The 2017 Junior Greco-Roman World Championships arrive this coming weekend from Tampere, Finland and there is a lot of excitement surrounding the US squad. Two returning bronze medalists — Taylor LaMont (60 kg, Sunkist) and G’Angelo Hancock (96 kg, Sunkist, world no. 17) — lead a group consisting of two other holdovers from last year along with several other strong candidates, giving Team USA its best chances to make a sizable splash at this event for the first time in some years.
The Americans will undoubtedly be called upon to get past an exceedingly deep field at each weight class. That’s the game they sign up to play. Every year, the competitive level in this age group rises. Maybe more than at any other time in history, we’re seeing Juniors achieve notable success on the Senior circuit and the trend is ticking upwards. The US is just starting to once again nip at everyone else’s heels in this regard and thanks to the overall solid performance put together by the team last year in France along with the emergence of a special few, optimism is rightfully high for 2017.
As expected, countries like Georgia, Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan, and Turkey are all offering up rosters loaded with talent and experience, though the primary credentials many wrestlers possess going into Finland come from their respective Continental Championship tournaments. Nevertheless, there should be plenty of tense and exciting match-ups early on leading to nail biting drama as the event unfolds.
2017 Junior Greco-Roman World Championships
August 5th-6th, Tampere, Finland
TEAMS TO WATCH
(Note: rosters may not be final)
Georgia — It’s widely understood, if not assumed, that Georgia has the Junior age group on lockdown. At least for the time being. Just like last year (and the year before, and the year before) Georgia is positively stacked and led by reigning and defending two-time Junior World gold medalist Zviadi Pataridze (world no. 12), who has yet to even drop a match in this age division. Nugzari Tsurtsumia is up a weight class this year and will be considered a favorite at 55 kilograms. Tsurtsumia came up with a bronze in 2016 and most recently finished third at the Junior Euros. Up and down the lineup reside problems for others and that’s taking into account the relative youth some of them have coming in. Even though a decent percentage of the Georgian roster is green compared to some of the other countries, this group is nothing but trouble.
50 kg: Ramaz Siligava (2017 Junior European Championships gold medalist)
55 kg: Nugzari Tsurtsumia (2016 Junior World bronze medalist, 2016 Junior European Championships gold medalist)
60 kg: Leri Abuladze (2016 Cadet World Champion, 2014 Cadet World silver medalist, 2017 Junior European Championships gold medalist)
66 kg: Giorgi Kurtanidze (2017 Junior European Championships silver medalist)
74 kg: Beka Mamukashvili (2017 Junior European Championships bronze medalist)
84 kg: Temur Tchkuaselidze (2017 Junior European Championships bronze medalist)
96 kg: Giorgi Barbakadze (2017 Junior European Championships bronze medalist)
120 kg: Zviadi Pataridze (Two-time Junior World Champion, two-time Cadet World Champion, three-time Junior European Championships gold medalist)
Russia — Russia might not be bringing the cavalcade of killers to the table Georgia is in Tampere, but the nation’s considerable depth is once again on full display. Vladislav Melnikov (50 kg) is one of the more gifted athletes in the entire tournament and should be expected to repeat (assuming he’s actually entered here). One wrestler who could take a step up is aggressive lifter Emin Sefershaev at the next weight up. Sefershaev offers a maturing skill-set and impressed at the Junior European Championships. Last but not least is Aleksander Komarov, the two-time Cadet World champ. Like Melnikov, Komarov wields a complete Greco arsenal and is considered one of the best overall Senior prospects in the sport.
50 kg: Vladislav Melnikov (2016 Junior World Champion, 2013 Cadet World silver medalist)
55 kg: Emin Sefershaev (2015 Cadet World silver medalist, 2017 European Championships silver medalist)
60 kg: Magomed Magomedov
66 kg: Miakhdi Iakhiaev
74 kg: Islam Opiev (2015 Cadet European Championships gold medalist)
84 kg: Aleksander Komarov (Two-time Cadet World Champion, 2017 Junior European Championships gold medalist, Herman Kare International gold medalist)
96 kg: Artur Sargsian
120 kg: Giorgi Gadzhinov (2017 Junior European Championships silver medalist)
Iran — There is little doubt that Iran is capable of putting on a strong team performance here despite offering what is probably perceived to be a mixed bag of options compared to Russia and Georgia. What the Iranians are looking for most out of this squad is for key players like Keremat Abdevali (60 kg) and Arman Alizadeh Abdevali (84 kg) to set to tone. Both Abdevalis (no relation) represent the seasoning this country often leans upon at World events. Poya Soulat Dad Marz (50 kg) was a revelation in the older age group at the Junior Asian Championships in June, demonstrating good quickness and a strong transition game.
