Nowry, Hafizov lead U.S. Greco through transition with Top-10 finishes at Worlds

Updated: September 13, 2022

Photo: Max Nowry used this arm throw to take down Arjun Halakurki of India and eventually posted the first of two pins at 55 kilos in Greco-Roman competition at the 2022 World Championships in Serbia. Unfortunately, Nowry lost his last two matches and settled for fifth place. (Justin Hoch photo)

By Mike Finn

Greco-Roman — the first of three tournaments at the 2022 UWW World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia — was contested Sept. 10-13 and is now complete. A Team USA Greco program that is in transition after coach Matt Lindland recently stepped down was led by two Top-10 finishes from Max Nowry and Ildar Hafizov in the two lightest weights.

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Overall, the 10 Americans won seven of 21 Greco matches in Stark Arena, including a pair of wrestlers, representing the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program — Max Nowry (55k) and Ildar Hafizov (60k) — who won two bouts and came the closest to earning a medal in Serbia.

Nowry, 32-year-old native of Wheeling, Ill., pinned two foes in his third Worlds appearance and reached the semifinals before settling for fifth place.

Hafizov, the 34-year-old immigrant from Uzbekistan, also won his first two bouts while competing in a sixth World Championship before losing to an eventual finalist. Once pulled into repechage, he lost a match and settled for 10thplace.

Also recording wins in Greco were Alex Sancho (67k) and a pair of collegiate wrestlers: Braxton Amos (97k) and Cohlton Schultz (130k).

Braxton Amos, one of two college wrestlers representing the U.S. Greco-Roman team at the 2022 Worlds, split two bouts at 97 kilos. (Justin Hoch photo)

2022 UWW World Championships Greco-Roman

U.S. Results and Match Notes

55k/121 pounds – Max Nowry (Colorado Springs, Colo./Army WCAP) – 5th

1st round – pinned Arjun Halakurki (India), 5:02 – Nowry was trailing 3-1 when he used an arm throw to put the Indian on his back with 1:10 left before Nowry eventually scored the fall 12 seconds later. Nowry had injured his elbow when Halakurki scored a takedown with 44 seconds left in the first period.

Quarterfinal – pinned Fabian Schmitt (Germany), 4:58 – Shortly after Nowry scored a passivity point — that tied the match 1-1 with two minutes left — the American first used a bar arm to turn the German for two exposure points, readjusted his hold for two more exposure points, then scored the fall with about a minute left in the match.

Semifinal – lost by TF to Eldaniz Azizli (Azerbaijan), 9-0 (1:44) — The eventual champ, who also won gold in 2018 and a pair of bronzes in 2019 and ’21, scored all his points after earning a passivity point at the 4:38 mark. From there, he used a pair of guts to lead 5-0, then ended the match when he lifted Nowry and threw him off the mat for four additional points.

Bronze – lost to Yu Shiotani (Japan), 7-0 — The two-time Asian champion scored all his points in the first period. First, he used an arm throw to take a 4-0 lead over Nowry a minute into the match, before he added a stepout point and countered a takedown attempt by the American with five seconds left in the first period.

60k/132 pounds – Ildar Hafizov (Colorado Springs, Colo./Army WCAP) – 10th

Prelim – dec. Ditcher Toro Castaneda (Colombia), 9-6 — This was a wild match that saw the Colombian wrestler take a 10-9 lead with 1:33 in the match before a challenge by Hafizov’s corner took seven points away from Toro Castaneda because of an illegal throw. Before that, Hafizov countered a lift for a takedown to lead 4-2 with 38 seconds left in the first, then used a chest lock to lead 9-2 before the intermission.

1st round – dec. Michal Tracz (Poland), 7-1 — Hafizov broke open a close match when he used an upper-body lock for a four-point takedown with a minute left. His final two points came when he countered a takedown attempt by the Pole with seven seconds left.

Quarterfinal – lost by fall to Zholaman Sharshenbekov (Kyrgyzstan), 0:45 — The 2021 World silver medalist used a throw 36 seconds into the match before he scored the fall nine seconds later. Hafizov was brought back into repechage when Sharshenbekov defeated Aidos Sultangati of Kazakhstan 7-0 in the semifinals.

Repechage – lost by TF to Krisztian Kecskemeti (Hungary), 9-0 – After the Hungarian earned a passivity point midway through the first period, Kecskemeti used a gut-wrench for four points, then added another gut for two. The match ended at the first-period buzzer when the Hungarian countered a Hafizov takedown attempt.

