Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! May 28, 2019

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing Aleksanyan's return, and results from the Sassari. Also looking at David Taylor's injury and the next set of world rankings. 

1. World and Olympic Champ Aleksanyan Victorious in Return
Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM), the three-time world and Olympic champion made his return to competition this weekend for the first time since failing to medal at the 2018 World Championships in Budapest. 

Aleksanyan, who had medaled at six consecutive World Championships and Olympic Games, dropped his semifinals match in Budapest against eventual world champion Musa EVLOEV (RUS) and forfeited out of the 97kg bronze-medal bout falling to a fifth-place finish. 

This weekend, the “White Bear” returned to the mat at the B. Turlykhanov Cup in Almaty, Kazakhstan, winning the 97kg gold medal. Aleksanyan went 5-0, scoring wins against A. ALIZADEH (IRI), A. ISKAKOV (KAZ), R. NADAREISHVILI (GEO), D. SOTNIKOV (RUS), and A. GOLOVIN (RUS).

The Armenian scored three points in each of his matches and only conceded a single point in his quarterfinals and finals match against Nadareishvili and Golovin, respectively.   

60kg - Ali reza ayat ollah NEJATI (IRI) df. Aidos SULTANGALI (KAZ), via injury default 
67kg - Zaur KABALOEV (RUS) df. Shmagi BOLKVADZE (GEO), via injury default
77kg - Askhat DILMUKHAMEDOV (KAZ) df. Aleksandr CHEKHIRKIN (RUS), 3-1 
87kg - Bekkhan OZDOEV (RUS) df. Ramin soltanmorad TAHERISARTANG (IRI), 3-1 
97kg - Arturn ALEKSANYAN (ARM) df. Aleksandr GOLOVIN, (RUS), 3-0 
130kg - Kiryl HRYSHCHANKA (BLR) df. Vitalii SHCHUR (RUS), 3-0 

2. Wiebe Pins Vorobeva in Battle of Olympic Champions; Chamizo wins Gold in Home Country 
In arguably the most anticipated women’s wrestling match in the Ranking Series' two-year history, Rio Olympic champion Erica WIEBE (CAN) only needed two minutes to pick up the fall over London Olympic champion Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS). 

In the first period of the 76kg finals, Wiebe ducked a front headlock attempt from her Russian opponent and used an unorthodox inside leg hook to throw Vorobeva on her back for the fall. “The secret to my success is I’m pretty dangerous from every position,” Wiebe said when asked about the unconventional maneuver she used to pick up the fall. She went on to say, “Today was a test, and I’m happy with how I competed. I love being creative on the mats, and I love to get to wrestling positions. That’s my bread and butter, so I went for it.”

With her win in Italy last weekend, Wiebe jumps Elmira SYZDYKOVA (KAZ) for the No. 5 spot in the world at 76kg with 52 points. 

Meanwhile, Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) capped off his run to a Sassari title in front of his home nation with a 6-4 win over tenth-ranked Daniyar KAISANOV (KAZ) in a battle of reigning 74kg continental champions. 

Chamizo used the support from the ruckus Italian crowd to push him past Kaisanov in the finals. “I’m so happy for (the fans). They support me; I needed that. I love the fans.” 

The Italian, who won the European Championships last month in Bucharest, Romania, found himself in a four-point hole against the reigning Asian champion after surrendering a takedown and a leg lace - but closed the Kazakh wrester’s lead to two points with a takedown of his own before the ending whistle of the first period sounded. 

In the second period, Chamizo picked up his offensive attack rate and gained the criteria lead with an early two. The two-time world champion tacked on his second takedown of the period and third overall for the match and took the 6-4 advantage into the final 30 seconds. Chamzio fought off several attacks and won his first career Sassari gold medal, improving on his eighth-place finish from 2014. 

Chamizo entered the Sassari as the fourth-ranked wrestler in the world with 56 points and will jump Avtandil KENTCHADZE (GEO) and Jordan Ernest BURROUGHS (USA) after collecting 16 points for his gold-medal performance on Saturday.

Final Results 

Women's Wrestling

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3. David Taylor Out For Final X, Nur-Sultan World Championships 
David TAYLOR (USA), the reigning 86kg world champion and one of the best pound-for-pound wrestlers in the world, announced on is social media channels that he’s withdrawing from Final X, the United States’ World Team selection tournament. Taylor recently underwent surgery to repair right knee damage sustained in his Beat the Street’s charity bout while wrestling Drew FOSTER (USA). 

