Over the weekend, a group of United States Cadet Greco-Roman athletes competed at the Refik Memišević-Brale Tournament in Subotica, Serbia. If you are a regular reader of this website, you’re familiar with the basic premise. The Go Greco USA Developmental Program, founded by two-time Cadet World Team coach Lucas Steldt and brought to life last year, included the Refik Memišević-Brale and the Croatia Open as part of its overseas curriculum. For 2018, both events are back on the schedule, although the order has flipped.
On Sunday, we reported on Nate Rubino‘s (45 kg, MWC) gold-medal-winning performance, but he was not the only US athlete to make the podium, nor was he the only other US athlete who competed. Newcomer Caden Arps (48 kg, MWC) also grabbed himself some hardware in the form of a silver medal. Conor Knopick (55 kg, MWC), Logan Hatch (65 kg, Combat), and Andy Garcia (110 kg, La Gente WC) each competed, though Garcia got the most matches in out of the entire squad with four.
We held off on releasing results from the Refik Memišević-Brale Tournament because scores and names of opponents were previously unavailable. Thankfully, yesterday the Serbian Wrestling Federation provided us with all of the pertinent information. Adding onto the results is Stedlt, who offered a first-hand perspective on how the athletes performed and his words can be found below.
Caden Arps (48 kg, MWC)
“What a surprise this young man was for his first overseas trip. He steps on the mat and lets it fly, immediately hitting a shoulder throw and goes up 4-0. From then on out it’s a firefight. A great match for gold that was offense, offense. Attempts and attempts at scoring points. By the time the bout was over, Caden just didn’t score enough points fast enough or first.”
Conor Knopick (55 kg, MWC)
“I know what I can expect from an MWC athlete. In the US, Conor would dominate this opponent. He was able to control and take away his opponent’s offense the first time and get a few guts. But his Romanian opposition (Bogdan Pop) defended and went back to work firing off attempts at every opportunity, eventually securing the tech. With a week of camp, I’m very confident that in Zagreb (this approaching Saturday, June 16th), his offense will come out and the adjustments will be made. I first met Conor last year on this tour and by the end I was anchored by this statement: I’m tellin’ ya, he’s a Greco guy.‘”
Logan Hatch (65 kg, Combat)
“I’ll say this, I think we were both surprised at his showing. Greco is one mistake and done, especially if you’re facing the eventual champion first round. We are here for betterment and Monday starts the camp where we all get our hands on the foreign contingent. Logan is a great athlete who is coming back from injury and just needs to stay in consistent Greco training.”
Andy Garcia (110 kg, La Gente WC)
“Andy went 1-3 today with a nice first-round win from a trapped-arm bodylock to a slam headlock for the fall. I was impressed. In his second bout, he battled hard but lost 0-8. In the third match against the eventual champion (Cadet European Championships silver medalist Marcel Albin of the Czech Republic), Andy got locked into a hard-fought battle where he started to get the feel. Here, the feel of real Greco started to setting in. During Garcia’s last match, he was feeling more confident and he opened up, but the more experienced Serbian (Velska Petrakovic) scored a takedown and tight gut to end the match.”
This week, the US delegation led by Steldt will be participating in a training camp before the group hops on a bus to Zagreb for Saturday’s Croatia Open. Similar to the Refik Memišević-Brale Tournament, the Croatia Open is packed with experienced, challenging opponents with many of whom expected to be present at the Cadet World Championships early next month (which incidentally, will also take place in Zagreb).
Steldt offered the following overall assessment on Monday.
“What can I say? You’re not in America anymore with the passive-aggressive Greco that infects our country. You cannot think for one second you are going to get a second chance or better opportunity to score than right now. This is Greco-Roman and attempts equal scores and being able to scramble in Greco is paramount, especially because you don’t want to expose your back to danger in the process.
“These are Cadets, and over here (in Europe), they are considered the starter pack. But back in the States, they are expected to be ready to secure a scholarship by a status quo college by too many people. It’s probably why our sport in one aspect is killing itself.”
2018 Refik Memišević-Brale Tournament — Subotica, Serbia
TEAM USA RESULTS
45 kg — Nate Rubino (MWC) — gold
WIN Zoltt Zohai (SRB) 10-1, TF
48 kg — Caden Arps (MWC) — silver
LOSS Florin Ruben (ROU) 20-11, TF
55 kg — Conor Knopick (MWC)
LOSS Bodgan Pop (ROU) 10-6
65 kg — Logan Hatch (Combat)
LOSS Kamil Novak (POL) 8-0, TF
110 kg — Andy Garcia (La Gente WC) — 4th
WIN David Ivanjko (CRO) via fall
LOSS Velska Petrakovic (SRB) 12-10
LOSS Marcel Albin (CZE) 4-0
LOSS Velska Petrakovic (SRB) 8-0, TF