Marines end Army's streak in 24-18 win to capture Armed Forces Greco-Roman team title

By Mr Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling U.S. Armed Forces Sports

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[This story has been updated from the original version posted on 22 February 2020]

The U.S. Army and the U.S. Marine Corps battled in one of the closest and most intense dual meets in recent memory, during the championship, the Army won its 19th straight Armed Forces Greco-Roman title with a razor-thin 21-20 victory over the U.S. Marine Corps at Naval Base Kitsap.  However, due to the announcement of the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's (USADA) sanction of Army SGT Dombrovskiy, the Marine Corps edged out Army to end their 18-year streak of winning the Greco-Roman team title by a score of 24-18.  

This dual meet had intense emotion, as well as some quite unexpected results. Both teams won five matches. Each team had at least one upset special. It is truly hard to say which match was the difference, but two bouts for the Army stood out as they happened.

On 28 July 2020, USADA announced that Vladyslav Dombrovskiy, of Colorado Springs, Colo. an athlete in the sport of wrestling, has accepted a four-year suspension for a violation involving his possession and use or attempted use of prohibited substances and his refusal to provide a urine sample.  Dombrovskiy’s four-year period of ineligibility began on March 10, 2020, the date he admitted using prohibited substances. In addition, Dombrovskiy has been disqualified from competitive results obtained on and subsequent to July 1, 2019, the approximate date on which he first possessed a prohibited substance, including forfeiture of any medals, points and prizes.  As a result, Dombrovskiy's results during the 2020 Armed Forces Wrestling Championship are hereby disqualified.  

During the Armed Forces Wrestling Championship in the 77 kg competition, SGT Vladyslav Dombrovskiy of the U.S. Army edged Capt. Payton Walsh of the Marine Corps, 9-6. According to Dombrovskiy, it was his first win over Walsh, after dropping a number of previous battles. Dombrovskiy took a lead in the first period, and held strong in the second, not allowing Walsh to get back into the match.  Due to USADA's sanction over Dombrovskiy, Walsh has been awarded the victory by disqualification, winning the gold medal and earned 5-0 team points for the Marines.  

While his victory at 97kg was expected, SGT Lucas Sheridan’s headlock pin of Sgt Vaughn Monreal Berner in 1:33 gave key bonus points that helped the team win. Sheridan normally battles Capt. Daniel Miller of the Marines, but Marine head coach Jason Loukides bumped Miller up to heavyweight, also bumping Monreal Berner up to 97 kg to face Sheridan. Dominant all day, Sheridan pinned all three of his opponents in the first period.

On the Marines side, a key upset win came at 63 kg, when Sgt Xavier Johnson defeated 2019 World Team member SGT Ryan Mango, 6-5. Johnson secured the lead with some explosive wrestling, and a late rally by Mango fell just short at the end.

The other win of note for the Marines came in the final match at 130 kg as Miller stopped 1LT Toby Erickson, 4-1. Army led 20-17 going into the bout. Erickson had won three previous Armed Forces titles at this weight class, and had a considerable size and weight advantage over Miller. Erickson scored first to lead 1-0, but Miller tied it up 1-1 on a passivity and led on the tiebreaker. Another passivity point and a takedown gave Miller his final tally.

Coming in, Army had three past World and/or Olympic team members, while the Marines has two. Both teams had six athletes in the lineup who had already qualified for the Olympic Trials. Everybody knew it would be close, and both teams delivered with an entertaining show full of scoring and drama.

Joining Sheridan as Army winners in the dual were SSG Max Nowry (55 kg), SPC Ildar Hafizov (60 kg) and PVT Alejandro Sancho (67 kg). Nowry and Hafizov secured technical falls.

Joining Johnson and Miller as winners for the Marines against Army were Sgt. Raymond Bunker (72 kg), SSgt. John Stefanowicz (82 kg) and 1stLt Terrance Zaleski (87 kg). All three won by technical falls.  Walsh won by disqualification over Dombrovskiy.  

The Army swept its morning matches with a 40-0 victory over the host U.S. Navy, then a 36-9 win over the Air Force.

The Marines also won their two duals with dominance, a 43-9 win over the Air Force and a 42-1 victory over the Navy, 42-1.

Claiming third place in the team race was the U.S. Air Force, which won six of the seven matches contested in a 34-11 win over the U.S. Navy.

All of the individual champions were either from the Army or the Marines, based upon who won their match in the dual meet. Nowry, Hafizov, Sancho, and Sheridan were Army champions, while Walsh, Johnson, Bunker, Stefanowicz, Zaleski and Miller were Marine Corps champions. Repeating as Armed Forces Greco-Roman champions were Nowry, Hafizov, Bunker, Stafanowicz and Miller.

