Weekly FIVE!

Weekly FIVE! September 3, 2019

By Eric Olanowski

Discussing Iran's new freestyle line up and Retherford downing Diakomihalis to claim USA's 65kg world team spot. Also looking at the most wide-open weight at the World Championships and when rosters are scheduled to be released. 

1. Iran’s New-Look Lineup 
Iran finalized their freestyle roster over the weekend and made two major unexpected updates to the top half of their lineup. 

Reza YAZADANI (IRI) and Parviz HADI (IRI) were entered at 97kg and 125kg respectively, but both suffered injuries during their final training cycle and will no longer compete in Kazakhstan. 

Yazdani, the two-time world champion, will be replaced by Ali Khalil SHABANIBENGAR (IRI) at 97kg. Shabanibengar was a runner-up at the Yasar Dogu, where he lost to Kyle SNYDER (USA) in the finals. 

Yadollah MOHEBI (IRI) will replace returning world bronze medalist Parviz Hadi at 125kg. This season, Mohebi won the Takhti Cup and Asian Championships and also finished in fifth place at the Yasar Dogu. 

Iran’s Freestyle Lineup 
57kg - Reza ATRINAGHARCHI
61kg - Behnam Eshagh EHSANPOOR
65kg - Amirmohammad Babak YAZDANICHERATI
70kg - Yones Aliakbar EMAMICHOGHAEI
74kg - Reza Alireza AFZALIPAEMAMI
79kg - Bahman Mohammad TEYMOURI
86kg - Hassan Aliazam YAZDANICHARATI
92kg - Alireza Mohammad KARIMIMACHIANI
97kg - Ali Khalil SHABANIBENGAR
125kg - Yadollah MOHEBI

2. Retherford Takes Down Diakomihalis, to Represent USA at 65kg 
Zain RETHERFORD (USA) downed Yianni DIAKOMIHALIS (USA), 2-1, and will represent the United States of America at 65kg at the 2019 World Championships. 

Retherford won the first Final X series a few months ago, but after an arbitrator negated the result from the second match, Retherford had the 1-0 series lead coming into Monday’s match. Retherford only needed to win one match to punch his ticket, while Diakomihalis needed to win two straight matches.

In their Monday matchup, all the action came in the first period. Retherford trailed 1-0 after a failed challenge but capitalized on a counter-offensive crotch lift and took the 2-1 lead into the second period. 

A scoreless final three minutes gave Retherford the victory he needed to punch his ticket to the 2019 World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. 

This'll be his second trip to the World Championships. He also represented the United States at the 2017 World Championships in Paris, where he finished in 11th place. 

USA’s Freestyle World Team: 
57kg - Daton FIX 
61kg - Tyler GRAFF
65kg - Zain RETHERFORD
70kg - James GREEN 
74kg - Jordan BURROUGHS 
79kg - Kyle DAKE 
86kg - Pat DOWNEY 
92kg - J'den COX 
97kg - Kyle SNYDER 
125kg - Nick GWIAZDOWSKI

Takuto OTOGURO (JPN) returns to the World Championships with hopes of defending his 65kg title from a year ago. (Photo: Max Rose-Fyne)

3. The Most Wide-Open Weight: 65kg 
The most wide-open weight class for the World Championships is going to 65kg. There are three of the four returning world medalists who are currently entered, and an Olympic gold medalist and a three-time world champion.

The returning medalists, who finished with gold through bronze respectively, were Takuto OTOGURO (JPN), Bajrang PUNIA (IND), and Alejandro VALDES TOBIER (CUB). 

Although they failed to medal at last year's World Championships, two other wrestlers who have a shot at winning the 65kg world title are Haji ALIYEV (AZE) and Vladimer KHINCHEGASHVILI (GEO). 

Aliyev comes into the Nur-Sultan looking for his fourth world title since 2014. This season, the Azeri is undefeated and has won the European Championships and European Games. 

Khinchegashvili, the Rio Olympic champion, is another serious threat to win the world title at 65kg. He's coming off a European Games runner-up-finish where he fell to Aliyev in the gold-medal bout. 

Myles AMINE (SMR), a European Games bronze medalist, will be the first freestyle wrestler from San Marino to compete at the World Championships. He's entered at 86kg. (Photo: Gabor Martin)

4. World Lineup to be Released This Week
The deadline for teams to make updates to their world team entries ends tomorrow, September 4. After the deadline has passed, United World Wrestling will be releasing the entries through the week. Currently, the entry list is just shy of 1000 wrestlers from 100 different nations.

5. World Championships Countdown: 11 Days
The wait is almost over. We’re into the month of September, which means its officially World Championships month. The 2019 World Championships kick off on September 14 in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. 

This year’s World Championships will hold immense weight because the top-six wrestlers in each weight category will qualify their nation's spot for the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. 

The schedule for this year’s Worlds is much different than that of the Budapest World Championships. Unlike last year, where Greco-Roman closed out the 2018 World Championships, Greco-Roman will instead kick things off this year -- beginning on September 14. Women’s wrestling will be sandwiched in between Greco-Roman and freestyle -- starting on September 17. Finally, freestyle will close out the World Championships, with the potential third match-up between the three-time world and Olympic champions Abdulrashid Sadualev and Kyle Snyder squaring off the 97kg gold medal. The pair have split the last two world titles at 97kg, with Snyder winning in Paris and Sadualev exacting revenge in Budapest by picking up the 70-second fall. 

Here is the World Championships SCHEDULE

Weekly FIVE! In Social Media
1. Big Move Monday -- Sadulaev A. (RUS) -- Senior Worlds 2015
2. #TBT Petriashvili Edges Akgul to Win First World Title
3. Follow The Beach Wrestling World Series Final This Week-end!!
4. Will @hasan_yazdani73 reclaim his crown? Let us know what you think!
5. Tickets for #WrestleNurSultan are On Sale!

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Big Move Monday -- Sadulaev A. (RUS) -- Senior Worlds 2015

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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."