photo courtesy of Richard Immel
On Saturday, G’Angelo Hancock put the finishing touches on his championship at the Pytlasinski Open with a victory over Nikolay Bayryakov of Belarus. Hancock was in the final after a stunning upset of four-time defending World and Olympic Champion Artur Aleksanyan of Armenia. The 21-year-old Hancock only needed 28 seconds to sink in a body lock and throw the Armenian to his back for the fall. A day after his monumental upset, G’Angelo showed no signs of complacency out working Bayryakov throughout their championship match. He was awarded an initial point for passivity which he converted into a 3-0 lead after a gutwrench. Hancock never looked back and eventually built his lead into a 7-0 win. G’Angelo was the only American to capture gold on Saturday. The win over Aleksanyan and subsequent title at the Belarussian’s expense solidifies Hancock as one of the favorites to take a gold medal at 97 kg, next month at the World Championships in Budapest, Hungary. Not only has Hancock made the senior world team, but he also has qualified to represent the US at the U23 World Championships in November. G’Angelo already has world-level hardware, as he was a Junior World bronze medalist in 2016 at 96 kilos.
The only other American athlete to make the finals on Saturday was former Iowa All-American Sam Brooks who was the runner-up at 86 kg. Brooks picked up three wins on Friday to earn his spot in the finals, where he would fall on criteria 2-2, to Poland’s Zbigniew Baranowski; currently the 14th ranked wrestler in UWW’s world rankings.
A pair of women earned bronze medals as well, with Whitney Conder at 50 kg and Forrest Molinari at 65 kilos. Frank Perrelli (Men’s Freestyle 57 kg) and Jacarra Winchester (Women’s Freestyle 55 kg) both wrestled for a bronze medal, but lost and had to settle for fifth place.
Two current collegiate wrestlers had huge tournaments, starting with Michigan’s Stevan Micic, who was competing for Serbia at 57 kilos. Micic sealed his gold medal-winning performance with a 10-0 win over Italy’s Givi Davidovi in the finals. Although he did not medal, Missouri’s Jaydin Eierman still had a notable tournament at 65 kg. In the opening round, Eierman cradled and pinned the third-ranked 61 kg wrestler in the world Beka Lomtadze (Georgia). Jaydin would go on to drop his next match to Romanian George Bucur, who did not pull him back into the repechage.