Underestimate Dalton Roberts (NMU-OTS) at your own peril.
The 20-year old from Fowlerville, Michigan went 3-1 at the 2016 Arvo Haavisto Tournament to pick up a well-earned international Senior level medal. Roberts did not get out to a fast start though, losing his first bout in his 59 kilogram round-robin bracket to Russian prospect Radion Somatov via technical fall. But after that, it was the American who would go on a tech-fall binge of his own, ousting three consecutive opponents by a combined score of 26-1.
Roberts, who picked up a gold at the Eduardo Campbell Cup in Panama earlier last month, had come ever closer to breaking through at other events since. He put forth a good showing at the Bill Farrell/NYAC Open two weeks ago and just missed out on a medal last week at the prestigious Vantaa Cup. The Haavisto Cup was the last event on the US’s calendar for the Finland tour and Roberts made it count. Following his loss to Somatov, he dispatched of Helary Mägisalu (EST) 8-0; next was Jusso Latvala (FIN) 9-1; and then Lauri Karjalainen (Perhon Kiri, FIN) 9-0. By virtue of going undefeated in the bracket, Somatov picked up gold with Roberts nailing down the silver.
Ryan Hope (Cliff Keen WC, 85 kg) had an impressive Vantaa Cup performance last weekend but was unable to repeat with another medal. Hope carried a narrow 3-1 decision over Alexander Stjepanetic (SWE) in his first bout to get things moving. He lost in the quarterfinals to Lithuanian World Team member Julius Matuzevicius 9-0, but since Matuzevicius made the final, it gave Hope another shot. Unfortunately, this time around Hope was on the wrong end of a 3-1 score against 2015 Junior European Championships bronze medalist Ivan Huklek (CRO).
At 66 kilos, Travis Rice (NMU-OTS) was forced to attempt to navigate through the deepest bracket of the three US Greco wrestlers. In a field of 19 athletes, Rice was matched up with Mikko Peltokangas (FIN). Peltokangas earned a bronze medal at last week’s Vantaa Cup along with this year’s Junior Nordic title, so Rice had his work cut out for him right away — not a bad thing. Rice, who until last weekend had been out of action since the spring, couldn’t quite get his sea legs underneath and was defeated via tech 9-0. Peltokangas lost to French University World Team member Mamadassa Sylla in the quarterfinals to officially end Rice’s day.
All three US wrestlers will now head home following the two week stay in Finland, which included a training camp to go along with the pair of events. And all three are expected to compete at next month’s US Nationals in Las Vegas. For these athletes, this was an important tour to fully kickstart their respective seasons and with two competitive international tournaments out of the way, the experience is certainly something they can build on.
US Greco Roman Performances — 2016 Arvo Haavisto Tournament
59 kg — Dalton Roberts (USA, NMU-OTS)
LOSS Radion Somatov, 0-9
WIN Helary Mägisalu (EST), 8-0
WIN Jusso Latvala (FIN), 9-1
WIN Lauri Karjalainen (Perhon Kiri, FIN), 9-0
66 kg — Travis Rice (USA, NMU-OTS)
LOSS Mikko Peltokangas (FIN), 0-9
85 kg — Ryan Hope (USA, Cliff Keen Wrestling Club)
WIN Alexander Stjepanetic (SWE), 3-1
LOSS Julius Matuzevicius (LTU), 9-0
LOSS Ivan Huklek (CRO), 1-3