Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! December 3, 2019

By Eric Olanowski

Previewing the Canadian Wrestling Trials and Alans Tournament. Also looking at the results from the Alrosa Cup and Indian National Championships. 

1. Russia Dominates Alrosa Cup, Takes Down World, 11-1 
Russia’s star-studded squad closed out the Alrosa Cup in Moscow by winning 11 of 12 matches against an all-star world team that featured wrestlers from seven different nations. 

Roman VLASOV (RUS) edged his London Olympic finals opponenet Arsen JULFALAKYAN (ARM), 3-2, in the headlining match of the dual, which came at 77kg (Greco-Roman). 

Vlasov, the two-time Olympic champion, scored his three points from an inactivity then tacked on two additional points with a right-side gut wrench and commanded the 3-0 lead. Julfalakyan made it a match with under a minute left, as he picked up a late second-period takedown and closed the Russian’s lead to one point. But, it wasn’t enough to avenge his Olympic finals loss, as Vlasov hung on to edge the Armenian, 3-2.

On the freestyle side of the dual, arguably the most impressive performance of the night came at 97kg when Alikhan ZHABRAILOV (RUS) scored a 5-2 upset victory over Olympic champion, Sharip SHARIPOV (AZE). 

In addition to Zhabrailov’s win, another significant victory for the Russian Federation came at 125kg, where Bilyal MAKHOV (RUS) continued his quest to improve his Olympic silver medal with a 2-0 shutout win over an undersized Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO), who was wrestling up from his Nur-Sultan weight of 97kg. 

Azerbaijan’s three-time world champion Haji ALIYEV (AZE) was the lone non-Russian wrestler to seize a win in the 12-match dual. Aliyev scored a last-second takedown to move past Nachyin KUULAR (RUS), 5-4, in the 65kg matchup. 

Russia df. World, 11-1
Freestyle (5-1)
57kg – Ramis GAMZATOV (RUS) df. Giorgi EDISHERASHVILI (AZE), 8-4
65kg – Haji ALIYEV (AZE) df. Nachyin KUULAR (RUS), 5-4 
74kg – Timur BIZHOEV (RUS) df. Avtandil KENTCHADZE (GEO), 2-1
86kg – Magomed RAMAZANON (RUS) df. Ahmad BAZRI (IRI), 3-2 
97kg – Alikhan ZHABRAILOV (RUS) df. Sharip SHARIPOV (AZE), 5-2 
125kg – Bilyal MAKHOV (RUS) df. Elizbar ODIKADZE (GEO), 2-0 

Greco-Roman (6-0)
60kg – Sergey EMELIN (RUS) df. Victor CIOBANU (MDA), 7-0
67kg – Artem SURKOV (RUS) df. Atakan YUEKSEL (TUR), 6-1 
77kg – Roman VLASOV (RUS) df. Arsen JULFALAKYAN (ARM), 3-2 
87kg – Alexander KOMAROV (RUS) df. Metehan BASAR (TUR), 2-1 
97kg – Nikita MELNIKOV (RUS) df. Ibrahim TIGCI (TUR), 8-3
130kg – Vitali SCHUR (RUS) df. Nurmakhan TINALIEV (KAZ), 3-1 

2. Wiebe’s Quest for Second Olympic Gold Kicks off Friday at Canadian Wrestling Team Trials
Erica WIEBE (CAN) has been on the record saying she thought chasing her first Olympic gold was the hardest thing she’d ever do. But after winning gold in Rio, the Canadian’s tone changed, saying pursuing her second Olympic title is a more difficult task. 

The future hall of famer’s quest to become the first non-Japanese woman to win two Olympic gold medals officially begins this Friday at the two-day Canadian Wrestling Team Trials in Niagara, Ontario, Canada. 

The process for Wiebe to make it to the Tokyo Olympic Games is relatively simple, but it'll be no easy task to do so. First, she has to win the Canadian Wrestling Team Trials. Then, she has to qualify the weight at the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier (March 13-15). 

