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2021 Junior World Championships

Team USA’s Greco-Roman Woes Persist at Tokyo Olympic Games and Junior World Championships in Russia

Pictured: Team USA Greco-Roman World team member Nic Bouzakis (60 kg). Photo credit: Andy Hamilton. 

Team USA men’s and women’s freestyle has seen a lot of success and steady improvement over the past five Olympic cycles. In 2020, the USA had one of the most impressive Olympic performances in recent memory. All five on the men’s side earned a medal, and five of six on the women’s side took part in an Olympic medal-round match, with four women bringing home some hardware.

 Unfortunately, this upward momentum achieved by the freestylers, for both the men and the women, hasn’t translated to Greco-Roman. At the Olympics in Tokyo, the four-person Team USA Greco squad could muster just a single win and zero Olympic medals.

The last =strong Olympic Games the U.S. Greco-Roman team had in recent years was the 2000 Sydney Olympics, where they won three medals in total, including one bronze, one silver, and one gold.

Since then, the team has seen a steady decline in competition results.

2000 Sydney Olympics

Steven Mays, GR, 54 kg, dnp

Jim Gruenwald, GR, 60 kg, 6th

Kevin Bracken, GR, 63 kg, 6th

Heath Sims, GR, 69 kg., dnp

Matt Lindland, GR, 76 kg, 2nd

Quincey Clark, GR, 85 kg, dnp

Garrett Lowney, GR, 97 kg, 3rd

Rulon Gardner, GR, 130 kg, 1st

2004 Athens Olympics

Dennis Hall, GR, 55 kg., dnp

Jim Gruenwald, GR, 60 kg., 10th

Oscar Wood, GR, 66 kg., dnp

Brad Vering, GR, 84 kg, dnp

Garrett Lowney, GR, 96 kg, dnp

Rulon Gardner, GR, 120 kg, 3rd

2008 Beijing Olympics

Spenser Mango, GR, 55 kg, 8th

Jake Deitchler, GR, 66 kg, dnp

T.C. Dantzler, GR, 74 kg, dnp

Brad Vering, GR, 84 kg, dnp

Adam Wheeler, GR, 96 kg, 3rd

Dremiel Byers, GR, 120 kg, 7th

2012 London Olympics

Spenser Mango, GR, 55 kg, 9th

Ellis Coleman, GR, 60 kg., dnp

Justin Lester, GR, 66 kg, 8th

Ben Provisor, GR, 74 kg., dnp

Chas Betts, GR, 84 kg, 9th

Dremiel Byers, GR, 120 kg, 9th

2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics

Jesse Thielke, GR, 59 kg, 9th

Andy Bisek, GR, 75 kg, 12th

Ben Provisor, GR, 85 kg, 12th

Robby Smith, GR, 130 kg, 12th

2020 Tokyo Olympics

Ildar Hafizov, GR, 60 kg, 12th

Alejandro Sancho, GR, 67 kg, 10th

John Stefanowicz, GR, 87 kg, 12th

Tracy Hancock, 97 kg, 7th

In the twenty years since the Sydney Olympics, the U.S. Greco team has won just two Olympic medals, including one bronze from Rulon Gardner in 2004 and one bronze from Adam Wheeler in 2008.

Additionally, the struggles of the USA in Greco were on full display last week in Ufa, Russia, at the 2021 Junior World Championships. Yes, Braxton Amos was able to snag a World bronze medal in Greco, which was an excellent complement to the World gold medal in freestyle, but outside Amos, the rest of the Team USA Greco squad sputtered.

The nine other USA Greco World team members were a combined 1-10 and got outscored by an 87-21 margin. Similarly, if you take Nic Bouzakis, the only other Team USA Greco wrestler besides Amos to earn a win in Russia, those numbers for the eight other World Teamers fall to 0-9 with a point differential of 74-5.

With all the success that Team USA has seen on the international stage this month, Greco-Roman wrestling remains an Achilles heel for U.S. wrestling. With the Senior World Championships less than two months away and the Paris Olympics just three years away, these recent Greco performances in Tokyo and Russia are ones that the team will undoubtedly look to build on.

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