They say the first step to becoming a World champ is taken in the practice room. That may be true, but if it is, actually punching through to make a World Team would be the second. Earlier this evening at the Mayo Civic Center in Rochester, Minnesota, four United States Greco-Roman wrestlers took that second step and for three of the four, the feeling is a familiar one.
Dalton Roberts (59 kg, NYAC/OTS), Alex Mossing (71 kg, Air Force RTC), Kamal Bey (80 kg, Sunkist, world no. 18), and G’Angelo Hancock (130 kg, Sunkist, world no. 16 at 98 kg) all prevailed in two straight of their respective best-of-three series, though how the action went down was just a little different for everyone involved on Day 2 of the 2017 US U23 World Team Trials.
Roberts versus fellow two-time Junior World Team member Randon Miranda (NYAC/OTS) offered two young, accomplished competitors who also happen to train together at Northern Michigan. Both are high-energy chargers and prefer a combination of technical savvy mixed with physical aggression. Coming into Sunday evening, they had also met previously with Roberts coming away the victor. He did so again tonight, but Miranda sure made him work for it.
A topsy-turvy Match 1 saw Roberts and Miranda go big on offense and even the occasional folkstyle scramble. In one nearly-pivotal sequence, Roberts nursed a left underhook on Miranda’s right and after causing a scramble, initially appeared to have exposed Miranda, but those points were wiped off the board and the score adjusted to 2-0. Miranda stayed urgent and when he was down by four later in the first, countered a Roberts high-dive attempt to knot the score and seize a (temporary) criteria lead. When they returned to their feet, Roberts collected Miranda from around the body and drove him to his back for another four-point swing. Despite some sporadic chippiness on both parties, neither wrestler scored in the second period and Roberts took Match 1 via the same 8-4 score.
If Match 1 introduced the audience to the fight each wrestler possessed, then Match 2 pointed a spotlight on their opportunistic abilities to score. This time around, it was Miranda who struck first when he caught a walking-in Roberts with a headlock that yielded four. Roberts didn’t stay behind the eight-ball too long. As Miranda seemed to lower in for a duck-under, Roberts clasped around Miranda’s head and arm to get his two and then proceeded to snag a trap-arm gut for two more.
After a reset, Roberts held a two-on-one and dragged Miranda by before driving him to his back for four. The wild part about it was that Miranda had snatched Roberts’s left arm in the process and he used that to roll and expose Roberts. Miranda tried going back to the well once again grasping that arm, but Roberts stepped right over, though no points were awarded. The scoring just wouldn’t stop. Right before the first period wound down, Roberts collapsed Miranda with an underhook-wrist tie to widen his lead to 10-6.
The fire didn’t fade too much in the second period, but the scoring slowed. They briskly cut angles in the tie-ups and prowled for limbs or other windows of chance, it is just that at this juncture, mistakes would prove ever-more costly and both knew it. Whatever was going to be hit had to count. Miranda was there with a headlock a minute in to cut his deficit to two points, and then Roberts forced him out to jump back up by three. Fighting to the bitter end, Miranda locked and loaded for one last attempt, and he even swooped behind for a takedown, only it was too late. Dalton Roberts makes his third US World Team after having been on the Junior squads in 2015 and ’16.
The first time Mossing and Colin Schubert (NYAC/OTS) exchanged pleasantries, it was in the consolation bracket at the Senior World Team Trials in April. During that affair, Schubert was in complete command as he racked up a 9-0 first-period tech. A lot has changed since April and Mossing, who won the 2017 University Nationals four months ago, showed what some added Greco-Roman training can mean for him going forward.
Schubert is a skilled, methodical brawler while Mossing, despite a polished folkstyle background, is still very much an all-out thrower. His first toss in this best-of-three series was a correct hold arm throw that provided him with a 2-0 cushion, but he’d been tacking on more soon enough. As Schubert dropped down for his own throw attempt, Mossing laced his arms around Schubert’s head and arm, and whipped him backwards for four to race ahead 6-0. Schubert got on the board later in the first. He stalked forward with underhooks and as Mossing lowered for another throw, the NMU student held on and scooted behind for two.
Deep into the second period with the score still at 6-2, Mossing wrapped around Schubert for a bodylock and landed it. There was no escape for Schubert and Mossing maintained top position and held on for the fall at 2:21 to take Match 1.
A more intent Schubert came out for Match 2 and he expertly clawed his way into underhooks. He looked to use the position to set up his offense but it was Mossing who scored first with a point off of a double overhook dump at the edge. Schubert wouldn’t stay silent. Just as Mossing had in the match prior, Schubert countered an arm throw by wrapping around the head and yanking it over (and out) to nab a pair of points. There was more coming. With :38 remaining in the first, Mossing locked for a throw and Schubert adjusted to land on top for two more. 4-1, Schubert, who countered one more Mossing throw seconds later to climb ahead by four.
Whether or not this was what swung the tide in Mossing’s direction will be up for debate, but right as the scoreboard clock went to zero, Schubert went for an ill-advised lock he got too loose on and pulled Mossing right on top of him. He still led 5-3 at the break, but with how this match finished, there is little doubt this sequence came back to haunt him.
