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Tony Ramos vs Nahshon Garrett: A Closer Look

Tony Ramos vs Nahshon Garrett: A Closer Look
Photo: John Sachs
Nahshon Garrett was a big talking piece heading into the 2016 US Olympic Team Trials. He has a skill set that is second to none, but many people wondered how he would transition to freestyle at the senior level.

Although Garrett does have freestyle experience, age-group wrestling in the United States is drastically different than the senior level. Garrett was a Fargo All-American, and in 2014, he won University Nationals, but was kept off the University World Team after he lost a challenge wrestle-off to Matt McDonough. Nonetheless, a lot of people thought his skill set would put him in position to challenge for an Olympic team spot as soon as this year.

Everyone circled the potential Tony Ramos quarterfinal when the bracket was redrawn Friday evening. First, Garrett had to get past former world fifth-place finisher, Angel Escobedo, who he defeated to lock in the highly anticipated match with Ramos.

Ramos was the reigning two-time world team member at 57kg and No. 1 seed. He also had the edge in freestyle experience, but a lot of people in the wrestling community thought Garrett's neutral wrestling skills could pose a problem for Ramos and everyone else in the 57kg bracket.

The bout did not disappoint fans as it was a very entertaining, but low-scoring affair. It's unfortunate that such a great bout is now overshadowed by controversy surrounding the fleeing-the-hold call that gave the criteria victory to Ramos. Let's look deeper into the bout and the rule that is being hotly debated.

Garrett came out of the gate strong, scoring a high double leg 0:33 into the match. Ramos' reaction to the double was a big factor in the match. Garrett lifted him clear of the mat with the double leg, but was not able to bring Ramos down in the danger position. Huge credit goes to Ramos for only giving up the two-point takedown instead of four points for feet to danger.

Garrett followed the takedown up with a step-out point at the 1:38 mark of the first period to extend the lead to 3-0. At this point, Garrett had taken the only committed attacks of the match and scored on both of them. Ramos and Garrett traded attacks before Ramos picked up a passivity call with 0:24 remaining in the period. The committed attacks in the first period were in favor of Garrett, 3-1.

Ramos came out in the second period and started firing off committed attacks that were missing in the first period. After the first two attacks, Garrett drew his first passivity call of the bout 0:45 into period number two. Ramos kept the pressure on and forced another passivity call at the 1:13 mark of the period to put Garrett on the shot clock.

Garrett took a spear single to get in deep halfway through the shot clock, but Ramos sprawled out of danger after being lifted clear of the mat. He used this opportunity to run the corner to a cradle. He was forced to transition to a single leg to secure the takedown.

This is where the bout started to get controversial. They traded attacks to run the clock below 0:30. This is significant because Garrett could not be put on the shot clock again with the remaining time. With 0:23 remaining, Garrett was issued an attention, and encouraged to make contact. After three more Ramos attacks on the restart, the referee stopped the bout to caution Garrett. It is assumed the chairman, who was off-camera, confirmed the call to put the decisive point on the board for Ramos.

The real problem lies with the judge on the far side of the mat. He can clearly be seen putting the white paddle in the air to declare he did not agree with the caution. I believe all three need to confirm the call, which did not happen. Read the rule and decide for yourself if this procedure was correct:


Keep in mind, the rule book is not written in English, but translated after the fact into English. It sometimes is difficult to distinguish the situation without a case manual. Here is the definition of fleeing a hold:


By this definition, it could be called every time you defend a leg attack. It becomes a very gray area, and consistency is needed for the wrestlers to compete under fair conditions. I think the rule should be removed to allow a black-and-white call in the last 30 seconds. If you can run away without going out of bounds in that amount of time, you earned it by scoring more points in the first 5:30.

It doesn't matter what side of the fence you are on when debating this call; there is something we all can agree on: We deserve a clear set of rules. That makes it easier to officiate, wrestle, and coach when everyone is on the same page with a clearly defined set of rules. Ramos out-attacked Garrett in the bout, 9 to 7. Does that warrant the decisive point to be awarded because Ramos recklessly took attacks while trailing late in the bout?

Let us know what you think in the comments section.
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