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World Olympic Qualifier 77 and 130 kg GR preview – Porter and Coon to battle in deep brackets for Olympic berths

by Mike Willis, USA Wrestling

Feature photo of Jesse Porter courtesy of Tony Rotundo/Wrestlers are Warriors

The last two Americans with the opportunity to qualify for the Olympic Games will aim to punch their tickets at the World Olympic Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria this Saturday. Jesse Porter and Adam Coon won the Olympic Team Trials in April at 77 kg and 130 kg respectively. There was little time for celebration, as their only remaining opportunity to lock up berths for Tokyo was a month away. Both competitors will see steep competition with their Olympic dreams on the line.

Porter wrestles at Northern Michigan University, a designated Olympic Training Site. However, since the pandemic hit, he has been back home in New York, working out primarily by himself. Regardless of the less than ideal situation, Porter made it work in his favor, going on Cinderella run at the Olympic Team Trials, winning five-straight matches to earn the spot after finishing runner-up at the Last Chance Olympic Team Trials Qualifier only the week prior.

Porter has substantial international experience, representing the U.S. at the U23 World Championships on three separate occasions. However, it is safe to say this tournament will have the toughest field that he has ever wrestled against.

To earn the Olympic berth, Porter needs to make the finals, which based on his position in the bracket, means winning his first four matches. Yesterday’s draw story, broke down who Porter could face on his path to the finals. The only guaranteed opponent is his opening round draw, Marciano George Ali of Puerto Rico, a 2020 Pan Am Championships bronze medalist at 82 kg and a third-place finisher at the Pan Am Olympic Qualifier. In the next round it’s more than likely that Porter will hit his first Senior World medalist in the bracket Faith Cengiz of Turkey, a 2017 World bronze medalist and U23 World champion.

The other high-profile wrestlers in Porter’s half of the bracket include Daniel Cataraga of Moldova, a 2016 Senior World silver medalist and two-time U23 World champion, Aik Mnatsakanian, a 2018 and 2019 Senior World bronze medalist at 72 kg for Bulgaria and Shmagi Bolkvadze of Georgia, a U23 and Junior World champion. Those three wrestlers are in the same quadrant of the bracket opposite of Porter, so he would only see one of them potentially in the semifinals.

As loaded as his side of the bracket is, Porter still received a favorable placement, emphasizing the elite level of competition in this tournament. 2012 Olympic champion Hyeonwoo Kim, a 2013 World champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, is one of the big names to watch for on the other side of the bracket. Another World champion in the top-half of the bracket is Viktor Nemes of Serbia. A 2016 Olympian, Nemes claimed his World title in 2017 and also won World bronze in 2018. Rafig Huseynov of Azerbaijan, a 2019 World silver medalist at 82 kg is another strong competitor vying for the Olympic spot. Porter would not encounter these wrestlers until the finals, and at that point, he would have already qualified for the Olympic Games.

Adam Coon solidified himself as the top Greco-Roman heavyweight in the U.S. during the last quad. After a stellar collegiate career at the University of Michigan, which saw him net All-American honors three-times and make the NCAA finals twice, Coon made his first Senior World Team months after graduating and went on to take silver at the 2018 World Championships. He made the team once again in 2019 but failed to reach the podium.

Coon has an extensive background in Greco-Roman and was a 2014 Junior World bronze medalist. Additionally, he achieved great success in freestyle, winning a Cadet World title in 2011 and a Junior World bronze medal in 2014. He also manned the No. 2 spot on the Men’s Freestyle National Team in 2018 while simultaneously holding the No. 1 spot in Greco-Roman. However, leading up to the Olympic Games, Coon transitioned to only competing in Greco.

To reach the finals, Coon has to win his first three matches. He will open the tournament with the winner of Murat Ramonov of Kyrgyzstan, a 2021 Asian Championship bronze medalist who finished seventh at the 2019 Worlds, vs. Adam Varga of Hungary, who finished third in the European Olympic Qualifier. While Coon has several noteworthy competitors on his side of the bracket, none of them have won a Senior World medal. In fact, Coon is the only Senior World medalist in the 130 kg field.

