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The 5 Deepest Rosters & 5 Deepest Weights at the 2020 European Championships

2020 european championships greco-roman preview
Frank Staebler -- Photo: Kadir Caliskan/UWW

Greco-Roman at the 2020 European Championships begins this coming Monday (February 10) from the PalaPellicone outside Rome, Italy — the same venue that just hosted the “Ranking Series” tournament in January. International wrestling fans know the deal: the Euros is one of the most competitively-stacked events each year. It simply has to be that way. The overwhelming majority of powerhouse nations are located in Europe, which by extension also means most of the sport’s best athletes reside on the continent, as well.

That doesn’t mean each and every European Championships is thrilling. This quad alone saw the 2017 Euros come and go with a thud, and last year’s tournament also missed the mark in terms of overall excitement. They can’t all be barnburners, but with Greco always in need of an added boost just to get casuals to watch mere highlights, a tournament like the European Championships never ceases to be looked upon as a cornerstone example of what the sport could and should have to offer at its apex.

The good news is that this is an Olympic Year, and although the European Olympic Games Qualifier is still a month away, the continental championships version is expected to deliver a high number of “name” athletes. Some wrestlers are showing up because it’s their jobs and are compelled to, others because they simply would never dream of sitting out, and more than several are likely interested in sharpening up ahead of next month’s qualifier and/or the Olympic Games itself. Whatever their reasons for participating, top athletes are always the key to ensure that there is a high watchability (or rewatchability) factor.

5&5: 2020 European Championships

The Five Deepest Rosters

Russia is looking for its third consecutive team title after giving up the mantle to Hungary in ’17 (the forced par terre-less season). To be sure, Russia’s roster this year is potent, stocked with several fresh champs from their national tournament last month and some high-profile young talent, but Turkey is just as formidable, and Hungary and Georgia are almost guaranteed to wind up in the running as always — even if both rosters aren’t quite as strong as you might suspect.

Russia (RUS)

55 kg: Vitaliy Kabaloev — 2018 U23 World silver, ’19 European Championships gold
60 kg: Zhambolat Lokaev — 2020 Russian National Champion
63 kg: Ibragim Labazanov — 2016 Olympian, ’07 Junior World silver
67 kg: Nazir Abdullaev — 2020 Russian National Champion
72 kg: Adam Kurak — 2015 World bronze, two-time European Championships gold
77 kg: Islam Opiev — 2019 U23 World Champion, ’18 Junior World Champion
82 kg: Shamil Ozhaev — 2020 Russian National Champion
87 kg: Aleksander Komarov — Multi-time age-group World Champion, two-time Russian National Champion
97 kg: Aleksander Golovin — Two-time U23 World Champion
130 kg: Zurabi Gedehauri — 2018 University World silver, multi-time Russian National medalist

Turkey (TUR)

55 kg: Dogus Ayazci — 2020 Matteo Pellicone Memorial gold
60 kg: Kerem Kamal — Three-time Junior World Champion, ’18 U23 World bronze, ’19 U23 European Championships gold
63 kg: Rahman Bilici — 2018 World bronze, two-time Junior World Champion
67 kg: Enes Basar — 2016 University World Champion, ’18 European Championships bronze, two-time Junior World medalist
72 kg: Selcuk Can — 2020 Matteo Pellicone Memorial silver, ’19 Hungarian Grand Prix bronze
77 kg: Yunus Basar — 2020 Matteo Pellicone Memorial silver, ’19 Zagreb Grand Prix silver
82 kg: Burhan Akbudak — 2018 University World Champion, ’15 Junior World silver, ’19 Pytlasinski Cup gold
87 kg: Metehan Basar — Two-time World Champion, ’17 European Championships silver
97 kg: Cenk Ildem — 2016 Olympic bronze, two-time World bronze
130 kg: Riza Kayaalp — Four-time World Champion, ’16 Olympic silver, ’12 Olympic bronze

Georgia (GEO)

