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Olympians Hafizov, Thielke, Sancho, Provisor reach U.S. Greco-Roman Open finals during high-flying semifinals

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

Lenny Merkin of the New York AC launches Peyton Omania of the New York AC in the U.S. Open semifinals. Photo by John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com


LAS VEGAS, Nev. – There were big points on the scoreboard throughout the U.S. Greco-Roman Open semifinals on Saturday night, as the gold-medal finalists were determined on the raised stage in the South Point Arena.


Six past Olympians won their bouts and advanced to Sunday’s championship finals: two-time Olympians Ildar Hafizov of the U.S. Army (60 kg) and Ben Provisor of the New York AC (82 kg), plus 2016 Olympian Jesse Thielke of the U.S. Army (63 kg) and 2020 Olympian Alejandro Sancho of the U.S. Army (67 kg).


Hafizov scored takedowns and turns to secure an 8-0 technical fall over Dylan Koontz of the Ohio RTC/TMWC in the semifinals. His finals opponent will be 2022 U20 Nationals champion Max Black, who advanced to the finals when two-time World Team member Dalton Roberts of Army WCAP withdrew with an injury. Hafizov was a 2020 U.S. Olympian and a 2012 Olympian for Uzbekistan.


Thielke had little trouble in his semifinals, powering past Nicholas Leonetti of Suples WC in an 11-0 technical fall. He will face Aiden Nutter of the New York AC for the title, after Nutter edged Corbin Nirschl of MWC Wrestling Academy, 2-1 in the semifinals.


Sancho jumped to a 6-0 lead at the break against Alston Nutter of the Sunkist Kids, but Nutter came back strong in the second period with five points, with Sancho winning 6-5.


Sancho’s finals opponent is Lenny Merkin of the New York AC, who upset No. 1 seed and 2019 Junior World bronze medalist Peyton Omania of the New York AC, 8-7. Merkin got a five-point lead on Omania, with a big throw. Omania won two challenges to keep the score within reach and came back strong in the second period. Merkin scored some clutch points to emerge with the one-point win.


Provisor, who competed for the USA at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games, jumped to a 7-0 lead over Tommy Brackett of Tennessee, and finished with a 7-1 victory. He will face 2021 U.S. Open champion Spencer Woods of Army WCAP, an 8-0 technical fall winner over Ryan Epps of the Minnesota Storm in the semifinals.


In addition to the Olympians, past World Team members in the finals include Max Nowry of the U.S. Army (55 kg), Alan Vera of New York AC (87 kg) and Cohlton Schultz of the Sunkist Kids (130 kg)


Nowry, who was fifth at the 2019 Worlds and was a 2021 U.S. Open champion, powered to the 55 kg finals with a quick 10-0 technical fall over Camden Russell of the MWC Wrestling Academy, with a takedown and four turns. Vera scored a pin over Timothy Young of Illinois in 2:38 and Schultz secured a technical fall over David Tate Orndorff of the Ohio RTC/TMWC), 8-0.


There were three 2021 U.S. Open champions who reached the finals this year: Nowry, Woods and Alec Ortiz of the Minnesota Storm (77 kg).


The U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program had a great day, putting eight wrestlers into the finals.

U.S. GRECO-ROMAN OPEN

At Las Vegas, Nev., April 30, 2022


Finals pairings

55 kg - Max Nowry (Army WCAP) vs. Dalton Duffield (Army WCAP)

60 kg - Max Black (New York Athletic Club) vs. Ildar Hafizov (Army WCAP)

63 kg - Jesse Thielke (Army WCAP) vs. Aidan Nutter (New York Athletic Club)

67 kg - Lenny Merkin (New York Athletic Club) vs. Alejandro Sancho (Army WCAP)

72 kg - Benjamin Peak (Sunkist Kids WC) vs. Peter Ogunsanya (West Point WC)

77 kg - Alec Ortiz (Minnesota Storm) vs. Britton Holmes (Army WCAP)

82 kg - Spencer Woods (Army WCAP) vs. Ben Provisor (New York Athletic Club)

87 kg - Alan Vera (New York Athletic Club) vs. George Sikes (New York Athletic Club)

97 kg- Lucas Sheridan (Army WCAP) vs. Khymba Johnson (New York Athletic Club)

130 kg - Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist Kids WC) vs. West Cathcart (New York Athletic Club)

Semifinal results


55 kg

Max Nowry (Army WCAP) tech. fall Camden Russell (MWC Wrestling Academy), 10-0 1:47

Dalton Duffield (Army WCAP) tech. fall Jacob Cochran (New York Athletic Club), 12-2 2:27


60

Max Black (New York Athletic Club) inj. dft Dalton Roberts (Army WCAP)

Ildar Hafizov (Army WCAP) tech. fall Dylan Koontz WI (Ohio RTC / TMWC), 8-0 1:38


63 kg

Jesse Thielke (Army WCAP) tech. fall Nicholas Leonetti (Suples WC), 11-0 3:23

Aidan Nutter (New York Athletic Club) dec. Corbin Nirschl (MWC Wrestling Academy), 2-1


67 kg

Lenny Merkin (New York Athletic Club) dec. Peyton Omania (New York Athletic Club), 8-7

Alejandro Sancho (Army WCAP) dec. Alston Nutter (Sunkist Kids WC), 6-5


72 kg

Benjamin Peak (Sunkist Kids WC) tech. fall Eddie Smith (Pickaxe WC), 12-0 0:40

Peter Ogunsanya (West Point WC) tech. fall Ryan Wheeler (Colorado Mesa WC), 10-1 6:00


77 kg

Alec Ortiz (Minnesota Storm) inj. dft. Kamal Bey (Army WCAP)

Britton Holmes (Army WCAP) dec. Payton Jacobson (Sunkist Kids WC), 5-2


82 kg

Spencer Woods (Army WCAP) tech. fall Ryan Epps (Minnesota Storm), 8-0 3:57

Ben Provisor (New York Athletic Club) dec. Tommy Brackett (Tennessee), 7-1


87 kg

Alan Vera (New York Athletic Club) pin Timothy Young (Illinois), 2:38

George Sikes (New York Athletic Club) dec. Christian Dulaney (Minnesota Storm), 5-2


97 kg

Lucas Sheridan (Army WCAP) tech. fall Guy Patron (Dubuque WC), 8-0 0:39

Khymba Johnson (New York Athletic Club) dec. Chad Porter (Sunkist Kids WC), 4-0


130 kg

Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist Kids WC) tech. fall David Tate Orndorff (Ohio RTC / TMWC), 8-0 4:10

West Cathcart (New York Athletic Club) dec. Courtney Freeman (Marines), 7-1