A correct hold by Schubert :37 into the second brought his lead back up to four. However, Mossing was hot on his heels. He took Schubert out of bounds for a point and then did so again with another double overhook throw to tighten things up at 7-6. And once more, an arm throw attempt by one of the wrestlers played a role. Near the edge, Schubert dipped down holding Mossing’s right arm; Mossing, again, clasped around Schubert’s head; next, he planted, pivoted, and arched, thinking he had scored four. But following a challenge by the NMU side and some chatting by the officiating crew, it was Schubert who was awarded a point.
Only :20 were left and Mossing was wrestling like he was the one down a match in the series. He came hard after Schubert, who was warned for avoiding contact. Upon the reset, Mossing latched on a front headlock and ran Schubert out of the circle, prompting the official to immediately signal for the caution-and-two. The end-of-match histrionics were confirmed after a brief review, and that’s how it all ended. Alex Mossing, a Greco neophyte, is now a US World Team member.
Zeroing in on his second World Team of 2017, reigning Junior World Champion Bey was called upon to do business with Tommy Brackett (TN), the high school senior who a year ago, won the Fargo Nationals when Bey defaulted out of that final due to injury. Of course, Brackett made news again in 2016 when he placed sixth at the US Open. But it wasn’t as if there was some score to settle between the two. Bey has his goals and so does Brackett. It’s just that these days, Bey is operating on a whole different level than nearly everyone else.
Brackett opened up Match 1 the same way he had in his previous bouts throughout the morning — by automatically drumming up underhooks. Bey didn’t bother engaging in a prolonged pummel session. Instead, he extended Brackett, ducked under, and forced him down and off the boundary for two. Brackett hung tough, anyway. He refused to allow for too much separation and tried to walk his underhooks into a better position. The strategy worked throughout the balance of the first period as he held Bey scoreless the rest of the way.
Bey put on a dazzling display early on in the second and it signaled the end for Brackett. He flashed in on a high dive, causing Brackett to reflexively try to collapse on top. As Brackett hawked downward, Bey leapt up and over Brackett’s back, got behind, and collected two. Bey then immediately transitioned into a straight lift for four more to put a bow on the first bout of the series.
The energy didn’t dissipate for Bey in the second round. Virtually at the whistle, Bey was already lunging in, this time looping around Brackett’s arms with double overhooks. He arched back for a correct hold and it was off to the races. Brackett was undaunted as he defiantly stuck to his gameplan, but at the same time, he was unable to keep up with Bey’s attacks and counter-attacks. Off of a right-side underhook he lifted up on, Bey then stepped deep into Brackett’s penetration zone and drove him straight to his back. Brackett bellied-down as soon as he could, but by then, it was too late. Bey had locked on a gutwrench and all he required was one rotation to clinch his spot at the first-ever U23 World Championships in Poland next month.
There is no more conjecture. We now know what Hancock is capable of at heavyweight and while it may not have come as easily to him in the semis, his performance in the final left no doubt.
Alton Meeks (Florida Jets) showed glimpses of a promising Greco future earlier in the day as he marched to the best-of-three opposite Hancock, but he was simply overmatched once the action began. In Match 1, Hancock didn’t take long to extend his arms around an over/under clinch, one of his hallmark positions. From there, it was all but academic. Hancock threw Meeks down and gutted him over twice for the tech at just :34 into the first period.
Match 2 went a little longer, although the outcome played out the same way. Following a bit of jousting in the ties, Hancock lasered an arm drag to pick up a takedown. Next, he loaded up Meeks for a straight lift. Back down to the surface and there was Hancock with a gutwrench he rolled out of bounds. It was 6-0 in the blink of an eye. Meeks, for better or worse, was a willing partner and he tried chipping away inside to make a clearing. The result might have seemed inevitable, but he stayed in the fight. The decisive blow arrived with :14 left in the first as Hancock bull-rushed in and caused Meeks to lose his balance as his much more accomplished opponent cruised behind for the match-ending points.
- Five finals matches on Day 2 were decided by technical falls. There were only two such victories on Day 1.
- The 2017 US U23 Greco-Roman World Team boasts three wrestlers who have been on past World Teams (Roberts, Junior, 2015-16; Bey, Junior, 2015-16; Hancock, Junior, 2015-16, Senior, 2017).
- Wrestlers from the Olympic Training Site at Northern Michigan University accounted for four champions (Roberts, Alex Sancho, Jesse Porter, and Bake Smith), seven finalists (Roberts, Miranda, Sancho, Schubert, Porter, Smith, and Anthony Riopelle), and ten overall medalists (Britton Holmes, Curt Calovecchi, and Carter Nielsen took third).
2017 US U23 WORLD TEAM TRIALS RESULTS — DAY 1
59 kg: Dalton Roberts (NYAC/OTS) vs. Randon Miranda (NYAC/OTS)
Match 1: Roberts def. Miranda 8-4
Match 2: Roberts def. Miranda 11-10
71 kg: Colin Schubert (NYAC/OTS) vs. Alex Mossing (Air Force RTC)
Match 1: Mossing def. Schubert via fall (2:21)
Match 2: Mossing def. Schubert 8-8 (criteria)
80 kg: Kamal Bey (Sunkist) vs. Tommy Brackett (TN)
Match 1: Bey def. Brackett 8-0, TF
Match 2: Bey def. Brackett 8-0, TF
130 kg: G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist) vs. Alton Meeks (Florida Jets)
Match 1: Hancock def. Meeks 8-0, TF
Match 2: Hancock def. Meeks 8-0, TF