Greco News

Monday Roundup: Trials Week 2017

Khymba Johnson
Photo: John Sachs

The 2017 US Greco-Roman World Team Trials for both the Seniors and the Juniors take place this week at the South Point Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada, with the latter age group going on Thursday. It’s the busiest time of the year thus far. For the Seniors, the stakes are high. The World Team will be selected and National Team spots are up for grabs. For the Juniors, yes, a team will be selected and that is important. But even more pressing than that is the future. The Juniors and how they perform, both against each other this week and then against their international counterparts at the World Championships, set for Tampere, Finland in August, provides a critical glimpse at the potential Senior depth the US will be relying on going forward.

The Juniors

One thing working in the US’s favor is that that there are plenty of holdovers from the 2016 Junior World Team. Randon Miranda (NYAC-OTS) is back. So are Junior World bronze medalists G’Angelo Hancock (96 kg, NYAC) and Taylor LaMont (60 kg, CWC). Kamal Bey (74 kg, Sunkist), a no-doubt-about-it star, is also returning. When you combine these four with a strong contingent that also includes Jesse Porter (74 kg, NYAC-OTS), Nick Boykin (120 kg) Cohlton Schultz (120 kg), and Wyatt Koelling (84 kg), it’s easy to see that there is a reason why many Greco fans in this country are so optimistic.

Northern Michigan is offering up other potential gamebreakers outside of Miranda and Porter. Jordan Auen (60 kg) will be an interesting name to keep an eye out for. Auen won the Klippan Cup last fall and then grabbed a bronze medal at the Austrian Open. Logan Kass (66 kg) will be a very tough dude to deal with in his weight. Kass won in Austria and has steadily shown that he has the fundamentals down to where sooner rather than later, he’s going to be a force as a Senior. No one can sleep on high school-aged Alston Nutter (66 kg). Conventional wisdom might suggest Nutter needs more time, but the Wisconsinite has made leaps in his game since being at Marquette.

There is also Austin Chaon (84 kg), who has shown promise on and off as a Senior. Michael Donato (74 kg), Dru Worker (84 kg), Blake Smith (96 kg), and Anthony Riopelle (96 kg) are others who have made strides. Outside of NMU, the return of Jake Allar (74 kg, Minnesota Storm) to Greco-Roman is something that will be embraced. Allar has been a very capable and talented wrestler stretching back a few years. Before he hits the mats at the University of Minnesota in the fall, Allar could wind up making what is already the deepest weight in the tournament that much more exciting.

We’ll have more on the Juniors as the week progresses.

Put up or shut up time

Everyone knows the storylines for the Seniors. If each weight class unfolds at least somewhat according to plan, not only are the finals going to be incredibly intriguing, but the third place bouts, in some cases, might steal the show. Looking at each weight class up and down, left and right, it is easy to see that this one of the deepest World Team Trials in several years. Part of that is due to the latest infusion of youth; the other part has to do with guys hitting their strides at the right time in their careers. However it has to happen, it is encouraging to see the depth that is prevalent at most of the weights in 2017.

The Seniors begin their quest for the Paris World Championships on Saturday morning.

More weight class turbulence 

2013 US World Team member and 2016 Olympian Jesse Thielke (NYAC) is up from 59 kilograms to 66 for the World Team Trials. That isn’t a total surprise. Thielke has competed at 66 before and with very good results. Prior to his run last year, Thielke took third at both the US National/Trials Qualifier and the Grand Prix of Zagreb Open at the weight. Whether he stays at 66 for the long-term is unclear. But a healthy Thielke who doesn’t have to suffer to make weight will be a force to be reckoned with come Saturday.

Multiple-time finalist Jon Anderson (Army/WCAP) has also moved up. Or back up, rather. Anderson is going 85 kilograms at the World Team Trials, not 80. If you remember, Anderson spent a significant amount of time at 85 previously, including vying for the Olympic Team spot last year. Jon Jay Chavez (NYAC) is another defection from 80 kilos, except he is headed down, not up. Chavez will apparently now be a part of the one of the scariest fields at the tournament, since 75 is home to three of the sport’s most talented competitors.

Our coverage

We will be continuing with our roll call of previews. We’ve saved 66 and 71 kilograms for last, simply because those two weights have the most “heat” associated with them. In addition, we will be providing recaps and analysis for the Junior Trials on Thursday and then live results and other info (of course followed by a recap) for the Seniors on Saturday. You can find all of our ongoing World Team Trials coverage in the special section on our navigation menu.

What’s coming up here

  • Yes, we will have a new Coach Lindland’s Report prior to the World Team Trials.
  • The next installment of the Five Point Move Podcast is coming at you this week.
  • A look at John Stefanowicz, the Marine who nearly shocked the world in Hungary and who is a very live contender this coming weekend.
  • Our “cheat sheet” that will get you informed of everything you need to know before Saturday.

Questions? Concerns? Feel like reaching out? Do so on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram!

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