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2018 World Championships preview at 72 kg/158.5 lbs. in Greco-Roman

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Sept. 29, 2018, 11:04 a.m. (ET)

Jon Jay Chavez (right), battles for position at the 2018 Greco-Roman World Team Trials. Chavez will compete in his first Senior Worlds in Budapest. Photo by Austin Bernard.

Dates of competition: Thursday, October 25 and Friday, October 26

For a non-Olympic weight class, 72 kg in Greco-Roman will be pretty tough, with a pair of World champions and six past World medalists in the anticipated field, plus some young talent that is fighting to make themselves known at the World level.

The leading star in this weight is two-time World champ Frank Staebler of Germany, who won the 2017 World Championships at 71 kg and the 2015 World championships at 66 kg. Staebler is consistently competing for medals at the highest level. He was a 2013 World bronze medalist at 66 kg, and was fifth in both the 2012 Olympics and the 2014 World Championships. Staebler wrestles a tough, aggressive style and displays a lot of emotion when he is winning.

Host Hungary brings a World champion of its own to Budapest, 2016 World champion Balint Korpasi, who also claimed a World bronze medal in 2017. Korpasi won both of his World medals at 71 kg. Korpasi has won a medal in all five international events he entered since the 2017 Worlds in Paris, including golds at the Granma Cup in Cuba and the Grand Prix of Hungary. He was also third at the European Championships this year.

2017 World silver medalist Demeu Zhadrayev of Kazakhstan is also a top medal hopeful. A 2018 Asian silver medalist, Zhadrayev also claimed a gold at the Takhti Cup in Iran and a bronze at the Grand Prix of Hungary. His resume also includes a 2016 World University silver medal.

There are three past World bronze medalists in the anticipated field as well, led by 2015 World bronze medalist Adam Kurak of Russia. Kurak won the 2018 European Championships title, and has captured the World Military gold medal the last two years. Kurak also reached medal matches at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds, when he placed fifth. Kurak is capable of a run to the finals with a strong showing in Budapest.

Mohammadali Geraei of Iran won a World bronze medal at 71 kg in 2017. He moved up in weight for the 2018 Asian Games and won the gold medal at 77 kg, also adding a silver medal at the Kartozia and Balavdze International in Georgia up in weight. Also at 77 kg this year, he was Takhti Cup champion in Iran and second in the Asian Championships. Other events Geraei has won are the 2015 World Military Games and the 2017 Islamic Solidarity Games.

Another consistent contender is Moldova’s Daniel Cataraga, who was a 2016 World silver medalist and placed fifth at the 2017 World Championships, both at 71 kg. Cataraga most recently won a silver medal at the Ion Corneanu Memorial in Romania in a tune-up event. He earned a 2017 U23 World gold medal as well.

Serbia’s Aleksandar Maksimovic has reached a pair of World medal matches, placing fifth in both the 2013 and 2016 World Championships. He was also a 2012 Olympian and a 2008 Junior World silver medalist. His first Senior World appearance was back in 2007.

Azerbaijan is expected to enter Sanan Suleymanov, a 2013 Cadet World bronze medalist. However, another option is 2015 World champion and 2016 Olympic silver medalist Rasul Chunayev, who won a silver medal at 72 kg at the 2018 European Championships. Chunayev won a 2014 World bronze medal, and boasts two Junior World medals. Suleymanov still needs to establish himself worldwide, while Chunayev is already one of the top Greco stars in the world.

Tarek Aziz Benaissa of Algeria was fifth in the 2015 World Championships at 66 kg. Most recently, he won a bronze medal at the Ion Corneanu Memorial in Romania and won a gold at the Mediterranean Championships. A 2012 and 2016 Olympian, Benaissa has also won the African Games and the African Championships in previous years.