The highest placed Senior U.S. Greco‐Roman athlete, per weight category, winning a gold or silver medal, who has yet to qualify, will qualify for the 2020 U.S. Olympic Team Trials ‐ Wrestling at Penn State in University Park, Pa., April 4-5.

Seven wrestlers earned Olympic Trials qualifications based upon these rules: Punching their tickets to Penn State were three from the Marine Corps, two from the U.S. Army and two from the U.S. Air Force.

Olympic Trials qualifiers from the Marines were Sgt Josh Medina (55 kg), Capt. Colton Rasche (60 kg) and 1stLt Terrence Zaleski (87 kg). Advancing to the Olympic Trials for the Army were 2LT Michael Hooker (72 kg), and SPC Dillon Cowan (82 kg). Earning a spot in the Olympic Trials for the Air Force were Capt Brandon Mueller (77 kg) and SrA Diante Cooper (97 kg)

The Armed Forces Championships in men’s freestyle and women’s freestyle will be held on Sunday, with the first session starting at 11:00 a.m. Pacific time. The Army is also on a 18-year winning streak in men’s freestyle, but are expected to face another tough challenge from the Marines in that style as well.

All of the action is available live and on demand on Trackwrestling.

2020 ARMED FORCES WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Naval Base Kitsap, Wash.

ROUND THREE

First Place Match- Marine Corps 24, Army 18
55kg/121.2 lbs. – SSG Max Nowry (U.S. Army) tech. fall Sgt Josh Medina (U.S. Marine Corps), 9-0
60kg/132.2 lbs. – SPC Ildar Hafizov (U.S. Army) tech. fall Capt. Colton Rasche (U.S. Marine Corps), 8-0
63kg/138.8 lbs. –Sgt Xavier Johnson (U.S. Marine Corps) dec. SGT Ryan Mango (U.S. Army), 6-5
67kg/147.7 lbs. – PVT Alejandro Sancho (U.S. Army) dec. 1st Lt. Jamel Johnson (U.S. Marine Corps), 7-4
72kg/158.7 lbs. –Sgt. Raymond Bunker (U.S. Marine Corps) tech. fall 2LT Michael Hooker (U.S. Army), 11-0
77kg/169.7 lbs. –Capt. Payton Walsh (U.S. Marine Corps) won by disqualification over SGT Vladyslav Dombrovskiy (U.S. Army) dec (Per USADA Sanctioning Agreement)
82kg/180.7 lbs. – SSgt. John Stefanowicz (U.S. Marine Corps) tech. fall SPC Dillon Cowan (U.S. Army), 8-0
87kg/191.8 lbs. – 1stLt Terrence Zaleski (U.S. Marine Corps) tech. fall SGT George Hooker (U.S. Army), 9-0
97kg/213.8 lbs. – SGT Lucas Sheridan (U.S. Army) pin Sgt Vaughn Monreal Berner (U.S. Marine Corps), 1:33
130kg/286.6 lbs. –Capt. Daniel Miller (U.S. Marine Corps) dec. 1LT Toby Erickson (U.S. Army). 4-1

Third Place Match - Air Force 34, Navy 11
55kg/121.2 lbs. – PO3 Teron Woodson (U.S. Navy) won by forfeit
60kg/132.2 lbs. – SrA Cordney Chairs (U.S. Air Force) dec. PO3 Bobby Raines (U.S. Navy), 6-5
63kg/138.8 lbs. – A1C Cooper Hunt (U.S. Air Force) won by forfeit
67kg/147.7 lbs. – SSgt James Culp (U.S. Air Force) tech. fall PO1 Cory Asato (U.S. Navy), 8-0
72kg/158.7 lbs. – 2d Lt Dane Robbins (U.S. Air Force) dec. PO2 Robert Yamashita (U.S. Navy), 2-1
77kg/169.7 lbs. – Capt Brandon Mueller (U.S. Air Force) won by forfeit
82kg/180.7 lbs. – 2d Lt Alex Mossing (U.S. Air Force) tech. fall PO2 Austin Craig (U.S. Navy), 8-0
87kg/191.8 lbs. – SrA Justin Rau (U.S. Air Force) pin PO1 Kyle Fox (U.S. Navy), 0:40
97kg/213.8 lbs. – SrA Diante Cooper (U.S. Air Force) pin PO1 Mark Saunders (U.S. Navy), 0:40
130kg/286.6 lbs. – SN Reggie Williams (U.S. Navy) tech. fall Capt Karl Oeser (Hurlburt Field), 9-0

