Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! January 07, 2020

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing Akgul and Yazdani’s surgery and Taylor’s return to the mat after an 8-month layoff. Also looking at the #WrestleRome Matteo Pellicone entries, the 2019 Wrestlers of the Year and Susaki’s quest for Olympic gold. 

1. Olympic Champs Akgul and Yazdani to Miss Time After Undergoing Surgery 
Rio Olympic champions TAHA AKGUL (TUR) and Hassan YAZDANI (IRI) announced they would miss a good portion of the 2020 season after undergoing surgery over the past few weeks.

Akgul told United World Wrestling, “I fell on my shoulder during wrestling practice. I will be back as soon as possible…hopefully before the Olympics.” The Rio Olympic freestyle champion at 125kg had surgery on his left shoulder and expects to miss at least three months. “I will rest for two months. Then the physical therapy process will begin. I will start training in three months.”

Yazdani, the Rio Olympic champion (at 74kg) and two-time world champion at 86kg, underwent surgery on his right knee and will be sidelined for at least two months. The Iranian superstar told United World Wrestling, “It was a successful surgery. I am in a good situation now. I’ll start training on the mat in two months. I am in good spirits now. Lets see what happens in the future.”

2. Matteo Pellicone Entries Released 
The first stop on the road to the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games travels through Rome, Italy, for the first of two Ranking Series events, the Matteo Pellicone.

The three-day tournament kicks off January 15-18 in Ostia, a port city of ancient Rome, located 30km away from the city center. 

As the entries sit, there are seven reigning world champions and 31 world medal holders from the 2019 World Championships that will wrestle in Rome. Freestyle boasts nine world medalist, Greco-Roman features four podium finishers from Nur-Sultan and women’s wrestlers rounds out the tournament with an astonishing 18 2019 world medalist. 

World Champions That Are Registered:
FS 74kg - Kyle Douglas DAKE (USA) – two-time world champion at 79kg
WW 57kg - Linda MORAIS (CAN) – world champion at 59kg
WW 62kg - Inna TRAZHUKOVA (RUS) – world champion at 65kg 
WW 62kg - Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ)
WW 69kg - Tamyra Mariama MENSAH (USA)
WW 76kg - Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS)
WW 76kg - Adeline Maria GRAY (USA) 

Click HERE for the full list of entries for the Matteo Pellicone.

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Dear World, I am back. I’ll be seeing you soon

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3. David Taylor Set to Return to Action 
David TAYLOR (USA) announced on his social media channels that he’ll be returning after sitting out of competition for the last eight months. 

In his post, Taylor said, “Dear World, I am back. I’ll be seeing you soon."

Taylor, a 2018 world champion at 86kg, was coming off an undefeated 2018 season, which culminated in gold-medal performances at the World Championships, Pan-American Championships, Ivan Yariguin and Yasar Dogu. 

But in May, Taylor was dealt an unfortunate setback on his road to defending his world title. 

It was at the Beat the Streets match against Drew FOSTER (USA) where Taylor went down 31 seconds into the match with an apparent right knee injury. In the opening sequence of the bout, Foster got to a low-level shot to the right leg of Taylor and came up through the middle. Foster peaked out the back door and isolated the right leg of Taylor. Foster, who was posted on his right hand, threw his left hip to the mat, which is when Taylor stopped wrestling and immediately grabbed his right knee. The reigning world champion tried to continue, but his right knee buckled the first time he put his body weight on it, and ultimately forced him to injury default out of the match.

4. Susaki Secures Spot on Japan’s Asian Olympic Qualifier Team; Otoguro Locks up Spot on Olympic Team
Yui SUSAKI (JPN) and Rei HIGUCHI (JPN) thought their hopes of gold medal glory at the Tokyo Olympic Games were all but gone, but their fate changed after winning the All Japan Championships in Tokyo a few weeks ago.

Susaki saw her Olympic dreams deteriorate in front of her own eyes after losing her world championship starting spot in a July 6 special wrestle-off against Yuki IRIE (JPN). Or, at least, she thought so. But after a disappointing showing in Nur-Sultan by Irie, Susaki was granted the one shot she needed to regain her starting spot. And she took full advantage of it.

