Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! July 2, 2019

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing special wrestle-offs for Russia, Canada, and Japan. Also looking at the European Games and the Yasar Dogu entries. 

1. Russian National Championships Begin This Week 
The Ice Palace Sports Arena in Adler, Krasnodar, Russia, will host the National Championships for the defending freestyle world champions July 4-7. But, only four wrestlers will lock up their spot on the world team spot. The other winners will have to wait until early August to hopefully book their trip to Kazakhstan. 

The reason being, and as I mentioned late last week on Twitter, with a slight adjustment, the Russian Federation released European Games champions: Abdulrashid SADULAEV, Zaurbek SIDAKOV, Dauren KURUGLIEV, and Anzor KHIZRIEV, and bronze medalists Zaur UGUEV and Akhmed CHAKAEV from this week’s tournament. Russia will now hold a special wrestle-off at the Poland Open (Aug. 2-4) to determine the six remaining world team representatives. The special wrestle-offs were originally scheduled to take place at the Tbilisi GP but were moved after recent travel restrictions between Russia to Georgia.

SCHEDULE
July 4th (Thursday) 

17.00-17.30 - Draw for weight categories up to 57kg, 65kg, 74kg, 86kg, 97kg.

July 5th (Friday)
08.30-09.00 - Medical examination and weigh in for 57kg, 65kg, 74kg, 86kg, 97kg.
11.00-18.00 - Preliminary matches for 57kg, 65kg, 74kg, 86kg, 97kg. 
18.00-18.30 – Draws for 61kg, 70kg, 79kg, 92kg, 125 kg.
18.30-20.30 - Semifinal for 57kg, 65kg, 74kg, 86kg, 97kg.

July 6th (Saturday) 
08.30-08.45 - Weighing in for 57kg, 65kg, 74kg, 86kg, 97kg.
08.45-09.15 - Medical examination and weigh in for 61kg, 70kg, 79kg, 92kg, 125kg.
11.00-18.00 - Consolation matches for 57kg, 65kg, 74kg, 86kg, 97kg.
11.00-18.00 - Preliminary and semifinal matches for 61kg, 70kg, 79kg, 92kg, 125kg. 
18.00-18.30 - Opening ceremony. 
18.30-20.30 - Finalsl for 57kg, 65kg, 74kg, 86kg, 97kg.

July 7 (Sunday) 
08.30-08.45 - Weighing in for 61kg, 70kg, 79kg, 92kg, 125kg.
11.00-13.00 - Consolation for 61kg, 70kg, 79kg, 92kg, 125kg.
13.00-15.00 - Final matches for 61kg, 70kg, 79kg, 92kg, 125kg.

2. Lappage Gains World Team Spot, Named Canada’s Rep at 68kg
Budapest world silver medalist Danielle LAPPAGE (CAN) bumped up from her world championship weight of 65kg to the Olympic weight of 68kg and defeated Olivia DI BACCO (CAN), two matches to none (2-1 and 11-1) and gained the Canadian world team spot. 

With her win last week, Lappage will represent Canada on the world stage for the third time in her career. In her first trip to the World Championships (2014), she finished in eighth place, then rounded out last year with a world silver medal. In addition to her three times representing Canada at the World Championships, Dappage also represented Canada at the 2016 Olympic Games where she suffered an injury during warms up and was forced to medically forfeit out of her opening round match.

To top off her week, the newly minted 68kg world team rep also won a Canada Cup title. Lappage stomped Jayden LAURENT (USA), 10-0 and took home her first 68kg medal of the year after falling in the finals of the Sassari and the Grand Prix of Germany. 

3. Japan's Olympic-Weight World Team to be Finalized This Weekend
After the July 6 winner-take-all wrestle-offs, Japan will have their world team spots locked up at the Olympic weight classes. There are still three freestyle, two women’s wrestling and one Greco-Roman spot up for grabs, but all eyes will be locked into the three matches where a reigning world champion is one match away from defending their world gold. 

Starting with the 50kg match where two-time defending world champion Yui SUSAKI will meet her nemesis Yuki IRIE. 

Irie, the reigning Asian champion, is the only wrestler on Earth who has defeated Susaki multiple times. She gained the advantage over Susaki after winning December’s All-Japan Championships (Emperor’s Cup) - - a tournament in which Susaki was forced to sit out after she dislocated her elbow. 

