Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! April 30, 2019

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing last weekend's Asian Championships, and No. 2 Hasanov's possible weight change. Also looking at the Beat the Streets, updated world rankings, and the third Ranking Series event of the year. 

1. Asian Championships Come to an End in Xi’an, China 
The Asian Championships, which were the fifth and final Continental Championships, wrapped up last weekend in Xi'an, China. 

Iran put on an impressive showing in both freestyle and Greco-Roman, winning the team titles in each, while Japan won the women’s wrestling team title. 

In freestyle, Iran annihilated the competition, wrapping up the team title with seven champions and three bronze-medal finishers. Their ten medal performance was good enough for 220 points, which was 65 points ahead of second place India, who had 155 points. 

Kazakhstan rounded out the top three in the freestyle department with 129 points. 

Iran also won the Greco-Roman team title. They did so by narrowly sneaking past second place Uzbekistan by two points. 

Majority of Iran’s 165 points came from their four champions and a trio of bronze-medal finishers. Uzbekistan, who had 163 points, had more finalists than Iran, but dropped three of those five gold-medal bouts, falling just short of the podiums top spot.

Kazakhstan had 134 points and finished in third place in Greco-Roman. 

In women’s wrestling, powerhouse Japan won the team title with nine finalists and four champions. The lone wrestler who missed out on competing for a gold medal was four-time Olympic champion Kaori ICHO, who was making her return to international competition for the first time since her history-making performance at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. 

Icho scored a win in the 57kg bronze-medal bout, giving Japan, who had 215 points, a medal in all ten weight classes. 

China (183 points) and India (113 points) finished in second and third respectively in the women’s wrestling competition. 

Click here for the Asian Championships event hub. 

No. 2 Ranked 79kg European Champion Hasanov Moving Down to 74kg? 
Azerbaijan’s reigning 79kg European champion Jabrayil HASANOV posted a photo on his Instagram story showing himself on a scale with the weight of 76.4kg. 

Hasanov's current weight of 79kg is not an Olympic weight class, which means if the reigning world runner-up has hopes of improving on his bronze-medal finish from the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, he’ll have to make the move back down to 74kg. 

For Hasanov to represent Azerbaijan at 74kg at the World Championships and Olympic Games, he'll most likely have to go through either No. 13 Abubakr ABAKAROV or No. 15 Khadzhimurad GADZHIYEV. Abakarov represented Azerbaijan at the World Championships where he finished in eighth place, while Gadzhiyev was a fifth-place finisher at this year's European Championships.      

Bajrang Punia (IND), who won the 65kg Asian title, will take over the world's No. 1 spot at 65kg in the latest world rankings. (Photo Sachiko Hotaka)

3. New World Rankings to be Released this Week 
United World Wrestling will be releasing the latest point-based rankings later this week. The May edition of the world rankings are extremely important because they’ll include results from all five of the Continental Championships. 

The top four ranked wrestlers at each weight will be seeded at the 2019 World Championships, which take place in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan on September 14-22. 

Continental Championship Event Hubs
Asian Championships 
African Championships 
European Championships 
Oceania Championships
Pan-American Championships 

4. Beat the Streets Less than a Week Away
The wrestling invades New York City on May 6 for the annual  Beat the Streets (BTS) benefit. This year, the event will take take place at the world famous Hulu Theater, located inside "The World's Most Famous Arena," Madison Square Garden. 

The “Grapple at the Garden's” star-studded lineup includes nine returning world medalists, headlined by reigning world champions David TAYLOR (USA) and J'den COX (USA), and the No. 1 ranked wrestler in the world at 65kg, Bajrang PUNIA (IND). 

Taylor and Punia will both scrap against defending NCAA champions. At 86kg, Taylor will wrestle Drew FOSTER (USA), and Punia will go toe-to-toe with Yianni DIAKOMAHLIS (USA). 

The other reigning world champion in action, J'den Cox, will tussle with Patrick BRUCKI (USA) at 92kg. 

Rio Olympic champion No. 2 Kyle SNYDER (USA) and London Olympic gold medalist No. 2 Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) are also set to compete at the event. 

Snyder, the 2018 world runner-up, will take on Canada's Nishan RANDHAWA (CAN) in the 97kg bout, and Burroughs, the 2018 world bronze medalist, will wrestle 2008 Olympian and current UFC fighter Ben ASKREN (USA) at 74kg. 

The event, which has already sold over 3000 tickets, begins on May 6 at 6:30pm and can be watched on www.flowrestling.org. 

"Grapple at the Garden” Matchups 
Freestyle

57kg - Nathan TOMASELLO (USA) vs. Jack MUELLER (USA)  
61kg - Nick SURIANO (USA) vs. Joe COLON (USA)
65kg - Jordan OLIVER (USA) vs. Joseph MCKENNA (USA)  
65kg - Yianni DIAKOMAHLIS (USA) vs. Bajrang PUNIA (IND)
70kg - James GREEN (USA) and Anthony ASHNAULT (USA)
74kg - Jordan BURROUGHS (USA) vs. Ben ASKREN (USA)  
86kg - David TAYLOR (USA) vs. Drew FOSTER  (USA)  
92kg - J'den COX (USA) vs. Patrick BRUCKI (USA)  
97kg - Kyle SNYDER (USA) vs. Nishan RANDHAWA (CAN)
125kg Nick GWIZADOWSKI (USA) vs. Derek WHITE (USA)  

Women's Wrestling
53kg - Becka LEATHERS vs. Dana WEICKER (CAN) 
62kg - Mallory VELETE (USA) vs. Linda MORAIS (CAN)

5. Third Ranking Series Event Just Three Weeks Away 
The entries are starting to pour in for the third Ranking Series event of the year, the Sassari City Matteo Pellicone Memorial. The three-day tournament that begins on May 23 will take place on the Italian island of Sardinia, and will be the first-ever Ranking Series event which will feature freestyle, Greco-Roman, and women’s wrestling. 

Although registration hasn't closed, two-time world champion and Italian superstar Frank CHAMIZO has entered his name into the 74kg bracket. 

In addition to Chamizo, the early entry list at 74kg also includes Russia's 2017 world runner-up Khetik TSABOLOV and three-time European champion Soner DEMIRTAS (TUR). Chamizo defeated Tsabolov at last year's European Championships but fell to Demirtas, who went on to win the gold medal in Dagestan. 

Other notable early entries include Olympic champions KIM Hyeonwoo (KOR) and Erica WIEBE (CAN), and former world champions Aline ROTTER FOCKEN (GER), RYU Hansu (KOR), Vanesa KALADZINSKAYA (BLR),  Sofia MATTSSON (SWE). 

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media 

1. Big Move Monday -- R. SCHWARZ (GER) -- 2019 Senior European C'ships
2. Big Move From Day 6 // #WrestleXian
3. Big Move From Day 5 // فن برتر روز پنجم #WrestleXian
4. Tasmuradov has an incredible match in the 1/4 finals of the 63kg division.
5. The reigning 79kg European🥇and world 🥈@cebrayil313 posted a photo of scale with the weight of 76.4kg. Does this mean the No. 2-ranked wrestler in the world is moving down to 74kg for the #WrestleNurSultan World Championships? 

View this post on Instagram

Big Move From Day 6 // #WrestleXian

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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."