Day 2 of the 2018 Granma Cup, held in Havana, Cuba, had the potential to be a big one for the Americans if everything broke right. Well, everything didn’t break right, but at the end of it all, there is a champ, two bronze medalists, and a strong team performance to ride home on.
2017 Junior World Champion Kamal Bey (77 kg, Sunkist) marched his way into Sunday’s final by doing what he does best — piling up points in as exciting fashion as possible. That was also the case when it came time to sew up his win this afternoon. Facing off with Ariel Fiz (CUB), he would be forced to wait a little bit before the laser show started — but when it did — the result followed suit.
Bey repeatedly tried zeroing in on the body from the whistle but Fiz did a solid job of knotting up the attempts. Bey didn’t go into retreat mode necessarily, it was more as if he was taking a second to reassess the circumstances. But this allowed Fiz to momentarily control both the center and the pace, along with a healthy dose of the contentious hand-fighting. Therefore, the first passive point and par terre chance went his way. Just as Fiz placed his hands on Bey’s back and the whistle blew, Bey was practically already on his feet. He then clambered into Fiz, locked around his body in a scramble, and took him right to his back. Bey held the position for as long as he could, but Fiz was able to avoid being pinned by reaching his hand between Bey’s legs. The ensuing par terre reset, this time with Bey on top, saw the USA wrestler go for a reverse lift, and then another via pullover while Fiz stayed pasted to the tarp as the first period reached its conclusion.
These things happen fast: Bey hopped out for the second and instantly collected Fiz around the body. He couldn’t get the lift, but it didn’t matter. Instead, Bey slid the position by to cover and immediately converted to a quick gut. And that was that, Bey the winner by tech fall. With the tournament victory, he now collects 15 points as part of UWW’s “Ranking Series.”
Roberts & Radford Grab Bronze
Dalton Roberts (60 kg, NYAC/OTS), with his eyes on his first overseas medal of 2018, and at a ranked event no less, went up 1-0 in the first on Andrej Ginc (GER) via passivity. That wasn’t a big deal. What was, was the tension that slowly began to build between the two combatants. Roberts’ heavy-pressure didn’t endear him very much to Ginc, who wanted to elevate the roughhousing between the two but was caught flat-footed whenever he pressed in too hard. Roberts simply moved him around and out of position on the strength of his style alone, although Ginc wasn’t an unwilling participant, just seeming outgunned on a technical level.
To begin the second period, Ginc stormed forward and Roberts ole’ed him like a bullfighter. Ginc’s momentum was too great, Roberts side-stepped and covered for two more to jump up 3-0. Ginc upped the physicality, no other options were available. Roberts responded in kind and came close on another score when he countered a Ginc arm throw attempt by re-attacking in an instant and almost getting to the body. A clash of heads was attributed to Ginc, giving Roberts a point. Then a point went to Ginc for a head bump, and he waltzed over to the corner to reconcile the situation. When Ginc was ready to wrestle again, he brought some heat with him and hurriedly crashed into Roberts searching a lock of any type. Roberts met the oncoming force and redirected it, causing Ginc to fall to the mat. Roberts hastily covered for two and skated the rest of the way through to secure what was certainly an impressive, hard-earned bronze.
A lot of folks have been waiting for Kevin Radford (87 kg, Sunkist) to win a piece of overseas hardware and he finally did that today. However, it didn’t happen how he likely would have preferred. Opponent Daniel Gregorych (CUB) forfeited out of the bronze medal round, clearing the way for Radford’s first medal outside of America.
Sancho & Kass Look Sharp But Fall Short
For Alex Sancho (67 kg, NYAC), his battle for bronze also meant a rematch with 2015 Pan Am Games gold medalist Wuileixis Rivas (VEN), who clipped the American 7-4 on Saturday. While their return bout wasn’t an exact replica, the result was awfully similar, although Sancho did come close late in the second period. Down 5-2, a caution on Rivas for grabbing the fingers put Sancho within two. After the restart, Sancho weaved his way into an over/under and lunged his lead leg deep into the hold. From there, he ever-so deliberately clasped his hands, set, and launched. However, just as Sancho was creating his action, the referee called for another reset, nullifying what would have been four points. It was just enough time for Rivas to settle back in and when he did, he nailed his own four-point bodylock to increase his lead to 9-3, which is how this one would end.
Maybe there wasn’t much to be expected of Logan Kass (72 kg, NMU/OTS) at an event like this, and maybe there shouldn’t have been. The Granma Cup represented a significant step up for him in terms of competition but he sure managed to put in a solid ledger of work on Saturday to secure his place in the bronze medal round.
