Olympians Hafizov, Thielke, Sancho and Provisor reach US Open Greco-Roman final in top-flight semis

New York AC’s Lenny Merkin kicks off New York AC’s Peyton Omania in the US Open semi-final. Photo by John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com

LAS VEGAS, Nev. — There were big dots on the scoreboard throughout Saturday night’s U.S. Greco-Roman Open semifinals as the gold medal finalists were determined on the elevated stage at South Point Arena.

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

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

Thielke had few problems in his semi-finals, beating Nicholas Leonetti of Suples WC in a technical fall 11-0. He will face New York AC’s Aiden Nutter for the title, after Nutter defeated MWC Wrestling Academy‘s Corbin Nirschl, 2-1 in the semi-finals.

Sancho took a 6-0 lead at the break against Sunkist Kids’ Alston Nutter, but Nutter came back strong in the second period with five points as Sancho won 6-5.

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

Provisor, who represented the United States at the 2012 and 2016 Olympics, took a 7-0 lead over Tennessee’s Tommy Brackett and finished with a 7-1 victory. He will face 2021 US Open champion Spencer Woods of Army WCAP, an 8-0 technical winner over Ryan Epps of Minnesota Storm in the semifinals.

In addition to the Olympians, former World Team members in the finals include US Army’s Max Nowry (55kg), New York AC’s Alan Vera (87kg) and Sunkist Kids’ Cohlton Schultz (130kg)

Nowry, who finished fifth at Worlds 2019 and was the 2021 US Open champion, advanced to the 55kg final with a quick 10-0 technical fall over MWC Wrestling Academy’s Camden Russell, with a withdrawal and four turns. Vera scored a pin over Timothy Young of Illinois in 2:38 and Schultz got a technical pinfall over David Tate Orndorff of Ohio RTC/TMWC, 8-0.

Three 2021 US Open champions have reached the final this year: Nowry, Woods and Minnesota Storm’s Alec Ortiz (77kg).

The US Army’s World Class Athlete Program had a great day, placing eight wrestlers in the finals.

In Las Vegas, Nevada on April 30, 2022

The pairings of the finals
55kg – Max Nowry (WCAP Army) vs. Dalton Duffield (WCAP Army)
60kg – Max Black (New York Athletic Club) vs. Ildar Hafizov (WCAP Army)
63kg – Jesse Thielke (WCAP Army) vs. Aidan Nutter (New York Athletic Club)
67kg – Lenny Merkin (New York Athletic Club) vs. Alejandro Sancho (WCAP Army)
72kg – Benjamin Peak (Sunkist Kids WC) vs. Peter Ogunsanya (West Point WC)
77 kg – Alec Ortiz (Minnesota Storm) vs. Britton Holmes (WCAP Army)
82kg – Spencer Woods (Army WCAP) vs. Ben Provisor (New York Athletic Club)
87kg – Alan Vera (New York Athletic Club) vs. George Sikes (New York Athletic Club)
97kg – Lucas Sheridan (Army WCAP) vs. Khymba Johnson (New York Athletic Club)
130kg – Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist Kids WC) vs. West Cathcart (New York Athletic Club)

Results of the semi-finals

55 kilograms
Tech Sheet Max Nowry (WCAP Army) knocks off Camden Russell (MWC Wrestling Academy), 10-0 1:47
Tech. Dalton Duffield (WCAP Army) knocks off Jacob Cochran (New York Athletic Club), 12-2 2:27

Max Black (New York Athletic Club) inj. dft Dalton Roberts (WCAP Army)
Tech. Ildar Hafizov (WCAP Army) knocks off Dylan Koontz WI (Ohio RTC/TMWC), 8-0 1:38

63 kilograms
Technical sheet Jesse Thielke (Army WCAP) knocking out Nicholas Leonetti (Suples WC), 11-0 3:23
Aidan Nutter (New York Athletic Club) Dec. Corbin Nirschl (MWC Wrestling Academy), 2-1

67 kilograms
Lenny Merkin (New York Athletic Club) Dec. Peyton Omania (New York Athletic Club), 8-7
Alejandro Sancho (WCAP Army) dec. Alston Nutter (Sunkist Kids WC), 6-5

Technical Sheet Benjamin Peak (Sunkist Kids WC) knocking off Eddie Smith (Pickaxe WC), 12-0 0:40
Tech Peter Ogunsanya (West Point WC) Fall Ryan Wheeler (Colorado Mesa WC), 10-1 6:00

77 kilograms
Alec Ortiz (Minnesota Storm) injection. dft. Kamal Bey (WCAP Army)
Britton Holmes (WCAP Army) Dec. Payton Jacobson (CoW Sunkist Kids), 5-2

82 kilograms
Technical sheet Spencer Woods (WCAP Army) knocks off Ryan Epps (Minnesota Storm), 8-0 3:57
Ben Provisor (New York Athletic Club) Dec. Tommy Brackett (Tennessee), 7-1

87 kilograms
Alan Vera (New York Athletic Club) pins Timothy Young (Illinois), 2:38
George Sikes (New York Athletic Club) Dec. Christian Dulaney (Minnesota Storm), 5-2

97 kilograms
Tech. Lucas Sheridan (WCAP Army) knocking out Guy Patron (Dubuque WC), 8-0 0:39
Khymba Johnson (New York Athletic Club) Dec. Chad Porter (RM Sunkist Kids), 4-0

130 kilograms
Technical Sheet Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist Kids WC) down David Tate Orndorff (Ohio RTC/TMWC), 8-0 4:10
West Cathcart (New York Athletic Club) Dec. Courtney Freeman (Marines), 7-1

Robert J. King