In the opening sequence of the May 6 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.

If David Taylor weren't injured and had been healthy enough to compete at Final X, he would have had to defeat Pat DOWNEY (USA) in a best-of-three series for the 86kg spot. With Taylor out, Downey, the winner of the 86kg bracket at US Open, will now be awarded the United States' World Team spot. 

Also of note, Taylor’s departure from the Final X means that Fatih ERDIN (TUR), who has 84 Ranking Series points, has locked up the No.1 seed at the World Championships. 

Here's what the 86kg rankings look like after removing Taylor:
No. 1 - Fatih ERDIN (TUR) (86 points) 
No. 2 - Hassan YAZDANI (43 points) 
No. 3 - Taimuraz FRIEV (ESP) (39 points)
No. 4 - Dauren KURUGLIEV (RUS) (36 points)

Henna JOHANSSON (SWE) won the 62kg Sassari title, outplacing two other wrestlers from Sweden in her bracket. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

4. Important In-Country Battles Take Place Sassari 
There were 13 in-country battles that took place at the Sassari, but three matches, in particular, are expected to have further implications on the selection process for the upcoming European Games (when applicable) and the 2019 World Championships. 

In Greco-Roman, Hungary's Viktor LORINCZ won his third Ranking Series gold medal of the year, to improve his 2019 record to 13-0, and picked up his third consecutive Ranking Series victory over fellow Hungarian Erik SZILVASSY. Lorincz now has wins over the U23 world champion at the Zagreb Open, the Hungarian Grand Prix, and the Sassari, and cemented himself as Hungary’s top 87kg wrestler. 

In women’s wrestling, Sweden, who is stumbling over the decision of who to enter into the European Games and World Championships, inserted three world-class athletes into the 62kg bracket in Sardinia: Henna JOHANSSON (SWE), Malin MATTSSON (SWE), and Moa NYGREN (SWE). 

The decision is extremely tough because Johansson and Mattsson both have world bronze medals, and Nygren is coming off a European bronze-medal finish in Bucharest last month.

In Sardina, Mattsson and Nygren met in the first round, where Mattsson came out on top, 6-2. Mattsson ultimately settled for a bronze medal finish – but it was Johansson who went undefeated and came out on top of the bracket, defeating Elmira GAMBAROVA (AZE), 6-4. 

In freestyle, Iran’s senior Asian champion Alireza KARIMIMACHIANI stopped U23 Asian champion Arashk MOHEBI (IRI), 7-0, and gained supremacy at 92kg. Karimi went on to win the tournament and Mohebi fought back and finished in third. 

After winning titles at the Sassari and Asian C'ships, and finishing the World C'ships, Zagreb Open, and Hungarian Grand Prix in third place, KIM Hyeonwoo (KOR) has locked up the 77kg No. 1 seed at the World Championships. (Photo: Gabor Martin) 

5. New World Rankings to be Released Next Week
United World Wrestling will be releasing the latest point-based rankings next week. The June edition of the world rankings will include results from the Budapest World Championships, all five of the Continental Championships, and the first three Ranking Series events. 

There are two Ranking Series events left where wrestlers can earn additional points before the 2019 World Championships, which take place in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan on September 14-22.

Istanbul, Turkey will host the final freestyle and women's wrestling Ranking Series event, the Yasar Dogu, on July 11-14, and Minsk, Belarus will be the host site for the Oleg Karavaev (July 26-28), which is the remaining Greco-Roman Ranking Series event. 

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media

1. Big Move Monday -- P.OLLI (FIN) -- 2018 World C'ships
2. What a second period! Frank CHAMIZO (ITA) erases a three-point second-period deficit by scoring a pair of takedowns to defeat Khetik TSABOLOV, 5-4 #WrestleSassari#freestylewrestling#unitedworldwrestling
3. World Wrestling Day
4. In arguably the most anticipated women’s wrestling match in the Ranking Series' two-year history, Rio Olympic champion Erica WIEBE (CAN) only needed two minutes to pick up the fall over London Olympic champion Natalia VOROBEVA (RUS). “The secret to my success is I’m pretty dangerous from every position.”
5. Gold Medal Matches - Sassari 2019 - Day 1. The Greco-Roman final matches from the Ranking Series event in Italy.

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Big Move Monday -- P.OLLI (FIN) -- 2018 World C'ships

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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."