Plenty of action has unfolded thus far at the 2019 Haparanda Cup, and two USA Greco-Roman competitors — Dalton Roberts (60 kg, NYAC/OTS) and Ray Bunker (72 kg, Marines) — find themselves a win away from going for gold.
Wrestling began at 10:00 local time from Haparanda, Sweden (4:00am ET) and is being broadcast live on YouTube.
In his lone match of the morning, Roberts took on Finland’s Henri Halonen and was forced to overcome a (very) early deficit before ending things in short order. As Roberts plowed forward in the first period, Halonen countered and flung the 2018 World Team member off the line for four. The US challenged the sequence and lost, but it would wind up becoming inconsequential. Roberts used the reset to adjust his approach, and soon scored a takedown that quickly transitioned into a gutwrench.
After the break, Roberts fiddled around with a two-on-one, and that caused Halonen to re-think his entry. Roberts didn’t hesitate when the window arrived; he zipped Halonen with an arm spin and pancaked his way to an impressive fall. Now the Northern Michigan athlete is in the semifinal opposite ’17 Haparanda Cup gold Radion Samatov (RUS).
As for Bunker, he too required a bit of a comeback. ’19 Junior World bronze Igor Bychkov (UKR) jetted out to 4-0 lead in the first period, though it seemed like it was only a matter of time until Bunker…because Bunker again. After a reset, the Marine charged Bychkov, who bailed off the edge, resulting in two points instead of one. That started the momentum.
Early in the second, Bunker trucked Bychkov straight to his back for four. A pin looked possible, but it wasn’t to be. Then the pattern: Bunker applying heavy pressure, his opposition wilting. First was a conventional step-out point; next, another Bunker tank-drive that saw Bychkov get knocked for fleeing. In the end, Bunker — one of four ’19 US Senior World Team members competing today — prevailed with a 9-4 decision and will now meet Andrii Kulyk (UKR) in the semis.
Jamel Johnson (67 kg) is one of four Marines who is a returning Haparanda medalist. Last year, Johnson took second, as did Colton Rasche (63), while the duo of John Stefanowicz (87 kg) and Daniel Miller (97 kg) earned bronze. A medal is still in the potential picture for Johnson today, but even he’d probably admit it has been a weird morning.
In his first bout, Johnson clashed with teammate and ’19 Final X runner-up Xavier Johnson (no word yet if Xavier is committed to this weight class — Ed.). A fun, yet strange and tense affair that is likely different in the practice room wound up a 5-4 decision victory for Jamel. Keeping with the theme of the day, it was another US athlete standing across from Johnson in the proceeding round — Michael Hooker (Army/WCAP). Johnson had assumed control of the bout in the first period, though Hooker came on late to make this an interesting battle. Nevertheless, it was win #2 for Johnson, this time via 6-4 decision, and next came an intriguing customer US fans might remember.
France’s Mamadassa Sylla, who defeated Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP, world no. 14) in the repechage round of the ’18 Worlds — and had also gotten past Nolan Baker to crack open his slate of competition — stuck to his angular yet pressurized approach to test Johnson throughout. Sylla scored on a step-out to break the ice. Following a restart, Johnson pushed forward, perhaps a little too much, and lost his footing to which Sylla covered for a takedown. In the second frame, Sylla benefitted from a passive and a very loose lift attempt still proved effective for a two-point turn.
Johnson re-entered the argument midway through the second and picked up a step-out as well as a passive, but could not close the gap from then on. Sylla walked away the 6-4 winner and Johnson will wait to see who he has next after re-qualification.
Sancho & Sheridan
In a rematch of the ’17 Zagreb Grand Prix final, Alex Sancho (67 kg, Army/WCAP) battled last year’s U23 World bronze Mihai Mihut (ROU), falling 4-0. Sancho was victimized by a pair of dubious passive calls and scoring chances were hard to come by.
