USA Wrestling Joe Rau places fifth...

Joe Rau places fifth at 87 kg at respected Grand Prix Zagreb Open in Croatia

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Jan. 17, 2021, 12:03 p.m. (ET)

Portrait of Joe Rau, competing in Croatia, courtesy of the Grand Prix Zagreb Open Facebook page.

ZAGREB, Croatia - Two-time World Team member Joe Rau (Champaign, Ill./Titan Mercury WC/Illinois RTC) went 1-1 in the repechage rounds on Sunday at 87 kg to place fifth in a highly competitive Greco-Roman event, the Grand Prix Zagreb Open.

Rau opened Sunday’s repechage action with a dominant 10-0 technical fall in just 1:04 over Juho Pahikainen of Finland, who was fifth in the 2017 Cadet World Championships.

This qualified him for a bronze-medal match, where he was defeated by defeated 2018 University World champion Ali Cengiz of Turkey, 6-0.

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

He finished the two-day event with a 2-2 record. On Saturday, 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, 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.

at Zagreb, Croatia

87 kg - Joe Rau (Champaign, Ill./Titan Mercury WC/Illinois RTC), 5th place
WIN Filip Smetko (Croatia), pin 2:23
LOSS Aleksandar Stjepanetic (Sweden), 9-7
WIN Juho Pahikainen (Finland), tech fall 10-0, 1:04
LOSS Ali Cengiz (Turkey), 6-0