55 kg: Nugzari Tsurtsumia — 2019 World Champion, ’18 U23 World Champion, ’18 World bronze, two-time Junior World medalist
60 kg: Amiran Shavadze — 2018 Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze
63 kg: Levani Kavjaradze — 2019 U23 World silver, ’19 U23 European Championships gold, ’19 European Championships bronze
67 kg: Giorgi Shotadze — 2019 Junior World Champion, ’16 Cadet World Champion
72 kg: Iuri Lomadze — 2017 Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze
77 kg: Demur Kavtaradze — 2019 Vehbi Emre silver
82 kg: Lasha Gobadze — 2019 World Champion, ’15 World bronze, ’17 U23 World silver, ’19 European Championships silver
87 kg: Tornike Dzamashvili — 2012 Junior World silver, ’17 Takhti Cup silver
97 kg: Revaz Nadarishvili — 2017 World bronze, ’11 Junior World Champion, ’16 Olympian
130 kg: Levan Arabuli — 2017 European Championships bronze, ’17 Pytlasinski Cup gold

Armenia (ARM)

55 kg: Rudik Mkrtchyan — 2011 Junior World bronze, ’18 Military World gold
60 kg: Gevorg Gharibyan — 2019 Pytlasinski Cup bronze
63 kg: Sahak Hovhannisyan — 2019 Junior World silver
67 kg: Karen Aslanyan — 2013 Junior World Champion, ’14 Junior World silver, ’19 European Championships bronze
72 kg: Malkhas Amoyan — 2018 Junior World Champion, ’17 Junior World silver, ’19 Pytlasinski Cup gold
77 kg: Karapet Chalyan — 2013 Junior World Champion, ’14 Military World gold, ’19 European Games silver
82 kg: Ruben Gharibyan — 2020 Henri Deglane bronze
87 kg: Maksim Manukyan — 2017 World Champion, two-time World bronze, ’18 European Championships gold
97 kg: Artur Aleksanyan — Three-time World Champion, ’16 Olympic Champion, two-time World silver, four-time European Championships gold
130 kg: David Ovasapyan — 2019 U23 World bronze, ’18 Junior World silver

Hungary (HUN)

60 kg: Krisztian Kecskemeti — 2018 Zagreb Grand Prix bronze
63 kg: Erik Torba — 2015 Junior World bronze, ’19 European Games silver
67 kg: Krisztian Vancza — 2018 Junior World bronze, ’18 Hungarian Grand Prix bronze
72 kg: Robert Fritsch — Two-time University World bronze, ’19 Zagreb Grand Prix gold
77 kg: Zoltan Levai — Three-time Junior World bronze, two-time U23 European Championships gold
82 kg: Laszlo Szabo — 2016 World bronze, ’12 University World silver, ’16 European Championships bronze
87 kg: Viktor Lorincz — 2019 World silver, two-time World bronze, ’17 European Championships gold, ’19 Military World gold
97 kg: Alex Szoeke — 2016 Cadet World Champion
130 kg: Adam Varga — Two-time Hungarian Grand Prix bronze

The Five Deepest Weight Categories

As expected, 77 kilograms is going to run the show, but what didn’t seem likely was the idea of a non-Olympic weight in line to potentially steal some thunder, and that’s exactly what could happen at 72 kilos. Three-time World Champion Frank Staebler (GER) is back north of 67 for this tournament, as are ’16 Olympic champ Davor Stefanek (SRB) and Dominik Etlinger (CRO), who pasted ’17 World runner-up Mateusz Bernatek (POL) again in January at Thor Masters. ’15 World bronze Adam Kurak (RUS) is a 72-kilogram mainstay, so there are ingredients for solid quarter and semifinal action in this weight class. 87 kilos isn’t the type of weight where the scoreboard is going to constantly light up, but there are just way too many heavy-hitters involved for it to not make the list.

77 kg

A bracket that includes the likes of Viktor Nemes (SRB), Alex Kessidis (SWE), Karapet Chalyan (ARM) — as well as Russia’s young star Islam Opiev and an up-in-weight Aik Mnatsakanian (BUL) makes this the tournament’s equivalent of an All Star showcase. Pascal Eisele (GER) and Daniel Cataraga (MDA) could be big factors here also depending on the draw.

