G'Angelo Hancock and Braxton Amos at the 2020 Olympic Team Trials finals (photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com
We already know one half of our 2022 Senior world team as the first leg of Final X (Stillwater) took place on Friday. Now we await the other half of the team. On Wednesday, from Madison Square Garden in New York City, the rest of the squad will be determined. Final X Stillwater yielded some surprising results, classic matches, and memorable moments. You can guarantee there will be more of all three Wednesday. Before then, here's what to expect from the competitors taking the mat in Final X New York. We'll close out with the Greco-Roman preview.
60 kg - Ildar Hafizov vs. Dalton Roberts
This will be the first of two Greco matches between Army WCAP teammates. The pair have combined to wrestle in seven World Championships and two Olympic Games, so both are quite seasoned. Last year, the two met in the World Team Trials best-of-three finals. The series ended up going to three matches and Roberts won via tech after two tight bouts. Due to the familiarity and high level of competition between the two, it wouldn't be surprising if they had another three-match battle. The last time both were in action was at the World Team Trials and both cruised through the competition. These two could've met at the US Open; however, Roberts defaulted out after making the semifinals. Hafizov would end up getting the title after a 9-0 tech over Max Black.
67 kg - Alex Sancho vs. Alston Nutter
Last year at the Olympic Trials, Alex Sancho had a bye to the finals and prevailed over long-time veteran Ellis Coleman to make his first Senior team. Now he'll attempt to get on the world team for the first time. He tried to do so last year and was stunned by Michigan State wrestler Peyton Omania in the best-of-three finals at the WTT's. To get to the finals, Sancho edged Alston Nutter by a point. The two met again in the semifinals this year at the Open. Again, it was a 6-5 score in favor of Sancho. To qualify for Final X, Sancho got a measure of revenge against Omania in the WTT semis, while Nutter dominated Lenny Merkin. Nutter has made three age-group world teams (highlighted by a Junior bronze in 2019), so it's probably just a matter of time before he gets over the hump and makes his first Senior team.
77 kg - Kamal Bey vs. Britton Holmes
This will be the second match on the card between Army WCAP teammates. Just three years ago, at Final X Rutgers, Kamal Bey was considered one of the brightest young Greco stars and the future of the sport. Bey ended up falling in three matches to Pat Smith and hasn't been back to the world or Olympic team since. Now, Bey has joined the Army WCAP and is ready to give it another shot. After defaulting out of the Open, in the semis, Bey downed 2020 Olympic Trials winner Jesse Porter at the WTT's for the chance to return to Final X. Could an older, more experienced version of the 2017 Junior World Champion, be ready to take on the world at the Senior level? To do so, he'd have to get by Britton Holmes. Holmes had a difficult path to Final X, as he had to defeat Alec Ortiz in the WTT quarters before taking out top-seeded RaVaughn Perkins, a past world team member, to lock in his spot in New York. Holmes and Ortiz got into a shootout at the US Open, a bout ultimately won by Holmes, 9-6. The rematch at the Trials resulted in a tech, in Holmes' favor.
87 kg - Alan Vera vs. Timothy Young
Post-Olympic Trials, perhaps the most dominating domestic Greco wrestler (in relation to his competition) has been Alan Vera at 87 kg. Vera teched Ryan Epps in two-straight bouts in the 2021 WTT's in order to make his first Senior world team. Since then, Vera has won four matches at the Open/2022 WTT's without surrendering a point. One of those wins, in the Open semis, came against his Final X opponent Timothy Young. The former Old Dominion wrestler, Young, got his spot in Final X after pinning 2018 U23 World Team member George Sikes in the semis of the WTT's. Young actually wrestled for a bronze medal at the Cadet World Championships back in 2014. He'll probably enter MSG as the most significant underdog on the Greco portion of the card.
97 kg - G'Angelo Hancock vs. Braxton Amos
Earlier we mentioned Bey as one of the possible faces of US Greco, but that title has been taken for the time being by G'Angelo Hancock. Hancock has made every Senior World/Olympic team since 2017 and has shown no signs of slowing down. In 2021, he finally broke through internationally and claimed a bronze medal from the World Championships. At various times in previous years, Hancock looked like he may make that jump. It's fitting that the most recognizable Greco athlete (domestically) will get an opportunity to showcase his talents on the big stage in New York. Of course, his opponent, Braxton Amos isn't conceding anything. Amos surprisingly made the Olympic Trials finals last year, opposite Hancock, before making the Junior World Team in both styles. Amos came home from Ufa, Russia with a bronze medal in Greco and a world title in freestyle. Though Amos focused on folkstyle from October-March at Wisconsin, he did not enter the Open or WTT's in freestyle, so he could devote his full attention to Greco. At the Trials, Amos took care of business against tough veteran Lucas Sheridan in the semis, before stopping Haydn Maley twice in the finals.