Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! August 27, 2019

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing Diakomihalis and Retherford's Wrestle-off next Monday and Khizriev missing the World Championships. Also looking at the top-four world championship seeds for freestyle, Greco-Roman and women's wrestling. 

1. Diakomihalis and Retherford to Wrestle-off Next Monday 
Yianni DIAKOMIHALIS (USA) and Zain RETHERFORD (USA) will wrestle-off next Monday (September 2) to determine the tenth and final spot on the United States’ freestyle world team. 

Retherford initially won the first three-match series, but Diakomihalis challenged the outcome of the Retherford's second victory. Diakomihalis and his coaching staff weren't happy with the timeliness of the challenge from Retherford’s corner which determined the match outcome.

Diakomihalis took his case to arbitration and ended up getting the second match nullified – meaning the pair will re-wrestle the second match, and possibly a third match if need be. 

Retherford heads into the September 6 matchup owning the one match advantage. He’d have to win one match to punch his second ticket to a world championship, while Diakomihalis would have to win two straight matches to cement his spot on his first senior-level world team. 

Anzor KHIZRIEV (RUS)  will miss the World Championships due to an arm injury. (Photo: Sachiko Hotaka)

2. Khizriev Out of World Championships
Russia’s starting heavyweight Anzor KHIZRIEV (RUS) suffered an arm injury during training and will no longer compete in Nur-Sultan at the World Championships. 

Khizriev, who is ranked fifth in the world at 125kg, has established himself as one of the best super heavyweights in the world over the past year. This season, Khizriev took out the two-time world and Olympic champion Taha AKGUL (TUR) to win the prestigious Ivan Yariguin title. He also won the European Games and placed third at the European Championships. His lone loss this season came to the aforementioned Akgul in the European semifinals. 

Khizriev’s replacement hasn’t been named, but there are two suitable candidates who Russia may throw into the World Championships. The first being Russian National champion Alan KHUGAEV (RUS) -- which is the likely decision they'll roll with if the second option isn’t available. Though unlikely, that second option is one of the most versatile big men the sport has ever seen, Bilyal MAKHOV (RUS). 

Makhov last competed at the World Championships in 2015, when he won a bronze medal in both freestyle and Greco-Roman -- bringing his overall world medal count to seven total world medals. He also owns an Olympic bronze medal from the 2012 London Olympic Games. 

Most recently, Makhov returned after a 21-month hiatus in preparation for a run to his third Olympic Games. In his August return, Makhov finished in second place at the Poland Open. 

Makhov’s Resume 
Olympic Games – Bronze (2012)
Freestyle World Championships– Gold (2007, ’09 and ‘10), Silver (2011) and Bronze (2015),
Greco-Roman World Championships – Bronze (2011 and ‘15) 

Bajrang PUNIA (IND) is one of six wrestlers who overthrew a reigning world champion for the top seed in Nur-Sultan. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

3. Freestyle Top-Four Seeds 
After a year of jockeying for position, the top-four freestyle seeds for the 2019 World Championships (September 14-22) are finally locked up. Six non-returning world champions overthrew a Budapest world gold medalist and head into Nur-Sultan garnering a top spot at their respective weight class. 

Of the ten 2018 world champions, Yowlys BONNE RODRIGUEZ (CUB), Kyle DAKE (USA), J'Den COX (USA) and Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO) were the only wrestlers who held onto their top ranking. 

Click here to see a full breakdown of the top-four seeded wrestlers at each weight. 

Here Are the Freestyle No. 1 Seeds at Each Weight:
57kg - Suleyman ATLI (TUR)
65kg - Bajrang PUNIA (IND)
70kg - Adam BATIROV (BRN)
74kg - Frank CHAMIZO (ITA)
79kg - Kyle DAKE (USA)
86kg - Fatih ERDIN (TUR)
92kg - J'Den COX (USA)
97kg - Kyle SNYDER (USA)

Stepan MARYANYAN (RUS) is one of five Russian wrestlers who are seeded first at the World Championships. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

4. Greco-Roman Top-Four Seeds
Nine European wrestlers and Asia's KIM Hyeonwoo (KOR) own a Greco-Roman top seed heading into the World Championships. Of the nine European wrestlers who own a Greco-Roman top seed, five will be wearing a Russian singlet. Furthermore, each of the five top-seeded Russian wrestlers are looking to defend their world title from last year. 

Click here to see a full breakdown of the top-four seeded wrestlers at each weight. 

Here Are the Greco-Roman No. 1 Seeds at Each Weight:
55kg - Eldaniz AZIZLI (AZE)
60kg - Sergey EMELIN (RUS)
63kg - Stepan MARYANYAN (RUS) 
67kg - Artem SURKOV (RUS)
77kg - Hyeonwoo KIM (KOR)
82kg - Emrah KUS (TUR)
87kg - Zhan BELENIUK (UKR)
97kg - Musa EVLOEV (RUS)
130kg - Sergey SEMENOV (RUS)

Oksana LIVACH (UKR) gained the No. 1 seed at 50kg after reigning two-time world champion Yui SUSAKI (JPN) lost her wrestle-off. (Max Rose-Fyne)

5. Women’s Wrestling Top-Four Seeds 
There is a trio of women's wrestling returning world champions who have cemented their spot as the No. 1 seed at the World Championships. The three top seed returning world champions looking to win back-to-back world titles are RONG Ningning (CHN), Taybe YUSEIN (BUL) and Alla CHERKASOVA (UKR).

Meanwhile, Sarah HILDEBRANDT (USA), Zalina SIDAKOVA (BLR) and Yasemin ADAR (TUR) each fell in last year's world finals but clawed their way into a women's wrestling top seed. The three world silver medalists head into Kazakhstan with hopes of improving their second-place finish from 2018. 

Click here to see a full breakdown of the top-four seeded wrestlers at each weight. 

Here Are the Women's Wrestling No. 1 Seeds at Each Weight: 
50kg - Oksana LIVACH (UKR)
53kg - Sarah HILDEBRANDT (USA)
55kg - Zalina SIDAKOVA (BLR) 
57kg - Ningning RONG (CHN)
59kg - Yuzuka INAGAKI (JPN)
62kg - Taybe Mustafa YUSEIN (BUL)
65kg - Forrest Ann MOLINARI (USA)
68kg - Alla CHERKASOVA (UKR)
72kg - Nasanburmaa OCHIRBAT (MGL)
76kg - Yasemin ADAR (TUR)

*These seeds are based off the current unofficial entries United World Wrestling has received as of August 21. These seeds are subject to change.

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media 
1. Big Move Monday -- Gvarzatilov A. (AZE) -- Senior Worlds 2016
2. Are you coming to support your wrestlers in #WrestleNurSultan? Buy your tickets! Link in Bio.
3. @vlasovroma90@yui106301susaki@vladimerkhinchegashvili have both Junior and Senior World Champion titles. Who else? And who is next? Tag three other wrestlers who won or will win both Junior and Senior World Championships!
4. Today is 89th birthday of Iranian legend Pahlavan Gholamreza Takhti. Iranians have named the day as “National Day of Wrestling” in the official calendar of the country.
5. The top-four seeded wrestlers at 76kg combine to have SIX world and an Olympic gold. 
Expected 76kg Top-Four Seeds
1. @yasemin.adar (TUR)
2. @adelinegray (USA)
3. @aline.focken (GER)
4. @eweebz (CAN)

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."