Breaking from the usual, we begin our Fargo 2018 glossover with an article from another source, and that is the Grand Forks Herald’s piece on 100 lbs Junior runner-up Christian Tanefeu (ND), who prior to the gigantic tournament had next to zero wrestling experience. According to the story, it was Tanefeu’s twin brother Wilfried (himself a state high school champ this past season) responsible for coercing Christian into picking up the sport, and a couple few months later, bang, the kid makes the finals of the most prestigious age-group event in the country. Mindblowing stuff and definitely worth a read.
The lead item following the Cadet and Junior Greco-Roman Nationals, aka “the tournament preferred by most moonlighting folkstylers over the UWW Trials”, is of course Illinois romping yet again to team titles in both respective age groups, and breaking their own points records in the process. When you have a staff of passionate, knowledgeable coaches who trumpet participation 12 months out of the year, this is what happens. Illinois has an advantage in that USA Wrestling memberships in the state are off the charts, which provides an unfathomably deep well to draw from in terms of potential talent. But when it gets down to the quarterfinals onwards, and there are hard-fought matches to be won, no other state performs better or with more consistency, though Minnesota and Wisconsin are (naturally) right up there, as well.
Five & Five
Five interesting championship performances from the Cadet and Junior portions of the 2018 Fargo Nationals in weight class order.
Kaden Ramos — 88 lbs (ID)
In his first match on Wednesday, Ramos was down 9-2 deep in the second period to Tristan Smith (UT) and used a takedown followed by a power-half to collect a front headlock. Ramos then turned Smith over and got the fall. The semis saw Ramos down 5-4 to Minnesota’s Jore Volk before the latter got called for a somewhat questionable caution. Not that it figured in the result, because seconds later, Ramos caught and pinned Volk. In the finals, there was no such drama, as Ramos breezed past tough Daniel Sheen (Ill) to earn the coveted “stop sign.”
Parker Decker — 113 lbs (TX)
2017 Cadet World Team Trials runner-up Decker was forced to bite down in semifinal dogfight opposite Jacob Rundell (Ill), but that was really the only time he was truly tested last week. Decker rang up tech falls in three of his four Fargo matches, including in the finals against Joey Cape (Ill).
Robert Perez III — 145 lbs (CA)
One of Fargo Week’s legitimate undercover stars, through seven matches, Perez outscored the opposition an astounding 55-2. If you watched him compete, you know why. Perez transitioned to bigger scores whenever available and also showed off an impressive gas tank. The kind of young athlete who already has people talking about what he might accomplish if he sticks with the classical style.
Carson Manville — 152 lbs (MN)
It’s almost cliché to tip your cap to one of the nation’s most recognizable prospects but Manville deserves the attention. He can win Greco matches in any fashion he needs to. Much like his older brother, 2017 Senior World Teamer Mason, Manville can translate styles easily and chase down scores using a heavy two-on-one game or by simply rushing in on attempts. You saw a whole lot of this in Fargo as he acquired his second straight Cadet National title.
Tyler Hannah — 182 lbs (WI)
Hannah, more than most at Cadet, has shown that he will likely acquire the chops necessary to compete at the Senior level (should he choose to do so). Last year in Fargo, the Wisconsin wrestler got by mainly on his all-around skill, dropping a close final to 2018 Cadet freestyle World bronze Abe Assad. This year, Hannah was wall-to-wall dominant and owned position in just about every second of every match. That he was able to convert on almost all of his major scoring opportunities speaks even more to his continuously-growing confidence.
Paxton Creese — 113 lbs (MN)
An established performer on the developmental level over the past three years, Creese is a young athlete who has steadily demonstrated noticeable improvement in every technical area and it has all just begun to come together for him. This Fargo victory, which included a forfeit win in the round-of-16 and a gritty fistfight with Billy Sullivan (SD) in the semis, won’t be Creese’s last and it probably tasted especially sweet coming off of the hosejob he endured at the Pan Ams.
