Photo of Pat Smith at Pan Am Games by Tony Rotundo/Wrestlers are Warriors.
Dates of competition: Monday, September 16, and Tuesday, September 20.
2018 World champion Aleksandr Chekhirkin will not have the opportunity to defend his title because Russia is ridiculously stacked and will be sending two-time Olympic champion Roman Vlasov instead. Vlasov defeated Chekhirkin, 2-1 at the Nikola Petrov Tournament to earn the nod. In 2017, Vlasov finished 20th at 80 kg, and in 2018 he was not selected to the Russian World Team. In addition to his Olympic Gold medals in 2012 at 74 kg and 2016 at 75 kg, Vlasov is a two-time Senior World champion. He took gold in 2011 and 2015 at 74 kg and 75 kg. He finished as a Senior World runner-up in 2013 at 74 kg and also holds a Junior World title at 74 kg from 2010. In 2019, he won the Russian Championships, the European Championships and the Grand Prix of Germany. He finished runner-up at the Nikola Petrov tournament in Bulgaria but forfeited his finals match.
Hungary’s Tamas Lorincz has finished runner-up at the last two World Championships and will be looking to bring home an elusive World title this year. Lorincz is a three-time Olympian at 66 kg. He finished second in 2012, eighth in 2008 and 16th in 2016. This will be his 11th Senior World Championship, and in addition to his pair of World silvers, he also has a bronze medal from the 2014 World Championships at 66 kg. He is a 2006 Junior World bronze medalist at 66 kg as well. In 2019 Lorincz placed third at the City of Sassari Tournament and the European Games and finished ninth at the Grand Prix of Germany.
The current UWW No. 1 is Hyeon-Woo Kim of South Korea. Kim is a 2012 Olympic Champion at 66 kg and a 2013 World Champion at 74 kg. Additionally, Kim is a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist at 75 kg and a two-time World bronze medalist, placing at 66 kg in 2011 and 77 kg at last year’s World Championships. Kim also finished as a runner-up at the 2006 Junior World Championships at 66 kg. In 2019 Kim has won the City of Sassari Tournament in Italy and the Asian Championships while fining third at the Grand Prix of Hungary and the Grand Prix of Zagreb.
One of the only wrestlers to defeat Kim this year is the other 2018 World bronze medalist Viktor Nemes of Serbia. Nemes defeated Kim in the semifinals of the Grand Prix of Hungary, 1-1. Nemes would go on to win the tournament. He has also won the Tblisi Tournament in Georgia and placed third at the European Championships in 2019. Nemes is a 2017 World Champion at 75 kg and placed 8th at the 2016 Olympic Games at the same weight.
A wrestler to watch out for is Daniel Cataraga of Moldova. Catarga is the 2018 U23 World champion at 77 kg and was the 2017 U23 World champion at 71 kg. Additionally, he took Senior World silver at the Non-Olympic World Championships in 2016. He did not compete at the Senior World Championships in 2018, but he did in 2017 where he placed 5th at 71 kg. In 2019, he has placed third at the Nikola Petrov Tournament, seventh at the European Championships and eighth at the Vehbi Emre tournament in Turkey. Despite a relatively lackluster season, Cataraga has shown in the past he has the skills to make the podium.
Representing the United States will be Pat Smith. This will be Smith’s second time at the World Championships. He placed 15th in 2017 at 71 kg. In 2018 he competed at 72, and this year he decided to bump up to 77 kg to prepare for the 2020 Olympics. So far, the move has paid dividends. In 2019 Smith has won the Dave Schultz Memorial International, the Pan American Games and the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament. He finished runner-up at the U.S. Open and placed fifth at Thor Masters in Denmark and 19th at the Grand Prix of Hungary. Smith is also a 2014 World University Championship runner-up and a Pan American Championships gold medalist in 2016 and 2017 at 71 kg.
To earn his spot on the World Team Smith defeated Kamal Bey in a best-of-three series at Final X: Rutgers. Bey, a 2017 Junior World champion and 2018 Senior World seventh place finisher, defeated Smith in the U.S. Open finals 7-5. Smith dropped the opening match, 11-2. He would then grind out two-straight victories, 2-1 and 6-3 to claim the spot.
RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS
2018 World Championships
77 kg/ 169.75 pounds – Gold – Aleksandr Chekhirkin (Russia); Silver – Tomas Lorincz (Hungary); Bronze – (Hyeon-woo Kim); Bronze – Viktor Nemes (Serbia); 5th – Bilan Nalgiev (Uzbekistan); 5th – Alex Bjurberg Kessidis (Sweden); 7th – Kamal Bey (United States); 8th – Elvin Mursaliyev (Azerbaijan); 9th – Kairatbek Tugolbaev (Kyrgyzstan); 10th - Igor Besleaga (Moldova)
2017 World Championships
75 kg/165 lbs. - Gold- Viktor Nemes (Serbia); Silver - Tamas Lorincz (Hungary) ; Bronze - Saeid Morad Abdvali (Iran); Bronze - Fatih Cengiz (Turkey); 5th - Kazbek Kilou (Belarus); 6th – Mindia Tsulukidze (Georgia); 7th - Hyeonwoo Kim (Korea); 8th - Karapet Chalyan (Armenia); 9th - Gang Zhang (China); 10th – Raibek Bisultanov (Denmark)
2016 Olympic Games
75 kg/165 lbs. – Gold – Roman Vlasov (Russia); Silver – Mark Overgaard Madsen (Denmark); Bronze –Hyeon-woo Kim (Korea); Bronze – Saeid Morad Abdvali (Iran); Fifth – Bozo Starcevic (Croatia); Fifth – Peter Basci (Hungary); Seventh – Elvin Mursaliyev (Azerbaijan); Eighth – Viktor Nemes (Serbia); Ninth – Bin Yang (China); Tenth – Doszhan Kartikov
2015 World Championships
75 kg/165 lbs. – Gold – Roman Vlasov (Russia); Silver – Mark Madsen (Denmark); Bronze – Andy Bisek (United States); Bronze – Doszhan Kartikov (Kazakhstan); 5th – Saeid Morad Abdvali (Iran); 5th – Elvin Mursaliyev (Azerbaijan); 7th – Bozo Starcevic (Croatia); 8th – Peter Basci (Hungary); 9th – Arsen Julfalakyan (Armenia); 10th – Hyeon-Woo Kim (Korea)
2014 World Championships
75 kg/165 lbs. – Gold – Arsen Julfalakyan (Armenia); Silver – Neven Zugaj (Croatia); Bronze – Andy Bisek (USA); Bronze – Elvin Mursaliyev (Azerbaijan); 5th – Hiroyuki Shimizu (Japan); 5th – Zurabi Datunashvili (Georgia); 7th – Gurpreet Singh (India); 8th – Juan Escobar (Mexico); 9th – Dmytro Pyshkov (Ukraine); 10th – Yavor Yankiev (Bulgaria)
2013 World Championships
74 kg/163 lbs. – Gold –Hyeon-Woo Kim (Korea); Silver - Roman Vlasov (Russia); Bronze –Arsen Julfalakyan (Armenia); Bronze - Emrah Kus (Turkey); 5th - Mark Madsen (Denmark); 5th - Veili-Karri Suominen (Finland); 7th - Mykola Daragan (Ukraine); 8th - Bin Yang (China); 9th – Esengeldi Kozhobek Uulu (Kyrgyzstan); 10th - Rafik Huseynov (Azerbaijan)
2012 Olympic Games
74 kg/163 lbs. – Gold - Roman Vlasov (Russia); Silver - Arsen Julfalakyan (Armenia); Bronze - Aleksandr Kazekevic (Lithuania); Bronze - Emin Ahmadov (Azerbaijan); 5th - Mark Madsen (Denmark); 5th - Aliaksandr Kikiniou (Belarus); 7th - Zurabi Datunishvili (Georgia); 8th - Christophe Guenot (France); 9th - Robert Rosengren (Sweden); 10th - Neven Zugaj (Croatia)
Current UWW Ranking Series standings (for seeding)
1 Hyeon-woo Kim (South Korea)
2 Viktor Nemes (Serbia)
3 Aleksandr Chekhirkin (Russia)
4 Tamas Lorincz (Hungary)
5 Kamal Bey (United States)
6 Bilan Nalgiev (Uzbekistan)
7 Pavel Liakh (Belarus)
8 Roman Vlasov (Russia)
9 Alex Bjurberg Kessidis (Sweden)
10 Yosvanys Flores (Cuba)