Above is the accompanying video for the latest edition of Memorable Matches. The return segment features Jesse Thielke (63 kg, NYAC/LOG) discussing his bronze medal match from the 2015 Golden Grand Prix. Down on criteria in the second period to Mehdi Mardani (IRI), Thielke came up big with a duck under and side lift to pull this one out. It was also the beginning of something big: following the ’15 Golden Grand Prix, Thielke medaled at Zagreb, won the Olympic Trials, and then qualified 59 kilograms for Rio on the strength of his mesmerizing run to the final at the 2nd OG World Qualifier in Istanbul, Turkey.
2019 Austria Trip for the USA
Over the weekend, one of the two US teams competing at the 2019 Austrian Open in Götzis placed second, and the other, fourth. David Stepanian (55 kg, NMU/OTS) was the lone American gold medalist, but not the only finalist, as fellow Northern prospect Delon Kanari (60 kg) earned silver. Four bronze winners were also part of the story: Haiden Drury (55 kg, WA); Mason Hartshorn (60 kg, NMU/OTS); Noah Wachsmuth (67 kg, EAP/OTC); and Keaton Fanning (87 kg, NMU/OTS).
The six placewinners represented one less than a year ago, and six less than 2017. But don’t be fooled by the numbers, because the US performance on Saturday was every bit the raging success the past two Austrian tournaments were.
- The majority of the US champs and placers from the previous few Austrian Open events have aged out. And the next crop waiting in the wings stepped up, including high schoolers Drury and Wachsmuth. Again, they’re not even in college yet, and only one of the two, Wachsmuth, is currently enrolled in a full-time program.
- The competitive level at this year’s Austrian Open was even higher than usual.
These trips, as alluded to often on this platform, are more about the training than they are the tournaments. But that doesn’t mean results aren’t important, too, especially since the Austrian Open is seen as a benchmark event for the US program. With Stepanian coming through, Kanari raising his game, Fanning scoring his second international medal of the season, and the great good work of Drury and Wachsmuth, it should come across quite clearly that the Americans’ approach for the new generation is unquestionably working.
The remainder of this week will see the US delegation continue to train in Austria. We expect to bring you updates, insights, and photos as they become available.
Bey, Hancock, & P-Mart in Germany
US coach Herb House is in Germany with three World Teamers from 2018 — Kamal Bey (77 kg, Sunkist, world no. 7), Patrick Martinez (87 kg, NYAC), and G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg, Sunkist, world no. 12). All three aforementioned athletes competed at both the Grand Prix Zagreb Open and Hungarian Grand Prix last month, with Hancock earning bronze and gold, respectively. The trio of Senior stars have stuck around in Germany for some additional training and House sent us these photos in effort to provide a glimpse of their progress.