The 2018 Junior Greco World Duals at the Community Youth Center (CYC) in Concord, California reached its conclusion yesterday with several Americans taking individual honors. After grabbing a silver last year, Mason Hartshorn (60 kg, NMU/OTS) jumped up a spot on the podium to collect gold. In his first appearance at the event, Nick Boykin (130 kg) powered through a rough-and-tumble two days of action to emerge victorious. Not to be outdone, 2018 UWW Junior National champ/Michigan State-bound Peyton Omania (77 kg, CYC) earned his third title at the event. In fact, Omania actually dropped two bouts over the weekend but avenged those losses en-route to gold yesterday.
As for the team race, Vikings (an amalgamation of Nordic competitors) got past Scandinavia (same thing, virtually) to win the dual title. The home club CYC finished third while California/USA put on an impressive performance with a strong fourth-place finish.
Of course, the main story surrounding the annual Junior Greco World Duals is its developmental value. Before the event switched over to featuring Junior competitors, it was originally the Concord Cup, where many of the best Senior athletes from the US and elsewhere around the globe converged throughout the 90’s to test their skills against one another. 22 years ago, the direction changed. Gone was the Concord Cup and in its place arrived the event we know now as the only one of its kind.
We get caught up in results and they have their place, especially in regards to international competition. And that is certainly the deal here, as touched on at the top. But what makes the Junior Greco World Duals so important are all of the educational opportunities leading up to the two-day tournament. A full week of intensive training with multiple sessions per day precedes the matches held on Saturday and Sunday. The clinicians, led by CYC head coach Mark Halvorson, include current and former athletes as well as coaches from the visiting countries. Then once the camp is wrapped up, attendees have two days of matches to look forward to with plenty of them coming against foreign partners.
Counting NMU’s Superior Camp, which is entering its fourth year of existence, there are only two — two — international camps/competitions hosted inside of the US for age-group athletes. Both require support and participation to continue, and as a country, that needs to be a priority.
2018 Junior Greco World Duals
May 12-13 — Concord, California
Vikings — 6-0
Scandinavia — 5-1
CYC — 4-2
California/USA — 3-3
Oregon — 2-4
Northern California — 1-5
Southern California — 0-6
Vikings — 36 CYC — 16
California/USA — 29 Oregon — 22
Scandinavia — 44 Northern California — 10
Southern California — bye
Vikings — 29 Scandinavia — 22
CYC — 45 Northern California — 5
California/USA — 36 Southern California — 21
Oregon — bye
Nick Boykin Q&A
As mentioned above, Nick Boykin (130 kg, Sunkist) checked in with a gold at the Duals this weekend. It has been a very busy season for the 19-year-old thus far. Following the U23 World Team Trials in October, he went on to earn back-to-back silvers in Sweden before hopping into the deep end of the pool at the Granma Cup in Cuba a few months later. Last month, Boykin fell in the finals of the Junior Nationals to 2017 Cadet World Champion Cohlton Schultz (NYAC), and then after catching a short respite, he flew over to California to participate in this past weekend’s festivities.
The activity meter is cranked up for the native Tennessean and it’s only going to continue rising. That’s because in June, Boykin is planning on competing at three Trials events — U23, Junior, and Senior. We caught up with Boykin earlier today to gain a sense of where his pulse is coming on the heels of his impressive showing in Concord.
5PM: You’ve had a very active campaign this season. Is an active profile something you’re trying to maintain right now as you continue to develop?
Nick Boykin: Yes, honestly, it is. I just want to keep catching up, learning new moves, and adding them to my skill-set. It has been a real big help to my wrestling right now.
5PM: You’ve jumped a little bit, going from Senior to Junior to Senior and back again. What’s the biggest difference you’ve noticed between the two age groups?
Boykin: Just strength. I mean, Cohlton Schultz is a good wrestler and he is one of the main guys I’ve been wrestling with lately. But as I compete in Senior tournaments, their technique is like, out of this world. I’m just trying to pick up the little things that they do to get their matches going in the ways they want to wrestle them and win.
5PM: How has life at the Olympic Training Center, the full-time training experience, translated for you so far?
Boykin: It has actually been going good. From where I started to where I am now, I look back at it and I’m like, Wow, I was actually a really bad wrestler. Me and Robby (Smith) are lifting weights four times a week now. I’m getting stronger, faster, better, and I’m losing weight. I am dropping weight classes for Juniors. If I make 97 kilograms for Juniors, I am going to be pretty much unstoppable in the US, just because of the strength that I have and the partners I train with, who are the best in the country. I’m feeling really good leading up to Trials.
