For the first time, Greco Roman wrestling gets to participate in the World Wrestling Clubs Cup this year, which takes place in Budapest, Hungary mere days ahead of the Non-Olympic Weight World Championships (also held in Budapest). Injuries, unavailability, and Visa issues clouded the US roster for the Golden Grand Prix but it’s a fresh start for the Clubs Cup. It is the beginning of a new quadrennial and this is a period of transition for the US Greco program. There are several well-known names competing in Hungary, and there also a few athletes who have been on the cusp of serious contention being called upon to step up. Needless to say, it is all going to make for very interesting theater.
The US delegation is setting up camp in Budapest leading into the event but because this is the “Clubs Cup”, the actual name of the team won’t be Team USA. Rather, the squad is representing the New York Athletic Club, one of the hallmark institutions for Greco Roman wrestling in this country.
2016 World Wrestling Clubs Cup Schedule
12/6 – Delegations (athletes and personnel) arrive.
12/7 – Final entries, referee consultation, technical conference, weigh-in’s, and draws released
12/8 – 1st and 2nd round group matches, Opening Ceremony, 3rd round group matches
12/9 – Semifinals, matches for 9th and 11th place, matches for 5th and 7th place, 3/4 final, 1/2 final
USA roster (NYAC)
Coaches: Matt Lindland, Momir Petković, Herb House
59 kg – Sammy Jones
66 kg – Austin Morrow
71 kg – Patrick Smith
75 kg – Kamal Bey, Nick Tarpley
80 kg – Cheney Haight
85 kg – Kevin Radford
98 kg – G’Angelo Hancock, Daniel Miller
130 kg – Eric Fader
- Tarpley has been in Croatia and is joining the US for this event, his first since the Olympic Trials.
- Either Hancock or Miller may be tabbed to move up to 130 if the need arises.
- Jones and Morrow are the only two competing from the Northern Michigan program.
- Non-Olympic World Team members Chris Gonzalez and Patrick Martinez will be training with the group in preparation for the World Championships.
We will have previews of the Clubs Cup, who might be competing from other nations/clubs, and ongoing coverage as the event nears. The best way to probably think of the event is like the “World Cup lite” — the format is similar, there will be athletes from different nations, and it is a team tournament.
US National Team head coach Matt Lindland said, “I think maybe that the Clubs Cup is a step down from the World Cup. One step, though, not many steps. You know, it’s a great tournament. You’ll have some athletes there competing for clubs who were on some World Cup teams and obviously on the National Teams for many of these countries. These are some of the best athletes competing for their clubs, but there are also potentially some guys who are maybe on a lower level, as well.”
One thing is for sure — every athlete on the roster (outside of perhaps Haight) can use the experience. While it may not be the World Cup, it is as close as it can reasonably get. The competition will be predictably fierce and there is little doubt that what transpires in Hungary next week will make a lasting impression going forward for all involved.