USA Wrestling Rau qualifies for re...

Rau qualifies for repechage at Grand Prix Zagreb Open in Croatia

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Jan. 16, 2021, 3:19 p.m. (ET)

Photo of Joe Rau by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors

ZAGREB, Croatia - Two-time World Team member Joe Rau (Champaign, Ill./Titan Mercury WC/Illinois RTC) went 1-1 at 87 kg in a highly competitive Greco-Roman event, the Grand Prix Zagreb Open. He has qualified for the repechage rounds on Sunday, with a chance to wrestle back for a bronze medal.

In his opening bout, Rau scored a pin over 2020 Zagreb Open bronze medalist Filip Smetko of host Croatia in 2:23. Rau was edged in the quarterfinals by 2019 Haavisto Cup silver medalist Aleksandar Stjepanic of Sweden, 9-7.

Rau was pulled back into repechage after Stjepanetic defeated 2018 University World champion Ali Cengiz of Turkey in the semifinals, 3-2. Stjepanetic will face past World champion Zhan Beleniuk of Ukraine in the finals.

Rau's repechage opponent on Sunday morning is Juho Pahikainen of Finland, who was fifth in the 2017 Cadet World Championships. If Rau wins his first repechage bout, he will face Cengiz in a bronze-medal bout.

Rau is the only U.S. athlete entered in this tournament.

Rau, who qualified the U.S. for the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, by winning a gold medal at 87 kg the 2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier in Ottawa, Canada last March. The previous weekend, Rau also won the 2020 Pan American Championships, to go along with his 2015 Pan American Championships title.

Rau won the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials, but was unable to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games because his weight class did not get qualified for the Games. He is a two-time U.S. Senior World Team member, competing in the 2014 Senior Worlds in Tahkent, Uzbekistan and the 2019 Senior World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.

Fans can watch the live stream on the Grand Prix Zagreb Open website at:

at Zagreb, Croatia

87 kg - Joe Rau (Champaign, Ill./Titan Mercury WC/Illinois RTC)
WIN Filip Smetko (Croatia), pin 2:23
LOSS Aleksandar Stjepanetic (Sweden), 9-7
Repechage - vs. Juho Pahikainen (Finland)

At Zagreb, Croatia, Jan. 16-17

Remaining Schedule (local Zagreb time, which is 6 hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time zone)

Sunday, January 17
10.30 a.m. – 2.00 p.m. - Repechage bouts and bronze medal matches (all categories)
7.00 p.m. – 9:.00 p.m. - Opening ceremony and Final matches (all categories)