He got going quickly on Sunday. Unfortunately, it was over way too fast and not in his favor.
Kass did a great job snuffing out an arm throw and suffocating Anthony Sander (GER) on top to hold position long enough for him to scamper behind for two. Back on their feet and Kass struck again, this time seizing on a lock-tight arm throw himself. Sander had no choice but to hit the deck and Kass raced out in front 4-0. Things were looking good. But upon the restart, a tactical error presented itself. Kass locked over Sander with a front head wrap. There was too much space for his opponent to operate. Because in one motion, Sander dipped right into a bodylock and drove Kass to his back, an excruciating twist. The fall came soon after. Tough loss for Kass and the US, but an overall encouraging performance for the 20-year-old.
Zillmer Drops a Tough One
Hayden Zillmer (Minnesota Storm) has proven that just because he’s down late it doesn’t mean the match is over. Facing off with Monteaqudo Reinier (CUB) for 97-kilogram bronze, an opportunity for some more late-match heroics was available but the dual-style National Team member couldn’t quite punch it through.
The story of this bout revolved around the hand-fighting, as it tends to in most matches where Zillmer is a participant. He and Reinier slugged it out up-close (and at times, from far away) with neither able to come all that close to meaningful scoring chances. Zillmer, as it custom, worked himself into a lather trying to penetrate Reinier’s clutches, only he was not in sole control of the pace or the positioning. The Storm wrestler was banged first for passivity but held his ground on par terre bottom. In the second, he was hit for a caution and then another passive to fall behind 3-0. The entire bout unfolded as physically as you might imagine, complete with a little blood dripping from Zillmer’s bottom lip. Given how scoring offense was largely missing from this affair, it was difficult to picture Zillmer all of the sudden going on a rampage in effort to somehow steal this one at the end. But he tried. With under :30 remaining, Zillmer feinted and darted in for high-dive looks, bulled forward, switched off angles. He even took a shot at a “Flying Squirrel”, which was a sight to see. Ultimately, Reinier stayed out of danger to make it to the final bell holding onto that same 3-0 advantage.
- Bey won all four of his matches via tech, outscoring the opposition 37-6.
- Three of the six US medal contenders on Sunday are also current National Team members (Sancho, Bey, and Zillmer).
- The United States finished in second place behind Cuba, and ahead of Hungary (third) and Germany (fourth).
2018 Granma Cup — Havana, Cuba
TEAM USA FINAL RESULTS
Dalton Roberts (NYAC/OTS) — bronze
LOSS Luis Orta (CUB) 8-0, TF
WON Cristobal Torres (CHI) 7-1
WON Jorge Gonzalez (HON) 10-2, TF
LOSS Javier Dumenigo (CUB) 6-4
WON Andrej Ginc (GER) 6-1
Alex Sancho (NYAC) — 5th
WON Defrion Sambola (HON) 2-1
LOSS Wuileixis Rivas (VEN) 7-4
LOSS Ismael Borrero Molina (CUB) 9-0, TF
LOSS Wuileixis Rivas (VEN) 9-3
Logan Kass (NMU/OTS) — 5th
WON Vincente Fernando (MEX) 12-0, TF
LOSS Balint Korpasi (HUN) 9-0, TF
LOSS Yosvani Pena (CUB) 11-0, TF
LOSS Anthony Sander (GER) via fall
Kamal Bey (Sunkist) — gold
WON Yurisandi Hernandez (CUB) 9-1, TF
WON Juan Angel Escobar (MEX) 8-0, TF
WON Luis Avenolano (VEN) 15-4, TF
WON Ariel Fiz (CUB) 9-1, TF
Ryan Cummings (NMU/OTS) — 7th
LOSS Ariel Fiz (CUB) 8-0, TF
LOSS Luis Gutterez (CUB) 11-0, TF
Kevin Radford (Sunkist) — bronze
LOSS Erik Svilvassy (HUN) 5-0
WON Daniel Greogrych (CUB) via forfeit
Patrick Martinez (NYAC) — 7th
LOSS Geovanis Carreras (CUB) 2-1
Hayden Zillmer (Minnesota Storm) — 5th
WON Enock Francois (NYAC) 5-1
LOSS Gabriel Rosillo (CUB) 10-0, TF
LOSS Monteaqudo Reinier (CUB) 3-0
Micah Burak (TMWC) — 8th
LOSS Pablo Reinier (CUB) 2-0
Enock Francois (NYAC) — 7th
LOSS Hayden Zillmer (Minnesota Storm (5-1)
Nick Boykin (Sunkist) — 7th
LOSS Balint Lam (HUN) 8-0, TF