50 kg: Poya Soulat Dad Marz (2017 Junior Asian Championships gold medalist)
55 kg: Mohammad Javaad Rezaei (2017 Junior Asian Championships gold medalist)
60 kg: Keramat Abdevali (2014 Cadet World bronze medalist, 2017 Junior Asian Championships silver medalist)
66 kg: Amin Yavar Kaviyaninejad (2017 Junior Asian Championships gold medalist)
74 kg: Mohammed Shorbi Neiazi (2017 Ljubomir Ivanovic Gedza International silver medalist)
84 kg: Arman Alizadeh Abdevali (2014 Cadet World Champion, 2016 Junior Asian Championships gold medalist)
96 kg: Amirmohammad Hosseinreza Noroozipasand (2017 Junior Asian Championships silver medalist)
120 kg: Amin Mohammadzaman Mirzazadeh
Kazakhstan — Turnover is a part of every country’s age-group program and that is what Kazakhstan will be contending with this coming weekend. The alpha of this bunch is Kaharman Kissymetov (66 kg), who grinds it out like a pro. Kissymetov is a bit of throwback in that he is a fierce fighter inside and always keeps his feet moving. He’ll strike if an opening is there, but he often wins matches close when it seems he should be finishing guys off. But an enjoyable watch just the same. The ever-dangerous Yernar Fidakhmetov (60 kg) hasn’t had to make a huge adjustment coming up in weight since his Cadet World title a few years ago. He looked strong enough at the Asian Championships and could be working with some momentum.
50 kg: Alpamys Dastanbek (2017 Junior Asian Championships silver medalist)
55 kg: Dias Kursebay (2014 Cadet Asian Championships silver medalist)
60 kg: Yernar Fidakhmetov (2014 Cadet World Champion, 2017 Junior Asian Championships bronze medalist)
66 kg: Kaharman Kissymetov (2016 Junior World silver medalist, 2016 Junior Asian Championships gold medalist)
74 kg: Rakhmet Satayev
84 kg: Bagdat Ussenov
96 kg: Evgeni Gorbuznyak (2016 Cadet Asian Championships gold medalist)
120 kg: Alibek Sarsengaliyev
Azerbaijan — Another team showing off names for the future but still carrying a competitor or two people already know about. Last year, everyone was impressed with Nasir Hasanov‘s run at the Cadet Worlds, primarily because he was out there breathlessly chasing down points. Russia’s Komarov went on to control Hasanov in the final but Team Azerbaijan surely left Tbilisi feeling pretty good about their young charge’s potential going forward. We haven’t seen a ton of Zulfigar Aliyev (50 kg) outside of his runner-up showing at the Junior Euros earlier in the summer, but the evidence that’s there is compelling. Aliyev looks like a brute in the ties and has the physicality to bully plodders around the mat.
50 kg: Zulfigar Aliyev (2017 Junior European Championships silver medalist)
55 kg: Zaur Nuriyev
60 kg: Kamran Mirzaliyev
66 kg: Namaz Rustamov
74 kg: Nasir Hasanov (2016 Cadet World silver medalist)
84 kg: Tunjay Vazirzade
96 kg: Tehran Aminzade
120 kg: Sagidmagomed Omarov
Turkey — One of the undercover best teams that’ll be in Finland, Turkey is gearing up for battle with several wrestlers who are likely to bolster its strong Senior roster. The star of the group would have to be Kerem Kamal (55 kg). Twice a runner-up at the Cadet Worlds, Kamal had a point to prove at the Euros in June and did so, defeating Sefershaev in the finals using some deft movement and miles and miles of grit. Tough guy Suleyman Erbay (96 kg) is a dichotomy of sorts. He’s a technical brawler and jumps up the intensity when pushed, but is rarely taken out of his game. Turkey is not going to playing around and will definitely have some guys in the mix for spots on the podium.
50 kg: Cemal Mutlu (2017 Junior European Championships bronze medalist, 2015 Cadet Balkans Championships gold medalist)
55 kg: Kerem Kamal (Two-time Cadet World silver medalist, 2017 Junior European Championships gold medalist, two-time Cadet European Championships silver medalist)
60 kg: Veysel Sarikurt
66 kg: Murat Firat (2015 Junior European Championships gold medalist, 2017 Junior European Championships bronze medalist)
74 kg: Ali Osman Erbay
84 kg: Salih Aydin
96 kg: Suleyman Erbay (2017 Junior European Championships silver medalist, 2017 Junior Balkans Championships gold medalist)
120 kg: Burak Cakirca
Wrestling begins at 10:00am local time (3:00am EST) on August 5th and 6th on Trackwrestling.com.