Potential quarterfinal opponents for Coon include Armenia’s David Ovasapyan, a 2019 U23 World bronze medalist and 2018 Junior World silver medalist and Mykola Kuchmii, a 2019 European Games bronze medalist and 2017 Senior World fifth-place finisher, from Ukraine. Should he reach the semifinals, the most credentialed opponents he could face are Georgiev Radoslav of Bulgaria, a 2021 Nikola Petrov International champion and a 2020 Bulgarian champion and Elias Kuosmanen of Finland, a 2017 U23 World silver medalist and a 2019 World Military Games silver medalist.

On the other side of Coon’s bracket loom heavy-hitters like two-time Olympian Alin Alexuc Ciurariu of Romania and Moises Salvador Perez Hellburg of Venezuela, a 2019 Pan Am Games and 2020 Matteo Pellicone runner-up. Again, Coon wouldn’t wrestle these two opponents until after he secured his berth to Tokyo.

The tournament is streaming live on FloWrestling, and the Greco-Roman schedule is listed at the bottom of this article.

World Olympic Games Qualifier 77kg Greco-Roman field
Abd Elkrim OUAKALI (ALG) – 2020 African champion, 2019 All-African Games champion, 2019 World Team member
Francisco de Deus KADIMA (ANG) – 2018 World Team member
Rafig HUSEYNOV (AZE) – 2019 World silver medalist (82 kg), two-time European champion (2020, 2011), 2015 World Military Games champion, eight-time World Team member
Viktar SASUNOUSKI (BLR) – 2018 World bronze medalist (82 kg), 2015 World silver medalist, Second at 2018 European Championships, five-time World Team member
Aik MNATSAKANIAN (BUL) – 2018 and 2019 World bronze medalist (72 kg)
Jair Alexis CUERO MUNOZ (COL) – 2019 Pan Am Games bronze medalist, two-time Pan Am Championships runner-up, five-time World Team member
Oldrich VARGA (CZE) – Three-time World Team member
Yuisralembert CARRION PEREZ (ESP) – Fifth at the 2021 Henri Deglane
Matias Olavi Iisakki LIPASTI (FIN) – 2018 Nordic champion, 2014 Cadet World champion
Evrik NIKOGHOSYAN (FRA) – Two-time World Team member
Shmagi BOLKVADZE (GEO) – 2021 European champion, 2019 European Games runner-up, 2017 U23 World champion, 2014 Junior World champion
Roland SCHWARZ (GER) – 2019 European Championships runner-up, 2018 and 2019 Thor Masters champion, two-time World Team member
Georgios PREVOLARAKIS (GRE) – 2017 World Military champion, three-time World Team member
Singh GURPREET (IND) – 2020 Matteo Pellicone champion, 2019 City of Sassari Tournament champion, 2019 Asian Championships runner-up, two-time Commonwealth champion (2016, 2017), five-time World Team member
Riccardo Vito ABBRESCIA (ITA) – Four-time World Team member
Hyeonwoo KIM (KOR) – 2012 Olympic champion, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, 2013 World champion, two-time World bronze medalist (2011, 2018), 2014 Asian Games champion, Five-time Asian champion
Paulius GALKINAS (LTU) – Three-time World Team member, 2013 Cadet World silver medalist,
Daniel CATARAGA (MDA) – 2016 World silver medalist, two-time U23 World champion (2017, 2018), 2020 Zagreb Open champion,
Per Anders KURE (NOR) – 2019 Nordic champion, 2018 Junior World bronze medalist
Edgar BABAYAN (POL) – Four-time World Team member, 2020 Wladyslaw Pytlasinski Cup champion, 2016 European Championships runner-up, 2017 Thor Masters champion
Marciano George ALI (PUR)- Third at 2020 Pan Am Championships
Bakhit Sharif K BADR (QAT) – Third at 2006 Asian Games
Ilie COJOCARI (ROU) – 2016 World bronze medalist, 2020 Romanian champion, Fifth at the 2019 European Championships
Viktor NEMES (SRB) – 2016 Olympian, 2017 World champion, 2018 World bronze medalist, 2015 European Games runner-up, seven-time World Team member
Nicolas Peter CHRISTEN (SUI) – 2015 World Team member
Denis HORVATH (SVK) – Three-time U23 World Team member
Daler REZA ZADE (TJK) – 2021 Asian Championships runner-up
Muhammetberdi MAMEDOV (TKM) – 2021 Asian Championships fifth
Fatih CENGIZ (TUR) – 2017 World bronze medalist, 2017 U23 World champion, 2018 University World champion, 2018 U23 World bronze medalist
Dmytro VASETSKYI (UKR) – 2019 Junior World bronze medalist
Wuileixis de Jesus RIVAS ESPINOZA (VEN) – Two-time Olympian (2012,2016), 2015 Pan Am Games champion, 2019 Pan Am Games runner-up

