Olympic Qualification Paths For Frank Molinaro and J'Den Cox

Olympic Qualification Paths For Frank Molinaro and J'Den Cox

The draw can be your friend or it can be your enemy. On the men’s freestyle side, the United States didn’t make any friends at weigh-ins. Both J’den Cox and

Apr 23, 2016 by Brock Hite
Olympic Qualification Paths For Frank Molinaro and J'Den Cox
The draw can be your friend or it can be your enemy. On the men’s freestyle side, the United States didn’t make any friends at weigh-ins. Both J’den Cox and Frank Molinaro drew into the bottom half of the bracket with one extra round to navigate en route to the finals. A true bronze bout could be the sixth match of the day for the bottom bracket wrestler, while just the fourth for a wrestler out of the top bracket. The unbalanced bracket is definitely a disadvantage for the bottom bracket wrestlers as they seek Olympic qualification.

It doesn’t take a mathematician to figure out the chance of drawing more tough guys into your side of the bracket increases when you draw the bottom side of the bracket. Everything went according to chance as Frank Molinaro is looking at an incredibly difficult path to qualification.

Frank Molinaro, 65kg

Molinaro’s day will start off favorably as he drew Xuan Dingh Nguyen of Vietnam. At the Asian Olympic Games Qualifier Nguyen won one bout before falling to Yogeshwar Dutt (IND) and Ju Song Kim (PRK). He also went 1-1 at last year’s World Championships.

In round two expect Molinaro to face Turkey’s Yakup Gor. Gor has earned silver and bronze medals the past two World Championships up at 70kg. Mustafa Kaya has manned 65kg the past two years for Turkey and was unable to qualify the country at last week’s European Games Qualifier.

Possible quarterfinal opponents consist of Mihail Sava of Moldova or Seung-Chul Lee of South Korea. Sava defeated Lee in July of 2015 at the Ion Corneanu Memorial. Molinaro also has a win over Lee. That came in the Grand Prix of Spain finals a week before Sava defeated Lee. Sava was a world bronze medalist in 2014 defeating Kaya (TUR), Bucur (ROM), and Zarkua (GEO) en route to that bronze medal.

Three guys to watch for coming out of the middle quarter of the bottom bracket are: Haislan Garcia of Canada, Adam Batirov of Bahrain, and George Bucur of Romania. All three have had solid results at the world level. The most interesting story of the group is former Russian Adam Batirov. He was 5th in the 2011 World Championships at 66kg. He fell short in the Asian Olympic Games Qualifier, losing to Katal Yeerlanbieke of China in the semifinal.

The top side of the bracket is considerably lighter in talented wrestlers. Look for Borislav Novachkov of Bulgaria to take on Zurabi Iakobishvili of Georgia or 2013 World Champion, David Safaryan of Armenia, to make the finals and earn qualification. If Novachkov comes through the top side of the bracket, expect the Safaryan/Iakobishvili winner to be the repechage bronze medalist from the top bracket.

J'Den Cox, 86kg

J’Den Cox doesn’t have quite as tough of a path as Molinaro, but it is by no means an easy route to Olympic qualification. His day will start against Armenia’s Shamir Atyan. Atyan was fifth at the European Championships in March, but did not represent Armenia at the European Olympic Games Qualifier. He has past junior world experience finishing 9th at the 2013 Junior World Championships.

Possible round two opponents lack significant credentials on the senior level. Timofei Xenidis was a junior world bronze medalist back in 2011. This finish is better than any of his performances at the European Championships at both the junior and senior levels. He wrestles Pakistan’s Muhammad Inam first round. Inam was 30th at the 2015 World Championships and 5th at the 2015 Asian Championships.

Armands Zvirbulis of Latvia is expected to be waiting in the quarterfinals if Cox gets through the first two rounds. He is a veteran of the freestyle circuit, but his best results date back to 2012. Don’t be deceived by the third place finish at the European Olympic Games Qualifier.  He picked up several medical forfeits in the repechage after losing in the round of 16.

The bracket sets up for Umidyon Ismanov of Uzbekistan to come out of the middle quarterfinal in the bottom bracket. He has some solid international results but nothing spectacular. His best credential is an Asian Championship in 2013. In that final he defeated Aibek Usupov of Kyrgyzstan. Usupov didn’t have an international result between 2014 and the Asian Championships this February where he finished 5th. They could meet in round 2.

On the top side of the bracket 2015 European Games silver medalist Piotr Ianulov of Moldova should meet Pedro Francisco Ceballos Fuentes of Venezuela in the quarterfinal. The winner of that bout should earn the qualification spot from the top side of the bracket. A spoiler could be Lyubomir Sagaliuk of Ukraine. He has been behind Ibragim Aldatov on the depth chart in Ukraine. He got the call this week after Aldatov came up short last week at the European Olympic Games Qualifier.

If both weights are to be qualified in Mongolia, the spots will truly have been earned. Action begins 8PM EST Saturday night.