Fun couple of days it must have been in Salvador da Bahia, Brazil, no?
Team USA was all set to get to work Friday morning at the 2017 Greco-Roman Pan Am Championships before a fire in the inside of the Pan American Judo Center initially cut the event short. From a distance it seemed like madness. For those of us who weren’t actually in the building, the last thing we saw was Hayden Tuma (66 kg, Army/WCAP) just walking off the mat following his defeat to Gorge Nick Gonzalez Batis of Honduras and then all of the sudden the feed from Trackwrestling became choppy. It got crazier from there. Eventually, the arena was emptied, teams congregated outside, and soon enough, delegations were shuffled back to the hotel. There was never really a doubt that the show would go on — it had to, what with the Continental Championships holding significance related to the World Championships in August. But wow. Quite the chaos.
Everything was under control bright and early Saturday morning when action resumed. Ben Provisor (NYAC) was the first to go on the second attempt to get this thing in, running over Jose Antonio Moreno Bustos (CHI) 11-0. One by one, the wins started coming in. Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm), Cheney Haight (NYAC), and G’Angelo Hancock (NYAC, world no. 19) all picked up wins in their first bouts, important especially considering all four are current US World Team members and placing in this event was naturally a good idea. Robby Smith (NYAC, world no. 20) got back on track later on, as well.
At the end of it all, the US had three champions — Pat Smith, Haight, and Provisor — and two bronze medals — Hancock and Robby Smith. The lighter Smith was a high energy wrecking machine picking up his third straight Pan Am Championships gold and Mr. Haight kept right up with him. Both athletes tech’ed their two matches to win outright. For Haight, it was his second-consecutive Pan Am title. Robby Smith and Hancock also delivered tech fall wins in their third-place bouts.
Team USA won the 2017 Greco-Roman Pan Am Championships with 59 points. Cuba finished second with 49 and host country Brazil placed third with 47.
2017 European Championships
2007 World bronze medalist Kristijan Fris (SRB, world no. 20) is going to see his ranking skyrocket after his surprise win at 59 kilograms. Fris has remained a tough customer but the results have been sporadic in recent years. There wasn’t a whole lot missing from his game over the weekend. He squeaked by Ivan Lizatovic (CRO, world no. 15) in the semis and then defeated 2013 World Champion Ivo Angelov (BUL) in the finals 3-1. Angelov himself had fallen off the radar a little bit after failing to qualify for the Rio Olympics last year, so he is also now back in the consciousness somewhat.
2015 World bronze medalist Artem Surkov (RUS) was the hottest wrestler on the planet at 66 kilograms coming into the 2017 European Championships and it stayed that way afterwards. Surkov, who currently occupies the sixth spot in United World Wrestling’s rankings, laid a profound beating on 2016 Olympic Champion Davor Stefanek (SRB, world no. 1) in the finals via a 12-1 tech. Two-time Olympian and 2016 European Championships gold medalist Zurabi Datunashvili (GEO, world no. 3) survived a rough bottom part of the bracket to secure his second straight title with a 4-2 win over Radzik Kuliyeu (BLR) in the finals. American fans should remember Datunashvili — he’s the one who was practically gifted a win versus John Stefanowicz (80 kg, Marines) back in March at the Hungarian Grand Prix.
But when it comes to surviving a hellacious side of a bracket, no one beats Felix Baldauf (NOR, world no. 12). Melnikov, Aleksanyan, Timchenko, a multitude comprised of World and Olympic medals…it doesn’t get a whole lot deeper than that. Still, Baldauf emerged by grinding out a 2-2 criteria win over Aleksanyan in the quarters before jumping over Timchenko via another criteria win in the semifinals 7-7. The Norwegian iced the deal in the finals against Aliaksandr Hrabovik (BLR, world no. 5) 2-1.
2017 European Championships Finals Results
59 kg: Kritijan Fris (SRB) def. Ivo Angelov (BUL) 3-1
66 kg: Artem Surkov (RUS) def. Davor Stefanek (SRB) 12-1, TF
71 kg: Balint Korpasi (HUN) def. Pavel Liakh (BLR) 4-0
75 kg: Tarek Abdelslam Moh (BUL) def. Chingiz Labazanov (RUS) 4-1
80 kg: Zurabi Datunashvili (GEO) def. Radzik Kuliyeu (BLR) 4-2
85 kg: Viktor Lorincz (HUN) def. Metehan Basar (TUR) 3-2
98 kg: Felix Baldauf (NOR) def. Aliaksandr Hrabovik (BLR) 2-1
130 kg: Riza Kayaalp (TUR) def. Balint Lam (HUN) 4-3
Let’s just call it WCAP week
The in-demand Mason Manville (75 kg, Army/WCAP) interview just went live today and we’ve got two more WCAP stars following up — Lucas Sheridan (85 kg) and 2017 World Team member (among many other credentials) Ellis Coleman (66 kg). The Army/WCAP program consistent puts out many of the best Greco-Roman wrestlers in the country and they all deserve to be heard. Athletes like these not only have interesting perspectives, but also, poignant stories to tell that could help inspire others in the sport. It’s a well-deserved spotlight. Start with Manville since he’s up first and check out what the new World Team member has to say about his remarkable day in Vegas two weekends ago as well as how he translates the other two styles to Greco. Engrossing stuff.
What’s coming up here
- Oh, you know there has to be a Coach Lindland’s Report after this weekend’s drama, so expect one.
- We recorded the latest episode of “The Five Point Move Podcast” and that should also be up this week.
- The aforementioned WCAP interviews.
- Scouting reports on the recruits thus far for Williams Baptist College’s Greco program.
- You can always practice your arches when you throw out the garbage or toss laundry in the washer. Remember that.