— Total Senior World/Olympic medals combined: 7
— Prior World/Olympic Champions: 1 (Nemes — ’17 Worlds)
— Total number of entrants: 27

Karapet Chalyan (ARM) 2013 Junior World Champion, ’14 Military World gold, ’19 European Games silver
Sanan Suleymanov (AZE) 2019 U23 World silver, ’12 Cadet World bronze
Pavel Liakh (BLR) 2016 University World Champion, ’17 European Championships silver
Aik Mnatsakanian (BUL) Two-time World bronze, ’19 European Championships bronze
Pavel Puklavec (CRO) 2019 Junior European Championships bronze
Oldrich Varga (CZE)
Ranet Kaljola (EST)
Tero Halmesmaeki (FIN) 2018 Military World bronze, ’20 Herman Kare gold
Evrik Nikoghosyan (FRA) Two-time Tbilisi Grand Prix silver
Demur Kavtaradze (GEO) — 2019 Vehbi Emre silver
Pascal Eisele (GER) 2017 World bronze, ’16 European Championships gold
Georgios Prevolarakis (GRE)
Zoltan Levai (HUN) Three-time Junior World bronze, two-time U23 European Championships gold
Roman Zhernovetski (ISR) 2018 Grand Prix of Spain bronze
Matteo Maffezzoli (ITA)
Paulius Galkinas (LTU) Three-time Herman Kare bronze
Daniel Cataraga (MDA) 2016 World silver, two-time U23 World Champion, ’18 European Championships bronze, two-time U23 European Championships gold
Marcel Sterkenburg (NED)
Per Anders Kure (NOR) 2018 Junior World bronze
Edgar Babayan (POL) 2016 European Championships silver, ’18 Nikola Petrov gold
Islam Opiev (RUS) 2019 U23 World Champion, ’18 Junior World Champion
Viktor Nemes (SRB) 2017 World Champion, ’18 World bronze, ’15 U23 European Championships gold, three-time European Championships medalist
Nicolas Christen (SUI)
Denis Horvath (SVK)
Alex Kessidis (SWE) 2019 World silver, ’17 U23 European Championships gold, ’19 European Games bronze
Yunus Basar (TUR) 2020 Matteo Pellicone Memorial silver, ’19 Zagreb Grand Prix silver
Vladmir Yakovlev (UKR) 2019 Hungarian Grand Prix bronze

viktor nemes, 2020 european championships

Viktor Nemes is one of seven athletes set to appear at the 2020 European Championships who has a World (or Olympic) title to their credit. (Photo: Martin Gabor)

87 kg

Although not as huge numbers-wise as 77 kilos, 87 might be even stronger due to its top-heavy nature. Everyone will look to Maksim Manukyan (ARM), Metahan Basar (TUR), and Viktor Lorincz (HUN), and rightfully so. But there are a couple of others here — like Aleksander Komarov (RUS) and Islam Abbasov (AZE) — who are absolutely capable of owning the storyline.

— Total Senior World/Olympic medals combined: 8
— Prior World/Olympic Champions: 2 (Manukyan — ’17 Worlds; Basar — ’17 & ’18 Worlds)
— Total number of entrants: 20

Maksim Manukyan (ARM) 2017 World Champion, two-time World bronze, ’18 European Championships gold
Islam Abbasov (AZE) Two-time U23 World bronze, ’14 Junior World Champion, two-time Cadet World Champion, ’15 Junior World silver, ’19 European Championships silver, ’19 European Games silver
Kiryl Maskevich (BLR) 2019 U23 World bronze
Tarek Abdelslam Sheble Mohamed (BUL) 2017 European Championships gold
Vjekoslav Luburic (CRO) 2019 U23 World silver, ’16 Junior World silver
Petr Movak (CZE)
Jesus Gasca Fresneda (ESP)
Erik Int (EST)
Tornike Dzamashvili (GEO) 2012 Junior World silver, ’17 Takhti Cup silver
Viktor Lorincz (HUN) 2019 World silver, two-time World bronze, ’17 European Championships gold, ’19 Military World gold
Mirco Minguzzi (ITA)
Eividas Stankevicius (LTU)
Arkadiusz Marcin Kulynycz (POL) 2014 University World bronze, ’11 Junior World bronze, ’19 European Games bronze
Aleksander Komarov — Multi-time age-group World Champion, two-time Russian National Champion
Nikolaj Dobrev (SRB)
Zurabi Datunashvili (SRB) 2011 Junior World silver, two-time European Championships gold
Ramon Betschart (SUI)
Emil Sandahl (SWE)
Metehan Basar (TUR) Two-time World Champion, ’17 European Championships silver
Semyon Novikov (UKR) Two-time U23 World Champion

