Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! August 20, 2019

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing Japan's eight gold-medal performance at Junior Worlds and Kamal claiming his third consecutive junior world title. Also looking at Russia's final wrestle-offs, Dake downing Dieringer, and counting down until the first whistle at the World Championships. 

1. Japanese Women Win Eight of Ten World Golds 
Japan’s women’s wrestling team went eight-for-eight in world title bouts -- claiming an unheard-of eight of ten gold medals at the 2019 Junior World Championships last week in Tallinn, Estonia. They also added on a pair of bronze medals and brought their tournament grand total medal count to ten on their way to doubling Russia’s second place team score. Japan finished the tournament with 230 points, while the Russian Federation, who finished in second place, had 115 points. Ukraine (91 points) rounded out the top three 139 points behind the Japanese women. 

The team champions were led by the pair of two-time senior-level world champions Yui SUSAKI (50kg) and Haruno OKUNO (53kg). 

Susaki claimed back-to-back junior world titles after seizing a 10-0 victory over 2016 cadet world silver medalist Daria KHVOSTOVA (RUS) in the 50kg finals.

With her win last week, Susaki brought her grand total to seven overall world gold medals since appearing at her first World Championships in 2014. When asked where this world title stacks up on her list, Susaki said, “My final goal is an Olympic gold medal. I will do my best and I will try to practice towards my final goal.” 

Susaki pushed her total world championship record to 31-0 -- with 29 of those wins being shutout victories. Perhaps a more impressive stat is Susaki has now outscored her 31 world championship opponents 290-6 en route to reaching the top of the podium.

She believes the reason she’s so successful is because her strength and mind. She said, “The reason why I get the championships is my own strength and mind.” 

Haruno OKUNO was one of Japan's eight wrestlers who won a junior world title. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Japan’s second two-time senior world champ to win junior world gold last week was Haruno Okuno, who won the 53kg title. 

Okuno said she keeps all of her world title belts at her parent’s ’house. Well, their house gained an additional world championship belt after their daughter claimed her fifth world title in as many tries. The reigning two-time senior-level world champion added her first junior world title to her list of accomplishments after expelling Anudari NANDINTSETSEG (MGL), 7-2 in the 53kg gold-medal bout. 

By watching Okuno’s four matches, where she outscored her opponents 35-2, you would have never been able to tell that she was facing extreme neck pain on her right side. After her finals match, she talked about having to work on her counter offensive attacks because of her pain, saying “Now I feel neck pain, so I didn’t try to (tackle). In this tournament, the counterattack was very nice for me.” 

In her finals match, the always calm and stoic Okuno shot a low-level attack and picked up the early two-point lead. Her counter offense came into play when she stopped a Nandintsetseg attack and used a fluid arm-drag to a head outside single leg to pick up four points – improving her lead to 6-0. She then surrendered her first points of the tournament, an inactivity point and a stepout, but was awarded a brutality point after her Mongolian opponent was warned several times for hands-to-the-face. Okuno closed out her run to her first junior world title with a 7-2 victory. 

When asked if there’s a difference between a junior world title and a senior world title, Okuno said, “There isn’t difference between junior and senior because it means the same. It a world championship.  I’m always feeling very happy to (wrestle) against the world’s wrestlers.” 

Japanese Medal Winners: 
50kg - Yui SUSAKI (GOLD)
53kg - Haruna OKUNO (GOLD) 
55kg - Saki IGARASHI (BRONZE) 
57kg - Akie HANAI (GOLD)
59kg - Sae NANJO (GOLD)
62kg - Yuzuka INAGAKI (GOLD)
65kg - Miwa MORIKAWA (GOLD) 
69kg - Naruha MATSUYUKI (GOLD)
72kg - Yuka KAGAMI (GOLD)
76kg - Yasuha MATSUYUKI (BRONZE)

2. Kamal Wins Third Straight Junior World Title
Kerem KAMAL (TUR) will represent Turkey in Nur-Sultan in mid-September at the World Championships, but first, he made the journey to Estonia and claimed his third straight junior world title. 

Kamal held up three fingers to the crowd, signaling his possession of a third consecutive junior world title after he defeated Sahak HOVHANNISYAN (ARM), 7-2 in the 60kg gold-medal bout. “I’m very happy to win the third gold medal in the junior category. I was before in the cadet finals three times and I lost,” said Kamal.  

