Ryan Mango (63 kg, Army/WCAP) broke out some exciting offense to grab a win in his first bout but found trouble continuing his surge through the bracket next time out. Even with that, he’s still in the hunt for a medal after the morning session on Day 1 at the Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov Cup.
Action began in Sofia, Bulgaria at 10:00 am (4:00 am EST) with Mango facing off against 2016 Junior World Champion Dato Chkhartishvili (GEO). The WCAP star kept a bounce in his step and scanned for openings, but it was Chkhartishvili who scored first on a correct throw. However, Mango quickly reversed and converted the turnabout into a gutwrench for a 3-2 lead. He seemed to be in command, dictating the pace while forcing Chkhartishvili to react off his ties. But later in the first the Georgian struck again, this time with a headlock that scored four.
When the bout resumed in the second, Mango went to work and got a hold of Chkhartishvili. At first glance, it didn’t even appear as if Mango’s position was secure enough for an attack. It didn’t matter, because just as Chkhartishvili dipped back in, the American hurled a cascading lateral that was good for four and a 6-3 advantage. Chkhartishvili responded soon after with a corkscrew headlock only to have Mango reverse. The scoreboard read 8-8 with Chkhartishvili holding criteria. A questionable challenge rang in from Georgia but it was all for naught.
Just over a minute remained when Mango delivered the exclamation point. He lowered, came up, and clashed into an exchange. As he set his feet, Mango swiftly lassoed Chkhartishvili’s head and arm before bombing over a headwrap that took his opponent right over his heels. From there, Mango clamped down on the position and held on for the impressive fall.
Unfortunately for Mango, things went in a completely different direction during his quarterfinal contest opposite 2016 Olympic silver Shinobu Ota (JPN), who jumped up a weight class for this event.
There was a certain tension that could be felt permeating around the early stages of the bout. Both wrestlers, elite high-level athletes boasting explosive offensive capabilities, performed a series of checks in effort to sense one another’s approach. Mango was called for the first passivity/par terre chance with :90 left in the opening stanza, and Ota capitalized. He had clamped on a reverse chest lock that he used to coax Mango to his feet before tossing it through for four. Ota stayed with the position and rolled over once more and another pair. Down 7-0, Mango needed to make something happen in a hurry.
He pummeled his way into a good look at the body, did Mango. Problem was, Ota latched onto Mango’s left arm and rammed forward. It was debatable, in a sense. Ota held a legitimate offensive position and darted through on the inverted arm throw just as Mango tried to redirect the motion. The US challenged, there wasn’t a choice. It didn’t change the outcome — Ota received four plus another for the denied challenge — but Mango did get credit for his action, falling 12-2.
The semifinals for Day 1 of the Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov Cup will begin shortly. If Ota is victorious, Mango will move into the repechage with a shot at bronze tomorrow. We will update as information becomes available. For those interested in watching the action live, just race over to here.
2017 US World Team member Patrick Smith (72 kg, Minnesota Storm) first arrived overseas last month ahead of the Thor Masters Invitational in Denmark and has been in Europe ever since, sticking around for some added training with a collection of Swedish athletes. Wanting to tack on some additional matches to go along with his European camp, Smith entered into this event looking to notch his first international victories of the season.
Standing in the other corner for his qualification round bout was Evrik Nikoghosyan, the Armenian-born Frenchman who offers a preference for physicality similar to Smith and a few noteworthy credentials, including a bronze from last month’s Grand Prix Zagreb Open.
Uncharacteristically, Smith had trouble getting out of the gate in this one. A Nikogosyan arm throw served as portend of things to come as Smith did his best to battle back into the fight. Nikogosyan chipped in and the Storm competitor looked to create motion in the ties but there weren’t enough windows to operate effectively. Nikogosyan wound up the beneficiary for the first passive. At the whistle he circled around to Smith’s head for a front headlock and worked diligently to torque. But Smith stayed strong and managed to reach his feet.
Smith strolled back onto the mat for the second behind by five and immediately resumed prowling for attacks as Nikogosyan hawked inward. A particularly damaging sequence made its way into the affair shortly as Smith lost his balance after an exchange with Nikogosyan covering for two. Another charge by Nikogosyan later in the period sealed it. Heading towards the far edge with his back to the line, Smith went to redirect. Nikogosyan continued his momentum and covered for the match-ending takedown.
Nikogosyan emerged with a big win over Tomohiro Inoue (JPN) in the quarters. Should he make the finals Smith will be competing in the repechage tomorrow morning.
2018 Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov Cup
March 22-25 — Sofia, Bulgaria
TEAM USA RESULTS
63 kg — Ryan Mango (Army/WCAP)
WIN Dato Chkhartishvili (GEO) via fall
LOSS Shinobu Ota (JPN) 12-2, TF
72 kg — Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm)
LOSS Evrik Nikogosyan (FRA) 9-0, TF