Both Poland and Croatia have recently held their respective Senior national tournaments with designs on doing the same for the Junior age-group in short order. But only one of the two countries is still on board with that plan.
This coming weekend in the city of Poznań, Poland will indeed move forward with their Junior nationals for Greco-Roman. Beginning on Friday, the event will observe the now-standard two-day format and feature competition in all ten weight categories. In 2019, Poland finished 12th at the Junior World Championships behind the fifth-place efforts of Kamill Czarnecki (63 kg) and Gerard Kurniczak (97 kg). Czarnecki fell in dramatic fashion to America’s Alston Nutter (Sunkist/NTS) for bronze, while Kurniczak was downed by Uladzislau Pustashylau of Belarus in his third-place bout.
Croatia’s own Junior event was set to take place this past weekend but was officially postponed on Thursday (i.e., two days prior) “due to the extremely unfavorable epidemiological situation and the sharp increase in the number of infected”, as according to the Croatian Wrestling Federation’s statement on the matter. Perhaps not-so-coincidentally, last week in an interview on this platform, Dominik Etlinger (67 kg, CRO) shared similar information pertaining to a climb in COVID-19 cases in and around his home city of Zagreb, which had resulted in the decision to not permit fans in the arena during the forthcoming Grand Prix Zagreb Open set for next weekend in the capital.
The US Program’s Age-Group Concerns
Friday, November 13 will usher in the United States’ Junior and U23 Nationals live from the CenturyLink Center in Omaha, NE (streaming on FLOWrestling, subscription required). As of now, everything is still in motion and on schedule.
Currently, registrations for both age-groups are not exactly booming, though as we have seen, sign-ups tend to arrive in bunches. In total, 28 athletes have registered for Greco-Roman (21 for JR, seven for U23). Several are familiar Greco names for the US program, including 2019 U23 World Team member Lenny Merkin (67 kg, NYAC, 5PM #13), who placed third at the 2020 US Nationals earlier this month. Also checking in for U23 is Noah Wachsmuth (EAP), a growing athlete who has amassed an impressive body of work overseas at what is still a very young stage in his career.
On the Junior side, ’19 Fargo Junior National champ Billy Sullivan (LOG) has signed on for action at 55 kilograms. One weight class up is Payton Jacobson (Topper WC). Like Wachsmuth, both Sullivan and Jacobson are well-traveled youths. Jacobson in particular put in a lot of time internationally last season and came away with three impressive gold medals.