The 2016 Greco Olympic Trials take place this weekend in Iowa City, Iowa at the famed Carver-Hawkeye Arena. Three of the six weight classes still require qualification, which means that the winners will have a snappy turnaround and fly to Mongolia next week. That does not in any way diminish the magnitude of this event. Each weight is filled with talent capable of advancing to the final, which makes this cycle’s Trials all the more exciting. In effort to pique your interest, we’ve compiled a short list of quick facts and notes regarding some of the tournament’s competitors.
Greco Olympic Trials Notes
Spenser Mango (Army/WCAP) is attempting to make his third Olympic team, which would put him in some elite company. Only Richard Wilson (1956, 1960, 1964), Dan Chandler (1976, 1980, 1984), Mark Fuller (a four-timer, 1980, 1984, 1988, 1992), and Dennis Hall (1992, 1996, 2004) have made three Greco Roman Olympic squads.
Fellow WCAP wrestler Jermaine Hodge is a five-time national team member and won this past year’s Dave Schultz Memorial to go along with his long list of accomplishments… Max Nowry (NYAC) was the runner-up to Mango at the 2012 trials.
Ildar Hafizov (Army/WCAP) previously wrestled in the Olympics (2008) for Uzbekistan (55 kg).
Bryce Saddoris (Marines) will be trying to make his first trip to the Olympics. Saddoris has represented 66 kg the last two years for the World Team.
“The Flying Squirrel” Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP) wrestled in the London Games at 60 kg. Coleman spent most of 2015 on the shelf, but returned this year with a US Open win by defeating fellow 66 kg trials competitor, Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) in the final.
RaVaughn Perkins (NYAC) is the last wrestler to beat Saddoris in a trial final (2014).
Andy Bisek (Minnesota Storm) won a bronze medal at the 2015 World Championships, making him the only wrestler in the Greco Olympic Trials to have earned an automatic berth in the best-of-three finals.
Justin Lester (Army/WCAP) may very well have the most impressive resume out of all of the athletes competing. Lester is an eight-time World Team member, a two-time World bronze medalist, six-time National champion, and was an Olympian in 2012.
Florida Jets representative Geordan Speiller beat Lester in the semifinals of the 2016 US Open before going on to win the tournament.
Both Ben Provisor (NYAC) and Jon Anderson (Army/WCAP) are moving up in weight for the Greco Olympic Trials. Provisor wrestled for the 2012 US Olympic team at 74 kg. Anderson has previously competed at the non-Olympic 80 kg.
Jordan Holm (Minnesota Storm) is ranked number one at this weight entering the tournament and for good reason. Holm, runner-up to Chas Betts at the 2012 OTT, has won three consecutive US Open titles and made three consecutive World teams.
After an approximately three-year hiatus, former World Team member Jake Clark (Minnesota Storm) came back this year and won the Open, going un-scored upon and shocking everyone (except maybe himself). Clark (who also runs a wrestling academy in Hawaii), took Holm with him as his training partner to the 2010 World Championships in Moscow.
Caylor Williams (Army/WCAP) is a three-time World Team member and a two-time US Open champion. Williams had not tasted defeat at the hands of another American in two years until Joe Rau (Minnesota Storm) beat him to win the Bill Farrell Invitational last November. Rau also defeated Williams in the final of the 2016 US Open by a score of 9-6 in what was an exciting, high-flying affair.
John Wechter (Minnesota Storm) is himself a past US Open champion and was the runner-up to Williams at the 2014 WTT… Jarod Trice (Titan Mercury WC) is coming all the way down from 130 kg. Trice, a two-time University National champ, earned a bronze medal at the Farrell to qualify for this tournament.
Robby Smith (NYAC) is the elder statesman of this weight division. The 29 year old Smith has made three World teams (finishing fifth in 2013 and 2015) and is a two-time US Open champion. Smith has wrestled on the Senior level for the last ten seasons.
One of Smith’s main rivals over the last couple of years has been Toby Erickson (NYAC). Erickson won the 2016 Dave Schultz Memorial Int’l, but lost to Smith in the finals of the past two World Team Trials and US Opens.
Michigan University alum Adam Coon (Cliff Keen WC) is a two-time NCAA D1 All-American and had been successful at all three primary wrestling styles at the Cadet level. Coon has transitioned to Greco Roman full-time and both won the 2015 Farrell and 2016 Open, each in a dominant manner.
Another name to look out for at the Greco Olympic Trials is Parker Betts (Minnesota Storm), who attends the Northern Michigan program and is the younger brother of 2012 Olympian Chas Betts. The little brother isn’t so little; however, he isn’t that large for a heavyweight, either. Betts is coming into his own at the Senior level and has success from his age-group career to draw from.
For our full preview, check this out. Also, keep it here throughout the weekend as we have session summaries coming to you directly from the Greco Olympic Trials in Iowa City. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter for live updates, as well.