Round Two 

Army 36, Air Force 9

55kg/121.2 lbs. – SSG Max Nowry (U.S. Army) won by forfeit
60kg/132.2 lbs. – SPC Ildar Hafizov (U.S. Army) pin SrA Cordney Chairs (U.S. Air Force), 0:17
63kg/138.8 lbs. – SGT Ryan Mango (U.S. Army) tech. fall A1C Cooper Hunt (U.S. Air Force), 10-0
67kg/147.7 lbs. – PVT Alejandro Sancho (U.S. Army) tech. fall SSgt James Culp (U.S. Air Force), 8-0
72kg/158.7 lbs. – 2LT Michael Hooker (U.S. Army) tech. fall 2d Lt Dane Robbins (U.S. Air Force), 8-0
77kg/169.7 lbs. – Capt Brandon Mueller (U.S. Air Force) won by disqualification over SGT Vladyslav Dombrovskiy (U.S. Army) (Per USADA Sanctioning Agreement)
82kg/180.7 lbs. – SPC Dillon Cowan (U.S. Army) tech. fall 2d Lt Alex Mossing (U.S. Air Force), 13-4
87kg/191.8 lbs. –SrA Justin Rau (U.S. Air Force) dec. SGT George Hooker (U.S. Army), 7-4
97kg/213.8 lbs. – SGT Lucas Sheridan (U.S. Army) pin SrA Diante Cooper (U.S. Air Force), 0:40
130kg/286.6 lbs. – 1LT Toby Erickson (U.S. Army) tech. fall Capt Karl Oeser (Hurlburt Field), 8-0

Marine Corps 42, Navy 1

55kg/121.2 lbs. – Sgt Josh Medina (U.S. Marine Corps) tech. fall PO3 Teron Woodson (U.S. Navy), 9-0
60kg/132.2 lbs. – Capt. Colton Rasche (U.S. Marine Corps) tech. fall PO3 Bobby Raines (U.S. Navy), 8-0
63kg/138.8 lbs. – Sgt Xavier Johnson (U.S. Marine Corps) won by forfeit
67kg/147.7 lbs. – 1st Lt. Jamel Johnson (U.S. Marine Corps) tech. fall PO1 Cory Asato (U.S. Navy), 9-0
72kg/158.7 lbs. – Sgt. Raymond Bunker (U.S. Marine Corps) tech. fall PO2 Robert Yamashita (U.S. Navy), 16-4
77kg/169.7 lbs. – Capt. Payton Walsh (U.S. Marine Corps) won by forfeit
82kg/180.7 lbs. – SSgt. John Stefanowicz (U.S. Marine Corps) tech. fall PO2 Austin Craig (U.S. Navy), 9-0
87kg/191.8 lbs. – 1stLt Terrence Zaleski (U.S. Marine Corps) tech. fall PO1 Kyle Fox (U.S. Navy), 8-0
97kg/213.8 lbs. – Sgt Vaughn Monreal Berner (U.S. Marine Corps) tech fall PO1 Mark Saunders (U.S. Navy), 8-0
130kg/286.6 lbs. – Capt. Daniel Miller (U.S. Marine Corps) tech fall SN Reggie Williams (U.S. Navy), 8-0

Round One

Army 40, Navy 0

55kg/121.2 lbs. – SSG Max Nowry (U.S. Army) tech. fall PO3 Teron Woodson (U.S. Navy), 8-0
60kg/132.2 lbs. – SPC Ildar Hafizov (U.S. Army) tech. fall PO3 Bobby Raines (U.S. Navy), 8-0
63kg/138.8 lbs. – SGT Ryan Mango (U.S. Army) won by forfeit
67kg/147.7 lbs. – PVT Alejandro Sancho (U.S. Army) pin PO1 Cory Asato (U.S. Navy), 0:34
72kg/158.7 lbs. – 2LT Michael Hooker (U.S. Army) tech. fall PO2 Robert Yamashita (U.S. Navy), 9-0
77kg/169.7 lbs. – Uncontested; SGT Vladyslav Dombrovskiy (U.S. Army) disqualified per USADA Sanctioning Agreement; Navy did not have a wrestler in this weight category.
82kg/180.7 lbs. – SPC Dillon Cowan (U.S. Army) tech. fall PO2 Austin Craig (U.S. Navy), 9-0
87kg/191.8 lbs. – SGT George Hooker (U.S. Army) tech. fall PO1 Kyle Fox (U.S. Navy), 8-0
97kg/213.8 lbs. – SGT Lucas Sheridan (U.S. Army) pin PO1 Mark Saunders (U.S. Navy), 0:27
130kg/286.6 lbs. – 1LT Toby Erickson (U.S. Army) pin SN Reggie Williams (U.S. Navy), 1:02

