We're just two months away from the 2017 world championships, and it's about time to start looking ahead to it. Yesterday we went over the possible seeds at 57kg, and today we're looking up to 61kg.
This weight is a little easier to predict and will be absolutely loaded. We'll see the two guys who have won the last three titles at this weight in Haji Aliyev (AZE) and Logan Stieber, as well as 2016 Olympic gold medalist at 57kg Vladimer Khinchegashvili. Depth at this weight was dealt a slight blow this week when 57kg Olympic silver Rei Higuchi (JPN) was upset at the Meiji Cup by Rinya Nakamura.
Remember, separation points could only be earned at the Olympics, at the world championships in December, and at the various continental championships this year. They do not carry up or down in weight. Below are the current top seven with most points accrued for the lightest weight class, but all of the total points earned can be seen here.
Commentary: I feel very confident that the top three are locked into their seeds. Stieber will be the first of three #1 seeds for America, and gets a chance to defend his world title from Budapest in December.
Stieber ranks second in overall points, behind Akhmed Chakaev who he beat in the world quarterfinals and ahead of Behnam Ehsanpoor who he beat in the world semis. Chakaev lost to Gadzhimurad Rashidov in the Russian finals, and Masoud Esmaeipoor was sent to the Islamic Solidarity Games over Ehsanpoor. Esmaeilpoor also beat Stieber at the World Cup.
One of the elder statesmen of this bracket is your likely two seed, Andrei Perpelita (MDA). At 32 years old, he has never won a senior level world medal, but has three European bronzes on his resume. The most recent one put him in position to sit opposite of Stieber.
I say one of because even older than Perpelita is Youri Siemakin (FRA), now wrestling for the host country but formerly of the Ukraine. Siemakin made the switch after 2013 and has been able to amass 53 separation points despite not winning a medal at either the world or European championships.
This is where it starts to get interesting. In general, it is far easier to find information on the European nations than the Asian ones, making it more likely to incorrectly project a starter out of a country like Uzbekistan. Currently, Temurjon Usmonohov (UZB) holds the last seed position. It seems likely he goes, but just to be safe we're looking at who sits in spots 5-7.
Few wrestlers in the world seem to be as clutch as Khinchegashvili, most recently shown in his comeback from seven points down to Chakaev in the Euro finals. He'll likely either end up on the same side as Logan, or thrown into the random draw, which isn't exactly ideal for American fans.
Falling into the "unlikely to get a seed category" is Valodya Frangulyan (ARM), a 2012 junior world bronze medalist who the inaugural U23 Euro title at 61kg. His bronze at Euros this year puts him in the six spot, which could very well mean Armenia's only seed on the men's freestyle side.
Georgi Kaliev (BLR) needs a lot of guys to drop out to end up seeded. The 2016 Medved champ and Euro runner-up has not had a great year. A more notable unseeded guy will be Vladimir Dubov (BUL), a 2013 world silver and 2015 world bronze medalist who has one of the most dangerous gut wrenches in the bracket.
Also in the mix of dangerous random draw land mines are Gadzhimurad Rashidov (RUS), a multiple time age level world medalist, Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez (CUB), a post world bronze medalist with a devastating reverse lift from par terre, and Haji Aliyev (AZE), the guy who won this weight in 2014 and 2015.
Projected 61kg Seeds
- Logan Stiber (USA), 62 points
- Andrei Perpelita (MDA), 55 points
- Youri Siemakin (FRA), 53 points
- Temurjon Usmonohunov (UZB), 42 points