USA Greco

Mission Success: USA Wins 2018 Haparanda Cup (8 MEDALS!)

patrick smith, 71 kg, 2017 greco world championships
Patrick Smith -- Photo: Richard Immel

For the second week in a row, the US is leaving an overseas tournament with a lot of hardware.

Behind eight medalists, including silvers from Colton Rasche (63 kg, Marines), Jamel Johnson (67 kg, Marines), and Joe Rau (87 kg, Chicago RTC), Team USA’s Seniors broke through at the 2018 Haparanda Cup to come away with the overall team title.

IMPORTANT: Between last weekend’s excursion in Russia and what unfolded earlier today in Haparanda, Sweden, that puts the total number of American medals earned on the current European tour at 14 with one event still left on the calendar, next weekend’s Haavisto Cup in Finland.

Rasche and NMU’s Rafaelle Masi were part of a three-man round-robin 63-kilo bracket. Both athletes fell to Alexander Bica (SWE) via tech — and Rasche downed Masi in the third round to lock up second place.

Johnson & Rau

With his performance today, Johnson picked up his second overseas silver of the year, yet one more Marine who continues to tack on relevant matches as his career continues to progress. Two tech wins guided Johnson into the final opposite 2015 Cadet World bronze Havard Jorgensen (NOR) where he was turned back 5-0.

Afterwards, Johnson was pleased with some aspects of how he competed in Sweden. He was satisfied with the fact that he attempted to break out a few new offensive wrinkles and he likes the fact that there is a level of consistency in which he is approaching competition. All that being said, Johnson wants to be able to close out tournaments when he has the chance and feels that he’s on the right track to do so.

“You always want to be standing at the top of the podium, but it was a decent tournament,” he relayed following the event. “I put forth a great effort. I tried things I probably shouldn’t have, but you don’t know until you try them, right? I learned a lot about myself and what I need to work on going forward from here.

“Always placing makes you somewhat happy, because traveling overseas and getting nothing is sometimes even worse, you know? But it really hurts not to get gold. I’ve been overseas a couple times now and I haven’t closed the deal. I believe I am getting closer and I just have to stay the path and keep believing in the process. I have to continue to do that.”

Last weekend in Russia, Rau advanced to the finals on the strength of three tech falls only to win the tournament outright via forfeit. Today was a different story. The popular Chicagoan began his day with a tech over NMU frosh and top prospect Tommy Brackett and shut out Duguchiev Movsar (RUS) 4-0. In the battle for gold against 2011 World bronze Rami Heitaniemi (FIN), Rau was leading 2-1 late in the second period when Heitaniemi began to come on hard. That caused Rau to have to fend off his opponent’s charges, normal protocol when a bout is in the midst of its waning seconds. But just as it seemed like Rau was about to secure his second-straight gold, he was inexplicably penalized for fleeing, giving Heitaniemi two points — and a controversial 3-2 decision.

Parade of Bronze Medalists

Three of the country’s most high-profile competitors were also in action, and all three recovered to punch out bronze. 2017 World Team member Patrick Smith (77 kg, Minnesota Storm) and ’18 National Champion Daniel Miller (97 kg, Marines) both took third last week and did so again on Saturday. Competing for the first time since the World Team Trials was two-time National Team member John Stefanowicz (82 kg, Marines), who fell to Junior World Champion Alex Komarov (RUS) 6-5 before grinding past Oskar Johansson (SWE) 2-1 in the bronze medal bout.

Smith banged out a first-round tech over Iiro Piippo (FIN), dropped his second bout to now-two-time Haparanda Cup gold Ivan Chernov (RUS), and defeated US teammate Michael Donato (NMU/OTS) to seal up bronze. The proceedings today resulted in Smith’s second consecutive overseas medal. Last season, the Storm mainstay went snake eyes overseas, so his getting up and running right away thus far is a good sign that things are once again beginning to click.

“I felt good today,” Smith said. “In the semis I got thrown a couple of times being a little over aggressive in positions. Everything starts with solid position. I need to put full matches together to give myself a chance to win bigger matches.

“Overall, the team performance is moving in the right direction. Eight medals is great. We need to continue push more into the finals and win the close ones. I think overall we learned today as a team not to expect calls to go our way, and we need to find a way to win regardless.”

Notes:

  • As mentioned on Monday, the last time the US entered the Haparanda Cup in full force they won the team title. History repeated itself on Saturday, six years later.
  • Marine heavyweight Trent Osnes earned his gold without having a match.
  • Four US victories over foreign opponents were realized via tech.

TEAM USA RESULTS

63 kg

Colton Rasche (Marines) — silver
LOSS Alex Bica (SWE) 9-0, TF
WON Raffaele Masi (NMU/OTS) 8-0, TF

Rafaelle Masi (NMU/OTS) — bronze
LOSS Alex Bica (SWE) 9-0, TF
LOSS Colton Rasche (Marines) 8-0, TF

67 kg

Jamel Johnson (Marines) — silver
WON Gustav Dahl (SWE) 9-0, TF
WON Denis Bolunov (EST) 9-0, TF
LOSS Havard Jorgensen (NOR) 5-0

Morgan Flaharty (NYAC) — 5th
LOSS Havard Jorgensen (NOR) 9-0, TF

72 kg

Colby Baker (NMU/OTS) — 5th
LOSS Akseli Yli-Hannuksela (FIN) 8-0, TF
LOSS Vlasdyslav Kravchenko (UKR) 8-0, TF

Ray Bunker (Marines) — 8th
LOSS Artem Gerosimenko (RUS) 10-4

77 kg

Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm) — bronze
WON Iiro Pippo (FIN) 9-1, TF
LOSS Ivan Chernov (RUS) 10-1, TF
WON Michael Donato (NMU/OTS) 9-0, TF

Mike Donato (NMU/OTS) — 5th
LOSS Ivan Chernov (RUS) 9-0, TF
LOSS Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm)  9-0, TF

Peyton Walsh (Marines) — 8th
LOSS Roni Purolainen (FIN) 9-0, TF

82 kg

John Stefanowicz (Marines) — bronze
LOSS Alex Komarov (RUS) 6-5
WON Oskar Johansson (SWE) 2-1

Terrence Zaleski (Marines) — 7th
LOSS Otto Ketonen (FIN) 9-5

Spencer Woods (NMU/OTS) — 9th
LOSS Otto Ketonen (FIN) via fall

87 kg

Joe Rau (Chicago RTC) — silver
WON Tommy Brackett (NMU/OTS) 8-0, TF
WON Movsar Duguchiev (RUS) 4-0
LOSS Rami Hietaniemi (FIN) 3-2

Tommy Brackett (NMU/OTS) — 5th
LOSS Joe Rau (Chicago RTC) 8-0, TF
LOSS Movsar Duguchiev (RUS) 4-0

Keaton Fanning (NMU/OTS) — 7th
LOSS Movsar Duguchiev (RUS) 5-0

Barrett Stanghill (Minnesota Storm/OTS) — 8th
WON Arttu-Petteri Klami (FIN) 9-0, TF
LOSS Erik Int (EST) 3-2

97 kg

Daniel Miller (Marines) — bronze
LOSS Maksim Safaryan (RUS) via fall
WON Pontus Lund (SWE) via fall

Eric Twohey (Minnesota Storm) — 9th
LOSS Kalle Persson (SWE) 4-0

130 kg

Trent Osnes (Marines) — gold
*uncontested

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