Johnson reaches Zagreb Open finals, Hancock and Rice go for bronze, three more from USA get into repechage

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Feb. 09, 2019, 1:38 p.m. (ET)
U.S. Greco-Roman delegation prior to the Grand Prix Zagreb Open, a UWW Ranking Tournament.

ZAGREB, Croatia - Xavier Johnson (Camp LeJeune, N.C./U.S. Marine Corps) reached the gold-medal finals at 63 kg, the top U.S. performance on the first day of competition at the Grand Prix Zagreb Open, the first of the UWW Greco-Roman Ranking Tournaments of the year.

Johnson, who is currently No. 3 on the Greco-Roman National Team, will battle Islomjon Bakhramov of Uzbekistan in the gold-medal round on Sunday.

To reach the finals, Johnson dominated Dawid Ersetic of Poland in a 10-0 technical fall. Johnson had a great sequence early in the match. After getting on top when Ersetic was hit for passivity, Johnson scored a gut wrench and a lift to lead 7-0. He blocked an Ersetic throw for two, then got another point on a challenge, to secure the victory.

In his opening bout, Johnson got his offense going, putting up some points before pinning Irakli Dzmirstarishvili of Georgia in 2:02. His quarterfinal match was a victory by forfeit over Luka Prihistal of Croatia.

“Xavier Johnson had a great day by taking the fight to his opponents. He put himself in a position to score a lot of points. XJ has been seriously focused on scoring big and he put himself into the finals,” said National Greco-Roman Coach Matt Lindland.

When Bakhramov reached the finals on the opposite side of Johnson, he pulled U.S. wrestler Travis Rice (Washington, Ill./Illinois RTC/NYAC) back into the tournament. Bakhramov beat Rice in the quarterfinals, 9-0. Rice is drawn directly into a bronze-medal bout against Firuz Tukhtaev of Uzbekistan.

The U.S. also placed two-time Senior World Team member G’Angelo Hancock (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) into a bronze medal bout at 97 kg/213.5 lbs.

Hancock, a past Junior World bronze medalist, opened up with two strong victories. Hancock got on top and was able to lift, throw and pin Abolfazi Seyedmahdavi of Iran in 1:32 in his first match. He was in control throughout his 5-1 victory over Seyeol Lee of Korea in the quarterfinals.

The semifinals did not go well, as Hancock was pinned by Ilia Borisov of Russia in 2:34. Hancock led 1-0 on a passivity against Borisov, but the Russian hit a four-point bodylock for a 4-1 lead. In another situation, Borisov was able to get Hancock to his back and secured the fall.

Hancock will face the winner of the repechage bout between Nicholas Boykin (Murfreesboro, Tenn./Sunkist Kids) and Adam Varga of Hungary.

“Tracy Hancock’s pace and constant attacks put him into a tough semifinal. He was looking great throughout the day. He was controlling the match and got beaten in a position,” said Lindland.

Boykin won his first match of the day by pin over Seungjun Kim of Korea, but lost in the quarterfinals to Borisov, and was pulled back in when Borisov made the finals. Boykin will be joined by two other U.S. athletes in Sunday’s repechage rounds.

At 82 kg/180.5 lbs., Jon Stefanowicz (Camp LeJeune, N.C./U.S. Marine Corps) opened with a win over Rajbek Bisultanov of Denmark, 4-4. He lost to Emrah Kus of Turkey in the quarterfinals. When Kus made the finals, Stefanowicz was pulled into repechage against Jalgasbay Berdimuratov of Uzbekistan.

In the 87 kg/191.5 lbs. repechage is Kevin Radford (Tempe, Ariz./Sunkist Kids), who will face Dogan Goktas of Turkey. He lost his first bout to Kristoffer Zakarias Berg of Sweden, who reached the finals.

The U.S. had 13 athletes who entered the tournament, and seven advanced to the quarterfinals round. Among the five U.S. athletes to lose in the quarterfinals was Kamal Bey (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids) at 77 kg/169.5 lbs., who was disqualified with five seconds left in the match when he almost came to blows with Rafael Iunusov of Russia. Bey was trailing 6-2 in the match, which featured very rough exchanges throughout.

“The first ranking event has a lot of tough competitors. Our guys that go out and fearlessly score points are in every match and are doing well. Overall, the team is competing well. We are looking forward to getting a couple of medals in the morning,” said Lindlan.

Action in all 10 weight classes complete on Sunday, with repechage bouts and bronze-medal matches at 10:30 a.m. local time, and the Opening Ceremony and final matches at 5:30 p.m. Zagreb is six hours ahead of the U.S. Eastern time zone.

