John Stefanowicz in the qualification round at the 2020 Olympics (Photo courtesy of Larry Slater; LBSphoto.smugmug.com)
The third day of wrestling competition at the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo was not friendly to the American competitors. Team USA went 0-3 on the day, as the Greco-Roman team wrapped up their competition and the women's freestyle team continued on.
67 kg Greco-Roman entry Alex Sancho had a difficult draw in 2018 world champion Artem Surkov (ROC), the third seed at the weight class. Sancho was penalized for passivity first and therefore had to go down in par terre. Surkov took advantage of the situation and turned the American twice for a 5-0 lead. During the closing seconds of the first period, Sancho struck with a four-point arm-throw, which closed the deficit to one point at the break. Inexplicably in the second period, Sancho was deemed to be passive again and again was sent down in par terre. Once again, Surkov capitalized and was able to expose Sancho twice for a 10-4 lead. That would be the final score.
Surkov then was upset by Parviz Nasibov (Ukraine), 1-1, which ended Sancho's tournament.
Sancho's Greco-Roman teammate John Stefanowicz was in action a short time later against 2017 U23 World silver medalist Ivan Huklek of Croatia. Once again, the American was called for passivity in the opening period. Huklek got a pair of turns with a gut wrench and lead 5-0 at the break. Stefanowicz got his opportunity in the second period from par terre and was able to get a single exposure. That brought Huklek's lead to 5-3. Stefanowicz couldn't put any more points on the board despite his best efforts and fell by that score.
Stefanowicz is still in the hunt for a bronze medal. Huklek defeated Rustam Assakalov (Uzbekistan), 4-1, to advance to the semifinals. If Huklek unseats two-time world champion Zhan Beleniuk (Ukraine), Stefanowicz will get to compete in repechage.
The only member of the women's freestyle team, Kayla Miracle, started her tournament at 62 kg. Miracle was matched up with Jia Long (China), an opponent who defeated her in 2020 by the score of 6-1 at the Matteo Pellicone. After each wrestler fended off an attack by the other, Miracle was put on the shot clock immediately after her offensive attempt was thwarted. Miracle took no risks on the shot clock and was down early, 1-0. Right before the buzzer at the end of the first period, Miracle ended up on top of Long after a flurry for two points. It appeared to be close to a four-point move, but the sequence was never challenged. Late in the second period, Long was able to expose Miracle to jump ahead 3-2. Miracle kept on the offensive and was left stuffed on a leg for much of the final 30 seconds of the bout and ended up losing by that score.
Long was pinned in the quarterfinals, which dashed any repechage hope for Miracle.
Men's Greco Roman
Artem Surkov (ROC) over Alex Sancho (USA) 10-4
Ivan Huklek (Croatia) over John Stefanowicz (USA) 5-3
Jia Long (China) over Kayla Miracle (USA) 3-2
67 kg Greco-Roman
Ramaz Zoidze (Georgia) vs. Mohammadreza Geraei (Iran)
Parviz Nasibov (Ukraine) vs. Mohamed El-Sayed (Egypt)
87 kg Greco-Roman
Viktor Lorincz (Hungary) vs. Mohamed Metwally (Egypt)
Ivan Huklek (Croatia) vs. Zhan Beleniuk (Ukraine)
62 kg Women's Freestyle
Aisuluu Tynybekova (Kyrgyzstan) vs. Iryna Koliadenko (Ukraine)
Yukako Kawai (Japan) vs. Taybe Yusein (Bulgaria)