilos. Upon returning in January following a lengthy layoff, Speiller won both the Dave Schultz Memorial and the Granma Cup in Cuba at the non-Olympic 80 kilos. Two weeks ago at the Hungarian Grand Prix, Speiller dropped a 4-0 decision to 2014 World Champion Peter Bacsi (HUN, world no. 2), a man Speiller defeated last year at the same tournament. As of now, it is assumed Speiller will be competing for the World Team spot at 75 kilograms.
Fan-favorite Robby Smith (130 kg, NYAC) returns to the rankings for the first time in 2017, coming in at 20th. Smith, himself coming off of hiatus after surgery in the fall, won the 2017 Thor Masters Invitational in Denmark last month. Ben Provisor (85 kg, NYAC) was under the weather over in Denmark and just getting his sea legs back in Croatia, leading to two performances that kept him off the podium. He drops out of the top 20 with Smith essentially taking his place as the fifth US athlete.
Young phenom Kamal Bey (75 kg, Sunkist) stays locked in at the 18th spot while both 98 kilo monsters G’Angelo Hancock (NYAC) and Hayden Zillmer (Minnesota Storm) keep the same status they each had in March’s rankings, 18th and 19th, respectively.
When asked last month about the rankings, US National Team head coach Matt Lindland was encouraged by the direction the team is headed in, but also equally upbeat over why momentum seems to be swinging in the country’s favor. “I think it is a good encouragement for our team and our athletes, particularly, to see that they are making progress on the world level,” Lindland said. “There are a lot of really good guys in the world who we compete against and knowing that we’re moving on the way up and heading in the right direction from one to five, yes, we’re encouraged. For sure. But it’s not just because of the rankings. It’s also because of the work the guys are putting in and the performances they are putting together on the mat. That’s what is exciting.”
US GRECO-ROMAN APPEARANCES IN APRIL UNITED WORLD WRESTLING GRECO-ROMAN RANKINGS
Kamal Bey (Sunkist, world no. 18)
Geordan Speiller (Florida Jets, world no. 19)
G’Angelo Hancock (NYAC, world no. 18)
Hayden Zillmer (Minnesota Storm, world no. 19)
Robby Smith (NYAC, world no. 20)