It’s never easy. It’s not supposed to be easy. That is what makes earning a World medal such an important achievement. Go ask Taylor LaMont (60 kg) or G’Angelo Hancock (96 kg).
The US pair put forth bronze medal winning performances on the first day of the 2016 Junior Greco Roman Worlds, and both won their matches in different ways.
For LaMont, it meant more of that “just keep going” attitude. His opponent, Olesandr Hrushyn (UKR), brought the fight forward, but it never seemed as though there was a discernible disparity in output. Hrushyn burrowed in; LaMont stalked. The Utah native tried to work his angles and attack for position, but there just didn’t seem to be clearings he could use. A 1-0 lead on a passivity point for Hrushyn found LaMont on the mat. He defended well. However, a takedown for the Ukrainian increased the lead 3-0 going into the second period.
The two jousted for the right opportunities in the final stanza. LaMont, who was already employing a hectic pace, betrayed even more intent as the minutes unraveled. A passivity point came his way with under two minutes remaining to cut the lead to 3-1. Soon enough, that opening he was searching for all match long presented itself, as he darted into Hrushyn and came around for a takedown to knot the score at three and give him the edge via criteria. Hrushyn, sensing the end was near, became desperate, jumping and colliding in to make something happen. In fact, what wound up happening was a caution and two right at the end, closing it out 5-3 for LaMont, who earns his first Junior World bronze medal with the victory.
It was up to Hancock to bounce back from his semifinal loss on his own terms. Faced with a sturdy adversary in Yuta Nara (JPN), Hancock never over-extended or surrendered control of the bout. Always on the hunt to capitalize on the even the slightest misstep, he applied pressure in the center while working off the ties. Nara was hit for passivity eventually, providing Hancock with a slim 1-0 lead that he would carry into the second period.
To give Nara credit, he was game. There was no wilting. Rather, Hancock stuck to the same even-keeled approach he employed earlier in the day — if an opportunity is there, no need to rush and get loose. It’ll come. That is how it occurred in the second. Holding tight on a clinch, Hancock tried to wring it in with all his might, hoping for a launching point. While that didn’t open up for him, he was able to move the action to the edge, where Nara would concede and fall to the surface for two takedown points — 3-0, Hancock. From then on, it was just a matter of avoiding the big mistake. Hancock deflected any last-ditch attempts by the Japanese wrestler to lock down a well-earned bronze, giving the US two on the day and second-place in the standings heading into tomorrow.