The World Cup is the annual international dual meet championships, and will feature the top 10 Greco-Roman wrestling teams in the world, based upon the team standings of the 2013 World Championships.
The U.S. team has been set for this important event, and features five of the 2014 Greco-Roman Open national champions from this past weekend in Las Vegas, Nev.
The national champions on the World Cup team will include RaVaughn Perkins (Omaha, Neb./ReadyRP National) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs., Kendrick Sanders (Homestead, Fla./NYAC/USOEC) at 71 kg/156 lbs., Andrew Bisek (Colorado Springs, Colo./Minnesota Storm) at 75 kg/ 165 lbs., Jordan Holm (Minneapolis, Minn (Minnesota Storm) at 85 kg/187 lbs. and Robby Smith (Colorado Springs, Colo./NYAC) at 130 kg/286 lbs.
Sanders won his national title competing up two weight classes at 80 kg/176 lbs., but will drop to his normal weight class for this competition.
Smith was fifth in the 2013 World Championships. Bisek has competed in two World Championships in 2011 and 2013. Holm was also a member of the 2013 U.S. World Team.
Ryan Mango (Palo Alto, Calif./CardinalWrestling Club), who was second in the 2013 World Team Trials, will compete at 59 kg/130 lbs.
The other World Cup team members placed third at the 2014 Open Championships: Geordan Speiller (Oviedo, Fla/Florida Jets) at 80 kg/176 lbs. and Daren Burns (Boone, N.C./AppState RTC) at 98 kg/216 lbs. Speiller won his nationals bronze medal down at 75 kg/ 165 lbs.
The U.S. team will be without members from the Army WCAP program, who were not cleared by the military to travel to Iran.
“We are excited about being in the Greco-Roman World Cup. The world’s top 10 teams will be there,” said National Greco-Roman Coach Steve Fraser. “With the guys that we are taking, we will be a competitive team. We will have to wrestle to our best to win the event. Iron sharpens iron. Great competition is what we need to help us improve, and to identify our needs for improvement, as well as our strengths. Regardless of the result, we will come back as a better team.”
The World Cup field will be split into two pools of five nations, with each team competing against the other four teams in its pool. The winning teams of each pool will compete for first place; second place in each pool will compete for third place; third place in each pool will compete for fifth place; fourth place in each pool will compete for seventh place and fifth place in each pool will compete for ninth place.
This will be the 12th time the USA has been in Iran for wrestling competitions since the Iranian Revolution. In a historic exchange, USA Wrestling sponsored the first American sports team to compete in Iran after an absence of nearly 20 years, when a U.S. freestyle wrestling team competed in the 1998 Takhti Cup in Tehran.
A majority of the USA Wrestling teams which have competed in Iran have been in men’s freestyle. However, U.S. Greco-Roman athletes have competed in the Takhti Cup event in Iran in the past, with three individual champions over the years: Dan Niebuhr (2000), Matt Lindland (2001) and Mike Ellsworth (2003).
The last Greco-Roman World Cup which Team USA participated in was in 2008 in Szombathely, Hungary, where the USA finished sixth. The previous year, in 2007 in Antalya, Turkey, the United States won its pool and reached the championship finals, where they lost a very competitive match to Ukraine, 3-4 and placed second.
The USA placed second in the Greco-Roman World Cup three times (1991, 1992, 2007) and third in the Greco-Roman World Cup 12 times (1980, 1984, 1986, 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1994, 1996, 2001, 2002, 2004).
The first Greco-Roman World Cup was held in 1980 in Trelleborg, Sweden. The United States has hosted the event three times, in Oak Lawn, Ill. in 1986, in Albany, N.Y. in 1987 and in Colorado Springs, Colo. in 1996.
GRECO-ROMAN WORLD CUP at Tehran, Iran, May 15-16
Preliminary U.S. lineup 59 kg/130 lbs. - Ryan Mango, Palo Alto, Calif. (Cardinal Wrestling Club) 66 kg/145.5 lbs. – RaVaughn Perkins, Omaha, Neb. (ReadyRP National) 71 kg/156 lbs. - Kendrick Sanders, Homestead, Fla. (NYAC/USOEC) 75 kg/ 165 lbs.– Andrew Bisek, Chaska, Minn. (Minnesota Storm) 80 kg/176 lbs. - Geordan Speiller, Oviedo, Fla (Florida Jets) 85 kg/187 lbs.- Jordan Holm, Minneapolis, Minn (Minnesota Storm) 98 kg/216 lbs. - Daren Burns, Boone, N.C. (AppState RTC) 130 kg/286 lbs. – Robby Smith, Colorado Springs, Colo. (NYAC) Team Leader: Christina Kiki Kelley, Minneapolis, Minn. Coaches: Steve Fraser, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Momir Petkovic, Colorado Springs, Colo.; Ahad Javansalehi, Hillsborough, Ore.; James Johnson, Phoenix, Ariz.
Greco-Roman World Cup Schedule (local time in Tehran)
Thursday, May 15 10:00 a.m. – Session I (Pool Rounds 1-2) 4:00 p.m. – Opening Ceremony 4:45 p.m. – Session II (Pool Rounds 3-5)
Friday, May 16 10:00 a.m. – Fifth, Seventh and Ninth Place Matches 6:00 p.m. – First and Third Place Matches, followed by Awards Ceremony
Photo: Andy Bisek scoring on Geordan Speiller in the 75 kg Greco-Roman semifinals at the 2014 U.S. Open by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors. Both Bisek and Speiller will compete for Team USA at the Greco-Roman World Cup. ------ ...