Brackets and more for the last chance Olympic Games qualifier in Istanbul
Jesse Thielke has qualified 59kg for Rio. Despite being thrown twice in arm spins, Thielke remained composed and even got a four of his own en route to a 17-8 win by technical superiority in his semifinal match. A minute in, Islamov hit an arm spin but Thielke countered on the edge for exposure and two. Thielke then got a stepout, but Islamov answered with another arm spin to make 8-3 less than two minutes in. It would be all Thielke after that, racking up 14 unanswered points. Starting with a takedown to make it 8-5, and then another takedown into an immediate gut wrench to lead 9-8 at the break. Thielke again exploded off the whistle for a vicious side arch for four to grow his lead to 13-8. Thielke finished off the match with another takedown into an immediate gut wrench, closing out the 17-8 victory and punching his ticket to Rio.
Jesse Thielke, Bout 96, Mat B: Semifinals against Donior Islamov (MDA) a 2012 university world champ at 60kg, 2014 university bronze at 66kg and European bronze medalist from earlier this year. Islamov won his opening match 8-5 over Mexico, then beat Poland 11-0 in round two, followed by a 4-4 criteria win in the quarters over a wrestler from the host country of Turkey.
With both of his teammates out, knowing 66kg and 98kg would not be qualified for Rio, Thielke came out in blue for his quarterfinal match with Sweden. He took down Frunze Harutyunyan in the first 20 seconds of the bout. After a wild scramble and a throw, Sweden led 2-2 on criteria, which would hold going into the break. With no one scoring in the second period, Thielke was put down in par terre at the 4:36 mark. Sweden scored off a right side gut, but when he tried again Jesse went folkstyle, blocking off into a chest cradle. The counter put the Swede on his back, and Thielke locked it up for the fall. After a review, Jesse Thielke is on the semis. If he wins there, he qualifies for Rio.
Perkins would lose 4-3 in the quarters to three-time Asian championships medalist Ruslan Tsarev (KGZ). Both wrestlers would get put down in the first period, but only Tsarev was able to convert. He scored two on a correct hold, then lifted Perkins again but wasn’t able to expose on the throw so only got a stepout point. Trailing 3-0 at the break, Perkins was able to get Tsarev down in par terre again, netting him his first point. While Perkins couldn’t turn him, Tsarev was called for a caution and two and put down again. When they came back up to their feet, Perkins led 3-3 on criteria with half a period to go. Tsarev got a late point and had Perkins down, held on to win 4-3.
Thielke won his second round match over an Olympic silver medalist. He came out right out with a feet to back and two gut wrenches in the first 20 seconds, but Georgia challenged and won so it was 6-0. Thielke again appeared to win on a four, but that was ruled a slip. Thielke led 6-0 heading into the break, but Lashkhi worked his way back into the match and led 6-6 on criteria. However, Jesse would score the last seven points of the bout to win 13-6 and advance to the quarters
Joe Rau was eliminated in his second round match against Honduras. I did not get to watch, but apparently he fell into a trap arm and got rolled up for a tech. This means that, for the fourth consecutive Olympics, America did not qualify at least one weight in Greco-Roman (2004 – 74kg, 2008 – 60kg, 2012 – 96kg).
RaVaughn Perkins, bout 68, Mat B: Perkins in red vs Vladimiros Matias (GRE). An early exposure by Perkins was white paddled, but later in the period a similar situation occurred. Greece went for a sag headlock, this time getting two for exposure while Perkins reversed for one. Greece got a takedown on an arm drag, at which point coach Matt Lindland took his hat off in what appeared to be anger. Trailing 4-1 at the break, Perkins came out in the second looking for double under. It was fought off once, but the second time he drove Greece right to his back for four. Perkins was chased back to the zone, but dug his feet in, downblocked on a high dive and got behind for the takedown. A latebody lock closed out the 9-4 victory. His next opponent is Ruslan Tsarev (KGZ), who won the 2014 Asian championships, got silver the next year and a bronze earlier this year.
Joe Rau, Bout 118, Mat C: Rau in red against Narek Setaghyan Rehanyan (ESP). Rau got his opponent put down at the 1:26 mark of the first period and finished a high gut on the left side to take a 2-0 lead. Midway through the second period, Rau finished a body lock for a takedown and went immediately into another lefty gut wrench. In the final minute, Rau countered and got the Spaniard off balance. The takedown on the edge was challenged, but it was not overturned and Rau won 9-0 technical superiority. Up next will be Kevin Mejia Castillo (HON), who Rau beat 6-0 at the Pan Am qualifier in Frisco, Texas back in March.
Jesse Thielke, Bout 12, Mat A: Thielke in red with some tape on his right knee, facing off against Péter Módos (HUN) 2012 London bronze medalist at 55kg. Módos called for passive 48 seconds in, then Thielke was warned for passivity at the 1:30 mark. Thielke hit a nice crisp duck at 1:45 but was unable to get the gut and led 2-0. At the 2:29 mark, Thielke stayed on an arm drag to get the takedown, then held on to the Hungarian’s left hand with his own right. Thielke did a modified gut, not locking his hands, but doing tight waist wrap with his left hand and turning twice with a cross wrist using his right had to finish off the 8-0 technical superiority win in 2:43. His next match will be bout 25 on Mat A against Revaz Lashkhi (GEO), the London runner-up at 60kg.
RaVaughn Perkins, Bout 2, Mat A: Perkins came out first in red. Both athletes were put down in par terre in the first period. Pan Zheng (CHN) was put down at 1:50 of the first but no score happened and they were brought up at 2:08. Perkins was put down and got gut wrenched to the left so Zheng led 2-0 at the break. In the second, Perkins picked up his first point and got Zheng put down at the 4:16 mark. After 13 seconds of top work, Perkins racked up 10 straight points: right gut, left gut, right gut, left gut, right gut to win 11-2 by technical superiority. His next match will be bout 68 on Mat B against Vladimiros Matias (GRE).
