JayShon Wilson (Marines, 75 kg) and Daniel Miller (Marines, 98 kg) both made the trip to Dortmund, Germany for the Grand Prix of Germany and while neither are coming home with medals, each took the opportunity to make an impression. The tournament, which took place earlier today, featured a substantial number of notable athletes, including a mix of competitors who will be taking the mat later this summer at the Rio Olympics.
Wilson, who is coming off of a bronze medal showing at the University Nationals, started his day in style. Facing off against Khalil Rabbia of Palestine, Wilson charged ahead early to open up his offense. One thing about Wilson is that whenever he gets the slightest bit of momentum, he knows what to do with it. Rabbia couldn’t shake Wilson whenever he got a lock and the points piled up from there en route to an 11-2 tech fall.
Unfortunately, Wilson couldn’t carry that steam into his semifinal bout with eventual champion Rafik Huseynov (AZE) and dropped that match via a 12-2 tech fall. By virtue of his advancing to the semifinals Wilson was still alive for bronze. But that, too, would prove to be a tall order. Fellow college-aged talent Oldrich Varga (CZE) got a chance on Wilson following a couple of tense exchanges to kick things off before jumping ahead and ultimately turning Wilson for an 8-0 victory.
At tournaments like this it often comes down to the draws and Daniel Miller didn’t receive any favors in that department. 98 kg represented one of the deepest weight classes at the Grand Prix of Germany, so there wasn’t a lot of room to hide. Miller was matched up with two-time World medalist Cenk Ildem (TUR, world no. 6) and boy, did he make a fight of this thing. Ildem, somewhat of a plodder but certainly prone to finding dynamic scoring chances (especially from par terre) found out that Miller would be no easy out. Miller stayed tight to his game without giving Ildem easy windows to work from. However, Ildem prevailed 2-0 and since the Turk was defeated by Olympian Frederik Schoen (SWE) in the quarterfinal, Miller’s day was over.
Despite Wilson and Miller not picking up any hardware to take home, their participation demonstrated a step in the right direction for both athletes. Wilson boasts sizable potential due to his quickness and eager-to-fight approach. Miller has all the physical tools required to become a serious contender, and both athletes have youth on their side. Getting matches in overseas while tangling with top-flight competition is a fast way to build experience. The fact that they didn’t make it onto the podium at their respective weights isn’t immaterial, but it also misses the point. For the US program to increase its depth it is going to need athletes like Wilson and Miller to mix it up on the World stage. They did their part and it should serve them well going forward.
Grand Prix of Germany – US Participants
JayShon Wilson (Marines) – fifth place
Khalil Rabbia (PLE), win (11-2)
Rafik Huseynov (AZE), loss 12-2
Oldrich Varga (CZE), loss 8-0
Daniel Miller (Marines) – dnp
Cenk Ildem (TUR), loss (2-0)