Mensah Stock, Wiebe cruise to titles at Matteo Pellicone
Friday, March 5, 2021 - 20:45 By Vinay Siwach
OSTIA, Italy (March 6) --- Tamyra Mariama MENSAH-STOCK (USA) had a perfect 2019. She won gold around the world beginning with the Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix in January and finishing with the World Championships in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan. She was rising as one of the best in the world. As she stepped into 2020, she was expected to continue her gold-winning rush at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series in Rome. But she failed despite leading 8-0 in the final as Feng ZHOU (CHN) came back to win 8-8 on criteria.
A year later, Mensah-Stock was back at the same arena to try and change the color of her medal. With a display of composure, style and dominance, the American wrestler claimed the 68kg gold medal by defeating European champion Mimi HRISTOVA (BUL) 11-0 in the final at the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event in Rome on Friday.
The 29-year-old world champion had a little sluggish start but turned it around in her own style to claim the gold medal after coming agonizingly close to it last year. Apart from a surprise toss she suffered in her first-round bout against Adela HANZLICKOVA (CZE), she looked in total control of her three bouts.
"I performed a lot better at the end compared to the entire tournament," Mensah-Stock said."I was trying to remember who I am and the switch was in my first match when she (Hanzlickova) threw me. I was like 'okay I don't want that to happen again.'"
She did exactly that, outscoring her opponents 28-4 and defending all attacks that were thrown at her. The final in particular saw Mensah Stock display why she was the best in her category in the world. She defended a pair of leg attacks from Hristova and countered them with her own to finish the match.
"When I went to the final I said you know what, I am here to wrestle so let's do this," she said. "I was getting myself motivated and talking to myself. I wrestled my way and did not worry about what she had."
Another wrestler who came into the event with high hopes was Rio Olympic champion Erica WIEBE (CAN). The defending champion at 76kg category did have some hiccups but prevailed in all her bouts to win her second consecutive gold medal in Rome.
Wiebe led Canada's dominating show at the event as Michelle FAZZARI (CAN) also won the title down at 62kg weight category after beating Marianna SASTIN (HUN) 2-1. Olivia Grace DI BACCO (CAN) contributed with a bronze medal at the 68kg weight category after a 6-4 win over Alexandria Junis GLAUDE (USA).
Wiebe, who suffered a loss by fall just a week back in Kiev, Ukraine, took her time to get going in all her bouts. She opened the day with a 5-1 cautious win against Aline DA SILVA FERREIRA (BRA). Her semi-final against Elmira SYZDYKOVA (KAZ) was a 2-0 win, both points scored in the first period.
Even in the final against Hamza, Wiebe took her time to finally start her attacks. She was warned for passivity but got into work mode in the activity period, scoring a four-point throw. She then controlled the entire bout, winning the gold 11-0.
"My nephew's named Matteo and the Matteo Pellicone is my lucky tournament and I am happy to do him proud," Wiebe said. "My first two opponents, they have qualified for the Games, they are great competitors, I have never wrestled Samar (Hamza) before so it's exciting to feel her out."
Wiebe has suffered some unexpected losses in recent times including at the World Championships in Nur-Sultan in 2019 with the latest being the fall in Kiev. But that has not hurt her preparations for the Tokyo Olympics where she will be the defending champion.
"It's great to get on the mat after such a hiatus and everything is building for Tokyo," she said. "I am excited to get back home and continue to do that, trying to get back into the swing of competing and trying to figure out this sport. I just tried to wrestle and be myself there."
At 57kg, Giullia RODRIGUES PENALBER DE OLIVEIRA (BRA) scored two late takedowns against Asian champion SARITA (IND) to win 4-2 and claim the gold medal.
Both Mensah Stock and Wiebe have five Ranking Series titles to their names. The USA wrestler has won five gold medals, a silver and two bronze in total. Wiebe has six medals in total as she won a bronze medal at the Klippan Lady Open in 2018.
Not revealing much about her plans for the USA Olympic Trials, Mensah Stock said, "Olympic trials are next. I am training for myself, working hard to get better for myself and when it comes to anybody, I really don't know who I am going to be wrestling.
"It can be anybody's day. I don't want to say the name because I am training for anybody. I want to go out and wrestle my way."
Earlier, three new Greco-Roman champions were also crowned in Rome as Robert Attila FRITSCH (HUN) won the gold at 72kg. Zolton LEVAI (HUN) defended his title at 77kg while Russian national champion Adlan AKIEV (RUS) took the top honors at 82kg.
Fritsch was up against returning silver medalist Selcuk CAN (TUR) and was behind 0-2 but staged a comeback in the second period to win 2-2 on criteria. It was a disappointing end for Can who was looking to change the colour of his silver medal from last year to gold. All four points in the bout were either passivity or pushouts.
Levai successfully defendied his title at 77kg after a comfortable 3-1 win against Yunus Emre BASAR (TUR) in the final. En route his gold medal, Levai notched up wins against Patrick Harrison SMITH (USA) 2-0 in quarter-final and Tamerlan SHADUKAYEV (KAZ) 11-1 in the semi-finals.
Akiev dominated the 82kg final with big throw to take a 5-1 lead against Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR), a returning silver medalist in Rome. Akbudak did try to make a comeback but had to be content with the silver.
Final #WrestleRome GR Team Scores:
GOLD: Russia (175 points)
SILVER: Second Hungary (145 points)
BRONZE: Turkey (136 points)
Fourth: Kazakhstan (134 points)
Fifth: India (82 points)
GOLD - Robert FRITSCH (HUN) df. Selcuk CAN (TUR), 2-2
BRONZE - Kuldeep MALIK (IND) df. Chingiz LABAZANOV (RUS), 10-9
GOLD - Zoltan LEVAI (HUN) df. Yunus BASAR (TUR), 3-1
BRONZE - Askhat DILMUKHAMEDOV (KAZ) df. Peyton WALSH (USA), 8-0
BRONZE -Tamerlan SHADUKAYEV (KAZ) df. Patrick SMITH (USA), via fall
GOLD - Adlan AKIEV (RUS) df Burhan AKBUDAK (TUR), 6-1"
BRONZE - Tamas LEVAI (HUN) df. Matteo MAFFEZZOLI (ITA), 8-0
BRONZE - Laszlo SZABO (HUN) df. Salih AYDIN (TUR), 2-1
GOLD - Giullia RODRIGUES PENALBER DE OLIVEIRA (BRA) df. Sarita SARITA (IND), 4-2
BRONZE - Francesca INDELICATO (ITA) df. Anshu ANSHU (IND), via inj. def.
BRONZE - Emma TISSINA (KAZ) df. Altynay SATYLGAN (KAZ)
GOLD - Michelle FAZZARI (CAN) df. Marianna SASTIN (HUN), 2-1
BRONZE - Lais NUNES DE OLIVEIRA (BRA) df. Irina KUZNETSOVA (KAZ), 6-1
GOLD - Tamyra STOCK MENSAH (USA) df. Mimi Nikolova HRISTOVA (BUL), 11-0
BRONZE - Olivia Grace DI BACCO (CAN) df. Alexandria Junis GLAUDE (USA), 6-4
BRONZE - Sofiya Hristova GEORGIEVA (BUL) df. Adela HANZLICKOVA (CZE), via inj. def
GOLD: Erica Elizabeth WIEBE (CAN) df. Samar HAMZA (EGY), 10-0
BRONZE - Elmira SYZDYKOVA (KAZ) df. Aline DA SILVA FERREIRA (BRA), 6-0
BRONZE - Enrica RINALDI (ITA) df. Matilde CALDARELLI (ITA), 10-0