5PM: What prompted you to enter the Junior Greco World Duals for the first time? There’s a lot to this event, it’s not just the matches, it’s also the camp and everything else.
Boykin: I just thought it would be a good idea. I heard that there would be other teams bringing good heavyweights, but this year only one team brought a good heavyweight. I figured I was going to get some good competition, and also, just get out and find some different styles to wrestle. It’s not just the styles at the OTC, I also want to pick up styles from other people.
5PM: What was your biggest takeaway after the event?
Boykin: That I’m feeling good. Even with the weight I’ve lost, I can still go out there and wrestle heavyweight, and still wrestle well.
5PM: You’re going to be very busy in June, is that correct?
Boykin: I have a flight to U23’s, then I come back for three or four days and fly to Juniors. I then come back for a week and a half and fly to Seniors. That’s all back-to-back-to-back. It’s going to be tough, but it’s something I want to do just so I can make a World Team and finally represent the US overseas.
Iranian World Team Trials: Abdevali Goes Nuclear
2011 World Champion/2016 Olympic bronze medalist (and whatever else) Saeid Abdevali (IRI) didn’t exactly have the time of his life this past weekend at the Iran World Team Trials in Tehran. Competing for the first time since the World Clubs Cup, Abdevali jumped all the way to 87 kilograms and despite some testy moments, managed to defeat Mehdi Fallah to start off. Things took a decidedly disadvantageous turn for the Iranian star in his his next bout. Facing off with Iman Ansari, Abdevali came unglued following an apparent caution, resulting in a heated exchange on the mat that eventually led to more (or worse) histrionics off of it. The two wrestlers kept attempting to get after one another with Abdevali being tabbed as the primary aggressor. Reportedly, the bad blood boiled over in the locker room and then out onto the street (see the video below). After Abdevali was disqualified, Fallah advanced to the finals where he fell to two-time Asian Championships gold medalist Hossein Nouri in their best-of-three series.
Currently, it is not known what the repercussions will be for both athletes, though one would assume suspensions are in order. Although he holds a reputation for being somewhat of a hothead, Abdevali has enjoyed a spectacular career that includes World titles at the Junior and Senior levels along with bronze medals from the Rio Olympics and 2017 Paris Worlds, respectively. US fans perhaps remember him best thanks to Andy Bisek, who defeated Abdevali for third at the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas.
2018 Iran Team Trials
Reza Khedri (Alborz) def. Ramin Bastan (Tehran) 9-0, TF
Mehrdad Mardani (Khuzestan) def. Mohammad Faghiri (Tehran) 4-0
Mehrdad Mardani (Khuzestan) def. Mohammad Faghiri (Tehran) 7-2
Mohammad Nourbakhsh (Tehran) def. Mohsen Hajipour (Mazandaran) 7-5
Mohsen Hajipour (Mazandaran) def. Mohammad Nourbakhsh (Tehran) 5-0
Mohsen Hajipour (Mazandaran) def. Mohammad Nourbakhsh (Tehran) 6-2
Mohammadreza Geraei (Fars) def. Hamed Tab (Khuzestan) 6-3
Mohammadreza Geraei (Fars) def. Hamed Tab (Khuzestan) 9-1, TF
Ali Arsalan (Mazandaran) def. Farshad Belfekeh (Khuzestan) 6-4
Ali Arsalan (Mazandaran) def. Farshad Belfekeh (Khuzestan) 7-3
Pejman Pashtam (Tehran) def. Mohammad Ali Geraei (Fars) 9-2
Pejman Pashtam (Tehran) def. Mohammad Ali Geraei (Fars) 5-2
Yousef Ghaderian (Tehran) def. Kevyan Rezaei (Khuzestan) 2-1
Yousef Ghaderian (Tehran) def. Kevyan Rezaei (Khuzestan) 3-2
Mehdi Fallah (Tehran) def. Hossein Nouri (Alborz) 4-3
Hossein Nouri (Alborz) def. Mehdi Fallah (Tehran) 4-2
Hossein Nouri (Alborz) def. Mehdi Fallah (Tehran) 2-1
Ali Akbar Heydari (Qom) def. Amir Hosseini (Mazandaran) 6-0
Ali Akbar Heydari (Qom) def. Amir Hosseini (Mazandaran) via forfeit
Mehdi Nouri (Ardebil) def. Shahb Ghoureh Jili (Tehran) via fall
Shahb Ghoureh Jili (Tehran) def. Mehdi Nouri (Ardebil) 2-1
Mehdi Nouri (Ardebil) def. Shahb Ghoureh Jili (Tehran) 5-1