Americans Frustrated after Greco-Roman World Championships Performance in Paris

Published On August 22, 2017 | By Tony Hager | Olympic, Wrestling News

Robby Smith after World Championships
By Gary Abbott (Cover photo by Mark Lundy – Lutte Lens

PARIS, France – The final four members of the U.S. Greco-Roman team were defeated during the morning session at the World Wrestling Championships on Tuesday. None of the U.S. wrestlers were eligible for the repechage rounds when their opponents failed to reach the finals.

2012 Olympian and two-time Ellis Coleman (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP) finished with a 1-1 record at 66 kg/145 lbs.

Coleman was dominant in his opener, scoring an 8-0 first-period technical fall over three-time Brazil Cup champion Diego Ribeiro Romanelli of Brazil. Coleman controlled all positions, earning two takedowns and four step out points to finish off the match quickly.

Coleman was defeated in his second match by 2016 European U23 silver medalist Mate Nemes of Slovakia, 3-1. The bout started with controversy, as officials penalized Coleman with a caution and two points to Nemes, when Coleman used a stiff-arm to Nemes’ neck during an active pummel. From that point on, neither wrestler could score, with each being penalized once for passivity. When Nemes was defeated in the quarterfinals, Coleman was not eligible for repechage.

“I started off kind of slow. I was able to push the pace in my first match and get the ball rolling. Second match, same thing, not much different. I was trying to push the pace a little bit. A style clash. He just stood there and stayed in the zone a little bit. I couldn’t figure out to get him moving to open up my offense,” said Coleman.

Competing in his fifth straight U.S. World or Olympic Team, Robby Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) also had a 1-1 record at 130 kg/286 lbs.

Smith opened the tournament in a big way, throwing and pinning Slovakia’s Tamas Soos in 1:54. Leading 2-0 after a passivity call against Soos and a stepout, Smith secured a bodylock and tossed Soos for four points, finishing off the throw with the fall. Soos finished in fifth place at this year’s U23 European Championships.

In the second round, he faced Yasmani Acosta Fernandez of Chile, who is a former wrestler for Cuba. Acosta led 2-0 at the break, on a passivity call and a step out. In the second period, Acosta forced Smith out of bounds to make it 3-0. Acosta was penalized for passivity, making it 3-1, but Smith was unable to score late in the match. Acosta was the 2011 Pan American champion for Cuba, beating Smith in the finals at that event.

Acosta won his quarterfinals, but was beaten in the semifinals by two-time World champion Heiki Nabi of Estonia, 2-1, which knocked Smith out of the repechage rounds.

“I felt great leading up to this whole tournament. I am tired of doing this. I’d rather be talking to you after I win a medal. It is not fun doing this right now. I have to change some stuff. I have to get stronger. The guy is from Cuba who beat me. It says Chile but he is from Cuba. He was the No. 2. It is what it is. I lost. He played the game right and he got the calls. It is hard. It’s rough. Greco had a tough tournament. It didn’t seem anything would go our way. Everybody wrestled hard. We have to keep our heads up. It is a hard blow right now. We have get back to the drawing board and figure it out, change it up,” said Smith.

Cheney Haight (Colorado Springs, Colo./New York AC) lost by pin to 2017 World bronze medalist Laszlo Szabo of Hungary in his first bout at 80 kg/176 lbs. Haight hit a two-point throw early in the match, and led 2-1 at the break. However, Szabo was able to score a takedown and turn for four points two different times, and led 9-2 when he was able to pin Haight when he tried to press the action.

Haight was competing in his second World Championships, with his previous World appearance in 2011. A two-time Pan American champion, at 32, Haight is the oldest member of the Greco-Roman team this year.

“It didn’t really go according to plan, but that’s life. I feel I prepared as hard as I could for it. I had a great camp. I was giving up some underhooks in that match. It has been a problem with me. I have worked on it a lot. I knew how he wrestled. I wanted to get my points out there early. I knew, if he scored first, it would be hard to break through on him because he is a grinder and strong. I wanted to get him while he was coming at me. Once he got ahead of me, it was hard coming back,

Ildar Hafizov (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP) lost his first match competing for the USA at the World Championships, and was not eligible for repechage. Hafizov was an Olympian and three-time World Team member for Uzbekistan prior to moving to the U.S.

