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  • Ohio RTC Adds Scott and Moore as Coaches

    Last week, Ohio RTC stalwart Kollin Moore announced his retirement from competition at the Senior level. We didn’t have to wait long until we found out his next step. Today, the Ohio RTC announced that Moore would remain with the clubs as a coach. Not only does the Ohio RTC retain Moore, but they have also added Coleman Scott as an RTC coach. 
    On the Senior level, Moore made it to Final X in 2022 and the finals of the Olympic Team Trials in 2021. In both instances, he fell to former Ohio State teammate Kyle Snyder. 
    At Ohio State, Moore captured three Big Ten titles and earned NCAA All-American honors each time he competed at the national tournament - topping out at 2nd in 2019. Moore was the favorite to capture an elusive national title in 2020 before the tournament was canceled at the outset of the COVID pandemic. 
    Scott comes to the Ohio RTC after spending a year at his alma mater, Oklahoma State. He was assumed to be the head coach-in-waiting for when John Smith decided to step down. That day came this spring and Oklahoma State ended up hiring David Taylor. 
    Before coming back to Stillwater, Scott spent eight years as the head coach at North Carolina. While at UNC, Scott led the Tar Heels to top-20 finishes at every NCAA Tournament between 2017 and 2023 - with each year building upon the previous finish. Additionally, Scott guided Austin O’Connor to a pair of undefeated NCAA title-winning seasons. 
    As an athlete, Scott earned NCAA All-American honors four times culminating in a first-period fall in the 2008 national finals for a championship in his senior season. Scott continued on the freestyle circuit and claimed a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympic Games. 
    The Ohio State collegiate program is coming off an eighth-place finish at the 2024 NCAA Championships in a year where they had six freshman national qualifiers. In addition to four returning All-Americans, the Buckeyes also have an incoming freshman class that was ranked fifth in the nation by InterMat. But wait, there’s more. The Buckeyes also have verbal commitments from two of the top-15 prospects from the Class of 2025. 

    Earl Smith -

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    2024 Olympian Blades to Wrestle for Iowa

    For the second consecutive week, the University of Iowa’s women’s team announced a massive addition. Last week it was 2023 World silver medalist Macey Kilty. Today, Clarissa Chun’s team has signed 2024 Olympian Kennedy Blades. 
    Blades earned her place on the 2024 Olympic Team by unseating the legendary Adeline Gray for the spot at 76 kg. She was able to defeat the 10x World/Olympic medalist in two straight matches, 11-6 and 8-3. 
    Though the upcoming Olympic Games represent Blades’ first Senior World-level event, she has plenty of international experience. Blades has made world teams at the Cadet, Junior/U20, and U23 levels. Along the way, she won a gold medal at the 2021 Junior World Championships. Two years later, she returned and captured a bronze medal. Also in 2023, Blades was a silver medalist at the U23 World Championships. 
    Blades and Kilty join an Iowa team that won an NCWWC national title in 2024, their first year of attached competition. 
    The Hawkeyes captured all three national titles between 143 lbs and 170 lbs in 2024 - which is presumably where Blades would compete for Iowa. 
    Blades has primarily trained at Arizona State with the Sunkist Kids but is originally from Chicago, Illinois, so a move to Iowa is much closer to home. 

    Earl Smith -

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    2024 Olympic Preview: 65 kg Men's Freestyle

    It’s late July which means the 2024 Olympic Games are right around the corner. Over the next two weeks, InterMat will bring you individual weight class previews for each of the 18 weights contested at the Olympic Games. 
    The 2024 version has already been slightly different from years past. Earlier in the summer, United World Wrestling announced a list of wrestlers from Belarus and Russia who would not be permitted to compete due to their support of the war with Ukraine. After this decision, Russia decided to withdraw all of its entries for wrestling. That led to replacements being named earlier this month. 
    With all of the moving parts, and a field that wasn’t confirmed until later in the game, previewing the action had to take a back seat since we weren’t sure who would actually be in Paris. 
    UWW has recently published entry lists for each of the three styles, so we are good to go. 
    We’re circling back to men’s freestyle and the second weight class preview - 65 kg. This might be the most fun of any weight class in the tournament. It’s loaded with potential gold medal threats and wrestlers that are generally fun to watch. In addition to the United States representative, Zain Retherford, there are two other notable ex-NCAA stars competing for medals in this weight (Austin Gomez/Mexico and Sebastian Rivera/Puerto Rico). 
    Buckle up, but get your popcorn ready for the roller coaster that will be 65 kg. 
    65kg entries
    Shamil Mamedov (AIN - Russia)
    Islam Dudaev (Albania)
    Vazgen Tevanyan (Armenia)
    Georgii Okorokov (Australia)
    Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan)
    Alejandro Valdes Tobier (Cuba)
    Goderdzi Dzebisashvili (Georgia)
    Iszmail Musukaev (Hungary)
    Rahman Amouzad (Iran)
    Kotaro Kiyooka (Japan)
    Ernazar Akmataliev (Kyrgyzstan)
    Austin Gomez (Mexico)
    Tulga Tumur Ochir (Mongolia)
    Sebastian Rivera (Puerto Rico)
    Gaku Akazawa (Samoa)
    Zain Retherford (USA)

    photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com
    Seeds
    1. Vazgen Tevanyan (Armenia)
    2. Rahman Amouzad (Iran)
    3. Iszmail Musukaev  (Hungary)
    4. Sebastian Rivera (Puerto Rico)
    5. Shamil Mamedov (AIN - Russia)
    6. Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan)
    7. Islam Dudaev (Albania)
    8. Tulga Tumur Ochir (Mongolia)
     
    Past Senior World/Olympic Medalists:(10) Akmataliev, Aliyev (x5), Amouzad, Mamedov, Musukaev (x3), Retherford, Rivera, Tevanyan, Tumur Ochir, Valdes Tobier (x2)
     
    2020(1) Olympic Medalists (65 kg)
    Gold: Takuto Otoguro (Japan)
    Silver: Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan)
    Bronze: Gadzhimurad Rashidov (Russia)
    Bronze:  Bajrang Punia (India)

    photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com
    2023 World Medalists (60 kg)
    Gold: Iszmail Musukaev  (Hungary)
    Silver: Sebastian Rivera (Puerto Rico)
    Bronze: Vazgen Tevanyan (Armenia)
    Bronze: Shamil Mamedov (AIN - Russia)
     
    How they qualified:
    2023 World Championships: Mamedov, Musukaev , Rivera, Tevanyan, Amouzad
    Asian Qualifier: Kiyooka, Akmataliev
    African/Oceania Qualifier: Akazawa, Okorokov
    European Qualifier:  Aliyev, Dzebisashvili, 
    Pan-American Qualifier: Gomez, Valdes Tobier 
    World OG Qualifier: Dudaev, Retherford, Tulga Ochir
     
    Key Recent (ish) Matches between Qualifiers
    2024 Hungarian Ranking Series Bronze Medal: Aliyev over Gomez (12-3)
    2024 Hungarian Ranking Series semifinals: Kiyooka over Gomez (12-6)
    2024 Hungarian Ranking Series: Musukaev over Aliyev (9-3)
    2024 Hungarian Ranking Series: Aliyev over Kiyooka (5-2)
    2024 Hungarian Ranking Series: Kiyooka over Musukaev  (7-2)
    2024 Last Chance World OG Qualifier: Tulga Ochir over Retherford (7-2)
    2024 European Olympic Qualifier semifinals: Aliyev over Dudaev (6-3)
    2024 Asian Championship final: Amouzad over Tulga Ochir (2-1)
    2024 Zagreb Open semifinals: Tevanyan over Rivera (9-1)
    2023 Asian Games final: Tulga Ochir over Amouzad (11-1)
    2023 World Championship finals: Musukaev  over Rivera (11-0)
    2023 World Championship semifinals: Musukaev  over Amouzad (6-5)
    2023 World Championship semifinals: Rivera over Tevanyan (10-9)
    2023 World Championship quarterfinals: Tevanyan over Aliyev (12-2)
    2023 World Championship Round of 16: Aliyev over Tulga Ochir (3-3)
    2023 Hungarian Ranking Series quarterfinals: Tulga Ochir over Musukaev  (3-0)
    2023 Asian Championship finals: Amouzad over Tulga Ochir (3-1)
    2023 Zagreb Open Ranking Series semifinals: Tulga Ochir over Musukaev (6-2)
     