72 kg

Staebler and ’16 Olympic/’14 World champ Davor Stefanek (SRB) are the unquestioned headliners, especially since both are ticketed for 67 in terms of their Olympic aspirations. Dominik Etlinger (CRO) — who is the subject of an upcoming profile piece on this platform — was back down at 67 for the first time in four years at Thor Masters, and should be a major antagonist in Rome. Kurak is so experienced at this stage of his career, specifically when it comes to this weight class, that for he to wind up not contending somehow, some way, would be a minor upset in and of itself.

— Total Senior World/Olympic medals combined: 9
— Prior World/Olympic Champions: 2 (Stefanek — ’14 Worlds, ’16 Olympics; Staebler — ’15, ’17, & ’18 Worlds)
— Total number of entrants: 22

Malkhas Amoyan (ARM)– 2018 Junior World Champion, ’17 Junior World silver, ’19 Pytlasinski Cup gold
Christoph Burger (AUT)
Ulvi Ganizade (AZE) 2019 Junior World silver, ’19 World Military silver
Agron Sadikaj (BIH)
Yury Kankov (BLR)
Stoyan Kubatov (BUL) 2019 U23 European Championships bronze
Dominik Etlinger (CRO) 2010 Junior World silver, ’12 Junior World bronze, ’15 European Championships silver, ’19 European Championships bronze, ’15 European Games bronze
Mikko Peltokangas (FIN) Two-time Herman Kare gold
Ibrahim Mahmoud Ghanem (FRA)
Iuri Lomadze (GEO) 2017 Tbilisi Grand Prix bronze
Frank Staebler (GER) Three-time World Champion, ’13 European Championships gold, ’14 European Championships bronze
Petros Manouilidis (GRE)
Robert Fritsch (HUN) Two-time University World bronze, ’19 Zagreb Grand Prix gold
Riccardo Glave (ITA)
Valentin Petic (MDA) 2019 U23 World bronze, ’19 Junior World bronze
Juan Sebastian Aak (NOR)
Mateusz Bernatek (POL) 2017 World silver, ’16 U23 European Championships gold
Adam Kurak (RUS) 2015 World bronze, two-time European Championships gold
Davor Stefanek (SRB) 2016 Olympic Champion, ’14 World Champion, ’18 World silver, ’15 World bronze, multi-time European Championships medalist
Leos Drmola (SVK)
Selcuk Can (TUR) 2020 Matteo Pellicone Memorial silver, ’19 Hungarian Grand Prix bronze
Andrii Kulyk (UKR)

97 kg

The 2020 European Championships give way to another go-round for Artur Aleksanyan (ARM), who owns four titles from this event and remains one of Greco’s most familiar athletes worldwide. Aleksanyan aside this is a very decorated bracket with Kirl Milov (BUL), Mikhail Kajaia (SRB), Cenk Ildem (TUR), and 37-year-old Melonin Noumonvi (FRA) still trucking along. Aleksander Golovin (RUS) destroyed Noumonvi at the European Games last June, was edged by Aleksanyan, and then controlled Revaz Nadarishvili (GEO) for bronze. With Musa Evloev pretty much set for Tokyo, look for Golovin to try and make the most of this opportunity.

— Total Senior World/Olympic medals combined: 16
— Prior World/Olympic Champions: 2 (Aleksanyan — ’14, ’15’ & ’17 Worlds, ’16 Olympics; Noumonvi — ’14 Worlds)
— Total number of entrants: 19