Hafizov opened with an 8-3 loss to Vazgen Khachatryan of Armenia. Khachatryan opened with a four-point move, but Hafizov responded by putting the Armenian to his back for two, closing it to 4-2. A key officials call came late in the first period, when Hafizov was penalized with a caution and two points for choking with a front headlock. Hafizov pressed the action and got a passivity point in the second period, making it 6-3, but a Khachatryan takedown late in the match sealed the victory.

When Khachatryan lost his next match by technical fall against Kenjiro Fumito of Japan, Hafizov was eliminated.

“I did not perform well today. I want to apologize to the American coaches, because I did not meet their expectation today. I came up short. I don’t know what was wrong. I went to camp and competition. It was the worst competition this year. I didn’t wrestle well. The other competitions, I had success, but this one, I don’t know,” said Hafizov.

Greco-Roman Team USA finished with a 5-9 record at the World Championships this year, with only G’Angelo Hancock at 98 kg/215 lbs. able to compete in the repechage rounds. There were three first-time World or Olympic team members on the squad, Hancock, Pat Smith at 71 kg and Mason Manville at 75 kg.

“I have to go day by day. The first day, we had young guys who just need a little more experience and fought really hard. They battled, they gave it everything they had. Today, I didn’t see the fight. I know we have really talented athletes, tough, tough guys. Where is the fight? This is a sport. They are supposed to be enjoying it and having fun. These guys were so tense and nervous out there. They didn’t relax and compete to their abilities. They let those matches slip away. These were all winnable matches. I can’t break it down to two days. Our young guys fought hard. Our older guys need to find that fight,” said National Greco-Roman coach Matt Lindland.

The finals have been set in the four weight classes contested on Tuesday, with the medal round set for 7:00 p.m. The first four U.S. women freestyle wrestlers weigh in on Tuesday and receive their draws.

All of the 2017 World Championships are streamed live on TrackWrestling. U.S. fans can see the entire six-day event for just $9.99.

WORLD WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Paris, France, August 22

U.S. Greco-Roman performances

59 kg/130 lbs. – Ildar Hafizov, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP)
LOSS Vazgen Khachatryan (Armenia), 8-3

66 kg/145 lbs. – Ellis Coleman, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army WCAP)
WIN Diego Ribeiro Romanelli (Brazil), tech. fall 8-0
LOSS Mate Nemes (Serbia), 3-1

80 kg/176 lbs. – Cheney Haight, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC/OTC)
LOSS Laszlo Szabo (Hungary), pin 5:37

130 kg/286 lbs. – Robby Smith, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC/OTC)
WIN Tamas Soos (Slovakia), 1:54
LOSS Yasmani Acosta Fernandez (Chile), 3-1

Finals pairings
59 kg/130 lbs. – Kenichiro Fumita (Japan) vs. Mirambek Ainagulov (Kazakhstan)
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Hansu Ryu (Korea) vs. Mateusz Lucjan Bernatek (Poland)
80 kg/176 lbs. – Maksim Manukyan (Armenia) vs. Radzik Kuliyeu (Belarus)
130 kg/286 lbs. – Riza Kayaalp (Turkey) vs. Heiki Nabi (Estonia)

Semifinal results

59 kg/130 lbs.
Kenichiro Fumita (Japan) dec. Kanybek Zholchubekov (Kyrgyzstan), 2-1
Mirambek Ainagulov (Kazakhstan) dec. Seunghak Kim (Korea), 4-2

66 kg/145.5 lbs.
Hansu Ryu (Korea) dec. Artem Surkov (Russia), 2-1
Mateusz Lucjan Bernatek (Poland) dec. Mohammad H Elyasi (Iran), 4-1

80 kg/176 lbs.
Maksim Manukyan (Armenia) pin Zurabi Datunashvili (Georgia), 0:55
Radzik Kuliyeu (Belarus) dec. Elvin Mursaliyev (Azerbaijan), 3-3

130 kg/286 lbs.
Riza Kayaalp (Turkey) dec. Oscar Pino Hinds (Cuba), 2-1
Heiki Nabi (Estonia) dec. Yasmani Acosta Fernandez (Chile), 2-1

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