USA Greco

Who Have Been the Top 20 USA Seniors Since 2016?

top 20 us greco athletes at trials finals since 2016
Adam Coon (L) and G'Angelo Hancock -- Photo: Tony Rotundo

By the time the 2020ne Olympic Trials get underway (presumably) next April, it will have been — and this is easy to understand — five years since the US program selected its Team for Rio. Therefore, it is similarly easy to comprehend how the viral pandemic that has, like a crushing wave, washed away all competitive endeavors this spring and became responsible for adjusting our vernacular.

We refer to a period of four years as a quadrennium, or simply, “quad”. This is indeed the word we use most often when discussing the Olympic cycle. It is an everyday noun in “wrestling speak”, at least pertaining to the international styles. But because the US Trials for Tokyo will occur five years after the last Olympic cycle was completed (in terms of Team selection, to be precise), it is perhaps permissible to swap out quadrennium in favor of lustrum (period of five years). If you feel more comfortable staying with the letter q, then quinquennium shall also suffice.

The above explanation is just a little tongue-and-cheek of course, but these words do carry importance. Mechanisms for time measurement matter greatly in how we annotate and document World-level competition (and they matter just as much when it comes to funding it, FYI). Whatever you think of the manner in which wrestling is presented at the Olympics (related to politics, governance, transparency, and officiating), the entire sport revolves around this one event. Each Olympiad serves as a reset. Athletes knocking at the door of retirement use it to plan their exit strategies, and United World Wrestling often leverages a quad’s conclusion to roll out new policies. For better or worse.

When examining the performance of United States Greco-Roman Seniors leading up to the soon-to-be-officially-rescheduled Tokyo Olympic Trials, bypassing quad “quad” and switching over to “quin” is the most appropriate course of action at the moment. An enormous question mark surrounds the competitive calendar, both long-term and short. The last major international event was the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier in Ottawa, and it’s a safe bet that it will be several months until the next Senior international tournament is held — in Europe.

Couple that with the competitive plans for American athletes, many if not most of whom will not see another match before late-fall at the earliest, and accounting for results dating back to ’17 and using them to tell a complete story seems almost unfair.

Don’t get it twisted: how an athlete has been performing lately is certainly much more telling than how they were, say, four years ago. But since the majority of the US Senior base will might not have the ability to enjoy a reasonable slate of activity whilst preparing for Penn State 2021 (including those whom most of us recognize as the nation’s top competitors), recognizing their work dating back to Iowa City 2016 and then stretching the canvas to (the imagined future of) next spring offers a more robust yield of results which can be applied for adequate reference.

Top 20 USA Senior Greco Performers This Quinquennium

Trials tournaments offer direct implications relative to athletes’ livelihoods, and thus serve as the preeminent markers for success. Only two American Greco athletes can say they have appeared in a Trials final each of the past four seasons — Ildar Hafizov (60 kg, Army/WCAP) and Ben Provisor (77 kg, NYAC). It should be noted that Hafizov, who qualified 60 kilograms for the US last month in Ottawa, has already secured his fifth-straight Senior Trials final. In fact, all four US athletes who qualified their weights last month are listed, as well. There are not too many coincidences to be found at the elite level.

Several other Greco-Roman wrestlers have come really close to the ledgers of Hafizov and Provisor, though none more so than Ellis Coleman (67 kg, Army/WCAP) and G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg, Sunkist, world #7). Coleman fell in the third place/National Team bout to eventual teammate Alex Sancho (world #19) in ’16 before advancing to (and winning) the finals of each Trials tournament in ’17, ’18, and ’19. Hancock grabbed third in ’16, and like Coleman, won the next three Trials in his weight category.

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Interestingly, Sancho is not far behind the aforementioned five athletes. He fell to Chris Gonzalez in the best-of-three final to decide the 71-kilogram spot on the first-ever non-Olympic weight World Team in November of ’16; and then proceeded to participate in Trials finals the next two seasons before joining Army/WCAP. Patrick Smith (77 kg, Minnesota Storm, world #18), Kamal Bey (77 kg, Sunkist), Joe Rau (87 kg, TMWC), and Patrick Martinez (87 kg, NYAC/FLWC) have all appeared in three Trials finals series over the same time period.

The list below outlines athlete results by using US Trials events as the primary determining factor, followed by finishes in National tournaments. International placings of particular relevance (which include both the Dave Schultz Memorial and Bill Farrell Memorial) are also accounted for. However — results accumulated in age divisions other than Senior are not.