Artur Aleksanyan (ARM) Three-time World Champion, ’16 Olympic Champion, two-time World silver, ’12 Olympic bronze, four-time European Championships gold
Markus Ragginger (AUT) 2018 Junior World silver, three-time Cadet World medalist
Orkhan Nuriev (AZE) 2014 Junior World Champion, ’13 Junior World bronze, ’17 U23 European Championships gold
Dmitry Kaminski (BLR) 2019 U23 World bronze
Kiril Milov (BUL) 2018 World silver, ’19 European Championships silver
Artur Omarov (CZE)
Matti Kuosmanen (FIN) 2017 U23 World silver, ’11 Cadet World Champion, two-time European Championships bronze, ’17 U23 European Championships silver
Mélonin Noumonvi (FRA) 2014 World Champion, ’09 World silver, two-time Olympian, four-time European Championships bronze
Revaz Nadarishvili (GEO) 2017 World bronze, ’11 Junior World Champion, ’16 Olympian
Anestis Zarifes (GRE)
Alex Szoeke — 2016 Cadet World Champion
Nikoloz Kakhelashvili (ITA) 2015 Junior World Champion, two-time Matteo Pellicone gold
Vilius Laurinaitis (LTU) Two-time Military World silver
Tadeusz Michalik (POL) 2014 University World bronze, ’16 European Championships bronze
Aleksander Golovin — Two-time U23 World Champion
Mihail Kajaia (SRB) Two-time World bronze
Damian Von Euw (SUI) 2018 Military World silver
Cenk Ildem (TUR) 2016 Olympic bronze, two-time World bronze
Aleksandr Shyshman (UKR) Two-time Military World gold, multi-time Military World medalist, ’08 Junior World bronze

artur aleksanyan, 2020 european championships

Few active Greco-Roman athletes sport resumes that are even remotely comparable to Artur Aleksanyan’s, and he is still only 28-years-old. However, this year he will be looking to break a two-year slide at World-level events. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

67 kg

67 kilograms doesn’t jump off the page the way the other weights do if the conversation focuses solely on how many medals are shared among the lot. What you’re looking for mostly out of this bracket are just constant dynamic attacks courtesy of a mix between established vets and super-gifted up-and-comers. Georgia giving the ball to Giorgi Shotadze is an example of the latter, and he can be a freak from par terre top. On the flipside, you have a guy like Mate Nemes (SRB), who has been right at the cusp for a while before finally earning a medal this past September. Then there is Karen Aslanyan (ARM), who hasn’t had a ton of opportunities but is maybe the most solid athlete here overall. In Tokyo, 67 is going to be a marquee bracket. In Rome, it’s mostly for the hardcores, and that’s just fine.

— Total Senior World/Olympic medals combined: 1
— Total number of entrants: 25

Karen Aslanyan (ARM) 2013 Junior World Champion, ’14 Junior World silver, ’19 European Championships bronze
Aker Al Obaidi (AUT)
Islambek Dadov (AZE) 2016 Junior World bronze
Aliaksandr Liavonchyk (BLR) 2019 U23 World silver
Deyvid Dimitrov (BUL) 2017 Nikola Petrov bronze
Daniel Janecic (CRO) 2017 Hungarian Grand Prix gold
Ott Saar (EST)
Elmer Mattila (FIN)
Yasin Ozay (FRA) 2014 Junior World bronze
Giorgi Shotadze (GEO) 2019 Junior World Champion, ’16 Cadet World Champion
Witalis Lazovski (GER)
Manrikos Theodoridis (GRE)
Krisztian Vancza (HUN) 2018 Junior World bronze, ’18 Hungarian Grand Prix bronze
Ignazio Sanfilippo (ITA)
Aleksandrs Jurkjans (LAT)
Kristupas Sleiva (LTU) 2016 Military World bronze
Donior Islamov (MDA) 2014 University World Champion, two-time European Championships bronze
Morten Thoresen (NOR) 2018 U23 European Championships bronze
Roman Pacurkowski (POL) 2017 U23 European Championships gold, ’18 U23 European Championships bronze
Nazir Abdullaev (RUS) 2020 Russian National Champion
Mate Nemes (SRB) 2019 World bronze, ’19 European Games bronze, ’16 U23 European Championships bronze
Andreas Vetsch (SUI)
Oskar Erlandsson (SWE)
Enes Basar (TUR) 2016 University World Champion, ’18 European Championships bronze, two-time Junior World medalist
Denys Demyankov (UKR) Two-time Military World bronze

The 2020 European Championships begin Monday, February 10 at 11:30am local time from Rome, Italy (5:30am ET) and can be viewed live in the US on Trackwrestling (subscription required).  

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