2020 Matteo Pellicone | UWW Ranking Series

2020 Matteo Pellicone USA Greco-Roman Recap

2020 Matteo Pellicone USA Greco-Roman Recap

G’Angelo Hancock's bronze-medal finish highlighted the Greco-Roman performance from the U.S. at the 2020 Matteo Pellicone.

Jan 17, 2020 by Timmy Hands
2020 Matteo Pellicone USA Greco-Roman Recap
Perhaps it’s still fresh in your mind, not to operate with a grand amount of presumption. 

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Perhaps it’s still fresh in your mind, not to operate with a grand amount of presumption. 

Prior to the start of the Matteo Pellicone this week in Rome, the premise was easy to understand. Since the tournament, United World Wrestling’s first this year in its “Ranking Series,” brought with it the prospect of athletes earning accompanying points that could determine seeding at Continental Olympic Qualifiers, the US was an enthusiastic participant. With all six weight Olympic weight classes still requiring qualification for the American program — and Cuba staying at home — it was only natural that a fitful Star-Spangled presence was available in Rome to try and get a leg up ahead of crunch time in March. 

So, how did it work out?

On one hand, only two US athletes who will be tasked with qualifying their respective weights earned said coveted points. 

At 97 kilograms, G’Angelo Hancock came away with 14 points that were the byproduct of a bronze-medal showing that featured a quick, one-sided beatdown of two-time U23 world champion Semyon Novikov (UKR). Hancock is used to performing well at ranking events. Due to his success last season on the circuit, he acquired a #3, and then after the Worlds, a #2 ranking designation by UWW. When the top-20 is reset, he will once again enjoy a lofty place on the list. 

Adam Coon (130 kg) — of that most memorable march to World silver in 2018 — walked away from Pellicone with 10 points via his fifth-place finish. Coon’s performance involved potentially direct implications. He lost his first bout to Moises Hellburg Perez of Venezuela. That mattered, because, well, Venezuela. Perez is suitably problematic for a heavyweight and placed second at the Pan American Games this past August. Still, Coon was in the driver’s seat in the second period until a Perez four-pointer resulted in a tough decision loss. That Perez wound up with silver, and therefore more ranking points, was obviously not the ideal outcome. 

After his loss to Perez, Coon downed a very good Tuomas Lahti (FIN) to get a shot at bronze where he then fell short to Lingzhe Meng (CHN), a wrestler Coon defeated in the midst of his run to World silver — and lost to in the qualification round at the Worlds in September. 

Joe Rau (87 kg) drew multi-time medalist Viktor Lorincz (HUN) in the opening round and succumbed to a pair of gutwrenches and a takedown, all in the first period, and lost 7-0. A rebound win over Junje Na (CHN) provided some confidence, but then Ali Cengiz downed Rau for bronze. The Chicagoan did net 10 ranking points all the same, though that likely offered little consolation. 

In the same weight class, Patrick Martinez went 1-2 and also fought for bronze. It was an interesting scenario, because in that bronze round, Martinez faced Pan Am stud Luis Avendano Rojas (VEN). A win there for Martinez — not to mention a win by Rau in the other bronze match — would have been a nice get for the US given the stakes in play at March’s qualifier. But unfortunately for Martinez and the US, Avendano prevailed 4-1. 

In October, Ildar Hafizov (60 kg) defeated ‘18 World bronze Sailike Walihan (CHN) on his way to placing third at the Military World Games. It was an impressive victory. As luck (or not) would have it, Hafizov drew Walihan first on Wednesday and was drilled 9-1. Hafizov was pulled back into the repechage when Walihan advanced to the final, and was edged by China’s other 60-kilogram entrant, the compact and explosive Erbatu Tuo. 

Finally, there was Patrick Smith on Thursday, the last of the Olympic weight taskmasters who will try to end the stress in Ottawa. Who did Smith draw in the round of 16? None other than RaVaughn Perkins, one of his chief domestic adversaries. Perkins won 4-0, but lost in the quarters to eventual champ Zoltan Levai (HUN), which dashed Smith’s hopes of drumming up some points through the repechage. 

Elsewhere for the US

Max Nowry’s (55 kg) consistency overseas should demand attention. Nowry earned silver thanks to two impressive wins, most notably his throw-to-pin victory over Serif Kilic (TUR) in his third match. Other than a hiccup against champ Dogus Ayaczi (TUR, and who Nowry pinned in August), it was yet one more solid showing in what has been a string of them dating back to early last year. 

Perkins needn’t hang his head after going 2-2. US fans (and coaches, and fellow athletes) would have preferred he and Smith could have avoided another meeting overseas, but none of that is as important as health. Perkins, who wound up fifth, was in each and every match, and was able to walk away unscathed in time for what is sure to be a challenging training camp in Denmark. 

Kamal Bey (77 kg) is wrestling with just a little more patience lately, and what that is doing is creating more dynamics for his arsenal of big moves. Against seasoned Nurbek Kashimbekov (UKR), Bey rolled into the tie-ups to unleash a bomb of a headlock that ultimately set the tone for a 14-5 tech. A wonky bout with Venezuela’s Wuileixis Rivas Espinosa cut Bey’s tournament short (Perkins lost to Rivas for bronze, as well), but as a test event of sorts, Pellicone hit the mark for Bey and the others who are basically just shaping up for the Trials. 

John Stefanowicz (82 kg) didn’t waste any time gutting out Bin Hong Lin (TPE), but a semifinal loss to Sing Gurpeet (IND) that included a few odd officials’ conferences disrupted his momentum. Gurpeet pulled Stefanowicz back into the repechage where a showdown with Germany’s Florian Neumaier awaited. Neumaier is stout, disciplined — but also not much for actual offense on the feet. That meant a passive-driven affair, and one that didn’t go the Marine’s way. 

World Team member Ray Bunker (72 kg) gave up one move to Maksym Yevtushenko (UKR), a four-pointer in the second period, and sometimes that’s all it takes. Bunker pressed Yevtushenko throughout, but to the Ukrainian’s credit, he actually stood in there toe-to-toe more than most opponents. Bunker will likely have one more appearance at 72 kg when the Armed Forces Championships arrive next month and then it’ll be (back) down to 67 for the big show in April. 

67 kilograms for the US offered three athletes: Marine National Teamers Jamel Johnson and Xavier Johnson (no relation) and the major Senior overseas debut of National runner-up Calvin Germinaro. Both X. Johnson and Germinaro lost in their only bouts to Quiye Tian (CHN) and Jamel Johnson was decisioned by Anthony Palencia Puentes (VEN) 5-1. 

Other than the Marine Corps athletes, the US delegation will next go to Denmark. This weekend is Thor Masters 2020 in Nykobing Falster where a separate contingent of Americans are competing. Then starting Monday is a massive joint international training camp featuring over 150 athletes.