1. Ildar Hafizov (60 kg, Army/WCAP)

Domestic results

*’21 Olympic Trials finalist
’19 Final X Champion
’19 World Team Trials Champion
’18 World Team Trials runner-up
’17 World Team Trials Champion
’16 Olympic Trials runner-up

’18 US Open bronze
’19 US Open runner-up

International placings

’20 Pan-American Olympic Qualifier silver
’19 CISM World Military bronze
’19 Pan-American Games bronze
’19 Dave Schultz Memorial gold
’17 Thor Masters gold

2. G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg, Sunkist, world #5)

Domestic results

*’21 Olympic Trials finalist
’19 Final X Champion
’18 World Team Trials Champion
’17 World Team Trials Champion
’16 Olympic Trials bronze

’19 US Open Champion
’16 US Open Champion

International placings

’20 Pan-American Olympic Qualifier silver
’20 Pan-American Championships gold
’20 Matteo Pellicone Memorial bronze
’19 Bill Farrell Memorial gold
’19 Pan-American Games silver
’19 Matteo Pellicone silver
’19 Pan-American Championships silver
’19 Thor Masters bronze
’19 Hungarian Grand Prix gold
’19 Grand Prix Zagreb bronze
’19 Dave Schultz Memorial gold
’18 Pytlasinski Cup gold
’17 Haavisto Cup gold
’17 Lavrikov Memorial gold
’17 Pan-American Championships bronze
’17 Dave Schultz Memorial gold
’16 Bill Farrell Memorial gold

3. Ben Provisor (77 kg, NYAC)

Domestic results

’19 Final X runner-up
’19 World Team Trials Champion
’18 World Team Trials runner-up
’17 World Team Trials Champion
’16 Olympic Trials Champion

’16 US Open bronze
’18 US Open Champion
’19 US Open bronze

International placings

’18 Pan-American Championships bronze
’17 Dave Schultz Memorial gold
’17 Tbilisi Grand Prix silver
’17 Pan-American Championships gold

4. Ellis Coleman (67 kg, Army/WCAP)

Domestic results

’19 Final X Champion
’18 World Team Trials Champion
’17 World Team Trials Champion
’16 Olympic Trials 4th

’19 US Open Champion
’18 US Open Champion
’16 US Open Champion

International placings

’19 Pan-American Games bronze
’19 Pan-American Championships silver

5. Patrick Smith (77 kg, Minnesota Storm, world #18)

Domestic results

’19 Final X Champion
’19 World Team Trials Champion
’18 World Team Trials bronze
’17 World Team Trials Champion
’16 Olympic Trials runner-up

’20 US Open runner-up
’19 US Open bronze
’18 US Open runner-up
’16 US Open Champion

International placings

’20 Pan-American Olympic Qualifier bronze
’20 Pan-American Championships silver
’19 Pan-American Games gold
’19 Dave Schultz Memorial gold
’18 Lavrikov Memorial bronze
’18 Haparanda Cup bronze
’18 Haavisto Cup silver
’17 Pan-American Championships gold
’17 Thor Masters bronze

6. Joe Rau (87 kg, TMWC, world #7)

Domestic results

*’21 Olympic Trials finalist
’19 Final X Champion
’17 World Team Trials runner-up
’16 Olympic Trials Champion

’20 US Open Champion
’18 US Open runner-up

International placings

’20 Pan-American Olympic Qualifier gold
’18 Bill Farrell Memorial bronze
’18 Lavrikov Memorial gold
’18 Haparanda Cup silver

7. Alex Sancho (67 kg, Army/WCAP, world #19)

Domestic results

*’21 Olympic Trials finalist
’19 World Team Trials bronze
’18 World Team Trials runner-up
’17 World Team Trials runner-up
’16 World Team Trials runner-up
’16 Olympic Trials bronze

’19 US Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier Champion
’18 US Open bronze
’16 US Open runner-up

International results

’20 Pan-American Olympic Qualifier silver
’20 Pan-American Championships bronze
’19 Bill Farrell Memorial gold
’18 Bill Farrell Memorial gold
’17 Tbilisi Grand Prix silver
’17 Grand Prix Zagreb Open gold
’17 Dave Schultz Memorial silver

8. Kamal Bey (77 kg, Sunkist)

Domestic results

’19 Final X runner-up
’18 World Team Trials Champion
’17 World Team Trials runner-up

’19 US National/Olympic Trials Qualifier Champion
’19 US Open Champion
’18 US Open Champion
’16 US Open Champion

International results

’19 Dave Schultz Memorial gold
’19 Pan-American Championships silver
’18 Granma Cup gold
’18 Bill Farrell Memorial gold
’17 Grand Prix Zagreb bronze
’17 Dave Schultz Memorial gold
’16 Bill Farrell Memorial gold

9. Ryan Mango (60 kg, Army/WCAP)

’19 Final X Champion
’18 World Team Trials runner-up
’16 Olympic Trials bronze

’19 US Open Champion
’18 US Open Champion
’16 US Open runner-up

International placings

’19 Bill Farrell Memorial gold
’19 Pytlasinski Cup bronze
’19 Pan-American Championships silver
’18 Pan-American Championships gold
’17 Dave Schultz Memorial silver

10. Adam Coon (130 kg, NYAC/Cliff Keen, world #6)

Domestic results

’19 Final X Champion
’18 World Team Trials Champion
’16 Olympic Trials runner-up

’18 US Open runner-up

International placings

’19 World Championships silver
’20 Pan-American Olympic Qualifier bronze
’20 Pan-American Championships silver
’19 Bill Farrell Memorial gold
’19 Pan-American Championships gold

