Bo Bassett’s Greco-Roman tournament at the Cadet Wrestling World Championships will begin the same way his freestyle tournament ended: with 14-year-old Catholic student Bishop McCort taking on a Russian opponent.
Bassett will face Ruslan Lukiaev in the 45-kilogram category when the Greco-Roman tournament kicks off at 5:30 a.m. Eastern Time on Saturday in Budapest, Hungary.
American wrestlers have not had as much success historically in Greco-Roman wrestling as in freestyle wrestling. In Greco-Roman, wrestlers are limited to holds above the waist. They cannot touch their opponent below the waist or use their own legs for grips. It’s very different from freestyle, which is closer to folkstyle – the type of wrestling that Americans participate in throughout high school and college.
Bassett dominated the competition in the free end of the tournament, winning three games in the fall – including his pin from Russian Alikhan Ashinov in the 45kg final – and one by technical drop. Bassett is one of only two American wrestlers from Budapest to compete in both styles – New Jersey heavyweight Jimmy Mullen is the other – and no other wrestler has competed in both freestyle and Greek. Roman to 45 kilograms.
As impressive as Bassett’s run in the freestyle category is, it won’t necessarily translate into Greco-Roman. Still, Jody Strittmatter, who coached Bassett for most of his life with Young Guns Wrestling Club, said Bassett had enough talent and motivation to perform well in Greco-Roman.
“I would never bet against him for sure,” Strittmatter said. “I think freestyle and folkstyle are his strengths, but he’s very, very strong, and he’s going to put pressure on the guys for the four minutes. His skills – they may not be as traditional as in some other countries, but what he does, he does very well. He’s very strong and he’s going to bring it for four minutes. I am very confident.