In his gold-medal bout, the Turkish wrestler trailed after the first period, but he expected to be in that position. “The match plan was (to be) safe in the first (period)…Safety first.” The second period was pivotal for Kamal in picking up his third world. After playing it safe in the first period, Kamal said, “In the second period, I go full power.” That’s exactly what he did. In the final three minutes, Kamal got to work quickly, smothering Hovhannisyan with a right-side gut wrench follow by a four-point lift from the right side and commanded the 7-1 lead. He conceded a second-period point but ended up carrying the Turkish flag around the mat at a World Championships for the third consecutive year with a 7-2 victory. 

Kamal’s attention now shifts towards the Senior World Championships, where he’ll be Turkey’s 60kg world team representative. The new minted three-time junior world champ begins his quest to win a senior world gold on September 16. 

3. Russia’s Freestyle World Team Set 
The final wrestle-offs for Russia’s freestyle team took place last weekend, and a trio of world champions will be heading to Nur-Sultan looking to defend their world titles from last year’s Budapest World Championships. 

The three world champs who hadn’t locked up their spot until last weekend were Zaur UGUEV (57kg), Zaurbek SIDAKOV (74kg) and Abdulrashid SADULAEV (97kg).

At 57kg, defending world champion Zaur Uguev was excused from the Russian National Championships after a bronze-medal finish at the European Games. 

To make his third straight world team, Uguev had to take out Arian TYUTRIN ​​​​to earn his spot on the world team. There were questions surrounding Ugev’s health coming into the match, but he clearly showed he’s the best 57kg wrestler in the most dominant freestyle nation on earth with a 10-0 win in his wrestle-off. 

In the 74kg wrestle-offs, defending world and European Games champion Zaurbek Sidakov, who was also granted a release from the Russian National Championships, earned his spot on this year’s team as he narrowly snuck got past 2016 world champion Magomed KURBANALIEV, 2-1. 

Four-time world and Olympic champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev was the final wrestler to cement his spot on the world team. The defending European champion and European Games gold medalist pulverized Vladislav BAITSAEV, 10-0 in their wrestle off. 

Sadualev’s win last weekend leaves hope for the wrestling community to see the rematch between the three-time world and Olympic champions “The Russian Tank” and Kyle “Captain America” Snyder in the 97kg finals. 

Russia’s Freestyle World Team: 
56kg – Zaur UGUEV 
61kg – Magomedrasul IDRISOV 
65kg – Gadzhimurad  RASHIDOV 
70kg – David BAEV
74kg – Zaurbek SIDAKOV
79kg – Gadzhi  NAVIEV
86kg – Artur NAIFONOV
92kg – Alikhan  JABRAILOV
97kg – Abdulrashid SADULAEV 
125kg – Anzor KHIZRIEV 

4. Dake Downs Dieinger in Two Straight Matches, Will Represent USA at 79kg 
Reigning 79kg world champion Kyle DAKE (USA) returned from injury and defeated Alex DIERINGER (USA) in two straight matches to make his second consecutive United States world team. Dake scored a tactical 3-2 victory in match one, then opened up a little in the second match and grabbed the 4-1 victory -- booking his ticket to the 2019 World Championships. 

Last year, in his World Championships debut, Dake outscored his opponents 37-0 en route to his first world title. After defeating Dierging in two straight matches last weekenk, Dake heads to Kazakhstan as the favorite to repeat in a weight depleted due to Olympic weight changes. 

USA’s Freestyle World Team: 
57kg - Daton FIX 
61kg - Tyler GRAFF

65kg - Yianni DIAKOMIHALIS / Zain RETHERFORD
70kg - James GREEN 
74kg - Jordan BURROUGHS 
79kg - Kyle DAKE 
86kg - Pat DOWNEY 
92kg - J'den COX 
97kg - Kyle SNYDER 
125kg - Nick
GWIAZDOWSKI 

5. The Countdown Begins to the World Championships
We’re officially under a month away from the start of the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. Today marks the 25th day until the first whistle at the Barys Arena in Kazakhstan's capital city formally known as Astana.

This year’s World Championships will hold immense weight because the top-six wrestlers in each weight category will qualify their nation's spot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. 

