Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! April 23, 2019

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing the American's winning ten freestyle Pan-American golds, and the Asian and Oceania Championships. Also looking at Olympic champions Icho and Gatsalov making their returns after long layoffs. 

1. USA Freestyle Sweeps Pan-American Championships 
In what was the most dominant continental performance ever, the United States’ freestyle team swept the Pan-American Championships in Buenos Aires, Argentina, and won all ten gold medals. 

En route to their history-making performance, the United States went a perfect 34-0 and outscored their opponents 301-28. The USA finished with 250 points, which was 121 points ahead of second place Canada, who closed out the freestyle portion of the tournament with 129 points. 

Cuba (115 points), Puerto Rico (72 points), and Venezuela (68 points) rounded out the top five in freestyle. 

Meanwhile, the Stars and Stripes also claimed team titles in Greco-Roman and women’s wrestling.

In Greco-Roman, the USA inserted eight wrestlers into gold-medal bouts and won four gold medals. Cuba (135 points), Brazil (98 points), Venezuela (84 points), and Mexico (64 points), finished second through fifth respectively.

In women’s wrestling, the Red, White, and Blue medaled in nine of ten weights, including reaching the top of the podium in five weight classes. The USA finished with 200 points. The other top-five team finishers respectively were Canada (167 points), Ecuador (89 points), Brazil (89 points), and Cuba (86 points). 

Click here for full Pan-American Results

2. Asian Championships Kicked off Today in Xi’an, China 
The Asian Championships kicked off today at Xi’an's Electronic Science and Technology University Gymnasium and will last through Sunday (March 28). 

The first five freestyle weights were settled today, and it was a trio of Iranian wrestlers who grabbed titles on the opening day, with the 65kg and 70kg gold medals going to India’s Bajrang PUNIA (IND) and Kazakhstan’s Nurkozha KAIPANOV respectively. 

The three Iranian champions who gave their country the lead heading into the final day of freestyle wrestling were Reza Ahmadali ATRINAGHARCHI (57kg), Bahman Mohammad TEYMOURI (79kg), and Reza Mohammad Ali YAZDANI (97kg). 

Women’s wrestling, which returns two champions, one silver, and seven returning bronze medalists, begins on Thursday. Greco-Roman, which features one returning finalist and five bronze medalists, begins on Saturday and will close out the 2019 Asian Championships. 

All the action can be followed live on www.unitedworldwrestling.org. 

SCHEDULE
Wednesday (March 24) 
9:30 - Medical examination and Weigh-in FS – 61-74-86-92-125kg 
11:30 - Qualification rounds and repechage FS – 61-74-86-92-125kg
14:45 - Draw WW – 50-55-59-68-76kg
18:00 - Finals FS – 61-74-86-92-125kg / Award ceremonies

Thursday (March 25) 
9:30 - Medical examination and Weigh-in WW – 50-55-59-68-76kg
11:30 - Qualification rounds and repechage WW – 50-55-59-68-76kg

14:45 - Draw WW – 53-57-62-65-72kg
18:00 - Finals WW – 50-55-59-68-76kg / Award ceremonies

Friday (March 26) 
9:30 - Medical examination and Weigh-in WW – 53-57-62-65-72kg
11:30 - Qualification rounds and repechage WW – 53-57-62-65-72kg

14:45 - Draw GR – 55-63-77-87-130kg
18:00 - Finals WW – 53-57-62-65-72kg / Award ceremonies 

Saturday (March 27) 
9:30 - Medical examination and Weigh-in GR – 55-63-77-87-130kg 
11:30 - Qualification rounds and repechage GR – 55-63-77-87-130kg
14:45 - Draw GR – 60-67-72-82-97kg
18:00 - Finals GR – 55-63-77-87-130kg / Award ceremonies 

Sunday (March 28) 
9:30 - Medical examination and Weigh-in GR – 60-67-72-82-97kg
11:30 - Qualification rounds and repechage GR – 60-67-72-82-97kg 
18:00 - Finals matches GR – 60-67-72-82-97kg Award ceremonies 

Olympic champion Khadshimourad GATSALOV (ARM) will transfer from Russia to Armenia with the hope of competing at the 2019 World Championships. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

3. Olympic Champion Gatsalov Seeking Transfer From Russia to Armenia 
Khadshimourad GATSALOV, the five-time world and Athens Olympic champion, is expected to return to the mat for the first time since 2016. But, it won’t for the Russian Federation where he conquered the world and Olympic stage a combined six times, and will instead be for Armenia. 

Within the last few weeks, Gatsalov began the transfer process and has aspirations of competing in an Armenian singlet at the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, which take place in mid-September. 

According to sources close to the Armenian Wrestling Federation, Gatasalov was originally notified that “the transfer would not be approved until after October or November." But Armenia is "trying to manage that the transfer be approved before September for the World Championships.” 