11. Patrick Martinez (87 kg, NYAC/FLWC)

Domestic results

’19 World Team Trials bronze
’18 World Team Trials Champion
’16 World Team Trials Champion

’19 US Nationals/Olympic Trials Qualifier runner-up
’19 US Open runner-up

International results

’19 Pan-American Championships bronze
’17 Lavrikov Memorial gold
’17 Haavisto Cup gold
’16 Pytlasinski Cup bronze
’16 Grand Prix of Spain bronze

12. Max Nowry (60 kg, Army/WCAP, world #5)

Domestic results

’19 Final X Champion
’18 World Team Trials runner-up
’17 World Team Trials bronze

’19 US Open Champion
’18 US Open Champion

International placings

’19 World Championships 5th
’20 Pan-American Championships gold
’20 Matteo Pellicone silver
’19 Haparanda Cup silver
’19 Bill Farrell Memorial silver
’19 Pytlasinski Cup bronze
’19 Pan-American Championships gold
’18 Pan-American Championships silver
’17 Dave Schultz Memorial silver

13. RaVaughn Perkins (77 kg, NYAC)

Domestic results

’18 World Team Trials runner-up
’17 World Team Trials bronze
’16 Olympic Trials Champion

’19 US National/Olympic Trials Qualifier bronze
’19 US Open runner-up
’18 US Open Champion

International placings

’19 Pan-American Championships gold
’18 Pan-American Championships gold
’18 Thor Masters bronze
’17 Dave Schultz Memorial silver
’17 Grand Prix Zagreb Open bronze
’17 Dave Schultz Memorial gold
’16 1st World Olympic Games Qualifier bronze

15. Robby Smith (130 kg, NYAC)

Domestic results

’18 World Team Trials runner-up
’17 World Team Trials Champion
’16 Olympic Trials Champion

’18 US Open Champion

International placings

’20 Granma Cup bronze
’19 Kristijan Palusalu bronze
’18 Pan-American Championships silver
’17 Pan-American Championships bronze
’17 Thor Masters gold

16. John Stefanowicz (77 kg, Marines, world #3)

Domestic results

’19 Final X Champion
’19 World Team Trials Champion
’18 World Team Trials bronze
’17 World Team Trials runner-up

International placings

’20 Pan-American Championships gold
’19 Haparanda Cup gold
’19 Pytlasinski Cup bronze
’18 Haparanda Cup bronze

17. Geordan Speiller (77 kg, Florida Jets)

Domestic results

’19 World Team Trials bronze
’18 World Team Trials Champion
’16 Olympic Trials runner-up

International placings

’18 Pan-American Championships silver
’18 Bill Farrell Memorial silver
’17 Granma Cup gold
’17 Hungarian Grand Prix silver
’17 Dave Schultz Memorial gold

18. Jesse Thielke (60 kg, Army/WCAP)

Domestic results

’18 World Team Trials Champion
’16 Olympic Trials Champion

’18 US Open bronze

International placings

’18 Thor Masters silver
’16 2nd World Olympic Games Qualifier silver

19. Dalton Roberts (60 kg, NYAC/NTS)

Domestic results

’18 World Team Trials Champion

’19 US Open bronze
’18 US Open Champion

International placings

’19 Dave Schultz Memorial bronze
’18 Grand Prix of Germany silver
’18 Granma Cup bronze
’18 Bill Farrell Memorial silver
’17 Lavrikov Memorial gold
’16 Haavisto Cup silver

20. Mason Manville (77 kg, NLWC)

Domestic results

’18 World Team Trials runner-up
’17 World Team Trials Champion

’19 US Open bronze

International placings

’19 Dave Schultz Memorial silver

**21. Cheney Haight (82 kg, NYAC)

Domestic results

’18 World Team Trials runner-up
’17 World Team Trials Champion
’16 Olympic Trials bronze

’18 US Open bronze
’16 US Open Champion

International results

’19 Pan-American Championships gold
’18 Bill Farrell Memorial silver
’17 Pan-American Championships gold

** = Haight has not yet publicly declared an intent to compete. 

Methodology

    • Finishes/placings in Trials tournaments carried the most significance, as described in this section’s preamble. Making World/Olympic Teams is the standard indicator for competitive success (domestically); multiple National tournament placings and/or top-3 finishes at Trials tournaments are likewise valuable parameters which provide an appropriate baseline example of an athlete’s consistency.
    • Final X is recognized here as separate from the ’19 World Team Trials (given the Trials’ foundation was the US Open and subsequent Challenge Tournament). This scenario produces a redundancy, since all ’19 US Open champs received automatic berths in the Final X Series.
    • Only one US athlete who has made a Team throughout the past four years was excluded — Ray Bunker (72 kg, Marines, ’19 World Team). Bunker, who has become one of the US program’s most dominant and popular competitors, does not have Senior placings prior to ’18.
    • Instead of “true third” or “true second” pertaining to Trials placings, these finishes were simply listed as “bronze”.
    • World Championships placings lower than 5th were not considered for inclusion.

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