Jesse Thielke has qualified for the 2016 Olympics by making the finals of the last chance qualifier in Istanbul, Turkey on Friday. Considered the toughest weight class to be contested this weekend for the final 36 Olympic spots, Thielke didn't balk even coming from behind for two wins.
(videos are being uploaded. I'll put some more here if I see them become available)
You have to place in the top two to make the Olympics with no true second wrestle-off. So basically you have to make the finals to go. Thielke's draw was not advantageous. The Hungarian first round opponent was a 2012 Olympic and 2013 World bronze medalist. His 2nd round opponent won a silver in 2012 Olympics. Thielke nevertheless made the quarters against Sweden. Down 4-3 with a minute left, Thielke was forced down par terre after a caution. The Swede went for a lift and Thielke stepped over for the pin.
So it all came down to the semis. The Moldovan opponent was also a bit of a surprise to be there, and struck first with an arm throw giving a 4-0 lead. Thielke fought back with a takedown and a step out, but again gave up a 4-point arm throw. At the end of the first Thielke was able to get a takedown and a gut wrench to get the 9-8 lead at the break. The second period was all Thielke scoring his onw 4-point manuever and then getting another takedown to a gut to get the thrilling 17-8 tech.
RaVaughn Perkins continued his winning ways from the first qualifier tournament, but fell in a heartbreaker 4-3 in the quarterfinal to Islamov (Kyrgyzstan). It was a lot to ask for the first time world team member to get through these qualifiers, but the six wins show promise that Perkins can be a future Greco star.
Joe Rau fell in his second match to Meija (Honduras), whom he had previously beaten.
The USA Greco squad sends four total to Rio for the 2016 Olympics. Thielke joins Andy Bisek, Ben Provisor, and Robby Smith. While not having the whole team qualify is undoubtedly a bummer, the four Americans going are point scoring threats to bring home medals.
2nd WORLD OLYMPIC GAMES QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT
At Istanbul, Turkey
U.S. Greco-Roman results
59 kg/130 lbs. – Jesse Thielke, Germantown, Wis. (New York AC/OTC)
WIN Peter Modos (Hungary), 8-0
WIN Revaz Lashkhi (Georgia), 13-6
WIN Frunze Harutyunyan (Sweden), Fall
WIN Donior Islamov (Moldova), 17-8
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – RaVaughn Perkins, Omaha, Neb. (New York AC/OTC)
WIN Pan Zheng (China), 11-2
WIN Vladimiros Matias (Greece), 9-4
LOSS Ruslan Tsarev (Kyrgyzstan), 4-3
98 kg/215 lbs. – Joe Rau, Minneapolis, Minn. (Minnesota Storm)
WIN Narek Setaghyan (Spain), 9-0
LOSS Kevin Mejia (Honduras), 8-0