If Gatsalov’s transfer does get approved before September, he’ll compete for Armenia at 97kg. This means that 97kg at the World Championships will house Olympic champions Abdulrashid SADULAEV (RUS), Kyle SNYDER (USA), and now, Khadshimourad Gatsalov.

Here's Gatasalov's Instagram page. 

Japan's four-time Olympic champion Kaori ICHO returns to the mat on Friday after a 32-month layoff (Photo: Gabor Martin) 

4. Four-Time Olympic Champion Icho to Wrestle Friday 
The most decorated women’s wrestler ever, Kaori ICHO, is set to make her international return for the first time in 32 months. In her last international outing, Icho became the first woman to reach the top of the podium at the Olympic Games four consecutive times. 

The 34-year-old will compete on Friday at 57kg at the 2019 Asian Championships.  

For Icho to win her sixth Asian title, she’ll have to fight through one of the deepest weight classes of the tournament. The favorite to win the 57kg is China’s reigning world champion RONG Ningning (CHN), who is the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the world at this weight. 

Those two will have formidable company in the form of Budapest 2018 world bronze medalist Pooja DHANDA (IND), the Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov winner at 59kg; Tserenchimed SUKHEE (MGL), the world U23 bronze medalist and Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix winner; and JONG Myong-Suk (PRK), the Asian Games champion and a world bronze medalist at 55kg.

5. Oceania Championships Wrap up in Yona, Guam 
The Oceania Championships wrapped up in Yona, Guam, and the Federated States of Micronesia won the freestyle and Greco-Roman team titles. 

In freestyle, the Federated States of Micronesia had champions at 57kg and 92kg, while also welcoming medalists in four other weight classes. The Federated States of Micronesia (127 points) completed the continental championship run seven points ahead of second place Guam (120 points). American Samoa and Palau tied for third place with 80 points, while French Polynesia, who had 65 points, rounded out the top five in the team race. 

In Greco-Roman, the Federated States of Micronesia (100 points) medaled in five of the nine contested weights, including winning the 63kg gold medal. Their other points came from second-place finishes at the 67kg, 77kg, and 82kg, while also winning the bronze medal at 97kg. 

Palau (90 points) and American Samoa (80 points) rounded out the top three in the team race. 

Click here for full Oceania Championship results

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media 

1. Senior Asian C'ships From the 25th to the 28th Of April.
2. Selection of early action from the #wrestlebuenosaires w/lots of action!
3. Bajrang (IND) comes out on top after being down on points to take gold at the 2019 Asian Championships in Xi'an 🇮🇳
4. Slick wrestling from Kaipanov KAZ in the 1/4 finals. 
5. Big Move from Day 4 of #wrestlebuenosaires! 🤭

Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! March 17, 2020

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing Valencia Escoto and Destribats' historic performances at the Pan-Am Olympic Qualifiers. Also looking at Cuba's GR team qualifying every weight for #Tokyo2020 and Olympic champs Maroulis and Wiebe qualifying their nation's for the Tokyo Games.

1. Valencia Escoto First Mexican Woman to Qualify for Olympic Games
Alma Jane VALENCIA ESCOTO (MEX) became the first-ever Mexican women's wrestler to qualify for the Olympic Games after winning the 57kg gold medal at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier. She won all four of her bouts in Ottawa – including a win by fall over world champion Linda MORAIS (CAN) and a victory via forfeit over Helen MAROULIS (USA).

Valencia Escoto opened her day up with a pair of decisive wins over Betzabeth SARCO COLMENAREZ (VEN) and Nes RODRIGUEZ TIRADO (PUR), which inserted her into the semifinals against Canada's reigning world champion, Linda Morais. 

In her semifinals meeting with the current 59kg world-title holder, Valencia Escoto stopped an early open double-leg attempt with a counter-offensive throw. She snuck in an underhook on the Canadian's right side during her shot attempt and tossed her to her back for the early 4-0 lead. 

Valencia Escoto's opponenet fought off her back and nearly scored a takedown of a slide by attempt. Still, somehow, the newly-minted Olympian had the world champion fighting off her back for the second time in the opening period. 

The tides turned quickly, and Valencia Escoto was the one fighting off her back. She got saved by the period-ending whistle and carried the 6-2 lead into the closing period.

In the final period, Valencia Escoto halted a left side high crotch attempt and flattened Morais for the fall – becoming the first-ever Mexican women to wrestle at the Olympic Games.

Agustin DESTRIBATS (ARG) finished in second place at 65kg at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier and qualified Argentina for the Olympic Games. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

2. Destribats Ends 24-year Argentinean Freestyle Olympic Drought
Agustin DESTRIBATS (ARG) ended a 24-year Argentinean freestyle Olympic drought and qualified his nation for the Tokyo Olympics after he pinned American Zain RETHERFORD (USA) in the 65kg semifinals. With his semifinal victory via fall, Destribats became the first Argentinean freestyle wrestler to qualify for the Olympic Games since Paulo IBIRE (ARG) did so at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games.

