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Greco World Team decided this Thursday in Ithaca
Photo: Spenser Mango (right) took a first step to qualifying for his fifth World Championship when he defeated Jesse Thielke in their first match at 59k/130 pounds of the Best of 3 Championship Series last month in Las Vegas. They will meet again June 4 in Ithaca, N.Y., to decide who represents this weight at the 2015 World Championships this September in Las Vegas. (Photo by John Sachs)
Fans of the United States’ Greco-Roman wrestling program will get its first look at those men who will represent the U.S. in this September’s United World Wrestling World Championships this Thursday, June 4, in Ithaca, N.Y., the final site of 2015 Greco-Roman World Team Trials.
Unlike the men’s and women’s freestyle World Team Trials, which will be held June 12-13 in Madison, Wisc., where a challenge tournament will precede a Best-of-3 Championship Series, the Greco-Roman Trials on the campus of Cornell University will feature the second — and possible third — matches of the top two wrestlers at each of the eight weight classes of Greco’s Best-of-3 Championship Series.
The first round bouts of the Greco World Team Trials Championship Series were held May 8-9 in Las Vegas — as part of the 2015 ASICS U.S. Senior Open — and seven of the eight winners were members of the 2014 U.S. Greco-Roman World Team, including former medal winners Justin Lester (71k/156.6 pounds) and Andrew Bisek (75/165) and Spenser Mango (59/130), who has competed in four World Championships and two (2008 & ’12) Olympic Games.
The following is a closer look all eight weight classes, which will begin at 8 p.m. (EST) in the Friedman Wrestling Center at 610 North Campus in Ithaca. Greco-Roman competition at this year’s World Championships, which will be held at the Orleans Arena, will be held Sept. 7-9.
59k/130 pounds — Spenser Mango (Army WCAP) vs. Jesse Thielke (NYAC)
Round 1 Result — Mango dec. Thielke (NYAC), 5-0
Mango, 28, from St. Louis, Mo., has represented the United States at every World/Olympic competition in Greco’s lightest weight, which was 121 pounds until 2014. Mango’s highest finish in such competition was a fifth-place finish in 2013 and ’14. Thielke, from Germantown, Wisc., will be a junior this fall at the University of Wisconsin, where he qualified 141 pounds last winter’s NCAA Championships for the Badgers. The 22-year-old has appeared in four Junior Worlds, claiming a bronze in 2012.
66k/145.5 pounds — Bryce Saddoris (Marines) vs. Alejandro Sancho (NYAC)
Round 1 Result — Saddoris dec. Sancho, 1-0
Saddoris, 27, from Spring Creek, Nev., wrestled college folkstyle for the U.S. Naval Academy. In his only World Championships, he split a pair of matches in last fall’s Worlds, including a first-period pin against Loiqi Amirkhanzode of Tajikistan. The 21-year-old Sancho wrestled at South Miami High School and is in his second year on the Senior level.
71k/156.6 pounds — Justin “Harry” Lester (Army WCAP) vs. Pat Smith (Minnesota Storm)
Round 1 Result — Lester dec. Smith, 7-2
Lester, 31, from Akron, Ohio, has competed in seven World/Olympic tournaments since 2005 when he left Iowa State to focus solely on Greco and attend the United States Olympic Education Center at the University of Northern Michigan in Marquette, Mich. Lester’s highest World finishes were a pair of bronze-medal performances in 2006 and 2007 at 66k/145.5 pounds. He also competed at that weight in the 2012 Olympics. In last year’s Worlds at 71k, Lester split a pair of bouts and defeated Mindia Tursumia (Georgia), 5-0. Smith, 24, from Minneapolis, Minn., recently won a Pan-American championship and also finished second in the 2014 University World Championships.
75k/165 pounds — Andrew Bisek (Minnesota Storm) vs. Dillon Cowan (Army WCAP)
Round 1 Result — Bisek won by tech fall over Cowan, 11-0
Bisek, 28, from Chaska, Minn., has competed in three World Championships (2011, ’13 and ’14) and earned his first medal (bronze) last fall, when he scored an 8-0 technical fall against Hiroyuki Shimizu (Japan). His biggest win in last year’s Worlds came when he upset Russia’s Ramon Vlasov, 6-6 criteria in a second-round bout. Bisek lost to Neven Jugaj of Croatia, 1-0, in the quarterfinals before reaching the bronze-medal bout with a 6-5 win over Veli-Karri Suominen of Finland. Cowan, 22, from Harvard, Ill., is a graduate of the USOEC in Marquette, Mich., and his highest national finish was second in the 2014 University Nationals.
80k/176 pounds — Patrick Martinez (Army WCAP) vs. Courtney Myers (Army WCAP)
Round 1 Result — Martinez dec. Myers, 3-1
Martinez, 24, from Hemet, Fla., is in his first year on the Senior level in Greco after he wrestled in collegiate folkstyle at Wyoming and Nebraska-Kearney. Martinez reached the U.S. Open finals when he upset 2014 World Team member Joe Rau in the semifinals. Myers, 28, from Coloma, Mich., finished third in the 2013 World Team Trials and served in the U.S. Marines before joining the Army’s WCAP this past year.
85k/187.3 pounds — Jordan Holm (Minnesota Storm) vs. Jon Anderson (Army WCAP)
Round 1 Result — Holm pinned Anderson, 2:35
Holm, 33, from Northfield, Minn., has come quite a ways since he wrestled at the University of Northern Iowa. Holm won his first U.S. Open in 2011, but it wasn’t until 2013 when he earned the first of two World Team Trial titles. Ranked 11th in the World, Holm went 0-1 in last year’s Worlds, losing 5-0 to Rustam Assakalov (Uzbekistan). Anderson, 30, from Virginia Beach, Va., competed at 75k/165 pounds the last two years and finished second in the World Team Trials each year.
98k/216 pounds — Caylor Williams (Army WCAP) vs. Kevin Beazley (Virginia Beach Regional Training)
Round 1 Result — Williams won by tech fall over Beazley, 13-3
Williams, 24, from Palm Bay, Fla., wrestled collegiately at UNC-Greensboro before making an impact in Greco in 2014, when he won the U.S. Open and World Team Trials. In his only World match last fall, he lost 3-0 to Norway’s Marthin Nielsen. Beazley, from Howell, Mich., represented the United States at the Junior Worlds the last two years.
130k/286 pounds — Robby Smith (NYAC) vs. Toby Erickson (NYAC)
Round 1 Result — Smith pinned Erickson, 3:24
Smith, 28, from Danville, Calif., has represented the United States in the last two Worlds, finishing fifth in 2013 before splitting a pair of bouts last fall. His only win in 2014 came against Jon Won Hwang (Korea), 8-2. Erickson, 23, from Helena, Mont., finished second to Smith in last year’s World Team Trials finishing third in the 2012 Olympic Trials.