The constant theme lately surrounding the US program, and the sport of Greco-Roman at large, has been the value of dual meets. There was one over the weekend in Belarus, in case you haven’t heard, and next month in Tehran, Iran will be the now-apparently-annual World Wrestling Clubs Cup. And wouldn’t you know it, but another team-versus-team opportunity has just sprung up for this coming winter.
Team USA will be taking on a stout Team Serbia in Boise, Idaho on February 3rd. The event, sponsored by Suples Training Systems in cooperation with USA Wrestling, is providing the United States Greco-Roman program with its first dual held on domestic soil since the 2016 Jack Pinto Cup.
Serbia is bringing a sizable delegation to the event, including several wrestlers Greco fans are surely quite familiar with. Chief among them is 2016 Olympic Champion Davor Stefanek (66 kg). The 28-year-old Stefanek last competed at the European Championships in May, where he came in second to Artem Surkov (RUS). Also on board is Mate Nemes, who took Stefanek’s place at the World Championships this past August. Nemes went 1-1 against the US in 2017 — he lost to Alex Sancho (NYAC/OTS) in the semifinals of March’s Grand Prix Zagreb Open in Croatia before scoring a close but controversial win over two-time Junior World bronze medalist Ellis Coleman (Army/WCAP) in Paris.
Viktor Nemes (75 kg) really came of age following his eighth-place finish at the 2016 Rio Olympics. It began last November when Nemes managed to secure his first tournament win at the Golden Grand Prix. He kept the momentum rolling once the calendar flipped, taking a silver and a bronze at the Zagreb Open and the Hungarian Grand Prix, respectively. Following a down performance at the European Championships, Nemes righted the ship with two consecutive tournament wins leading up to the Paris Worlds, where he defeated Aleksander Chekhirkin (RUS) in the finals to claim his first World title.
Also scheduled to appear is 2007 World bronze medalist Kristjan Fris (59 kg), who has been one of Greco’s most consistent lightweight performers throughout the last decade. In addition to that World bronze, Fris is also a two-time Olympian and perhaps just as impressively, won his first gold medal at the Senior European Championships in May at 33-years-old. Aleksander Maksimovic (71 kg) has been on seven World Teams for Serbia over the course of his long career and did alright for himself in his most recent campaign, taking a silver in Hungary and a bronze at the Euros.
It is worthy to note that Fris, Stefanek, Maksimovic, and both Nemes boys have been to the US before. In 2013, the five wrestlers were part of the Serbian team that competed at the Jacob Curby Cup, which incidentally, was also a dual-meet event.
We will have more on the USA versus Serbia dual meet coming up this week, so stay tuned!