Wiebe's first step in repeating her run to an Olympic gold begins this week in Ontario, where she’s entered at 76kg. Her weight class will feature five other wrestlers, including Canada’s last two world team representatives at 72kg, who are moving up to the Olympic weight of 76kg. 

Wiebe’s strongest competition this week will be 2019 Pan-American champion Dejah SLATER and her biggest domestic rival, Justina DI STASIO, a 2018 world champion.

Wiebe and Di Stasio met earlier this year in the finals of the Canada Cup in Calgary, where Wiebe scored the 7-5 come-from-behind win. In that June meeting, Wiebe trailed 3-2 heading into the closing period, but the Olympic champion outscored the world champion, 5-2, and secured the gold medal with the 7-5 victory.

Outside of the massive storyline at 76kg, another weight to follow will be 57kg. Linda MORAIS, the reigning world champion at 59kg, will make her descent down to the Olympic weight with hopes is chasing Olympic gold in Tokyo. Morais will be met at 57kg by Hannah TAYLOR and Alexandra TOWN. Taylor is fresh off a bronze-medal finish at the U23 World Championships, while Town is a year removed from handing Canada their first-ever women's wrestling U23 world gold medal.

The Canadian Wrestling Team Trials begin Friday and can be followed live on www.wrestling.ca and CBC Sports! You can also follow Wrestling Canada Lutte on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram for live updates.

Kyle SNYDER (USA) will lead Team USA to Vladikavkaz, Russia, for the Alans International Tournament. (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

3. Snyder Leads Experienced USA Squad Headed to Russia for Alans International Tournament
Kyle SNYDER (USA) is set to lead a highly experienced American team to Vladikavkaz, Russia, for the Alans International Tournament. The Menezh Sports Palace will host the three-day tournament from December 5-8. 

Thomas GILMAN, James GREEN and Nick GWIAZDOWSKI are the trio of world medalists that'll join Snyder, the two-time world and Olympic champion, in Vladikavkaz over the weekend. In total, the American team that's entered combines for nine world medals and an Olympic title. 

Gilman, a 2017 world silver medalist, will wrestle in Russia for the third time in the last three months. In October, Gilman went 5-0 and won the 57kg gold medal at the Yusup Abdulsalamov Tournament in Dagestan, Russia. He followed that up a week later with a bronze-medal finish at the Intercontinental Cup in Khasavyurt, Russia. 

Green, a two-time 70kg world medalist, will try to improve his bronze medal from last year’s Alans Tournament. But, he won’t be doing so at his normal weight of 70kg. Green will make his first appearance at the Olympic weight of 74kg, where he’ll look to challenge teammate Jordan BURROUGHS for the Tokyo Olympic spot. 

The fourth world medalist on USA’s team is two-time world bronze medalist Nick GWIAZDOWSKI, who’ll wrestle at 125kg. 

Zain RETHERFORD and Mike MACHIAVELLO round out the six-man roster for the United States.  Retherford, a two-time world team representative, will compete at 65kg, while Machiavello will wrestle at 92kg. 

USA Alans Teams 
57kg – Thomas GILMAN ('18 silver)
65kg – Zain RETHERFORD 
74kg – James GREEN ('17 silver, '15 bronze)
92kg – Mike MACHIAVELLO 
97kg – Kyle SNYDER ('15 and '17 gold, '18 silver, '19 bronze) ('16 Olympic gold)
125kg – Nick GWIAZDOWSKI ('17 and '18 bronze)

Prize Money
GOLD - $5000 $ + $1000 to the coach
SILVER - $2000 
BRONZE - $1000 (each bronze medalist)

Vinesh VINESH (IND) (Photo: Tony Rotundo) 

4. Vinesh and Malik Shine at Tata Motors Indian National Championships
Indian stars Vinesh VINESH and Sakshi MALIK shined bright over the weekend, winning gold medals in their respective weight classes at the 64th Annual Tata Motors Indian National Championships in Punjab’s northern city, Jalandhar. 

Vinesh, India’s most prominent women’s wrestling star, followed up her bronze-medal finish at the World Championships with a gold medal at the Indian National Championships. Vinesh, who qualified India for the Olympic Games at 53kg, downed Anju ANJU, 7-3, in the 55kg gold-medal match. 

