Ellis Coleman (67 kg, Army/WCAP) will go down as the first athlete to put one in the win column for Team USA at the 2018 Worlds.
Garnering a victory was more important than scoring some revenge in Coleman’s qualification-round bout opposite 2014 World bronze Edgaras Venckaitis (LTU), but the payback likely tasted sweet just the same. That’s because Venckaitis is part of a brief but tumultuous history with Coleman and US teammate RaVaughn Perkins (72 kg, NYAC). Several years ago, Venckaitis defeated Coleman in a dual meet. In 2016, it was the Lithuanian who halted Perkins’ first bid at qualifying for the Rio Olympics by earning a decision over the Nebraskan in Mongolia.
But it all came to a head last year at Thor Masters. Holding onto a narrow lead against Venckaitis late in the second period, Coleman appeared to be in prime position to enter the medal rounds. But with time running out, the Lithuanian purposely attempted to injure Coleman by torquing his arm. It was successful. Coleman’s shoulder flared up and he was forced to withdraw from the tournament despite owning a 4-0 ledger on the day.
Although the outcome on Friday unfolded in Coleman’s favor, the beginning of the match certainly did not.
Venckaitis received the first passivity point and proceeded to pick up four more points when he reverse wrapped and lifted Coleman for four. But after returning to the feet, both athletes tried nestling an advantage from over/under’s. Coleman seemed to seize control of the position, but Venckaitis worked himself into a throwing opportunity. As he went back to arch, Coleman adjusted, landed on top, and held Venckaitis — who was visibly submitting — down for the fall. The win checked in as the first for the US at these World Championships.
In the round-of-16 stood two-time World bronze Artem Surkov (RUS, world no. 4), considered by many to be one of the strongest candidates to win the tournament. Coleman asserted himself from first contact as the duo prodded at each other’s arms. Which is what a lot of the early stages showcased — both wrestlers looking to dig in, but also reluctant to betray position. In other words, it was a stalemate and the exchanges were about equal. Intermittent time-outs for blood, either on Coleman or the mat, played a role in the tense opening period. Coleman didn’t appear to have a discernible edge in activity level but was surprisingly rewarded with the first passivity of the contest. Surkov, eminently skilled in this arena, defended Coleman’s elbow-deep gut attempt but trailed 1-0 at the end of the period.
A brisker pace from Coleman beat back a more intentful Surkov through the first minute of the second. Surkov — as is a tactic favored by many from Europe and around the world — upped his tempo accordingly because down 1-0, he knew that worst case, it was likely he’d get the next call. Best case, he’d get the call and capitalize on top par terre.
And that’s exactly how it happened.
Surkov received his point and found a gutwrench for two and a subsequent 3-1 lead with just over a minute to go. Coleman sauntered back into battle, he still exhumed confidence. He flashed his speed, urgently sought out possible angles and opportunities to turn this all around before it was too late. Eventually, it was too late. A gritty, sparkling effort by Coleman, though one that could not overcome the decorated Surkov’s fortunes in the second period.
However — Surkov followed up his defeat of Coleman by getting past Kamran Mammadov (AZE) in the quarterfinal and Meizhan Shermahkenbet (KAZ, who downed 2016 Olympic champ Ismael Borrero Molina of Cuba) in the semis. That means Coleman still has a chance for bronze and will enter tomorrow’s repechage round. His first opponent will (likely) be 2018 Military World bronze Mamadassa Sylla (FRA).
The repechage round for Coleman will begin at 10:30am local time (4:30am EST) with medal matches to follow at 6:00pm (12:00pm EST). All of the action can be viewed live in the US on Trackwrestling (subscription required).
Roberts & Martinez
Earlier on Friday, both Dalton Roberts (60 kg, NYAC/OTS) and Patrick Martinez (87 kg, NYAC) dropped their first-round bouts. Roberts lost to 2016 Junior World silver Etienne Kinsinger (GER) and Martinez was turned back by two-time World bronze Viktor Lorincz (HUN, world no. 11). Unfortunately for the American tandem, neither Kinsinger or Lorincz advanced to their respective weight class finals, which disqualifies Roberts and Martinez from entering tomorrow’s repechage.
2018 World Championships
October 25th-28th — Budapest, Hungary
TEAM USA DAY 2 RESULTS
60 kg — Dalton Roberts (NYAC/OTS)
LOSS Eitenne Kinsinger (GER) 11-0, TF
67 kg — Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP)
WIN Edgaras Venckaitis (LTU) via fall
LOSS Artem Surkov (RUS) 3-1
vs. Mamadassa Sylla (FRA) on Saturday
87 kg — Patrick Martinez (NYAC)
LOSS Viktor Lorincz (HUN) 5-1