World Olympic Games Qualifier 130 kg Greco-Roman field
David OVASAPYAN (ARM) – 2019 U23 World bronze medalist, 2018 Junior World silver medalist
Beka KANDELAKI (AZE) – 2020 World Cup third, 2012 Cadet World silver medalist
Georgi CHUGOSHVILI (BLR) – 2019 Grand Prix of Hungary runner-up
Radoslav Plamenov GEORGIEV (BUL) – 2021 Nikola Petrov champion, 2020 Bulgarian champion
Marko KOSCEVIC (CRO) – 2020 Croatian champion, 2020 Zagreb Open runner-up
Stepan DAVID (CZE) – Fifth at 2021 Matteo Pellicone
Leo Dalis SANTANA HEREDIA (DOM) – Third at 2019 Pan Am Games, third at 2020 Pan Am Championships, runner-up at Central American and Caribean Games
Matti Elias KUOSMANEN (FIN), Three-time World Team member, 2011 Cadet World champion, two-time European Championships bronze medalist (2018, 2019), 2018 World Military champion, 2019 World Military Games runner-up, two-time Thor Masters champion (2018,2019)
Alexandros PAPADATOS (GRE) – 2017 Haparanda Cup champion, 2013 International Olympia Tournament champion
Adam VARGA (HUN) – 2014 Grand Prix of Spain champion, 2021 European Olympic Qualifier third
Naveen NAVEEN (IND) – Five-time World Team member, third at 2021 Matteo Pellicone, third at 2016 Asian Championships
Luca GODINO (ITA) – Sixth at 2018 City of Sassari Tournament
Arata SONODA (JPN) – Third at 2018 Asian Games, Three-time Japanese champion, Five-time World Team member
Alimkhan SYZDYKOV (KAZ) – 2021 Asian Championships runner-up, six-time
Murat RAMONOV (KGZ) – Six-time Asian Championships third, 2016 Asian Championships runner-up, five-time World Team member, 2019 Nikola Petrov champion
Oskar MARVIK (NOR) – 2019 Grand Prix of Zagreb champion, 2018 Nordic champion
Rafal Andrzej KRAJEWSKI (POL) – 2020 Polish champion
Alin ALEXUC CIURARIU (ROU) – Two-time Olympian (2012, 2016), nine-time World Team member, 2020 European champion, two-time European Championships third (2018, 2019)
Mykola KUCHMII (UKR) – 2020 World Cup third, 2019 European Games third, 2020 European Championships third, 2017 World Championships fifth
Moises Salvador PEREZ HELLBURG (VEN) – 2019 Pan Am Games runner-up, 2020 Matteo Pellicone runner-up, 2020 Pan Am Championship third,

Greco-Roman schedule

(local time in Sofia is seven hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time zone)

Saturday, May 8
Qualification rounds (10 am local time/3 am U.S. Eastern Time)
Semifinals (7 pm local/12:00 noon U.S. Eastern Time)

Sunday, May 9
Repechage (4 pm local time/9 am U.S. Eastern Time)
Medal matches (6 pm local/11 am U.S. Eastern Time)