Domestic rivals and US National Teamers Lucas Sheridan (97 kg, Army/WCAP) and Daniel Miller (Marines) were unfortunately paired together in the first round, but once again, did not disappoint in terms of drama. Miller had a lead entering the latter stages of the second period, and then wham, Sheridan pounded out a headlock to emerge victorious via fall. Next for Sheridan was well-traveled Maksym Safaryan (RUS), whom Miller competed against at this event in ’18, and Sheridan acquitted himself well. The California native used the first passive/par terre to net a gutwrench and held a 3-0 advantage. Safaryan, while visibly tired, picked up a takedown, a passive, and a gutwrench, to ultimately edge Sheridan 5-3.
As alluded to, re-qualification is part of this format, which in this case means that several US athletes who dropped matches are still alive for bronze. Those bouts, along with the first for Max Nowry (55 kg, Army/WCAP, world no. 6) and the semifinal contests featuring Roberts and Bunker, are slated to begin shortly.
2019 Haparanda Cup
November 30 — Haparanda, Sweden
TEAM USA RESULTS
Max Nowry (Army/WCAP)
vs. Andrii Semenchuk (UKR)
Dalton Roberts (NYAC/OTS)
WIN Henri Halonen (FIN) via fall
vs. Radion Samatov (RUS)
Ryan Mango (Army/WCAP)
LOSS Alex Bica (SWE) 7-5
vs. Latuf Madi (FRA)
Jamel Johnson (Marines)
WIN Xavier Johnson (Marines) 5-4
WIN Michael Hooker (Army/WCAP) 6-4
LOSS Mamadassa Sylla (FRA) 6-2
Michael Hooker (Army/WCAP)
WIN Morgan Flaharty (NYAC) 5-2
LOSS Jamel Johnson (Marines) 6-4
vs. Xavier Johnson (Marines)
Nolan Baker (USOPTC)
LOSS Mamadassa Sylla (FRA) 7-4
vs. Elmer Mattila (FIN)
Morgan Flaharty (NYAC)
LOSS Michael Hooker (Army/WCAP) 5-2
Xavier Johnson (Marines)
LOSS Jamel Johnson (Marines) 5-4
vs. Michael Hooker (Army/WCAP)
Colton Rasche (Marines)
LOSS Mihai Mihut (ROU) 8-0, TF
vs. Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP)
Alex Sancho (Army/WCAP)
LOSS Mihai Mihut (ROU) 3-0
vs. Colton Rasche (Marines)
Ray Bunker (Marines)
WIN Igor Bychkov (UKR) 9-4
vs. Andrii Kulyk (UKR)
Chris Rodgers (USOPTC)
LOSS Andrii Kulyk (UKR) via fall
vs. Vladyslav Shysko (UKR)
Corey Hope (NYAC)
WIN Nick Tarpley (NYAC) 10-1, TF
LOSS Artjom Komarov (RUS) 10-2, TF
vs. Roni Purolainen (FIN)
Alex Mossing (Air Force)
LOSS Spencer Woods (NYAC/OTS) 8-4
Brandon Mueller (Air Force)
LOSS Juan Angel Escobar (MEX) 8-0, TF
vs. Sakke Purolainen (FIN)
Nick Tarpley (NYAC)
LOSS Corey Hope (NYAC) 10-1, TF
Spencer Woods (NYAC/OTS)
WIN Alex Mossing (Air Force) 8-4
LOSS Ruslan Isakov (RUS) 9-1, TF
vs. Elmar Nuraliiev (UKR)
Peyton Walsh (Marines)
WIN Arkadiy Kirakosyan (RUS) via default
LOSS Evrik Nikoghosyan (FRA) 7-6
vs. Hlib Skorofatov (UKR)
John Stefanowicz (Marines)
WIN Vaughn Monreal-Berner (Marines) 7-5
vs. Daniel Bogdanov (RUS)
Vaughn Monreal-Berner (Marines)
LOSS John Stefanowicz (Marines) 7-5
LOSS vs. Daniel Bogdanov (RUS) 8-0, TF
Lucas Sheridan (Army/WCAP)
WIN Daniel Miller (Marines) via fall
LOSS Maksym Safaryan (RUS) 5-3
vs. Loic Saman (FRA)
Daniel Miller (Marines)
LOSS Lucas Sheridan (Army/WCAP) via fall