The finals at 71 kilograms for the 2016 Non-Olympic World Team Trials could have went a number of ways and it wouldn’t have been too surprising. The four most dangerous athletes at the weight, as we covered, were all capable of coming away with a spot in Budapest. So it’s not who has made the finals which is so shocking but rather, how.
Alex Sancho (NYAC-OTS) quickly moved past 2012 Olympian Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP) to secure his place in the best-of-three. In what was expected to be a prolonged struggle, Sancho was never in trouble. He controlled the center and got around for an early takedown he turned into one throw and then another. They weren’t consecutive four’s, but the tide was building. Another two at the end sealed it, and Sancho moved into the final.
On the other side of the bracket resided Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm), who along with Coleman, was seen as the presumptive favorite. However, Chris Gonzalez (NYAC-OTS) spoiled the plan. Gonzalez got inside on Smith and elevated before catching Smith on his back. Smith tried to stay alive; he did his best to create enough space to turn out of danger. But it was not to be. Gonzalez comes away with a shocking pin to meet Sancho in the best-of-three final later today.