There was a great deal of momentum coming off of the first day of the Greco Roman Junior World Championships in Macon, France. Two medalists (Taylor LaMont, 60 kg and G’Angelo Hancock, 96 kg) along with a couple of other strong performances were behind the surge. Unfortunately for the US, that momentum wasn’t carried over in full on the second day.
Jamal DeArmond (66 kg) was the first US competitor of the morning. Against Flavio Freuler (SUI), DeArmond kept a steady pace in trying to reveal his offense. He gave up two off of a headlock, but recovered immediately with a step-out point. Two passivity points came his way in the second period, good for a 3-2 lead. It didn’t last too long. Freuler came inside and got around DeArmond to pull him over at the edge for a four-point play. DeArmond didn’t have enough time to recover and was defeated 6-3. Freuler lost in his next bout to Mohammed Ibrahi Elsayed, eliminating both he and DeArmond from medal contention altogether.
For Nick Reenan (84 kg), things started off with a lot of promise. Reenan had no trouble putting together a dynamic show of offense versus Ahmed Hassan Ahmed (EGY), grabbing a takedown for an early two and then a headlock punctuated by a couple of turns. Another takedown sealed the deal for the NC State commit just under a minute and a half in. Whatever was working for Reenan in the first match didn’t follow him in the quarterfinal. A takedown by Belarusian Anton Sankho led to two turns and a 6-0 deficit. Not going out without a fight, Reenan locked up a throw at the edge only to have Sankho deaden and land on top of him. The US side challenged, but it was to no avail. The win went to Sankho, 9-0 (including the challenge point).
Heavyweight hopeful Michael Rogers didn’t fare much better, though he drew the toughest opponent of the group in Nikolai Izmailov (RUS). Izmailov nailed an arm throw quickly into the bout and never looked back. A pair of takedowns shortly after ended the match. Izmailov, a medal favorite coming into the Junior World Championships, lost in the semifinals, which ended Rogers’s own bid to make the podium.
Dalton Roberts (55 kg) entered the day as a threat in his own right. The NMU star has put together an impressive 2016 campaign and this tournament was on his radar from the beginning. He got it moving in the right direction early in the first, coming around at the edge for a takedown. Sandron was initially (and confusingly) awarded four because he held onto Roberts’s neck. USA challenged and won. Up 2-0, Roberts seemed poised and confident. Sandron got two to tie it up, but Roberts answered back with another takedown for a 4-2 lead to close out the first.
A bodylock by Sandron in the second once again knotted it all up. Roberts did not slow down. Pressing the fight as best he could, the opportunities he was looking for didn’t present themselves. Sandron defended well and put Roberts out for a point to retake the lead, and that is how the match would end — 5-4 in favor of Sandron. The Italian wrestler lost to eventual finalist and talented Georgian Dato Chkhartishvili in the next round. Roberts will not be wrestling for a medal at this tournament.
We will have more coverage later on to wrap up the 2016 Greco Roman Junior World Championships. Despite not yielding any medalists on the second day, the United States put forth its strongest team performance in years. The Americans began the morning in second place. And while that won’t be how it all ends up, fans have to be encouraged by the progress and ability of the athletes. It is a forward step and one that shouldn’t be ignored.