The 2018 Asian champion at 71 kg was Akzhol Makhumdov of Kyrgyzstan, who also won a silver medal at the 2018 Asian Games up at 77 kg. Makhumdov has won three age-group World medals, a 2016 Cadet World gold medal, a 2017 Junior Worlds silver medal and a 2018 Junior World bronze medal.

Competing in his first Senior Worlds for the United States is Jon Jay Chavez, a 2013 Cadet World bronze medalist who has been in four age-group World events, two as a Cadet and two as a Junior. Chavez showed his versatility in 2018 by earning NCAA Div. I All-American honors at Cornell. He is taking off a semester to focus on Greco-Roman and goes into the Worlds looking for a breakthrough performance.

2018 University World champion Murat Dag of Turkey also won a bronze medal at the 2017 U23 Worlds. 2016 University World champion Pavel Liakh of Belarus was ninth in the 2016 Senior Worlds.

2018 Asian bronze medalist Tomohiro Inuoe of Japan has a healthy international resume, including an appearance at the 2016 Olympic Games. Aram Vardanyan of Uzbekistan also won a 2018 Asian bronze medal, and is entering his second Senior Worlds. Emnanuel Nworie of Nigeria was the 2018 African champion at this weight class. 2018 Pan American silver medalist Manuel Lopez Salcedo of Mexico has won three career Pan American medals.

Note: will be posting weight class previews for the 2018 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, October 20-28.


2017 World Championships
71 kg/156 lbs. - Gold - Frank Staebler (Germany); Silver - Demeu Zhadrayev (Kazakhstan); Bronze - Balint Korpasi (Hungary); Bronze - Mohammadali Geraei (Iran); 5th - Adam Kurak (Russia); 5th - Daniel Cataraga (Moldova); 7th - Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan); 8th - Evrik Nikoghosyan (France); 9th - Nurgazy Asangulov (Kyrgyzstan); 10th - Ibrahim Mahmoud Ghanev (Egypt)

2016 World Championships
71 kg/156 lbs. – Gold – Balint Korpasi (Hungary); Silver – Daniel Cataraga (Moldova); Bronze – Hasan Aliyev (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Ilie Cojocari (Romania); Fifth – Adam Kurak (Russia); Fifth – Aleksandr Masimovic (Serbia); Seventh – Artak Margaryan (France); Eighth – Dawid Karecinski (Poland); Ninth – Pavel Liakh (Belarus); Tenth – Christopher Gonzalez (United States)

2015 World Championships
71 kg/156 lbs. – Gold – Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan); Silver – Armen Vardanyan (Ukraine); Bronze – Adam Kurak (Russia); Bronze – Knut Tallroth (Sweden); Fifth – Tsimur Berdyieu (Belarus); Fifth – Matthias Maasch (Germany); Seventh – Kairatbek Tugolbaev (Kyrgyzstan); Eighth – Justin Lester (United States); Ninth – Akrem Boudjemline (Algeria); Tenth – Darkhan Bayakhmetov (Kazakhstan)

2014 World Championships
71 kg/156 lbs. – Gold – Chingiz Labazanov (Russia); Silver – Yunus Ozel (Turkey); Bronze – Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Afshim Byabangard (Iran); 5th – Varsham Boranyan (Armenia); 5th – Aliaksandr Dzemyanovich (Belarus); 7th – Shermet Permanov (Turkmenistan); 8th – Demeu Zhadrayev (Kazakhstan); 9th –Ionel Puscasu (Romania); 10th – Balint Korpasi (Hungary)

Current UWW Ranking Series standings (for seeding)
1 Balint Korpasi (Hungary)
2 Demeu Zhadrayev (Kazakhstan)
3 Adam Kurak (Russia)
4 Rasul Chunayev (Azerbaijan)
5 Murat Dag (Turkey)
6 Iuri Lomadze (Georgia)
7 Daniel Cataraga (Moldova)
8 Gevorg Sahakyan (Poland)
9 Ibragim Magomedov (Kazakhstan)
10 Aleksandar Maksimovic (Serbia)