The big news of the week is obviously the announcement that two-time World bronze medalist Andy Bisek has accepted the offer to become the assistant coach at Northern Michigan. This of course didn’t come from out of nowhere. As soon as the position opened up, several names were instantly floated about and Bisek was one of them.
You are not alone if this feels like the right guy in the right place at the right time. Northern’s program currently enjoys a solid crop of young, talented wrestlers who could use an athlete who isn’t far removed from competition to guide them along. There is little doubt that Bisek, who surely has plenty of options at his disposal, chose to take the job because he has a purpose in mind. And as we all know, a motivated Bisek is an extremely effective Bisek.
But with this news comes sadness. Unless (or until) things change, this also marks the conclusion of a startlingly impressive career. Bisek was a special competitor because he demonstrated what the value of patience and hard work can mean when appropriated correctly. He fought his way to the top of the sport in the US gradually and made himself into one of the best in the world. It also bears mentioning that he did so while displaying class every step of the way. Just not enough of these guys out there.
One door closes, another door opens. Thankfully for the USA Greco Roman program, both doors are in the same hallway.
We see you, Ryan Hope
Over the weekend, Dalton Roberts (59 kg, NMU-OTS), Travis Rice (66 kg, NMU-OTS) and Ryan Hope (85 kg, Cliff Keen WC) competed at the always-tough Vantaa Cup in Vantaa, Finland and this time around, the story is all about the aforementioned Hope. In his first bout of the day, Hope fell to Patrik Szabo (HUN), who took a bronze at the Hungarian Grand Prix last winter and spent most of the year ranked by UWW. It was a tech fall loss for Hope, but boy, he rebounded in style by running over Henri Kortesoja (FIN) for bronze. It was a mightily impressive showing for Hope as he continues his quest to make a case for himself at a weight in need of some depth domestically.
Not far behind Hope was Roberts, who has now just missed out on medaling in two consecutive Senior events following last weekend’s NYAC Open. Roberts destroyed Estonia’s Helary Magisalu via tech fall in his first match before losing tightly to Lauri Mahonen (FIN) 5-3 in the next round. He then picked up another tech fall in the first repechage bout over Viktor Petryk (UKR), elevating him to the bronze round. The ride ended there for Roberts, as Russian prospect Rodion Samatov got on a roll early the American couldn’t recover from. It was a somewhat quick 8-0 technical fall loss for Roberts in what was overall a strong performance.
Illinois native Rice’s first competition since the University World Team Trials was this tournament, which is a helluva way to get back on the horse. Rice lost his first bout via tech to Ototo Losonczi (HUN) and then dropped a 1-1 criteria decision to Denis Bolunov (EST). The results in this case really don’t matter too much right now. Rice needs matches, as many as he can get. He said last week this is about preparing for next month’s Nationals and that’s a good starting point.
All three athletes are training over in Finland in preparation for the second and final tournament on the schedule, Saturday’s Haavisto Cup, another world-class Senior event sure to present some challenges. That is just fine — the more the merrier.
The Golden Grand Prix roster, and injury, and Visa problems
A team of US Greco Roman wrestlers and coaches left today for the familiar sights and sounds of Baku, Azerbaijan ahead of the Golden Grand Prix, which takes place this coming Saturday. The roster for this year’s squad is a little light. Ryan Mango (Army/WCAP) was set to enter in at 59 kilos but was forced to bow out due to injury. A replacement could not be secured due to the Visa deadline, and that issue also affected Alex Sancho (NYAC-OTS), who was supposed to go at 66. Patrick Smith (71 kg, Minnesota Storm), Patrick Martinez (80 kg, NYAC), and Cheney Haight (85 kg, NYAC) make up the group that will be competing.
USA Wrestling releases updated Greco Roman rankings
In advance of next month’s Nationals, USA Wrestling put up its new Greco rankings last week. Nothing too earth-shattering here since they are largely based on recent results, National Team members…you know the drill. Some of the wrestlers who appear in the rankings are injured and will not be competing for awhile, so plenty of other changes are coming with the next update. Notable movement includes: Hayden Tuma (Army/WCAP), who strolls into the 59 kg list at number four; Dalton Roberts gets his first US ranking at the same weight, coming in at eighth. RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) holds onto the top spot at 66, although he will not be competing at that weight again. Adam Coon (Cliff Keen WC), runner-up to Robby Smith (NYAC) at the 2016 Olympic Trials, is ranked second at 130 kilos, but he is going to be unavailable for a long time as he recovers from injury.
What’s coming up here
- This week’s “Coach Lindland’s Report” is already up. In it, Coach Lindland provides his perspective on Bisek accepting the job at Northern (after all, it was this week’s Report where we officially broke the news). Also, he talks about the Greco program’s new team leader Damon Zumwalt and he breaks down the GGP and the roster for the Clubs Cup in Hungary next month.
- Coverage of the Golden Grand Prix.
- An athlete interview.
- Thanksgiving is this week in the US. Give thanks for bodylocks. Everyone benefits from those.