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5 POINT MOVE: Miranda, Sullivan claim silver medals at Thor Masters in Denmark

by Tim Hands, 5 Point Move

Billy Sullivan (left) and Randon Miranda (right) of Team USA receive their silver medals at the Thor Masters in Denmark. Photos by Josh Sasfy.

Randon Miranda (60 kg, Rise, 5PM #4) had not originally planned on traveling to Denmark one week after the World Team Trials. But the opportunity arose, he seized it, and now owns two silver medals from one of international Greco-Roman’s premier tournaments. For recent Junior World Team member Billy Sullivan (55 kg, LOG-LV, 5PM #6), Thor Masters represented a first-time experience and he, too, managed to make an impression.

The final round of Thor Masters 2021 began at 4:45pm local time from Nykobing Falster, Denmark and was broadcast live around the world on the event’s official website.

Miranda went 1-0 to start action on Day 1 by putting on a blitzing performance against Jonatan Jednell (SWE), coming away with a fall in just under a minute.This morning, Miranda faced a more formidable foe in the form of William Reenberg (DEN), but experienced little difficulty in picking up the scores that mattered en-route to a 7-0 decision.

The gold-medal round presented Miranda with a sufficiently formidable foe in the form of Dimitar Sandov (SUI). Sandov, who was born in Bulgaria and competed for his home country before moving to Switzerland, had likewise defeated Jednell and Reenberg in similarly dominant fashion.

Miranda looked to envelop his signature prowling mechanics once the bout got underway. Sandov was more keen on grasping for the arms as Miranda poked and snapped, trying to gain a sense of how his opposition might respond in the ties. A quick Sandrov reach for the body was met by the American looping for a counter-throw. Unfortunately for Miranda, Sandrov was there to follow the action to the tarp, earning two for the takedown. Back standing and both athletes were still mired in a feeling-out process. A sign of encouragement appeared when Miranda cleared Sandrov and pivoted to beautiful two-on-one that showed some promise. But -- as was the case throughout -- Sandrov found a way to wriggle free of danger.

Another takedown from Switzerland just before the :30 intermission saw Miranda’s deficit double to 4-0; but with an entire period remaining to be contested, the match’s outcome was still very much in doubt.

Miranda strolled out for Period 2 eager to generate more movement in the footwork department, while Sandrov, ahead by four, simply focused on control. He did not have to take any risks, therefore the onus fell on Miranda to somehow start chipping away. Passivity provided a potential boost in that regard. Sandrov was dinged, delivering Miranda a big chance to change the complexion of the contest. First, he locked for a gut; when Sandrov wormed and crawled to defend, Miranda switched over to a reverse lock but was unable to elevate.

The scoreboard read 4-1 entering the bout’s final minute. Mechanics for Miranda hadn’t slowed, yet he was at a significant disadvantage given Sandrov’s lead. And any time Sandorv felt the slightest tinge of pressure, wrapping up the arm in two-on-ones was the call. In the end, it just wasn’t Miranda’s match, as he was forced to settle for Thor Masters silver after also coming in second three years ago (at 55 kilograms).

Sullivan can dismantle opponents in any variety of ways. Arm throws, headlocks, bodylocks… They are all part of the arsenal. Yesterday, he demonstrated important components of his repertoire by storming back against Steven Ecker (GER) via fall early in the second period. Ecker had raced out to a 5-0 lead over Sullivan before the script flipped. Timely execution: Sullivan zeroed in up top and waffled a headlock. Ecker was done soon after, giving the Nevadan his first win of the tournament.

Saturday offered a big step up in competition. Standing in the opposite corner was Fabian Schmitt (GER), European bronze in ‘18, and acknowledged Senior World-level talent. Schmitt’s points at Sullivan’s expense were only partially earned. An arm throw was good for four; but Sullivan was subsequently knocked for passivity twice, and Schmitt walked away victorious 7-0.

Given the Nordic System format which centers around pooled or straight round-robin competition (depending on bracket size), the loss did not deposit Sullivan into the bronze round. Instead, he was still alive for silver.

And he made the most of it.

Facing off with Snorre Lund (NOR), Sullivan was the first one hit with passivity. What is normally a precarious spot in which to be for any wrestler worked in Sullivan’s favor, as Lund could not have anticipated what was coming next. When the whistle blew, Sullivan fired up from bottom par terre, reversed position, and hastily rotated a string of trap-arm gutwrenches responsible for a 9-1 technical fall -- and a silver medal from his very first visit to Thor Masters.

Dominic Damon (67 kg, NMU/NTS) -- who like Sullivan was a member of the ‘21 US Junior World Team -- exited Friday with an 0-1 record. It didn’t stay that way. In his first bout on Saturday, Damon dominated Pedro Caldas (POR) by piling on the offense prior to sticking Caldas. The victory meant that Damon would be in the running in the tournament’s deepest lightweight pool. But a loss to Witalis Lasovski (GER) dashed any hopes of a potential medal and Damon finishes his second Thor Masters appearance with a 1-2 ledger and a fifth-place finish.

Legends of Gold-Las Vegas coach Bill Sullivan, who was charged with overseeing the three American athletes this weekend, was brimming with encouragement once the results were finalized.

“We came with two Juniors and one Senior-level athlete, and we are walking out of Thor Masters with two silvers from two highly-competitive weights,” Sullivan began. “I think we showed our mettle. The future is bright. These young guys are doing what they need to do when other people are being told not to go. They got up and went. It was good. This was a great experience for all of them.”

Thor Masters 2021

September 17-18 -- Nykobing Falster, DEN

Team USA Final Results

55 kg: Billy Sullivan, Las Vegas, Nev. (LOG-LV) -- SILVER

WON Steve Ecker (GER) via fall

LOSS Fabian Schmitt (GER) 7-0

WON Snorre Lund (NOR) 9-1, TF

60 kg: Randon Miranda, Palmdale, Calif. (Rise RTC) -- SILVER

WON Jonatan Jednell (SWE) via fall

WON William Reenberg (DEN) 7-0

LOSS Dimitar Sandov (SUI) 4-1

67 kg: Dominic Damon, Seattle, Wash. (NMU/NTS) -- 5th

LOSS Adomas Grigaliunis (LTU) 8-0, TF

WON Pedro Caldas (POR) via fall

LOSS Witalis Lasovski (GER) 8-0, TF