    The American Entry: Zain Retherford
    65 kg has been an issue for multiple cycles for the Americans. Despite having tons of talent in that range, we have more often than now, come away from Olympic/World Championship events empty-handed. In 2021, the United States was able to qualify the weight for the Tokyo Games. 
    We appeared to be heading in that direction earlier this year after Austin Gomez defeated Nick Lee in the semifinals of the Pan-American Olympic Qualifier. Lee would end up losing in the Olympic Trials finals to former Penn State teammate Zain Retherford, which allowed Retherford to head to Istanbul for the Last Chance OG Qualifier. 
    History seemed to be on the verge of repeating itself as Retherford fell in the round of 16 to Mongolia’s Tulga Tumur Ochir. However, Retherford would not be denied and grinded out four straight wins to punch his ticket to Paris. 
    Retherford is a seasoned veteran on the International circuit. While this is his first Olympic appearance, he has made four world teams since 2017. The two-time Hodge Trophy winner made the 70 kg world finals in 2022 - then took it a step further in 2023 when he collected a world title. 
    Retherford’s best international results have come at 70 kg; however, he did look very strong at the lower weight in the Trials. Before winning his best-of-three series with Lee, Retherford edged 2024 NCAA champion Jesse Mendez, 3-2. 
    With the talent in this bracket, and Retherford coming in unseeded, he could face a monster in his first match and quickly get knocked out or he could methodically take out stud after stud. We’ll talk more about the unpredictability of this bracket. 
    The X-Factor: Kotaro Kiyooka
    Even though three past world medalists are slated to start the tournament without a seed, we’ve targeted Kotaro Kiyooka as the X-factor here. Kiyooka is in Paris because he defeated 2020 Olympic gold medalist Takuto Otoguro in the semifinals of the All-Japan Championships. This will be Kiyooka’s first time representing Japan at the Senior World Championships. 
    In June, Kiyooka proved his mettle by winning the Polyak Imre & Varga Janos Memorial (aka the Hungarian Ranking Series event). Along the way, he picked up wins over Musukaev, Aliyev, and Austin Gomez. 
    A few months earlier, Kiyooka went 3-0 at the Asian Olympic Qualifier to lock up a slot in Paris. 
    Despite his lack of World/Olympic experience, Kiyooka has defeated both of the 2020 Olympic finalists and a 2023 World Champion within the last year - so he should be considered a gold medal threat in August. 
    The Bracket: 
    A glaring issue with the bracket is the top half of it. After the Russian Federation removed their wrestlers from consideration, Shamil Mamedov’s name remained in the entry list and seeds. A few days later those were released, word spread amongst message boards and social media that Mamedov was injured and unable to wrestle in the Olympics. Let’s not get into conspiracy theories or anything but, it is … strange. 
    Anyhow, Mamedov will not be replaced in the bracket. Presumably, his first-round opponent will advance via forfeit. If that were to be Kiyooka or Retherford, that’s fine and they are certainly worthy of wrestling in place of the fifth seed. If it isn’t them, then the bottom half of the bracket could be very lopsided. 
    The top has #1 Tevanyan, #4 Rivera, and #8 Tulga Ochir. The bottom has #2 Amouzad, #3 Musukaev, #6 Aliyev, #7 Dudaev. And that’s without the unseeded wrestlers being drawn in. 
    Analysis: With the majority of international weight classes, I think you could get someone who follows the sport closely to bang out decent seeds within an hour or two. Seeds that would be better than what the rankings series and world results produce. This weight class would be the exception. 
    I don’t envy anyone who would try to seed this bracket. You can look at the recent results (2023-2024) above and try to make sense of it. The returning world champion has three losses in that span, two to the #8 (Tulga Ochir) and one to an unseeded wrestler (Kiyooka). The #1 seed (Tevanyan) has lost to the #4 seed (Rivera), but has since avenged the loss. 
    I said it when describing the 57 kg weight class and it applies even more in this bracket. You could wrestle this one five times and probably come up with five different champions. Perhaps five different finals matchups. 
    This weight class will be as matchup-dependant as any in any style in Paris. Tulga Ochir has proven to be a tough riddle to solve for Musukaev; however, they couldn’t meet until the finals. Someone like Austin Gomez, does he get paired with an opponent that wants to wrestle a wide-open match? If so, Gomez is certainly capable of pulling an upset or two. He, along with Sebastian Rivera and Retherford, are former NCAA stars in this bracket. Last year proved to be a breakout tournament internationally for Rivera - can he do it again or will his international foes “have a book” on him? 
    Speaking of matchups. Retherford has always been known for his heavy hands and pace. Musukaev and pace generally don’t get along. Maybe the defending world champion is actually a favorable matchup for the American? 
    I highly recommend casual fans tuning into every single match at this weight class. Even if Retherford is not in action. Not only are most of them toss-ups, but the wrestlers involved generally score points and create action. I’d be shocked if we see very many 3-2 final scores in this bracket.
     
    Previous Olympic Previews:
    Men's Freestyle 57 kg
    Women's Freestyle 50 kg
    Men's Greco-Roman 60 kg

    Earl Smith -

    Read more...
    • Ohio RTC Adds Scott and Moore as Coaches

      Ohio RTC Adds Scott and Moore as Coaches

    • 2024 Olympian Blades to Wrestle for Iowa

      2024 Olympian Blades to Wrestle for Iowa

    • 2024 Olympic Preview: 65 kg Men's Freestyle

      2024 Olympic Preview: 65 kg Men's Freestyle



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