Austin Almauger — 126 lbs (WA)
Chayse La Joie (120 lbs) deserved and subsequently received the Junior Outstanding Wrestler award, but arguments could have been elsewhere, beginning with Almauger’s own stunning comeback over King Sandoval (VA). Sandoval, himself an easy athlete to like, was in cruise control throughout their final, building up an early 6-0 lead that turned into a 10-4 advantage in the second period. Almauger’s competitiveness never waned, he was still plugging forward. Following a Sandoval takedown, his moment arrived. Alamauger pounced on a headlock, and yikes, that was that. There were several bouts like this, both in the finals of both Cadet and Junior and in the earlier rounds, but Almauger’s triumph made an impression.
Ridge Lovett — 132 lbs (ID)
Outside of Cohlton Schultz‘s march to gold, no other US athlete was more exciting or more ferocious at the 2017 Cadet Worlds than Lovett. The ferocity — and unmistakable gifts — Lovett has to offer were put on sparkling display in Fargo as he dominated the entire field. How dominant was he? Five matches, four tech’s, and two total points scored against him, which didn’t happen until Delon Kanari (Ill) became the first and only athlete in the tournament to chip the armor. Lovett got going quickly after that and never looked back, eventually prevailing 10-2.
Zach Braunagel — 182 lbs (Ill)
Braunagel in Fargo: disqualified (long story); reinstated (longer story); advances in domestic Greco tournament; defeats Tommy Brackett (TN) 9-3 to make the final; grabs five points on Illinois teammate Jack Jessen via passive/two guts in said final before emerging victorious 5-4. Assuming you know who Braunagel is, then you know why his national title matters: because it’s only Step 1. Together with his brother and a few others from The Land of Lincoln, you are looking at an athlete who projects as a monster competitor the older he gets.
Lucas Davison — 195 lbs (IN)
Plenty of athletes received higher billing than Davison at the 2018 Fargo Junior Nationals, so the Indiana product had no choice but to fly under the radar compared to most of his contemporaries. All that is gone now. Davison put together one of the most jaw-droppingly explosive shutdown performances in the entire tournament counting both age divisions. He’s very quick for a wrestler his size and positively unmerciful when he’s on the attack. Apparently, Davison is also well-skilled in the other style, thus making falling in love with his potential a risky endeavor.
2018 Vehbi Emre Results
The fourth and final United World Wrestling “Ranking Series” event of the season concluded this past week with Turkey’s annual Vehbi Emre. And as such, a decent number of world-ranked athletes were affected by their performances (not to mention the performances of others).
At 55 kilograms, former Cadet World bronze medalist Ekrem Oueztuerk (TUR, world no. 1) downed Shota Tanokura (JPN, world no. 6) in a fairly-tense final by a score of 4-2. Going in, this was a battle between two athletes most expect to contend in Budapest. For his part, Tanokura was immediately thought of as a potential medalist upon 55 kilograms’ reintroduction into the Senior curriculum. Oueztuerk prevailed at the Takhti Cup back in January, and by doing so, announced his candidacy as a legitimate threat in this field and bolstered his stock further with a bronze at the Euros three months ago. Over the weekend, Oueztuerk ran away from Asian Championships bronze Horlan Zakhansha (KAZ, world no. 2) via tech in the quarterfinals, giving him two elite-level victories in the same tournament.
In a curious twist, Mihai Rado Mihut (ROU, world no. 3) competed at 67 kilograms for the 2018 Vehbi Emre, the first time all season he has returned to his former weight class. At 63 kilos this year, Mihut has been lights out, losing only once, and that was to Nikolai Vichev (BUL) in the Petrov final. He’s won everywhere else — Zagreb, Thor Masters (where he defeated Jesse Thielke for gold), the Palusalu, and both the Senior and U23 Euros. But there he was in Turkey, up at 67, where he dropped a lackluster 4-1 decision to eventual champ Murat Firat (TUR) and then another in the repechage to Asmantur Ismailov (KGZ). US fans may recall that Alex Sancho (72 kg, NYAC) got past Mihut in the 2017 Zagreb finals to claim his first overseas tournament victory.
72 offered a winner American Greco observers may also be familiar with — Pavel Liakh (BLR), who decisioned Murat Dag (TUR) 5-3 in that weight class final. Two-time Trials champ RaVaughn Perkins (72 kg, NYAC) defeated Liakh in the 1st OG World Qualifier back in 2016.