Susaki then defeated Irie en route to her Meiji Cup gold and forced the July 6 wrestle-off. 

In the second highly anticipated match, Olympic champions Risako KAWAI and Kaori ICHO will meet for the world team spot at one of the deepest women’s weights in the world, 57kg. 

Rio Olympic champion Kawai fell to four-time Olympic champion Icho in the All-Japan finals but got revenge at the Meiji Cup and redeemed herself with a 6-4 victory. 

The third match featuring a returning world champion will take place at 65kg where Japan’s youngest male world champion in wrestling history Takuto OTOGURO will square off against Rio silver medalist Rei HIGUCHI.

Otoguro fell in his Meiji Cup final to Higuchi, 15-5, and will need to win on July 6 to regain his 65kg spot on the freestyle team.

4. Yasar Dogu Entries Released 
The most anticipated freestyle Ranking Series event of the year, the Yasar Dogu, will take place July 11 to 14 in Istanbul, and more than 275 wrestlers from 21 countries are expected to make the journey to Turkey's most populated city. The goal remains simple: try to pocket the remaining Ranking Series points before heading to Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, for September's World Championships. 

Since the Budapest World Championships, wrestlers have been stashing away Ranking Series points with hopes of becoming one of the forty top-four seeded wrestlers come September. The Yasar Dogu leaves those on the cusp of earning a top-four seed one last opportunity to gain those additional much-needed Ranking Series points. 

Heading into Istanbul, five wrestlers have seized the No. 1 seed, 17 wrestlers have cemented at least a top-four seed, leaving 23 seeds open for the taking in Istanbul. Though they're not all entered, there are still 150 wrestlers who could steal a seed from a current top-four seeded wrestler if they were to win a gold medal in a weight class with 20+ wrestlers in Turkey. 

Click HERE for full list of entries. 

5. Successful European Games Conclude in Minsk, Belarus 
The 2nd European Games wrapped up in Minsk, Belarus, with Russia winning the freestyle and Greco-Roman team titles, while Ukraine walked off with the women’s wrestling team title. 

In freestyle, Russia finished with six medalists, four of which were gold, and won the team title 20 points ahead of second-place Azerbaijan, and 52 points ahead of third place Georgia. The main storyline coming from the freestyle side of the competition was Abdulrashid Sadulaev becoming the first freestyle wrestler to win back-to-back European Games titles. 

In Greco-Roman, Russia won the team title, while 2016 Olympic champion Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM) got back to his winning ways after failing to medal in Budapest. Aleksanyan lifted and tossed his way to his first European Games title at 97kg in Greco-Roman. The 27-year-old Armenian shut out local favorite Aliaksandr HRABOVIK (BLR) 5-0 in the gold-medal match.

In women’s wrestling, Ukraine finished in first place, 18 points ahead of the host nation Belarus, while two women made history by reaching the podium for a second consecutive time. 

Sweden’s Sofia MATTSSON and Vasilisa MARZALIUK (BLR) became the first women two-time champions in the short history of the European Games. 

In the finals, Mattsson, a Rio Olympic bronze medalist, narrowly edged Yulia KHAVALDZHY (UKR), 6-6 after giving up a what seemed to be a match-deciding takedown. However, after a Swedish challenge, Mattsson luckily found herself on the winning end of the match and became the first-ever wrestler to win two European Games golds.  

Marzaliuk was the second women to win two straight European Games titles. Her finals match went a little different than Mattsson's, as she dominated Francy RAEDELT (GER), 9-0 in the 76kg finals.

Click HERE for the European Games event hub. 

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media! 

1. Big Move Monday -- N. NARMANDAKH (MGL) -- 2017 Cadet Worlds
2. #best10 from Day 4 at the U-15 European 
3. HERSTORY MADE! @sofiammattsson becomes the first-ever two-time European Games champion! 
4. Has Mahir AMIRASLANOV (AZE) been the most impressive wrestler of the European Games thus far?
5. Tickets for #WrestleNurSultan are on sale! Go to http://ow.ly/obUz50uM54Q to buy your tickets and come support the best wrestlers in the world. Are you in?

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.