In his meeting with the Retherford, Destribats conceded an open double leg and nearly gave up an ankle lace but was able to fend off the turn and catch the American on his back. He held Retherford on his back for 25 seconds before picking up the opening period fall to secure his spot at the Tokyo Olympics. 

Helen MAROULIS (USA) qualified the United States for the Olympic Games at 57kg with her silver-medal finish at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

3. Olympic Champs Maroulis and Wiebe Qualify Nation's for Olympic Games 
Olympic champions Helen MAROULIS (USA) and Erica WIEBE (CAN) qualified their nations for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games after finishing in the top-two of their respective weights at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier. The pair remained on course to defend their gold medals from the Rio Olympic Games. 

Maroulis, who was wrestling in her first international competition since the 2018 World Championships, won four matches before injury defaulting out of the finals after locking up the United States' spot at 57kg for the Olympics.

In her first match, Maroulis easily handled Canada's Linda Morias, 10-2, in the battle of Olympic champion and world champion. 

Maroulis defeated Giullia RODRIGUES (BRA) and Lissette ANTES (ECU) in the next two rounds and was one win away from earning a second berth to the Olympic Games for the United States. 

In the semifinals, Maroulis crushed Nes RODRIGUEZ (PUR), 10-0, and qualified the Stars and Stripes for the Olympic Games at 57kg. 

She'll now have to win the Olympic Trials to become the United States' Olympic representative at 57kg.

Canada's Erica Wiebe was the second Olympic champion who qualified for the Olympic Games over the weekend. Wiebe, who was wrestling in her hometown of Ottawa, won the 76kg bracket and locked up her shot at repeating as Olympic champion. 

She opened up her day with a narrow 2-1 win over Aline DA SILVA FERREIRA (BRA). She tacked on dominant wins over Milaimys de la Caridad MARIN POTRILLE (CUB) and Andrimar LAZARO (VEN), setting up a semifinals match with Genesis REASCO (ECU).

Wiebe shutout Reasco Valdez, 6-0, in their semifinals meeting and earned her berth to the Olympic Games. She injury defaulted out of the gold-medal match against Aline Da Silva Ferreira and finished with a silver medal.

Wiebe won the Canadian Wrestling Trails in December and will represent Canada at 76kg at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Yosvanys PENA FLORES (CUB) is one of six Cuban Greco-Roman wrestlers who will wrestle at the Tokyo Olympic Games. (Photo: Tony Rotundo) 

4. Cuba Sending All Six GR Wrestlers to Olympics 
Cuba’s Greco-Roman team came into the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier searching for four qualification spots after earning two Olympic berths from the Nur-Sultan World Championships from Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB) Oscar PINO HINDS (CUB). Over the weekend, they had three wrestlers win gold medals and one individual finish in second place at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier – which took their qualification total to all six weight categories. 

Their three champions were Luis Alberto ORTA SANCHEZ (CUB), Yosvanys PENA FLORES (CUB) and Gabriel Alejandro ROSILLO KINDELAN (CUB), while Daniel GREGORICH HECHAVARRIA (CUB) finished in second place.

In addition to their Greco-Roman success, Cuba's women's wrestling team also shined in Ottawa. 

Coming into the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier, Katherine VIDIAUX (CUB) was the lone Cuban woman who ever wrestled at the Olympic Games. She'll now be joined in the history books by Lianna MONTERO (CUB) and Yusneylis GUZMAN (CUB), who won gold medals at 50kg and 53kg, respectively, and qualified for the Olympic Games. 

Greco-Roman Qualifying Weights/Athletes
60kg - Luis Alberto ORTA SANCHEZ (CUB) – Pan-Am OG Qualifier gold 
67kg - Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB) – World Championships gold 
77kg - Yosvanys PENA FLORES (CUB) – Pan-Am OG Qualifier gold
87kg - Daniel GREGORICH HECHAVARRIA (CUB) – Pan-Am OG Qualifier silver
97kg - Gabriel Alejandro ROSILLO KINDELAN (CUB) – Pan-Am OG Qualifier gold
130kg - Oscar PINO HINDS (CUB) World Championships silver

5. European, World 'Last Chance' Olympic Qualifiers Postponed
The European Qualifier for the 2020 Olympic Games, scheduled for March 19-22 in Budapest, along with the World "Last Chance" Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria, scheduled for April 30-May 3, have been postponed.

The events will be rescheduled, with the European Qualifier expected to take place in mid-May and the World "Last Chance" Qualifier held at the beginning of June.

"We are closely monitoring the governmental response to COVID-19 and will continue to provide updates to our wrestlers, coaches, and fans with more information as it becomes available," said United World Wrestling president Nenad Lalovic.

"The process for determining our Olympic participants will happen on the field of play, but we need to remain patient and vigilant as the worldwide community battles this pandemic. The health and well-being of the athletes is an absolute priority."