Andy Bisek at the 2016 Olympic Games (Photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
In 2007 the U.S. Greco Roman team surprisingly won the team title at the World Championships. Brad Vering won silver at 84 kg, while Justin Lester and Dremiel Byers brought home bronze medals at 66 kg and 120 kg, respectively. Despite that success, The U.S. has not come close to capturing another team title. At the upcoming Olympics, the country will only have four wrestlers in the six weight classes after coming up short at 77 kg and 130 kg at the World Qualification Tournament.
The following takes a look back at the performance of the U.S. Greco team since winning the team title in 2007.
Since 2007 there have been only four medalists for the U.S. on the Greco side. Andy Bisek is the most decorated of the four as he won back-to-back bronze medals at 75 kg in 2014 and 2015. He returned to the World stage for the 2016 Olympics but failed to medal. He is currently the head coach at the National Training Site at Northern Michigan University.
Adam Wheeler won Olympic bronze at the 2008 Games at 96 kg. The following year, Dremiel Byers won silver at heavyweight to capture his third World medal. At the time, he was 35 years old and had previously captured gold in 2002 and bronze in 2007.
The last U.S. wrestler to medal at a World/Olympic event was Adam Coon. The heavyweight walked off the collegiate mats in 2018 and picked up four straight falls to make the World final. He came up short against Russia's Sergey Semenov, but his performance was enough to capture silver. In the process, he became the first U.S. wrestler to bring home a medal in Greco since 2015.
Match Record by Year
Bringing home World/Olympic medals is perhaps the ultimate goal of international competitors, but when facing off against the best on the planet, it can be exceedingly difficult. Wrestlers can have a positive performance, even coming up short of bronze. For example, Robby Smith made a strong run through the bracket in 2015 and came up just short of bronze against Bilyal Makhov. On top of that, Lindsey Durlacher's fifth-place performance was vital to the squad's title in 2007, as they only finished one point ahead of Russia.
To generously gauge the team's performance, let's take a look at the individual match results over the years. The following looks at the winning percentage (number of wins divided by number of matches) for each World/Olympic team. For 2016, the measure includes bouts from both the Olympics and the non-Olympic Worlds.
There have been only three years where the match-winning percentage was above 50%. The two best years correspond with Bisek's bronze medals in 2014 and 2015. Current head coach Matt Lindland was hired following the 2013 World Championships. After two relatively strong years from a winning percentage, the last four years have been well below 50%.
Individual Match Record
As one might expect, Bisek has the most individual wins at Worlds and the Olympics during this span. He had an 11-5 record during the stretch. Matching his win total was Spenser Mango who had an 11-13 record. Mango represented the U.S. at two Olympics and six World championships. He finished fifth in both 2013 and 2014 before leaving his shoes on the mat during the 2016 Olympic Trials.
During that stretch, 12 wrestlers failed to win a single match on the highest level, while 13 wrestlers won only one bout. Among active competitors Coon has the most wins at the World Championships with four, which were all collected during his silver medal-winning campaign in 2018.
Greco World/Olympic Team members who are still active in other sports
Chas Betts represented the U.S. at both the 2009 World Championships and 2012 Olympics. At the 2012 Games, he defeated Keitani Graham of Micronesia before being eliminated by Cuba's Pablo Shorey. Following the Olympics, Betts signed with WWE and has been performing as Chad Gable ever since. After multiple years in developmental, he made his main roster debut in 2016.
After winning a junior college title for Harper College in 2012, Chris Gonzalez moved to Northern Michigan to train for Greco. In 2016, he earned a spot on the non-Olympic team at 71 kg. Gonzalez won his first match against Filip Dubsky of the Czech Republic before coming up short against Romania's Ilie Cojocari. In 2018, Gonzalez made his MMA debut and the following year, he signed with Bellator. He has won his first five fights in the promotion, and in his last fight, defeated UFC veteran Roger Huerta.
Two-time Olympic representative Ben Provisor came up short in his bid for a third trip to the Games. However, he is certainly not done wrestling. News broke recently that he signed with Grand View and has four years of collegiate eligibility remaining. The 30-year-old wrestler is expected to act as a sort of player/coach for the NAIA powerhouse.
2021 Olympic Team
Three of the four wrestlers being sent to Tokyo have previously wrestled in a World Championships. Hafizov will be the only wrestler returning to the Olympics after representing Uzbekistan in 2008. Those three wrestlers have a combined 3-10 record at the level.
Hafizov wrestled at 60 kg in the 2019 World Championships. He started things over with a victory over Etienne Kinsinger (Germany) before falling against Ukraine's Lenur Temirov. He dominated Ryan Mango in the finals of the Olympics Trials, winning both matches by a 15-0 combined score.
Alejandro Sancho qualified 67 kg for the Olympics by finishing second at the Pan American Olympic Qualification Tournament. He then followed that up by winning the Trials this past April with a strong showing over veteran Ellis Coleman in the finals. This will be Sancho's first appearance at a senior-level World/Olympic event.
John Stefanowicz defeated Joe Rau via a pair of one-point matches to earn the spot at 87 kg. He wrestled in the 2019 World Championships at 82 kg before moving up for the Olympic year.
G'Angelo Hancock represents the country's best chance to medal in Tokyo. The 23-year-old wrestler is already a four-time medalist at the Pan American Championships/Games. He makes this trip to the Olympics after representing the U.S. at three-straight World Championships. Hancock has had strong results in recent international tournaments with a silver medal at the 2019 City of Sassari Tournament and a bronze at the 2020 Matteo Pellicone.