The schedule for this year’s Worlds is much different than that of the Budapest World Championships. Unlike last year, where Greco-Roman closed out the 2018 World Championships, Greco-Roman will instead kick things off this year -- beginning on September 14. Women’s wrestling will be sandwiched in between Greco-Roman and freestyle -- starting on September 17. Finally, freestyle will close out the World Championships, with the potential third match-up between the three-time world and Olympic champions Abdulrashid Sadualev and Kyle Snyder squaring off the 97kg gold medal. The pair have split the last two world titles at 97kg, with Snyder winning in Paris and Sadualev exacting revenge in Budapest by picking up the 70-second fall. 

Here is the World Championships SCHEDULE

Weekly FIVE!

Weekly Five! November 12, 2019

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing the Women’s World Cup team race, wrestlers and weights to watch and Iran hosting the Greco-Roman World Cup (November 28-29).

1. The Road to the Finals 
In the 18-year history of the Women’s World Cup, Japan, China and the United States are the only teams to hoist the annual dual meet team trophy. But, dating back to 2003 when the United States claimed their lone team title, Japan or China has had a stronghold on women’s wrestling -- claiming 14 consecutive World Cup championships. 

Japan and China met in the previous two World Cup finals, with Japan coming out on the winning end of both of those meetings. But, this year is slated to be a different story, as Japan and China will wrestle on Saturday night in Group A action for a potential spot in Sunday night’s gold-medal dual. That is, of course, if they both get past a fairly young and inexperienced Ukrainian team that’s looking to send shock waves through the wrestling world and make their first finals appearance since 2005. 

Russia, the United States and Mongolia are the three Group B teams.

Though Mongolia has a pair of returning world bronze medalists, they likely won’t have enough firepower to match that of the Russian Federation or the United States -- who both have at least one world champ on their squad. 

The premier Group B matchup between Russia and the United States, which will take place on Saturday afternoon, will feature four of the ten women’s wrestling world champions. 

Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS), this year’s 62kg world champion, will lead the Russian Federation in the dual, while reigning world champions Jacarra WINCHESTER, Tamyra MENSAH and Adeline GRAY headline the entries for the Stars and Stripes. 

The two teams with the best record after their pair of group matches will meet in Sunday’s gold-medal match. The third and fourth-place match will feature the two teams with the second-best record in their groups and the remaining teams will meet for fifth and sixth place. 

Number of World Cup Titles 
Japan: 10 
China: 6
United States: 1

SCHEDULE
Saturday (November 16) 
10:30 – Mat A: JPN vs. UKR / Mat B: RUS vs. MGL 
12: 00 – Mat A: RUS vs. USA / Mat B: CHN vs. UKR 
16:30 – Opening Ceremony 
17:00 – Mat A: JPN vs. CHN / Mat B: USA vs. MGL

Sunday (November 17) 
8:00 – Medical Examination & Weigh-in
10:30 – Finals 5/6
13:00 – Finals 3/4
14:30 – Finals 1/2
16:00 – Award Ceremonies

Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA) is one of five world champions that'll be wrestling at this weekend's Women's World Cup. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

2. Wrestlers to Watch: The Five World Champs
Five of the six teams entered into the Women’s Wrestling World Cup bring at least two returning world medalists – totaling 17 podium finishers from this year’s World Championships (Ukraine is the lone team without a 2019 world medalist entered). But, without a doubt, the five newly-crowned must-watch world champions are: 

55kg - Jacarra WINCHESTER (USA)
57kg - Risako KAWAI (USA)
62kg - Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS)
68kg - Tamyra MENSAH (USA)
76kg - Adeline GRAY (USA)

Risako KAWAI (JPN) and Ningning RONG (CHN) met in the world finals at 57kg just over a month ago. They could square off again at this weekend's Women's World Cup. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

3. Weights to Watch: 57kg and 76kg 
The two can't-miss weights at this weekend’s Women’s Wrestling World Cup will be 57kg and 76kg. Both weight classes will feature the reigning world champion and the wrestler they defeated to win their world title. This means, there could be a pair of world finals rematches that take place this weekend.

Risako KAWAI (JPN) and Ningning RONG (CHN), who met in Nur-Sultan for the 57kg world title, could square off on Saturday night when Japan takes on China. That match will take place at 17:00 (local time).

