Photo courtesy of Sandy Slater
After two days of underwhelming results from the United States in the Greco-Roman portion of the World Championships, Adam Coon came to save the day. Coon took the 130 kg weight class by storm pinning all four of his opponents and qualifying for the world finals tomorrow. Let me repeat, Coon pinned his way into the world finals. Those are number that you may expect to see at an early season college open tournament, but not the Greco World Championships. By making winning in the semifinals, Coon has become the first American to secure a medal in Greco at the Senior level since Adam Bisek in 2015, and he is the first to make a final since Dremiel Byers in 2009. Adam’s opponent in the gold medal match will be Sergey Semenov (Russia) a 2017 U23 World Champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist. The pair met in the 2014 Junior World Championships in a match that was taken by Semenov, the eventual champion.
The day’s results are even more surprising considering that Coon was focused on winning a collegiate national title just seven months ago and was also dappling in freestyle this summer, as well. Adam opened the eyes of the wrestling community when he unseated the United States’ fixture at the weight Robby Smith at the Greco World Team Trials in Tulsa Oklahoma, then hopped on a plane and flew to Pennsylvania to wrestle Nick Gwiazdowski in freestyle at Final X Bethlehem. Since Coon has clinched at least a silver medal, it makes the 285 lb weight class at the 2016 NCAA Championships look even more impressive. He along with Kyle Snyder and Nick Gwiazdowski have all claimed at least one Senior world medal, just two years later.
Saturday the future of USA Wrestling, at least the Greco front, was on display. In addition to Coon, 2017 Junior world champion Kamal Bey took the mats wearing the red, white and blue wrestling at 77 kg. Though Bey won’t medal this year, he did pick up a pair of wins and was able to wow the crowds with high amplitude throws. At just 20 years old, it’s safe to say that Bey’s best days are still way ahead of him, and that’s a scary thought. Also wrestling today was the representative at 97 kg, G’angelo Hancock. Unfortunately, Hancock fell in the opening round to a Junior world silver medalist, the 21-year old is still one of the brightest stars in the sport domestically. Hancock forced American fans, and observers worldwide to take notice when he pinned Artur Aleksanyan (Armenia) earlier this year.
That only other member of Team USA that was in action Saturday was Ellis Coleman at 67 kg. Ellis lost his single repechage match 5-3 to France’s Mamadassa Sylla. Coleman was the only American wrestler over the first two days that was able to register a win.
The medal round matches are slated to start tomorrow at 9:30 am Eastern.