This week sees the Junior Greco-Roman World Championships come into full view. The US team, led by returning bronze medalists G’Angelo Hancock (96 kg, Sunkist, world no. 17) and Taylor LaMont (60 kg, Sunkist), could be on the cusp of something big in Tampere, Finland. Kamal Bey (74 kg, Sunkist) and Randon Miranda (55 kg, NYAC-OTS) were both on the squad in 2016 and have made considerable leaps since then. Bey enjoyed big moments on the Senior level over the past year, highlighted by wins at the Bill Farrell Memorial, US Open, and the Dave Schultz Memorial, respectively. Miranda might not have picked up hardware competing at the Senior 59 kilo weight class, but that should be ignored. He’s made for 55 kilograms at this point and whenever he has competed as a Junior, he’s torn it up. Miranda won the Austrian Open in March, the World Team Trials in April, and earned his second-straight title at the Junior Greco-Roman World Duals in June.
Surging high schooler Cohlton Schultz (120 kg, NYAC) is on the Cadet World Team, too, but may be in position to make headlines in Finland also. 120 kilograms at the Junior Worlds offers several top-flight international competitors who are all older, stronger, and more experienced. But Schultz is just a different kind of dude. He has improved markedly in terms of positioning and is as bullish as they come when fighting for tie-ups. Wyatt Koelling (84 kg, MWF) is another athlete with a solid Greco-Roman background but doesn’t get the same amount of attention. Mistake. He placed in Austria during the spring, but that’s just details. Koelling was a runner-up at last year’s Junior Trials and before that, even made a run at the Senior Last Chance Qualifiers for the Olympic Trials. Again, details. What really matters is that Koelling is a calculated powerhouse who likes to bring the physicality, which is why he will be extremely fun to watch should he start gaining some momentum.
Cevion Severado (50 kg, Xtreme RTC) brings with him more than just a cool-sounding name. This is a wrestler who has competed well domestically as a Cadet and like Koelling, put some work in at that age group’s Trials. He made the finals at the Junior Trials this year and lost to the seriously talented Elijah Varona (NYAC) after impressing leading up to that best-of-three. With Varona injured, Severado finds himself with a very unique opportunity. Technically, he’s not supposed to be here. So he’s playing with house money. But when you see the speed and decisiveness Severado is capable of, it’s easy to picture him pulling off some surprises.
Dominick Demas (66 kg, Columbus Wrestling Club) has been competing in Greco for several years at the National level and this is his first crack at a World medal. The gifted Ohioan was forced to march through one of the toughest brackets at the Junior World Team Trials, taking out prospect Rudy Guillen (University of Mary) and NMU stud Logan Kass on his way to the finals, where he defeated Lenny Merkin (PWC), another talented all-styles wrestler who eventually went onto earn a bronze at the Pan Ams. Demas really doesn’t take a backseat to anyone on this team. His toolbox as a complete wrestler is pretty packed. Few move like he can and he won’t be outworked. The only thing missing is extensive “classical” Greco training, but that hasn’t stopped others from fighting for podium spots. A lot of the talk will be about the possibilities awaiting Hancock, Bey, LaMont, Miranda, and Schultz, but that could be short-sighted. A huge performance by Demas definitely wouldn’t be a shock.
We will be rolling our extended Junior Greco-Roman World Championships previews later in the week to get you pumped for what’s to come Saturday and Sunday.
Second and Last Week of Senior World Team Camp
Hopefully, you have been keeping up with everything surrounding the Seniors at the Olympic Training Center. The first week of our World Team Camp coverage included Q & A’s with Robby Smith (130 kg, NYAC) and Mason Manville (75 kg, Army/WCAP) along with tons of stuff on Instagram thanks to women’s freestyle star Alexis Porter (more on her in a second). We had live looks at the matches on Friday evening and other behind-the-scenes glimpses at what the athletes are going through as they prepare for the World Championships. There is more to look forward to again this week.
Our heavy concentration on the World Team Camp is not without purpose. Its ramifications are wide-ranging. This is the wrestlers’ last official unified training experience before the World Championships. We’re talking about the elite of the elite, the true professionals of the sport, preparing for the pinnacle event of the year. It’s a critical time currently. What happens during this two-week stretch will play a large role in how the athletes perform in Paris. Moreover, the enthusiasm for the 2017 team is high, and why not? The US Seniors are powered by multiple medal threats and throughout the calendar year, several wrestlers put up strong showings overseas in one fashion or another.
In essence, what is going on in Colorado Springs matters. Don’t wait for August 21st to dig into all of this. There are things happening right now deserving of your attention. We plan to keep you up to speed every step of the way.
Freestyle star Alexis Porter premiered a fantastic piece earlier today outlining her perspective on why women’s Greco-Roman wrestling needs to be included in the curriculum. This is a topic that has been broached before and makes news usually every time it does. Just two years ago, UWW president Nenad Lalovic asserted that women’s Greco could become a thing following the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, but since then, there really hasn’t been too much else to go on, though a few national federations have pondered putting full programs together just in case as a means to prepare (or get a leg up).
Without giving too much away, Porter’s advocacy also comes with a very important point — wrestling may need women’s Greco-Roman in more ways than one. Participation among males is dropping across the board, but is surging for girls. The fact that only one style is made readily available for women at the elite level is by now preposterous. If the numbers aren’t there today for women’s Greco, don’t sweat it — they may be there tomorrow. In other words, it’s an eventuality, so why wait?
What’s coming up here
- An all-new Coach Lindland’s Report is just about ready covering the aforementioned World Team Camp as well as a few other relevant topics the hardcore will want to know about.
- Junior World previews.
- An interview with Cadet World Team coach Zac Dominguez.
- More news from the Seniors at the OTC.