By Jason Bryant, MTC Storm
Minnesota Training Center resident athlete Brian Graham earned a bronze medal at the famed Vantaa Cup in Vantaa, Finland on Saturday, Nov. 21.
Graham, wrestling at 65kg, went 3-1 on the day to earn a medal that holds notable significance. According to USA Wrestling qualification procedures, Graham's medal earned him a berth into the Olympic Team Trials to be held in Iowa City on April 9-10 at Carver-Hawkeye Arena.
Even though he traveled over 4,300 miles across the Atlantic Ocean, Graham's first opponent would be a familiar one, 2012 U.S. Olympian Ellis Coleman. Graham would capture a 3-1 victory before falling 8-0 to Poland's Dawid Karecinski, the eventual champion. Graham had to wait until Karecinski, a past Junior world silver medalist, reached the tournament final to have a chance to wrestle back through the repechage, and when the Pole did reach the finals, Graham's tournament continued.
With two tight victories, an 9-8 decision over Finland's Mikko Peltokangas and a 9-7 decision over Norway's Pal Erik Gundersen, Graham earned his first international medal since November of 2014.
Two other MTC athletes entered the event, but both Julian Gunnels (66kg) and Patrick Carey (98kg) were unable to medal. Gunnels fell in the first round to Finland's Toni Ojala 9-4, while Carey fell to fellow American and multiple-time World teamer Caylor Williams 8-0.
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