At 130, three-time World Champion Riza Kayaalp (TUR, world no. 5), competing for just the third time since the Paris Worlds, picked up his sixth Vehbi Emre title by turning back Kiryl Hryshchanka (BLR) 2-1. Outside of his brisk destruction of Arata Sonoda (JPN) in the qualification round, Kayaalp struggled to grab points the rest of the way, outscoring his next three opponents 6-2, with one of those bouts a 1-1 criteria win over Iosef Chugoshvili (BLR).
2018 Vehbi Emre Placewinners
GOLD: Ekrem Oueztuerk (TUR) def. Shota Tanokura (JPN) 4-2
BRONZE: Zhanserik Sarsenbiyev (KAZ) def. Marat Garipov (BRA) 8-0, TF
BRONZE: Horlan Zakhansha (KAZ) def. Dogus Ayazci (TUR) 6-1
GOLD: Aidos Sultangali (KAZ) def. Victor Ciobanu (MDA) via injury default
BRONZE: Hayobu Shimizu (JPN) def. Avustin Spasov (BUL) 3-1
BRONZE: Sakit Guliyev (AZE) def. Gyanender Gyanender (IND) 7-1
GOLD: Taleh Mammadov (AZE) def. Rahman Balici (TUR) 3-1
BRONZE: Kaly Sulaimanov (KGZ) def. Dmytro Tsymbaliuk (UKR) 7-1
BRONZE: Lasha Mariamidze (GEO) def. Lenur Temirov (UKR) 2-1
GOLD: Murat Firat (TUR) def. Karabacak (TUR) 7-1
BRONZE: Kamran Mammadov (AZE) def. Amantur Ismailov (KGZ) 5-0
BRONZE: Dnys Demyankov (UKR) def. Tsuchika Shimoyamada (JPN) 5-2
GOLD: Pavel Liakh (BLR) def. Murat Dag (TUR) 5-3
BRONZE: Ibragim Magomadov (KAZ) def. Shmagi Bolkvadze (GEO) 6-1
BRONZE: Cengiz Arslan (TUR) def. Yunus Ozel (TUR) 1-1 (criteria)
GOLD: Fatih Cengiz (TUR) def. Kazbek Kilou (BLR) 7-0
BRONZE: Shohei Yabiku (JPN) def. Hasan Aliyev (AZE) 4-3
BRONZE: Tamerlan Shadukayev (KAZ) def. Emre Basar (TUR) 4-2
GOLD: Lasha Gobadze (GEO) def. Emrah Kus (TUR) 4-2
BRONZE: Elvin Mursaliyev (AZE) def. Daniel Aleksandrov (BUL) 3-1
BRONZE: Victor Sasunouski (BLR) def. Nurzhan Nadyrov (KAZ) 5-1
GOLD: Zhan Belenyuk (UKR) def. Islam Abbasov (AZE) 3-1
BRONZE: Masato Sumi (JPN) def. Robert Kobliashvili (GEO) via forfeit
BRONZE: Ramin Taherisartang (IRI) def. Radzik Kuliyeu (BLR) 4-0
GOLD: Siharei Staradub (BLR) def. Aleksi Lodia (GEO) 6-1
BRONZE: Mahdi Aliyarifeizabadi (IRI) def. Amirhossein Hosseini (IRI) 7-1
BRONZE: Suleyman Demiric (TUR) def. Aleksandr Hrabovik (BLR) 2-1
GOLD: Riza Kayaalp (TUR) def. Kiryl Hryshchanka (BLR) 2-1
BRONZE: Murat Ramanov (KGZ) def. Mantas Knystautas (LTU) 3-1
BRONZE: Iosef Chugoshvili (BLR) def. Mykola Kuchimi (UKR) via injury default
Senior Camp Follow-Ups
The first major camp for the 2018 US Senior World Team came to an end on Saturday in Eagle Creek, Oregon. We provided a glimpse of what the camp was all about via a short video last week, but more information is on its way, including an all-new Coach Lindland’s Report along with post-camp perspectives from a few of the athletes. Stay tuned!