The United States is sending a ridiculously loaded roster to France for the Henri Deglane Grand Prix. This is the first competition for many since early 2020 and an important step toward the Olympic Trials in April and the Olympic Games this summer. Here's everything you need to know before watching Team USA take on some of the world's best this weekend.
Competition for each weight from qualification rounds through finals will be wrestled in one day in a single session instead of the two day format used for the World Championships. More information about the schedule is available on the United World Wrestling website.
Friday, January 15, 4:00 AM EST - Women's Freesyle (50kg, 53kg, 57kg, 62kg, 68kg, 76kg - all weights +2 kilos)
Saturday, January 16, 4:00 AM EST - Men's Freestyle (57kg, 61kg, 65kg, 70kg, 74kg, 79kg, 86kg, 92kg, 97kg, 125kg - all weights +2 kilos)
Sunday, January 17, 4:00 AM EST - Greco Roman (55kg, 60kg, 63kg, 67kg, 72kg, 77kg, 82kg, 87kg, 97kg, 130kg - all weights +2 kilos)
The United States plans to send a strong contingent of wrestlers in all three styles. Check out the preliminary roster courtesy of USA Wrestling.
57 kg: Vitali Arujau
50 kg: Sarah Hildebrandt
60 kg: Thomas Hicks
The lightest weight may be the most interesting as Vito Arujau, Thomas Gilman, and Nick Suriano will all throw their hats in the ring. Gillman hasn't wrestled either of these two. On the senior level, Vito has a 2-2 criteria win over Suriano, hence the intrigue with these three. They'll be pushed by the field, in particular, Junior World champ Amiraslanov of Azerbaijan, and U23 World champ Renieri Andreu Ortega of Cuba who is 1-1 with Gilman.
Joe Colon is the lone man for the US at 61 kg. His toughest competition may be Beka Lomtadze, a World silver medalist from Georgia.
At 65 kg, the US has Yianni Diakomihalis and two-time World medalist James Green. Yianni beat Green twice at the RTC Cup, but both matches came down to criteria, so these guys are razor thin. Also in their bracket are Olympic gold medalist Vladimer Khinchegashvili of Georgia, and two-time World medalists Alejandro Valdes Tobier of Cuba and Magomedmurad Gadzhiev of Poland.
Two-time World champ Kyle Dake will be holding it down for the US at 74 kg. The field is tough, but the only other senior level medalist in the field is Avtandil Kentchadze of Georgia. Dake should roll here.
Both David Taylor and Zahid Valencia are registered at 86 kg, but Taylor is not expected to travel as he'll wrestle Jordan Burroughs on Wednesday night in Lincoln, Nebraska. Even without the 2018 World champ, Zahid will have his hands full with World medalists Dato Marsagashvili of Georgia and Stefan Reichmuth of Switzerland along with some age level medalists.
Kyle Snyder is back in action on the world stage, and he'll have a shot at redemption against Azerbaijan's Olympic champ Sharif Sharifov who beat him in the 2019 World semis.
Nick Gwiazdowski represents the US at heavyweight, and he'll get a crack at Geno Petriashvili of Georgia who has won the last three World championships. Gwiz was close in 2017, falling by just a point at the World Clubs Cup.
The United States rolls out an all-star squad on the Women's side. World silver medalist Sarah Hildebrandt and Amy Fearnside represent the US at 50 kg. These two met in the finals of Senior Nationals in October and will present a strong showing for the red, white, and blue.
World champ Jacarra Winchester will toe the line in Nice. After a long layoff due to COVID-19, she returned to the mat against Lauren Louive and looked outstanding. Now she'll test herself against international competition.
Speaking of Louive, she'll be in action at 57 kg as will Olympic champ and two-time World champ Helen Maroulis. They'll be followed at 62 kg by Kayla Miracle and Macey Kilty. Miracle represented team USA at the 2019 World Championships, the same year she won U23 silver. Kilty won Junior and U23 silvers the same year at 65kg and 68 kg respectively but has settled on 62 kg for the Olympic year.
World champion Tamyra Mensah-Stock is coming off a win over five-time World champion Adeline Gray on Saturday. She'll look to stay hot in France and could see her rival, Koumba Larroque of France, who she's split with at the last two World Championships.
Mensah-Stock will be joined by Forrest Molinari and Victoria Francis at 68 kg. The three were teammates on the World team in 2019, but now all three are vying for the 68 kg spot. This bracket could be big for Olympic Trials seeding.
While the US is rolling out some of its most experienced wrestlers in men's and women's freestyle, most of its Greco team is still looking for its first World Championships experience. An event like this could offer a useful simulation for a squad that's hungry for more.
Raymond Bunker, Pat Smith, and John Stefanowicz will be competing at 67 kg, 77 kg, and 82 kg, respectively. They're the veterans of this team and the three previous World Team members on the senior level.
Get to know Raymond Bunker before he competes this weekend
They're joined by Thomas Hicks at 60 kg, Colton Rasche and Devin Hester at 63 kg, Peyton Walsh at 77 kg, Terrence Zaleski, Vaugh Monreal-Berner, and Joel Nivar at 87 kg, and Daniel Miller at 97 kg.