| Bryce Saddoris at the 2015 Pan American Games.
Photo: Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com
Date of competition: Monday, September 7
The road to the 66 kg/145.5 lbs. World title will go through a familiar cast of characters at the top of this strong Greco-Roman weight class.
The favorite to take home the gold medal in Las Vegas is defending World Champion and current World No. 1 Davor Stefanek of Serbia.
Stefanek defeated 2012 Olympic Champion Omid Noroozi of Iran in the World Championship finals in Tashkent, Uzbekistan last year by a 7-3 tally. The win catapulted a previously up and down Stefanek to the top of the World rankings and an undefeated 2015 campaign.
The Serbian hammer won the Ion Corneanu Memorial in July, taking out another top contender in Las Vegas, No. 3 Han-Soo Ryu of Korea, en route to the gold medal.
Ryu won the World Championships in 2013 at 66 kg, however he elected to compete at the prestigious Asian Games last year in lieu of defending his World title.
This season Ryu picked up a gold medal at the Asian Championships and bronze medals at the Grand Prix of Spain and Ion Corneanu Memorial.
World No. 2 Tamas Lorincz is another serious threat to take home the 66 kg gold at the World Championships this year.
Lorincz won the bronze medal at the Worlds last year and has since posted a perfect record during international competition, winning gold at both the Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup and Vehbi Emre and Hamit Kaplin Tournament.
The Hungarian is a past Olympic silver medalist, World University Champion and three-time European champion.
Newcomer Artem Surkov of Russia appears poised for a medal run in Las Vegas after a stellar 2015 campaign that included gold medals at the U23 European Championships and the European Games. These victories have shot Surkov all the way up to No. 4 in the World rankings.
Coming off a fifth place finish last year at the World Championships, No. 5 Frank Staebler of Germany is looking to regain his place on the medal stand.
Staebler broke through in 2013 winning a bronze medal at the Worlds in Budapest after multiple fifth place finishes. He was stymied by Lorincz in the bronze medal match last year.
The German won a bronze medal at the European games up at 71 kg but has since come back down to 66 kg where he struck gold at the Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup in July.
2010 World champion Hasan Aliyev of Azerbaijan has finished in fifth place in the World the past three seasons, including the 2012 Olympic Games. Aliyev won his lone World title at 60 kg five years ago but has since made the transition up in weight and has been unable to regain a place on the podium.
Currently ranked No. 8 in the World, Aliyev competed at the European Games in Baku in June and was able to earn a bronze medal. He was downed by World No. 6 Migran Arutunyan of Armenia in the semifinals of said competition.
Pan American Games champion and World No. 15 Wuileixis Rivas Espinoza of Venezuela has the potential to play spoiler in Las Vegas. Espinoza defeated American Bryce Saddoris in the finals of the Pan American Games and boasts Olympic experience from 2012 in London.
Now on his second World Team, Saddoris has garnered the necessary experience to compete on the World stage.
A two-time NCAA All-American for the Naval Academy, Saddoris has developed exponentially since his Worlds run one year ago.
This season Saddoris has earned silver medals at the CISM World Military Championships and the Pan American Games in addition to winning both the U.S. World Team Trials and U.S. Open.
With three World champions entered alongside multiple other World and Olympic medalists, 66 kg is sure to be a tightly contested bracket come Las Vegas.
UWW WORLD RANKINGS
1. Davor Stefanek (Serbia)
2. Tamas Lorincz (Hungary)
3. Han-Soo Ryu (Korea)
4. Artem Surkov (Russia)
5. Frank Staebler (Germany)
6. Migran Arutunyan (Armenia)
7. Dominik Etlinger (Croatia)
8. Hasan Aliyev (Azerbaijan)
9. Istvan Levai (Slovakia)
10. Mateusz Bernatek (Poland)
11. Aleksander Maksimovic (Serbia)
12. Denys Demyankov (Ukraine)
13. Mohammadali Geraei (Iran)
14. Mathias Maasch (Germany)
15. Wuileixis Rivas Espinoza (Venezuela)
16. Demeu Zhadrayev (Kazakhstan)
17. Abdulsamet Ugurlu (Turkey)
18. Konstantin Stas (Bulgaria)
19. Miguel Martinez Palacios (Cuba)
20. David Karecinski (Poland)
RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS
2014 World Championships
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Gold – Davor Stefanek (Serbia); Silver – Omid Noroozi (Iran); Bronze – Edgardas Venckaitis (Lithuania); Bronze – Tamas Lorincz (Hungary); 5th – Hasan Aliyev (Azerbaijan); 5th – Frank Staebler (Germany); 7th – Revaz Lashkhi (Georgia); 8th – Hideyuki Otoizumi (Japan); 9th – Mihran Hartyunyan (Armenia); 10th – Konstantin Stas (Bulgaria)
2013 World Championships
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Gold -Han-Soo Ryu (Korea); Silver - Islam-Beka Albiev (Russia); Bronze – Sandeep Tulsi Yadav (India); Bronze - Frank Staebler (Germany); 5th - Aleksandar Maksimovic (Serbia); 5th - Hasan Aliyev (Azerbaijan); 7th - Vladimiros Matias (Greece); 8th - A. Byabangard (Iran); 9th – Yuksel Atakan (Turkey); 10th - Tamas Lorincz (Hungary)
2012 Olympic Games
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Gold - Hyeon-Woo Kim (Korea); Silver - Tamas Lorincz (Hungary); Bronze - Manuchar Tskhaidia (Georgia); Bronze - Steeve Guenot (France); 5th - Frank Staebler (Germany); 5th - Pedro Mulens (Cuba); 7th - Edgaras Venckaitis (Lithuania); 8th - Justin Lester (USA); 9th - Darkhan Bayakhmetov (Kazakhstan); 10th - Amm El Garably (Egypt)
2011 World Championships
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Gold - Saeid Morad Abdvali (Iran); Silver - Manuchar Tskhadaia (Georgia); Bronze - Hyeon-Woo Kim (Korea); Bronze - Pedro Isaac Mulens (Cuba); 5th - Frank Stabler (Germany); 5th - Justin Lester (USA); 7th - Tamás Lorincz (Hungary); 8th - Kanatbek Begaliev (Kyrgyzstan); 9th - Yuji Okamoto (Japan); 10th - Pan Zheng (China)
2010 World Championships
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Gold – Ambako Vachadze (Russia); Silver – Armen Vardanyan (Ukraine); Bronze – Vitaly Rahimov (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Vasif Arzimanov (Turkey); 5th – Steeve Guenot (France); 5th – Tamas Lorincz (Hungary); 7th- Pascal Strebel (Switzerland); 8th – Hyeon-Woo Kim (Korea); 9th – Danijel Janecic (Croatia); 10th – Emilian Todorov (Bulgaria).
2009 World Championships
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Gold - Farid Mansurov (Azerbaijan); Silver - Manuchar Tskhadaia (Georgia); Bronze - Ambako Vachadze (Russia); Bronze - Pedro Isaac Mulen (Cuba); 5th - Tamas Lorincz (Hungary); 5th - Sasun Ghambaryan (Armenia); 7th - Afshin Byabangard (Iran); 8th - Tsutomu Fujimura (Japan); 9th - Emil Milev (Bulgaria); 10th - Darkhan Bayakhmetov (Kazakhstan)