Over the holiday break, Susaki took a significant step in recovering her quest to become an Olympic champion by exacting revenge on Irie in the finals of the All Japan Championships in Tokyo. The two-time world champion outlasted Irie in a tactical 2-1 battle and locked up her spot on Japan’s Asian Olympic Qualifier team. Now, she’ll have to travel to Xi’an, China, in March and finish top-two to cement Japan’s spot at the Olympic Games at 50kg.

Meanwhile, Rio Olympic runner-up Rei Higuchi will also be headed to Xi’an, after he dropped from 65kg to 57kg and upset 2017 world champion Yuki TAKAHASHI in a one-point barnburner (7-6) the 57kg gold-medal bout. 

Also of note, Takuto OTOGURO cemented his spot on Japan’s Olympic squad at 65kg. The 2018 world champion, who secured Japan’s Olympic berth at 65kg with a fifth-place finish at this year’s World Championships, cruised to the 65kg crown with a 10-0 finals routing of Rinya NAKAMURA. 

Click HERE for a full breakdown of the All-Japan Championships.

Japan’s Olympic Team: 
65kg - Takuto OTOGURO

Women’s Wrestling 
53kg - Mayu MUKAIDA
57kg - Risako KAWAI 
62kg - Yukako KAWAI 
76kg - Hiroe MINAGAWA

60kg - Kenichiro FUMITA 

Japan's #WrestleXian Asian Olympic Qualifier Team
57kg - Rei HIGUCHI
86 kg - Sohsuke TAKATANI 
97kg - Naoya AKAGUMA 
125kg - Tetsuya TANAKA 

67kg - Shogo TAKAHASHI
77kg - Shohei YABIKU 
87kg - Masato SUMI
97kg - Yuta NARA 
130kg - Arata SONODA 

Women’s Wrestling 
50kg - Yui SUSAKI 

Japan's Olympic Spot Wrestle-Offs 
FS 74kg - Shinkichi OKUI vs. Keisuke OTOGURO
WW 68kg - Sara DOSHO vs. Miwa MORIKAWA

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Geno, Cox and the winner, Frank!

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5. United World Wrestling Names Chamizo, Mensah-Stock and Lorincz Wrestlers of the Year
United World Wrestling has announced its Wrestler of the Year Award winners for 2019: Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) in freestyle, Viktor LORINCZ (HUN) in Greco-Roman, and Tamyra MENSAH (USA) in women's wrestling. 

Each of the three Wrestler of the Year Award winners claimed 30,000 CHF in prize money, while second-place finishers earned 20,000 CHF and third place winners won 10,000 CHF. United World Wrestling is committed to increasing financial incentives in a manner that is sustainable and is equal to all athletes.

The awards winners were selected based on their performances in this year's Ranking Series events, continental championships and the World Championships. Award winners did not have to be world champions, which was a change from last year.

Click HERE for the full release on the 2019 Wrestlers of the Year. 

1. Frank CHAMIZO (ITA, 74kg), 106 points
2. J'den COX (USA, 92kg), 90 points
3. Geno PETRIASHVILI (GEO, 125kg), 88 points

1. Viktor LORINCZ (HUN, 87kg), 92 points
2. Shinobu OTA (JPN, 63kg), 88 points
3. Zhan BELENIUK (UKR, 87kg)/Musa EVLOEV (RUS, 97kg), 82 points (5,000 CHF each)

Women's Wrestling
1. Tamyra MENSAH (USA, 68kg), 108 points
2. Aisuluu TYNYBEKOVA (KGZ, 62kg), 94 points
3. Aline ROTTER FOCKEN (GER, 76kg), 87 points

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media

1. Big Move Monday -- Ciobanu V. (MDA) -- Senior Worlds 2019 #WrestleNursultan
2. #ScoreThat: How would you score this exchange for 🔴 and 🔵?
3. #TBT - Gray Grabs Third of Five World Titles
4. Sunday Smiles!
5. How loaded is 76kg for the #WrestleRome Matteo Pellicone?

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Sunday Smiles 😁!

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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."