The Grand Prix Zagreb Open, as well as all of the UWW Ranking Tournaments, will be broadcast on FloWrestling.

UWW Greco-Roman Ranking Tournament
at Zagreb, Croatia

Gold Medal finals pairings

60 kg – Milad Ali Reznezhad (Iran) vs. Kerem Kamal (Turkey)
63 kg – Xavier Johnson (USA) vs. Islomjon Bakhramov (Uzbekistan)
67 kg – Mihai Mihut (Romania) vs. Elmurat Tasmuradov (Uzbekistan)
72 kg – Ramaz Zoidze (Georgia) vs. Robert Frisch (Hungary)
77 kg – Yunus Basar (Turkey) vs. Bozo Starcevic (Croatia)
82 kg – Daniel Aleksandrov (Bulgaria) vs. Emrah Kus (Turkey)
87 kg – Viktor Lorincz (Hungary) vs. Kristoffer Zakarias Berg (Sweden)
97 kg – Ilia Borisov (Russia) vs. Kiril Milov (Bulgaria)
130 kg – Oskar Marvik (Norway) vs. Muminjon Abdullaev (Uzbekistan)
55 kg roundrobin 3
Dogus Ayazci Turkey vs. Alexandru Botez (Romania)
Ekrem Ozturk (Turkey) vs. Pouya Dad Marz (Iran)

U.S. Greco-Roman performances on Saturday

60 kg/132 lbs. – Dalton Roberts (Fowlerville, Mich./NYAC)
LOSS Virgil Munteanu (Romania), tech. fall 10-1

60 kg/132 lbs. – Ildar Hafizov (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army WCAP)
WIN Jozsef Andrasi (Hungary), tech. fall 10-0
LOSS Ivan Lizatovic (Croatia), 2-1

63 kg/139 lbs. – Xavier Johnson (Camp LeJeune, N.C./U.S. Marine Corps)
WIN Irakli Dzmirstarishvili (Georgia), pin 2:02
WIN Luka Prihistal (Croatia), forfeit
WIN Dawid Ersetic (Poland), tech. fall 10-0
Gold Medal finals - Islomjon Bakhramov (Uzbekistan)

63 kg/139 lbs. – Travis Rice (Washington, Ill./Illinois RTC/NYAC)
LOSS Islomjon Bakhramov (Uzbekistan), 9-0
Bronze bout – Firuz Tukhtaev (Uzbekistan)

77 kg/169.5 lbs. – RaVaughn Perkins (Colorado Springs, Colo./NYAC)
LOSS Per Anders Kure (Norway), 7-5

77 kg/169.5 lbs. – Peyton Walsh (Camp LeJeune, N.C./Marines)
LOSS Furkan Bayrak (Turkey), tech. fall, 9-0

77 kg/169.5 lbs. – Kamal Bey (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids)
WIN Riccardo Abbrescia (Italy), 7-3
LOSS Rafael Iunusov (Russia), disqualification 5:55

82 kg/180.5 lbs. – Jon Stefanowicz (Camp LeJeune, N.C./U.S. Marine Corps)
WIN Rajbek Bisultanov (Denmark), 4-4
LOSS Emrah Kus (Turkey), 9-0 tech fall
Repechage Bout – Jalgasbay Berdimuratov (Uzbekistan)

87 kg/191.5 lbs. – Patrick Martinez (Colorado Springs, Colo./NYAC)
LOSS Muhammadali Shamsiddinov (Uzbekistan), 7-5

87 kg/191.5 lbs. – Kevin Radford Jr. (Tempe, Ariz./Sunkist Kids)
LOSS Kristoffer Zakarias Berg (Sweden), tech. fall 8-0
Repechage – Vs. Dogan Goktas (Turkey)

97 kg/213.5 lbs. – G’Angelo Hancock, (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids)
WIN Abolfazi Seyedmahdavi (Iran), pin 1:32
WIN Seyeol Lee (Korea), 5-1
LOSS Ilia Borisov (Russia), pin 2:34
Bronze bout – vs. winner of Nicholas Boykin (USA) vs. Adam Varga (Hungary)

97 kg/213.5 lbs. – Nicholas Boykin (Murfreesboro, Tenn./Sunkist Kids)
WIN Seungjun Kim (Korea), pin 5:20
LOSS Ilia Borisov (Russia), tech. fall 9-0
Repechage bout – Adam Varga (Hungary)

97 kg/213.5 lbs. – Daniel Miller (Camp LeJeune, N.C./Marines)
LOSS Jahongir Turdiev (Uzbekistan), 6-4