One of the toughest tournaments on the international schedule, the Ivan Yarygin is named for the two-time Olympic champion who died in a car crash in 1997. It is fitting that this tournament would be named for Yarygin. The Russian only got the chance to wrestle in a world-level championship three times, in 1972, 1973, and 1976, but won each time. During Yarygin’s career, which lasted from around 1970 to just before the 1980 Olympics, the Soviet Union sent five other wrestlers to represent his weight class. Four won world-level titles while the fifth, Levan Tediashvili, took silver, though he had six world and Olympic titles at lower weights. The depth of Russian wrestling was staggering then and it is still impressive today, after the fall of the Soviet Union. The Yarygin features deep fields, stocked with Russians who are mostly unknown outside the country and sprinkled with fantastic talent from around the world. Team USA is sending three men, including defending Olympic and world champion Kyle Snyder who lost here in 2016, and four women to compete in 2017.
Snyder lost to Anzor Boltukaev in the 2016 Yarygin, ultimately finishing third. There have only been 10 American men to ever come out of this event with a gold medal, including Dave Schultz, Kendall Cross, Tom Brands, and, most recently, Steve Mocco. Snyder has a good chance to put his name on that list as none of the top Russians, including Boltukaev, are set to attend. Still, this is a Russian tournament deep in enemy territory and strange things happen. Nick Gwiazdowski, the presumed successor to Tervel Dlagnev at 125 kg, is making the trip as well. This will be the most trying environment he has faced to date. The same goes for Cody Brewer at 61 kg. The Yarygin has brought experienced veterans to their knees. Gwiazdowski and Brewer face a difficult challenge this weekend.
On the women’s side, Team USA is bringing a strong group, despite none of the Rio Olympians opting to attend. 2016 world silver medalist Alli Ragan returns to the mat at 60 kg while her teammate at that competition, Sarah Hildebrandt also returns to the mat at 55 kg. Victoria Anthony, who was the runner-up at the Olympic Trials and has experienced this tournament before is entered at 48 kg, while Olympic Trials champion Tamyra Mensah will compete at 69 kg.
Competition begins on Friday morning in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, at 10 pm, Thursday night, east coast time. United World Wrestling will have a live stream here. Day one features Anthony, Ragan, and Mensah, while day two will see Brewer, Snyder, Gwiazdowski, and Hildebrandt take the mat.
A much larger delegation of Americans is headed to Paris this weekend as 26 wrestlers are scheduled to compete there for Team USA. Of particular interest are the 74 kg entrants which include Kyle Dake, Alex Dieringer, and Matt Brown. This is Dake’s first action back down at 74 kg where many expect him to challenge four-time world-level champion Jordan Burroughs for the world team spot. Dieringer is fast improving and scored a spectacular victory over Bekzod Abdurakhmanov (UZB) at the Bill Farrell in November. Abdurakhmanov is a former world bronze medalist and finished fifth at the Olympics after beating Burroughs in the repechage. The former Oklahoma State Cowboy will be trying to work his way into the mix at 74 kg as well. Brown was third at the Bill Farrell. His physical style got under the skin of some of his international opponents there so keep an eye on his matches. He isn’t quite ready to challenge Dake and Dieringer, but it will be interesting to see how he does.
Another Bill Farrell champ, and former Nittany Lion, Nico Megaludis is entered at 57 kg, while Tony Ramos is back in action at 61 kg. Jimmy Kennedy, who bumped up to 70 kg for the world team trials in November, is back at 65 kg. David Taylor heads up the 86 kg entrants. With Dake down at 74 kg, Taylor becomes the biggest threat to take the spot from Olympic bronze medalist J’den Cox going forward. It isn’t just success against domestic competition bolstering Taylor, either. He won the Grand Prix of Spain last year and then produced a solid 3-1 record for Titan Mercury as they won the Club World Championship. Zach Rey will be in Paris looking to throw his hat into the ring for the world team spot at 125 kg. Tony Nelson and Bobby Telford will be in that bracket as well. On the Greco side, eight Marines have traveled to Paris to compete.
Action in Paris is set to begin at 4 am eastern on Saturday and Sunday morning with United World Wrestling featuring a live stream each day. The full roster of Americans headed to Paris can be found below.
57 kg/125.5 lbs.- Nico Megaludis, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
61 kg/134 lbs.- Tony Ramos, Chapel Hill, N.C. (Sunkist Kids/Tarheel RTC)
65 kg/143 lbs.- BJ Futrell, Philadelphia, Pa (Titan Mercury WC/Pennsylvania RTC)
65 kg/143 lbs.- Nick Dardanes, Iowa City, Iowa (Titan Mercury WC/Hawkeye WC)
65 kg/143 lbs.- Jayson Ness, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
65 kg/143 lbs.- Jimmy Kennedy, Ann Arbor, Mich. (New York AC/Michigan RTC)
70 kg/154 lbs.- Chase Pami, Philadelphia, PA (Sunkist Kids/Pennsylvania RTC)
70 kg/154 lbs.- Jason Welch, Evanston, Ill. (Titan Mercury WC)
74 kg/163 lbs.- Kyle Dake, Ithaca, N.Y. (Titan Mercury WC/Finger Lakes RTC)
74 kg/163 lbs.- Dan Valimont, Philadelphia, Pa. (New York AC)
74 kg/163 lbs.- Matt Brown, State College, Pa. (Army WCAP)
74 kg/163 lbs.- Alex Dieringer, Stillwater, Okla. (Titan Mercury WC)
86 kg/189 lbs.- David Taylor, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
86 kg/189 lbs.- Richard Perry, Philadelphia, Pa. (New York AC)
97 kg/215 lbs.- Nathan Burak, Iowa City, Iowa (Hawkeye WC)
125 kg/275 lbs.- Zach Rey, Bethlehem, Pa. (Lehigh Valley WC/ Hawkeye WC)
125 kg/275 lbs.- Bobby Telford, Iowa City, Iowa (Titan Mercury WC)
125 kg/275 lbs.- Tony Nelson, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
59 kg/130 lbs. Xavier Johnson, Camp LeJeune, N.C. (Marines)
59 kg/130 lbs. Colton Rasche, Camp LeJeune, N.C. (Marines)
66 kg/145 lbs. Raymond Bunker, Camp LeJeune, N.C. (Marines)
71 kg/156 lbs. Joshua Russo, Camp LeJeune, N.C. (Marines)
75 kg/165 lbs. Jayshon Wilson, Camp LeJeune, N.C. (Marines)
80 kg/176 lbs. Michael Brant, Camp LeJeune, N.C. (Marine)
98 kg/215.5 lbs. Daniel Miller, Camp LeJeune, N.C. (Marines)
130 kg/286 lbs. Eric Fader, Jacksonville, N.C. (Marines)