63k/138.5 pounds – Sam Jones (Rockford, Mich./New York AC) – dnp

Prelim – lost to Neeraj Neeraj (India), 4-0 — Jones, who replaced Final X winner Jesse Thielke in what would be his second World Championships, gave up a passivity point and a two-point gut at the 4:42 mark to the Indian, who added a stepout with 2:28 left in the match. Jones was eliminated when Neeraj lost his next match.

67k/147.5 pounds – Alex Sancho (Colorado Springs, Colo./Army WCAP) – dnp

Prelim – won by TF over Norva Bukasa (Congo), 9-0 — Shortly after earning a passivity point, the American used a pair of guts to post two four-point scoring sequences, the second coming with 1:17 left in the first period.

1st round – lost to Parviz Nasibov (Ukraine), 5-0 — Nasibov, the 2020 Olympic silver medalist, scored all of his points in the first period, including a four-point gut with 26 seconds left before intermission. Sancho was eliminated when Nasibov lost his next match.

72k/158.5 pounds – Benji Peak (Marquette, Mich./MNU-OTS/Sunkist Kids), dnp

Prelim – lost to Robert Fritsch (Hungary), 3-1 — Competing in his first Worlds, Peak took a 1-0 lead off a passivity point before the Hungarian used a throw-by takedown and stepout in the final two minutes. Peak was eliminated when Fritsch lost his next match.

77k/169.5 pounds – Kamal Bey (Colorado Springs, Colo./Army WCAP) – dnp

Prelim – lost to Viktor Nemes (Serbia), 4-0 — Nemes, the 2017 World champion, ended the American’s time in Serbia when he scored a passivity point, stepout and takedown with two minutes left … then eliminated Bey when he lost his semifinal match.

82k/180.5 pounds – Spencer Woods (Colorado Springs, Colo./Army WCAP) – dnp

Prelim – lost by fall to Chengwu Wang (China), fall 4:01 — The Alaska native, who replaced Final X champ Ben Provisor in the Worlds, was actually a point away from scoring a technical fall when Wang used a lateral drop to take down Woods with 2:34 left and then pinned him 30 seconds later. Woods had jumped out to a 4-0 left off an arm drag before Wang used an arm spin and two guts to lead 6-4. Woods then countered two takedown attempts by the Chinese wrestler and used a reverse gut and trapped-arm gut to lead 13-6 as the first period ended.

87k/191.5 pounds – Alan Vera (New York, N.Y./NYC RTC/New York AC), dnp

Prelim – lost to Haitao Qian (China), 5-3 — Vera, the Cuban immigrant, led 1-0 at the break before Qian used a par-terre advantage off a passivity call to lift and throw Vera off the mat for a 5-1 lead with 2:15 left. Vera’s final two points came off a takedown with 49 seconds left.

97k/213.5 pounds: Braxton Amos (Mineral Wells, W.V./Badger RTC/Sunkist Kids) – dnp

Prelim – dec. Vladlen Kozliuk (Ukraine), 12-6 — Subbing for 2021 World bronze medalist G’Angelo Hancock, who retired this summer after winning Final X, Amos broke open a 6-6 tie on a headlock with 38 seconds left before closing out the scoring with a trapped-arm gut with 20 seconds left. A counter and headlock gave the Wisconsin college wrestler a 6-2 lead before the Ukrainian battled back on a takedown and trapped-arm gut with 2:11 left in the bout.

1st round – lost to Beksultan Makhmudov (Kyrgyzstan), 5-2 – Appearing in his fourth World Championships, Makhmudov jumped out to a 5-0 lead off a passivity point and a pair of gut-wrenches midway through the first period before Amos added a passivity and stepout point.

130k/286.5 pounds – Cohlton Schultz (Parker, Colo./Sunkist Kids) – dnp

Prelim – dec. David Ovasapyan (Armenia), 1-1 — Schultz, the NCAA All-American from Arizona State, won his first match when his point off of a passivity call with 2:17 left was the last point scored. The Armenia earned a par-terre advantage with 55 seconds left but could not turn the American.

1st round – lost to Oskar Marvik (Norway), 5-0 — The Norwegian, who claimed World bronze in 2021, scored a passivity point, two step-outs and off a throw-by takedown to blank Schultz, who was eliminated when Marvik lost his next match.