Check out the draws for Jesse Thielke, RaVaughn Perkins and Joe Rau for the last chance Olympic Games qualifier in Istanbul. All three will need to make the finals in order to qualify for Rio. There is no true second here, so you have to win in the semifinals to qualify. Wrestling starts at 10 a.m. local time, which is 3 a.m. eastern time. Wrestling starts at 3 a.m. eastern time and can be watched here.
Jesse Thielke (New York AC/OTC) has a tough first round match against Peter Modos of Hungary, the 55kg bronze medalist at the 2012 London Olympics. Modos has struggled this year at the Hungarian Grand Prix, European championships and the Mongolian qualifier. But he also won the Zagreb GP in January and a world bronze this quad back in 2013, so he is still a very formidable foe. His likely second round opponent is Revaz Lashki of Georgia, the Olympic silver medalist at 60kg in London.
Also on Thielke’s side is Ivo Angelov (BUL), the 60kg world champ in 2013 and a potential quarterfinals opponent. Angelov is currently ranked 11th in the world, the highest-ranked athlete in this bracket. A potential semis opponent is this year’s Euro runner-up in Roman Amoyan (ARM), who was ranked 15th in the April rankings from UWW, but fell out of the May rankings released today.
On a positive note, reigning Olympic gold medalist Hamid Soryan (IRI) is on the opposite side of the bracket. Soryan won six world titles (205-07, 209-10 and 2014) but has not looked the same over the past year. American fans will have to hope that the Greco team staying in Europe and acclimating this past week will lead to a strong weight cut and a healthy refuel for Thielke. He held a 5-0 lead against India in his first round match two weeks ago, but would go on to lose 6-5. India sent a different rep this time and Thielke could potentially see Ravinder in round two.
RaVaughn Perkins (New York AC/OTC) lost in the bronze medal match of the Mongolia qualifier, making him the highest returning placer from that event. However, he was also teched in under a minute at the Pan Am qualifier in Texas in March. Perkins drew Pan Zheng of China in the first round. Zheng was second at the Paris Grand Prix in January of this year. His most notable accomplishments include a bronze at last year’s Asian championships and he won the Asian championships back in 2012. A name American fans might know in Perkins’ half of the braacket is Konstantin Stas (BUL), who has won the Dan Kolov each of the past two years. Stas was third at the Dave Schultz last year and pinned Devin Scott in a dual of Americans versus international opponents.
As far as potential second round opponents, Vladimiros Matias has been Greece’s rep for the European championships at this weight for several years. They sent him to the Mongolian qualifier, as well as two Olympic qualifiers in 2012 under the old 60kg weight class. Matias faces Jefrin Benito Mejia Sambula of Honduras, who made the semifinals at the Pan Am qualifier before losing by technical superiority. Honduras did not send anyone to Mongolia at this weight, but Mejia Sambula is their primary starter. He wrestled at the 2013 and 2015 world championships, the 2011 and 2015 Pan Am Games, and every senior Pan Am championships from 2013-16 this quad.
Perkins was actually able to avoid most of the world ranked guys in this bracket with his draw, but he still might have to get past two to make the finals. The first is potential quarterfinals opponent Armen Vardanyan (UKR), who is ninth at the non-Olympic weight of 71kg after getting silver in Vegas last year. Vardanyan was unable to qualify at the Euro event in Serbia, and was not sent to Mongolia because he lost to Denys Demyankov in the finals of the Ukrainian Memorial back in February. The second ranked guy is potential semis opponent Yunus Ozel (TUR). Ozel is ranked 13th at 71kg, which is the weight he took bronze at Euros in 2014 and then was world runner-up later that same year. Turkey has not used him at 66kg for any of the three previous qualifying events.
Rasul Chunayev (AZE) is not on Perkin’s side of the bracket. Although not yet qualified, he has a laundry list of accomplishments this quad: 2013 world university champ, European silver and world bronze in 2014, Euro games champ and world champ last year. All of those medals from 2014 and 2015 are at the non-Olympic weight of 71kg, which is why he is not yet qualified.
Joe Rau (Minnesota Storm) draws a bit of an unknown from Spain in Narek Setaghyan Rehanyan. His most notable credentials are second place finishes at last year’s Mediterranean championships and the Henri Deglane in 2013. Rau has beaten his potential second round opponent from Honduras in March, but has not matched up with Tuoams Lahti of Finland. Lahti was second at Arvo Haavisto in November and third at at the Vantaa Cup the week before. He was silver at the U23 Euro championships last year and was Finland’s rep at the Euro Games, world championships and European qualifier over the past year.
Looking at potential quarterfinals opponents for Rau, Seungjun Kim of Korea is a bit of a latecomer to this process. He was fifth at the Asian Championships this year, but was second at the junior world championships in 2014. Yerulan Iskakov (KAZ) has more success at the continental level than the world level, but is still a dangerous opponent. He competed for Kazakhstan at the 2013 and 2015 world championships this quad, as well as at the Asian championships in 2013 and 2014. Isakov won those championships in 2014, was silver in 2013 and bronze at the 2014 Asian Games. Also in Rau’s quarter is Daigoro Timoncini (ITA), who lost in the quarters at the Euro qualifier, but is ranked 20th in the world after making it to the 3rd place match at Mongolia.
Rau will have to improve over his 4-1 loss in Mongolia, the only match he wrestled at that tournament. At the Pan Am qualifier, he was pinned in the semis by his opponent from Cuba. His potential semis opponent is 17th ranked Shalva Gadabadze of Azerbaijan, a bronze medalist at the Euro qualifier.