When a wrestler gets a big win prior to the finals, at any tournament, the one thing they try to avoid is a letdown the rest of the way. After earning the biggest individual victory of his career thus far, that is the exact kind of trap 2018 World Team member G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg, Sunkist) wanted to bypass. Not only did Hancock manage to dodge a less-than-stellar follow-up to yesterday’s dismantling of multiple-time World champ Artur Aleksanyan (ARM, world no. 5), from this point on he is now to be considered a legitimate candidate for a much grander accomplishment next month in Budapest.
The final round of the 2018 Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Memorial in Warsaw, Poland took place this afternoon and aired live in the US on Trackwrestling.
Hancock, 21, set to do business in the 97-kilogram final opposite 2016 Olympian/2017 European Championships bronze medalist Nikolai Bayryakov (BUL), had over 24 hours to digest his brisk drubbing of Aleksanyan, thus making getting a gauge of his approach early on all the more pressing. Would some of the steam from Friday afternoon be missing? Would he demonstrate the same patient yet impassioned aggression that led to his destruction of the big, bad Armenian?
Yes, and yes.
Hancock confidently charged in to find his tie-ups from the whistle, repeatedly putting Bayryakov on his heels. Despite Bayryakov’s shorter stature, Hancock did not experience too much difficulty prodding between the arms. Eventually, he was awarded with the first passivity point of the bout and capitalized by securing a gutwrench and rolling Bayryakov over for a pair of points to jump ahead 3-0.
The beginnings of the second period were similar to the first. Hancock went to work in the trenches, moving Bayryakov around the tarp. But — even with the American clearly owning the tempo, you still anticipated a phantom passivity call that could potentially disrupt the flow. That didn’t happen. Instead, it was Hancock who was justly rewarded for his output, receiving another opportunity from par terre top. After rustling the Bulgarian forward by his hunches, Hancock went to a front headlock and torqued Bayryakov for a turn and a 6-0 lead.
Back on the feet and Hancock was still coming forward. He wasn’t even breathing heavy. And when Bayryakov fought back on an exchange near the boundary, Hancock was there to pressure his adversary out for another point.
The match was reaching its ebb, the energy from Bayryakov waning enough to suggest resignation. Hancock, without once ceasing command of the contest from the first whistle to the last, reigned supreme 7-0 to secure one of the more impressive — and revealing — tournament victories of his still-young career.
Hancock might not be the only US Greco athlete returning home with a medal. Joe Rau (87 kg, Chicago RTC), who was defeated earlier this morning in the round-of-16 by Oleksander Shyshman (UKR), has another chance at making the podium. That’s because after Shyshman got past Rau he advanced to the final, turning back Tadeusz Michalik (POL) and Junje Na (CHN), respectively. As such, the Chicagoan will go up against Michalik in the repechage round bright and early Sunday. It has been a while, but there is a little history between these two: Rau faced Michalik in the first round of the 2014 University World Championships in what was a one-sided victory for the Polish wrestler.
- Hancock’s closest match in Poland came via 3-2 decision in the round-of-16 against 2015 Junior World Champion Nikoloz Kakhelashvili (ITA). Counting the four points he received on the sag bodylock that led to Aleksanyan’s demise, Hancock outscored his next three opponents 20-0 with a tech and a pin.
- Hancock’s gold at the Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Memorial represents his sixth Senior international tournament title.
2018 Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Memorial
Warsaw, Poland — September 7th-9th
TEAM USA DAY 2 RESULTS
97 kg — G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist)
WON Nikolai Bayryakov (BUL) 7-0
77 kg — Brandon Mueller (Air Force/WCAP)
LOSS Oleksander Kukhta (UKR) via fall
87 kg — Joe Rau (Chicago RTC)
LOSS Oleksander Shyshman (UKR) 4-1
TEAM USA DAY 3 DRAWS
87 kg — Joe Rau (Chicago RTC)
vs. Tadeusz Michalik (POL)