BAKU, AZERBAIJAN — All three US Greco Roman wrestlers competing at the 2016 Golden Grand Prix today are holdovers from the Non-Olympic World Team Trials two weekends ago and so far, only one of them is still in the running.
Cheney Haight (NYAC), up a weight at 85 kilos, was defeated by Sultan Beybala Ismayilov (AZE) in the qualification round. Haight picked up a passivity point to take a 1-0 lead, but it all unraveled from there. Ismayilov threw Haight down with a bodylock for four followed by a gutwrench for another two. Once they reset, it was a virtual repeat of the same sequence; Ismayilov twisted Haight directly to his back for four more points and a quick technical fall victory over the American. Ismayilov was tech’ed himself in his next bout by Tadeusz Michalik (POL) to end Haight’s day.
It didn’t go too much better for Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm), although he certainly didn’t have any help in the officiating department. Like Haight, Smith earned the first point against opponent Ridong Zhang (CHN, world no. 8), but that was the end of his scoring. It was 1-1 (criteria edge to Zhang) in the second period before the wheels fell off. It started when Zhang was awarded two off the edge in what was a questionable takedown call. After the reset, Zhang baited Smith into a bodylock for two followed by a lift attempt Smith managed to not expose on. 7-1, Zhang. Smith came hard after Zhang near the edge; Zhang contorted enough to defend. When they wound up off the edge, Zhang was given a point. This time, the US challenged and lost, giving Zhang an extra point and the match win, 9-1. Zhang lost to Hungary’s Balint Korpasi (world no. 1) in the quarterfinals, so Smith was not pulled back into the event via repechage.
Patrick Martinez (NYAC, world no. 15) is moving on. Dealing with 2016 Junior World bronze medalist Sid Azara Bashir (ALG), Martinez needed to dig in and fight. Bashir led throughout by a passivity point, although Martinez looked to have control of the center and dictated the pace. In the second period, Martinez repeatedly went after tie-up’s he found favorable while Bashir tried to loop in underhooks at every exchange. Eventually, Martinez would be rewarded for his effort, grabbing two points with a little over a minute remaining to seal the win and advance to the quarterfinals.
We will have updated coverage and summaries following the event, so stay tuned!