Sakshi Malik was the second superstar to win a national title over the weekend. Malik, the Rio Olympic bronze medalist, got back to her winning ways after a disappointing 17th-place finish at the World Championships. Malik defeated Radhika RADHIKA, 4-2, in the finals at 62kg. 

In freestyle, India’s two 2019 world medalists, Bajrang PUNIA and Deepak PUNIA, elected to sit out of the competition. Bajrang, who medaled at his second straight World Championships, is preparing for the 2020 Toyko Olympics, while Deepak, the world silver medalist at 86kg, is nursing the same injury that kept him from wrestling Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) in the 86kg world finals. 

The winners of the Tata Motors Indian National Championships will now travel to Nepal to compete in the South Asian Games. Wrestling at the South Asian Games begins on December 6. 

Women’s Wrestling 
50kg – Sheetal TOMAR df. Nirmal NIRMAL, 7-3 
53kg – Pinki PINKI df. Ankush ANKUSH, 7-3 
55kg – Vinest VINESH df. Anju ANJU, 7-3 
57kg – Sarita MOR df. Neetu NEETU, via default
59kg – Anshu ANSHU df. Lalita SHERAWAT, 4-4
62kg – Sakshi MALIK df. Rashika RADHIKA, 4-2 
65kg – Nisha DAHIYA df. Navjot KAUR, 4-1 
68kg – Anita Sheoran df.  Divya KAKRAN, 5-1 
72kg – Kiran KIRAN  df. Naina NAINA, 4-1 
76kg – Gursharan PREET KAUR df. 4-2 POOJA, 4-2 

Freestyle 
57kg – Rahul RAHUL df. Abasaheb ABASAHEB, 7-6
61kg – RAVINDER Sonaba df. Tanaji TANAJI, 12-2
65kg – Amit KUMAR df. Rahul RAHUL, 12-2
70kg – Naveen NAVEEN df. Vishal VISHAL, 2-1 
74kg – Gourav BALIYAN df. Praveen RANA, 5-3
79kg – Sandeep MANN df. Jutender JITENDER, 7-4
86kg – Pawan KUMAR df. Deepak SAROHA, 4-1 
92kg – Monu MONU df Sunil SUNIL, 10-2
97kg – Satyawart KADIAN df. Kapil Chaudhary, 9-0
125kg – Sumit MALIK df. Abhijut ABHIJIT, 5-0 

Shinobu OTA (JPN) (Photo: Tony Rotundo)

5. Rio Silver Medalists Ota, Higuchi Take Drastic Measures in Quest to Make Tokyo 2020
A pair of Japanese silver medalists from the Rio 2016 Olympics, denied during their preferred routes to Tokyo 2020, will be trying desperate measures in last-ditch efforts to make Games in their host country---which presents a weighty problem for both.

Shinobu OTA, the Rio 2016 silver medalist at Greco-Roman 60kg, has moved up to two divisions to 67kg for the upcoming All Japan Championships, which will serve as the final qualifier for either filling an Olympic berth that Japan has already secured, or earning the chance to win a spot at the Asian Olympic qualifying tournament in March.

Conversely, Rei HIGUCHI, who failed to gain an Olympic ticket at freestyle 65kg, has gone the other way, dropping two weight classes down to 57kg, the division in which he won the silver in Rio, according to the list of entries recently released by the Japan federation for the tournament to be held Dec. 19-22 in Tokyo.

Click here for Ken Martantz' full breaks down of the All Japan Championships. 

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media
1. Big Move Monday -- Islamova V.
2. Mijain LÓPEZ is a three-time Olympic champion, is on a quest to become the first-ever male to win four Olympic titles.
3. The most dominant wrestling nation in the world, Russia 🇷🇺.
4. Happy Friday, wrestling fans! ‬
5. World Champion Spotlight: Abuiazid MANTSIGOV (RUS) outscored his four #WrestleNurSultan opponents 29-0 and captured his first world title. The 26-year-old scored a 53 second 9-0 technical superiority victory over Aram VARDANYAN (UZB) in the finals.

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."