Marine Corps 35, Air Force 9

55kg/121.2 lbs. – Sgt Josh Medina (U.S. Marine Corps) won by forfeit
60kg/132.2 lbs. – Capt. Colton Rasche (U.S. Marine Corps) dec. SrA Cordney Chairs (U.S. Air Force), 5-1
63kg/138.8 lbs. – Sgt Xavier Johnson (U.S. Marine Corps) tech. fall A1C Cooper Hunt (U.S. Air Force), 11-0
67kg/147.7 lbs. – 1st Lt. Jamel Johnson (U.S. Marine Corps) tech. fall SSgt James Culp (U.S. Air Force), 10-0
72kg/158.7 lbs. – Sgt. Raymond Bunker (U.S. Marine Corps) tech. fall 2d Lt Dane Robbins (U.S. Air Force), 9-1
77kg/169.7 lbs. – Capt. Payton Walsh (U.S. Marine Corps) tech. fall Capt Brandon Mueller (U.S. Air Force), 9-0
82kg/180.7 lbs. – SSgt. John Stefanowicz (U.S. Marine Corps) dec. 2d Lt Alex Mossing (U.S. Air Force), 6-3
87kg/191.5 lbs. – 1stLt Terrence Zaleski (U.S. Marine Corps) tech. fall SrA Justin Rau (U.S. Air Force), 10-1
97kg/213.8 lbs. –SrA Diante Cooper (U.S. Air Force) pin Sgt Vaughn Monreal Berner (U.S. Marine Corps), 2:24
130kg/286.6 lbs. – Capt. Daniel Miller (U.S. Marine Corps) tech. fall Capt Karl Oeser (Hurlburt Field), 8-0

Individual medalists

55kg/121.2 lbs.
Gold - SSG Max Nowry (U.S. Army)
Silver - Sgt Josh Medina (U.S. Marine Corps)

60kg/132.2 lbs.
Gold - SPC Ildar Hafizov (U.S. Army)
Silver - Capt. Colton Rasche (U.S. Marine Corps)

63kg/138.8 lbs.
Gold - Sgt Xavier Johnson (U.S. Marine Corps)
Silver - SGT Ryan Mango (U.S. Army)

67kg/147.7 lbs.
Gold - PVT Alejandro Sancho (U.S. Army)
Silver - 1st Lt. Jamel Johnson (U.S. Marine Corps)

72kg/158.7 lbs.
Gold - Sgt. Raymond Bunker (U.S. Marine Corps)
Silver - 2LT Michael Hooker (U.S. Army)

77kg/169.7 lbs.
Gold - Capt. Payton Walsh (U.S. Marine Corps)*
Silver - Capt Brandon Mueller (U.S. Air Force)*
* SGT Vladyslav Dombrovskiy (U.S. Army) disqualified per USADA Sanctioning Agreement and gold medal is hereby stripped; Walsh and Mueller move up in standings.

82kg/180.7 lbs.
Gold - SSgt. John Stefanowicz (U.S. Marine Corps)
Silver - SPC Dillon Cowan (U.S. Army)

87kg/191.8 lbs.
Gold - 1stLt Terrence Zaleski (U.S. Marine Corps)
Silver - SrA Justin Rau (U.S. Air Force)

97kg/213.8 lbs.
Gold - SGT Lucas Sheridan (U.S. Army)
Silver - SrA Diante Cooper (U.S. Air Force)

130kg/286.6 lbs.
Gold - Capt. Daniel Miller (U.S. Marine Corps)
Silver - 1LT Toby Erickson (U.S. Army)

New U.S. Olympic Team Trials qualifiers

55 kg - Sgt Josh Medina (U.S. Marine Corps)
60kg - Capt. Colton Rasche (U.S. Marine Corps)
72kg - 2LT Michael Hooker (U.S. Army)
77kg - Capt Brandon Mueller (U.S. Air Force)*
82kg - SPC Dillon Cowan (U.S. Army)
87kg - 1stLt Terrence Zaleski (U.S. Marine Corps)
97kg - SrA Diante Cooper (U.S. Air Force)

* SGT Vladyslav Dombrovskiy (U.S. Army) disqualified per USADA Sanctioning Agreement and no longer qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials; Mueller moves up in standings and is now qualified for the U.S. Olympic Trials.