By Andy Elder
Special to TheMat.com
FORT WORTH, Texas — Four U.S. Greco-Roman stars have punched their ticket for the Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan with victories at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Wrestling on Saturday night.
Alejandro Sancho (U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program) will represent the United States at 67 kg in Tokyo after winning his Championship Series. The Miami native gutted out two tight wins, 2-0 and 3-1, over teammate Ellis Coleman (Army WCAP) in the best-of-three series.
Coleman, who was once known for his Flying Squirrel move, took off his shoes and left them in the center of the mat following the match, signalling his retirement from the sport. Ironically, Sancho had replaced an injured Coleman at the 2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier, where Sancho qualified the weight class.
Joining Sancho in Tokyo will be G’Angelo Hancock (SKWC), the champion at 97 kg. A 23-year-old native of Colorado Springs, Colorado, Hancock posted two convincing 8-0 wins over 19-year-old Braxton Amos (Wisconsin Regional Training Center), the only wrestler to qualify for the Trials in two disciplines (Greco-Roman and freestyle). Hancock has been No. 1 in the USA at this weight for four years, after competing in the last three Senior World Championships.
Ildar Hafizov (Army WCAP) will be making the trip and it will be a familiar feeling. As a 20-year-old representing Uzbekistan, Hafizov, wrestling in the 2008 games. Now, 13 years later, he gets to do it again, representing his new home country. The 33-year-old from Tashkent rolled to pair of shutout wins over Ryan Mango (Army WCAP), 7-0 and 8-0. Hafizov has twice wrestled for Team USA at the World Championships, and now gets to be a U.S. Olympian.
Completing the United States Greco-Roman team will be another surprising member, John Stefanowicz (All-Marine Wrestling Team). His 6-5 and 2-1 wins over two-time World Team member Joe Rau earned Stefanowicz, the Fawn Grove, Pennsylvania, native a trip to Tokyo. Stefanowicz was on the 2019 U.S. World Team at 82 kg, and moved up in weight and made a stunning two-day run through his new weight class.
After the loss, Rau sat on the mat, unlaced his shoes and placed them in the center of the mat to signal his exit from the sport. With tears in his eyes, he took one last stroll around the mat, surveying an applauding crowd.
A week ago, Jesse Porter (New York Athletic Club) didn’t have confirmed plans for this weekend. A week later, after a stop in Fort Worth, he’s trying to plan a summer trip to Tokyo.
Porter placed second last weekend in the Last Chance Qualifier to earn the No. 10 seed, out of 10 at the weight, at 77 kg Greco-Roman in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials – Wrestling. Saturday night at Dickies Arena, the Ballston Lake, New York, native won the title in one of the more improbable developments in a weekend that hinted at a youth movement in USA Wrestling.
The 23-year-old posted two wins over Peyton Walsh (All-Marine Wrestling Team), 8-1 and 7-7 on criteria to take the best-of-three series, 2-0.
Since the weight class hasn’t been qualified, Porter will have the opportunity to do at the World Olympic Games Qualifier, May 6-9 in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Joining Porter in having to go the the qualifier is the champion at 130 kg, Adam Coon (NYAC/Cliff Keen Wresting Club). A 2018 World silver medalist and a 2019 World Team Member, Coon won the weight with two straight victories over Colton Schultz (Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club), 10-1 and 3-3 on criteria.
Final X Championship Series in Greco-Roman
60 kg – Ildar Hafizov (ARMY WCAP) vs. Ryan Mango (ARMY WCAP)
Bout One – Hafizov dec. Mango, 7-0
Bout Two – Hafizov tech. fall Mango, 8-0
Hafizov qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team.
67 kg – Alejandro Sancho (U.S. Army WCAP) dec. Ellis Coleman (ARMY WCAP), two matches to none
Bout One – Sancho dec. Coleman, 2-0
Bout Two – Sancho dec. Coleman, 3-1
Sancho qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team.
77 kg – Peyton Walsh (All-Marine Wrestling Team) vs. Jesse Porter (New York Athletic Club)
Bout One –Porter dec. Walsh, 8-1
Bout Two – Porter dec. Walsh, 7-7
Porter wins U.S. Olympic Team Trials, and will attempt to qualify the weight class for the Olympic Games at the World Olympic Games Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria, May 6-9
87 kg – Joe Rau (Titan Mercury) vs. John Stefanowicz (All-Marine Wrestling Team)
Bout One – Stefanowicz dec. Rau, 6-5
Bout Two – Stefanowicz dec. Rau. 2-1
Stefanowicz qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team.
97 kg – G’Angelo Hancock (Sunkist Kids) vs. Braxton Amos (Wisconsin RTC)
Bout One – Hancock tech. fall Amos, 8-0
Bout Two – Hancock tech. fall Amos, 8-0
Hancock qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team.
130 kg – Adam Coon (NYAC/CKWC) vs. Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club)
Bout One –Coon tech. fall Schultz, 10-0
Bout Two – Coon dec. Schultz, 3-3
Coon wins U.S. Olympic Team Trials, and will attempt to qualify the weight class for the Olympic Games at the World Olympic Games Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria, May 6-9