Kawai is widely regarded as the top women’s wrestler in the world. Since winning her Rio Olympic title in 2016, Kawai has won three consecutive world titles. Her potential Chinese opponent, Ningning Rong, is a 2018 world champion and 2019 world runner-up. The highly emotional Chinese star is coming off a second consecutive year where she made the world finals, claimed a continental title and won at least three tournaments. 

Two other wrestlers that could cause Kawai and Rong fits at 57kg are ALTANTSETSEG Battsetseg (MGL) and Olena KREMZER (UKR). The 25-year-old Mongolian wrestler was a 2017 U23 world runner-up, while the Ukrainian wrestler was a 2018 U23 world bronze medalist. 

At 76kg, the two best women’s heavyweights in the world, Adeline Gray and Hiroe MINAGAWA (JPN), could square off in a rematch of September’s 76kg finals, but that all depends on how the group stage plays out. Additionally, Ekaterina BUKINA (RUS) and ZHOU Qian (CHN) will also wrestle at 76kg. Bukina is a Rio Olympic bronze medalist, and Zhou is a 2015 world runner-up. 

Reigning world champion Abuiazid MANTSIGOV (RUS) leads a loaded Russian team into Tehran for the Greco-Roman World Cup. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

4. Iran Set to Host Greco-Roman World Cup (November 28-29) 
Iran is gearing up to host the Greco-Roman World Cup for the seventh consecutive time. The two-day Greco-Roman World Cup kicks off November 28-29 in Tehran’s Azadi Stadium and will feature six teams -- which is the first time the event has housed less than eight teams since 2008. 

The Russian Federation, who are the defending champions, are looking to become the first team to win back-to-back World Cup titles since Iran did it in 2011 and ’12.  To earn their eighth overall World Cup team trophy, they’ll rely heavily on reigning world champion Abuiazid MANTSIGOV (RUS), who’ll wrestle at 72kg. 

In addition to Mantsigov, Aleksandr CHEKHIRKIN, Stepan MARYANYAN and Sergey SEMENOV are will also compete on Russia's team at the Greco-Roman World Cup. The trio were all 2018 world champions, but Maryanan, who finished with a silver medal at this year’s World Championships, is the lone reigning medalist in the group of three. 

Outside of Russia’s loaded squad, six reigning world champs will travel to Tehran to compete in the Greco-Roman World Cup. 

The biggest storyline heading into the dual meet event is the potential Rio Olympic finals rematch between Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB) and Shinobu OTA (JPN), which could be looming at 67kg. 

Borrero and Ota both won world titles in Nur-Sultan, but the Japanese wrestler will begin his ascent from his title-winning non-Olympic weight of 63kg to the Olympic weight of 67kg, where the Cuban wrestler is the current world-title holder. Shortly after winning his world title last month, Ota announced that he'd climb up 4kg to 67kg to make a run at improving his silver medal from the Rio Olympic Games, where he fell to Borrero in the finals.

In addition to Borrero, Mantsigov and Ota, the Greco-Roman World Cup will also welcome three other world champs. The returning world champs are: Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO), Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) and Lasha GOBADZE (GEO). 

Reigning World Champions Entered
55kg - Nugzari TSURTSUMIA (GEO)
60kg - Kenichiro FUMITA (JPN) 
67kg - Ismael BORRERO MOLINA (CUB)
67kg - Shinobu OTA (JPN)
72kg - Abuiazid MANTSIGOV (RUS)
82kg - Lasha GOBADZE (GEO)

Two-time world and Olympic champion Kyle SNYDER (USA) highlights the list of entries at the Bill Farrell. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

5. Bill Farrell Live on FloWrestling.org 
The New York Athletic Club will host the first qualifier for America’s Olympic Team Trials, the Bill Farrell Memorial (November 16-17). The highest finisher at the six Olympic weight classes in freestyle, Greco-Roman and women's wrestling will cement their spot at April’s Tokyo Olympic Team Trials. 

Our friends at Flowrestling.org have the streaming rights to the event and have provided an early list of participants who are expected to compete. 

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media

1. Big Move Monday -- Khoroshavtseva O. (RUS) -- Senior Worlds 2019
2. ‪Iszmail MUSZHKAJEV 🇭🇺: World Championship Highlights
3. Hassan YAZDANI 🇮🇷 World Championship Highlights
4. Behind the Scenes: Sadulaev and 97kg at #WrestleNurSultan
5. Kazakhstan 🇰🇿 put on a show at the #WrestleNurSultan World Championships — on and off the mat.