Greco News

Monday Roundup: FARGO, Spanish Grand Prix Results, Medlin, Busy Week Ahead

Fargo tournament
Photo: John Sachs

This week, the 2017 Cadet and Junior National Championships in Fargo, North Dakota arrive, giving many of the top age-group Greco-Roman wrestlers in the country a chance to shine in one of the biggest wrestling events we have in the US. When you consider the sheer magnitude of the tournament, it’s tough to find a reasonable comparison. The brackets are gigantic, for one thing. Enormous. Therefore, the number of potential matches for champions and placewinners is downright sick. Obviously, the size of the venue is also a factor. The Fargodome, depending on the event, can accommodate approximately 19,000 fans, give or take.

Then there is the prestige. Winning or doing well at Fargo follows a wrestler the rest of their lives, even if their careers don’t result in collegiate or international success later on. Athletes in this age range want to win state championships. They typically then want to move up to the next level and earn NCAA honors. But nestled in between, certainly for the country’s most devout bunch, is Fargo. It is one of those mega events a wrestler could always say they did well at and for some, Fargo plays the role of stepping stone for future World-level competitors.

The Fargo Nationals also puts Greco-Roman at the forefront of the American consciousness for youth wrestlers, albeit temporarily. Equally uplifting and heartbreaking, Greco’s participation is limited to the spring/summer months primarily due to this one event. The surge is astounding — that’s the uplifting part of the equation. You get to see dynamite performances, tons of exciting matches, and talent so substantial, you cannot help but imagine what these kids could potentially do once they get older and advance to Senior competition. But that is where the heartbreak comes in. Too many of these naturally-gifted and well-coached teens will never wrestle another Greco-Roman match after their Fargo days are over. Greco becomes a dalliance, an abbreviated tryst that eats up a chunk of time before folkstyle returns from its warm-weather hibernation.

But that doesn’t make what happens over the next few days any less tantalizing or any less valuable. The US needs Fargo for more than just Greco-Roman. A tournament with this much grandeur provides life lessons few other competitive endeavors could hope to offer. It means something and that can’t be ignored. There will be plenty of Wow, did you see that?! moments, plenty of throws, gutwrenches, and crazy endings to elicit head-spinning delight. So yeah, there is meaning here. But let’s all hope that eventually, it comes to mean even more to the health and future of American Greco-Roman wrestling.

2017 Grand Prix of Spain Results

The Grand Prix of Spain took place over the weekend and while there were a few hard-hitting names who came out to get some matches in before the Senior World Championships next month, the attendance wasn’t quite the same as last week’s Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup in Poland. If anything, this was like a home event for Japan, as Japanese wrestlers were responsible for three golds and eight placings overall. Nick Tarpley (NYAC) was the only American Greco-Roman wrestler at an overseas tournament for the second week in a row and put forth some good results. Tarpley went 2-2 and finished fifth at the Grand Prix of Spain as he continues to concentrate on fortifying his career with copious amounts of international training and competition.

There were not too many marquee match-ups at this thing, though Japan’s Kenichiro Fumita (world no. 3) and 2016 Olympic silver medalist Shinobu Ota (world no. 2) continued their rivalry with a semifinal bout that saw Fumita advance. Fumita has now defeated Ota three straight times and reportedly stole away Japan’s top spot at 59. Last week, Ota was dominant in sealing up his tournament win in Poland, trouncing 2016 U23 European Championships gold medalist Sergey Emelin (RUS) in the finals.

2017 Grand Prix of Spain Placewinners

59 kg
1. Kenichiro Fumita (JPN)
2. Yasin Ozay (FRA)
3. Shinobu Ota (JPN)
3. Albert Baghymyan (ESP)

66 kg
1. Mamutov Fevzi (UKR)
2. Hrachia Malkhasain (FRA)
3. Clement Stephan (FRA)
3. Oscar Parra (ESP)

71 kg
1. Takeshi Izumi (JPN)
2. Oleksiy Kalinichenko (UKR)
3. Evrik Nikoghosyan (FRA)
3. Simon Erlandsson (SWE)

75 kg
1. Shohei Yabiku (JPN)
2. Sakabe Soh (JPN)
3. Oldrich Varga (CZE)
3. Varsham Boranyan (ARM)

80 kg (round robin)
1. Michael Wagner (AUT)
2. Anis Gharbi (FRA)
3. Yuya Maeta (JPN)

85 kg (round robin)
1. Emil Sandahl (SWE)
2. Kanta Shiokawa (JPN)
3. Jesus Gasca (ESP)

98 kg (round robin)
1. Melonin Noumonvi (FRA)
2. Artur Omarov (CZE)
3. Narek Setaghyan (ESP)

130 kg
1. Yasmani Acosta (CHL)
2. Arata Sonoda (JPN)
3. David Stepan (CZE)
3. Nikolaos Leon (GRE)

Top 3 Teams
1. Japan — 69 points
2. France — 47 points
3. Spain — 42 points

Medlin

The much-anticipated Bryan Medlin interview finally made its debut yesterday. Originally, the Medlin piece was to premier alongside the Coach Mike Powell interview last month, simply because it seems like one can’t be mentioned without the other. That plan was scrapped due to scheduling, but it works out better this way, what with Fargo taking over as the major news item this week and Medlin’s incredible relationship with that tournament.

Coaches like Medlin are a rare breed, but not because of his teams’ success or the long list of athletes he has made a major impact on. Similar to Powell, it is both the passion and humility Medlin operates with that are why he is such a widely-revered figure in wrestling. Medlin seems to see the sport as a sort of euphemistic vehicle, as many great coaches tend to. He wants his kids to succeed, certainly, but he is much more interested in what they can learn just by trying to succeed. Toss in the fact that he readily acknowledges the positives he has gleaned from being a coach and how they translate into his personal life along with the honor he feels just to be a part of the experience, and what you have here is person we would all do well to learn from ourselves.

What’s coming up here

  • We will have recaps of both the Cadet and Junior action from Fargo, so make sure you check that out after the finals for both age groups wrap up.
  • A special “Fargo Edition” of the Coach Lindland’s Report is dropping tomorrow. It is abbreviated — meaning much shorter than usual. Fargo is (obviously) the main topic, but also included is social media’s place in the lives of today’s athletes as well as some big plans for coaches’ education. Definitely a can’t-miss.
  • Going along with the theme of coaches’ education, we talked to USA Greco-Roman Operations Manager Gary Mayabb about the upcoming Cadet World Team camp in Colorado Springs and how he is aiming to grow the sport at the grassroots level. Mayabb’s enthusiasm is something not to be trifled with and that absolutely comes across in his words.
  • A look at the Senior World Team Camp, which begins a week from today, also at the Olympic Training Center. There are a few notes you need to be aware of ahead of time as the World Teamers gear up for Paris next month.

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