The US World First Team for 2022 is different from how it was originally formed in the wake of the Final X Series. Three athletes – all of whom were recent Olympians – will not wear their uniforms in Belgrade anymore. Plus, the acting head coach isn’t the same person who was seen snapping photos alongside the Final X winners back in June, and he wasn’t around when the majority of this year’s World Teamers started wrestling at a completely senior level.
How significant any of this actually is will be discovered in a few days. At the moment, it still reigns as a staple food for conversations between solid hardware. But once the first whistle blows on Saturday morning, all the drama, tension, and side stories from the past two months or more will be gone into the ether, at least temporarily.
Competing globally is funny that way. It is very effective when it comes to pushing back distracting discussions, which is where they always belong if unity and performance improvement are the end goals.
Experienced global team members
Seven of the 10 Greco-Roman athletes representing Team USA this coming weekend know the area well. Six of the wrestlers were also at this spot a year ago.
Max Norrie (55kg, Army/WCAP), Sammy Jones (63kg, NYAC), Alan Vera (87kg, NYAC), and Colton Schultz (130kg, Sunkist) all competed in the Oslo 21 worlds.
Meanwhile, Eldar Hafizov (60kg, Army/WCAP) and Alex Sancho (67kg, Army/WCAP) were both on the Olympic team of 20.
Finally, there is Kemal Bey (77kg, Army/WCAP), who was on Team World 18 and was the junior world champion the year before.
There is legit experience of world-class caliber on this US list. a lot in fact. Combined, these seven wrestlers represent 14 former world/Olympic appearances.
“Mr. Fantastic” Benji Peak (72kg, Sunkist/NTS), Spencer Woods (82kg, Army/WCAP), and bronze ’21 Junior World Brxton Amos (Sunkist/Wisconsin RTC) stand as the new members of the US World Team 22. But even with this trio, their relative newness to what Belgrade has to offer should not cause alarm.
Beck, who rose to prominence two years ago by winning his first US national title, is a purebred Greco-Roman athlete with plenty of outdoor miles logged since attending Northern Michigan University five years ago. While it’s true that Peak hasn’t fought it in a world championship yet, he does have the intangibles needed to exonerate himself well.
Late addition, Woods was on the U23 World Team last year, as well as runner-up in the Grand Trials. Like Peak, he also has an open title. It was the two-time Olympian Professor Ben who won the 82kg slot over Woods last June, but Woods was not seen as far behind Big Ben on the carpet. A confident, physically, and hungry competitor, Woods had been preparing for this opportunity from the moment he dropped out of the University of Maryland for NMU.
Amos is not on the ’22 shortlist for filling in the 21st world bronze shoe/last retired G’Angelo Hancock. This is not his job. Amos can present enough problems to aliens based on his gas tank and his competitive edge, no matter how dynamic overall wrestling ability he can do. He doesn’t have to be Hancock, and he doesn’t have to play the same game as his opponents. Amos simply needs to be himself, and push the matches into the second period.
Until the raffles are released (Nowry is the only American who will enjoy a seed, which ranks fourth; the others will be subject to random arc placement), imagining the many potential paths for medal matches is a fool’s errand. But there are items to look for that relate to each athlete based on their individual style. One aspect of the competition applies to the ten? Defense from the bottom of the earth, at any cost.
55 kg: Max Nouri
Fragile movement, bilateral, creating reasonable attempts. Nowry usually looks to score by the feet but in recent fits has been bitten by a passive bug. This is usually okay because of his brave defense. It’s not just a game he wants to play in Serbia. Nowry ranked fifth in 2019, as well as being highly decorated with extensive travel around the world, is one of the best opportunities for US hardware software.
60 kg: Eldar Hafedouf
Hafouf is not afraid to take risks, whether standing or on the rug. His salt catcher has been a weapon since the dawn of his career 16 years ago. The high gut can also be counted on from the top, provided its lock and stride are not compromised. He has a more equal and realistic view of the Great Competition. Hard to rattle. The most experienced athletic leader on the team happens to be the man who leads by example.
63 kg: Sammy Jones
Aggressiveness and patience are hard to balance for most people, but it’s an area where Jones has improved dramatically. He is one of the best shooters on this team. Expect a big attempt or two in his matches no matter who the opponent is. A great entertaining wrestler.
67 kg: Alex Sancho
Angular and classic describes Sancho internationally. His approach meshes better abroad than it does in the United States. If anything, it might be best for him to come up with more pressure in order to push opponents into traps. Entering the best stage of his career.
72 kg: bungee top
Reaching 6ft 1 in height, Peak is unlikely to encounter an opponent of the same height and height. Greco may not be boxing, but it’s a technique where reach can actually play a role. Peak hooks dictate automatically, and bottom hooks sometimes find just by walking forward. It develops an excellent lift; Because of its long structure, it is difficult to lift. This, combined with his fierce drive, makes him a potential player in this tournament.
77 kg: Kamal Bey
It’s been four years since Bey has been in a senior squad, and it hasn’t made a difference. Aliens all know who he is and what he can do, which is throwing and scoring in more ways than just anyone else. Just hope officials don’t allow opponents to link it to failure. Peers understand that the best way to deal with Bey is to suppress him. Then again, this can work to his advantage if those crumbling relationships can be removed.
82 kg: Spencer Woods
Woods is the most physical wrestler for Team USA. Heavy on the head, clubbing, slapping, biting… On the American side, that’s fine. The outside is stricter in this respect. 87 could be the paradise of the perseverant, which if not careful could derail his methodology. Defending on an equal footing is especially vital at the higher weights because scoring from the feet tends to be infrequent – making a difficult tempo tempering opponents a worthwhile strategy.
87 kg: Alan Vera
Clean Tech is Vera’s strong suit. So much so that it stacks up almost everyone in his weight class in terms of technical proficiency. He’s had to take care of his body during camp this summer, but that’s nothing compared to his torn knee from last year. If she’s healthy, Vera has the tools to run.
97 kg: Braxton Amos
As noted above, the best of Amos is his general wrestling prowess, which can be a team-maker against a tough 97 whose plan is to stick to the wrists and dance. That high drive (and willingness to fight and rush) can negate a lot of that play. They will compete more aggressively than they do. He will also have a higher lung capacity. Again and again and again: Amos, like the rest, will need to stay glued to his stomach if the negativity comes to light. Which is very likely.
130 kg: Colton Schultz
Medal contender. In the past, one would say that Schultz is “almost” close to that level. It has now arrived. Schultz has always had the competitive maturity of seniors. Now he’s added the necessary layers of nuance to his skill set. Schultz monitors proper posture and feels his way out of balance and attempts. Never force, never rush. Converting other elite heavyweights is a challenge, but that’s the case for almost all of them. From the bottom, it can float locks like a lightweight. Take his candidacy seriously.