USA push three into Tuesday's U20 world finals

By Vinay Siwach

SOFIA, Bulgaria (August 15) -- Perhaps it is the James GREEN effect. The USA, which won the freestyle team title at the U17 World Championships two weeks ago, continued its dream run under coach Green and emerged as the best team on day one of the U20 World Championships on Monday.

Green took over the coach just a month ago and is aiming to win the second team title in as many World Championships.

After entering four wrestlers in the semifinals, the USA managed to send three wrestlers to Tuesday's gold medal bouts. Azerbaijan was the next best team with two finalists. Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Armenia and Turkey were the five other countries that managed to have a wrestler each in the final.

All three of the USA wrestlers used their high-paced wrestling to win after trailing initially in the semifinal.

Jore VOLK (USA)Jore VOLK (USA) reached the 57kg final after beating Luka GVINJILIA (GEO) 13-6. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)

At 57kg, Jore VOLK (USA) had to do it more than once. Wrestling Ahmad JAVAN (IRI) in the opening bout, Volk led 3-3 on criteria at the break and added another takedown to lead 5-3. But Javan, who was one win away from making the Iran senior World Championships team, took the criteria lead with 36 seconds left on the clock. He then tried defending it but Volk managed to put Javan's on the mat just before the final whistle to win 7-5.

In the semifinals, Luka GVINJILIA (GEO) opened with exposure but Volk with a takedown to lead 2-2 on criteria at the break. He upped the pace in the second and began with a takedown and Gvijilia was cautioned for fleeing. The bout restarted in par terre from which Volk made it 13-4.  But it was too late for Gvijilia as he lost 13-6.

Volk will now wrestle U20 Asian champion Merey BAZARBAYEV (KAZ) as he defeated Heorhii KAZANZHY (UKR), 6-4, in a back-and-forth semifinal. Kazanzhy opened up a 4-0 lead with two exposures when Bazarbayev was trying to chest wrap Kazanzhy.

But the Kazakhstan wrestler, who defeated Abhishek DHAKA (IND) 5-1 in the quarterfinal, scored a takedown and a lace to lead 4-4. With the time running out, Bazarbayev continued his attacks and ultimately got the single leg to lead 6-4. He defended it for the final 47 seconds.

In another USA-Georgia semifinal, Benjamin KUETER (USA) made the gold medal bout after a 31-point slugfest against Luka KHUTCHUA (GEO) at 97kg.

Kueter came back from an 8-0 deficit after Khutchua scored a go-behind and rolled him thrice. He answered with a go-behind and then an arm-trap exposure to cut the lead to 8-4. The bout tilted in Kueter's favor when he managed to take a 9-9 criteria lead at the break against a tiring Khutchua.

The second period saw Kueter more attacks and he made it 15-10 before Khutchua managed a takedown and gut. While going for the second gut, Khutchua lost the grip and Kueter held in danger for the final 35 seconds to win 17-14.

Rifat GIDAK (TUR)Rifat GIDAK (TUR) put on a defensive masterclass to beat Amirali AZARPIRA (IRI) in the 97kg semifinal. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)

He will now have the rising star and '21 U17 world champion Rifat GIDAK (TUR) who stunned U20 Asian champion Amirali AZARPIRA (IRI), 6-4 in the semifinal.

After a slow start to the bout, Gidak opened the second period with a duck under to lead 2-1. A stepout and caution against Azarpira extended his lead to 4-1. Azarpira found it difficult to remain at the same pace as Gidak and conceded a counter takedown.

Though he got hold of Gidak on a couple of occasions, Azarpira could not convert them into takedowns. It was only late in the bout that he scored two stepouts but it was too little too late.

The third USA wrestler to reach the final was Mitchell MESENBRINK (USA) as he defeated Hayk PAPIKYAN (ARM), 6-3, in the semifinal after being down 3-0. As the second period began, he strung together three takedowns and ended the bout 6-3.

Kanan HEYBATOV (AZE)Kanan HEYBATOV (AZE) come back from 3-0 deficit to beat Mulaym YADAV (IND) 5-3 in the 70kg semifinal. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

The other semifinal followed a similar script with Kanan HEYBATOV (AZE) winning it 5-3 against Mulaym YADAV (IND) after being behind 3-0 at the break.

Heybatov got a single leg to score a takedown at the edge after Azerbaijan challenged the neutral call. With just 18 seconds left, Heybatov managed to get a stepout and the lead.

Yadav almost scored a takedown over Heybatov but referees called it neutral as both wrestlers were grounded when going out of the zone. India challenged the call and on review, Heybatov was awarded a stepout and one more point for the lost challenge.

Sobhan YARI (IRI)U20 Asian champion Sobhan YARI (IRI) reached the 79kg final in Sofia. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Iran and Armenia clash for the 79kg gold after Sobhan YARI (IRI) and Mushegh MKRTCHYAN (ARM) made it to the final.

Yari ended the hopes of a finalist for Georgia as he defeated Otari ADEISHVILI (GEO), 9-6, in a close encounter. He led 5-4 at the break but Adeishvili scored a takedown to lead 6-4. But Yari got the better of Adeishvili as the Georgian began to feel the heat of Yari's attack.

Mushegh MKRTCHYAN (ARM) will try to spot Yari from winning the gold after he made the final with a narrow 2-2 win over Mukhammad ABDULLAEV (KGZ).

The match was all but over with Abdullaev leading 2-0 with 20 seconds remaining. But Mkrtchyan found a final boost of energy and scored a takedown with 15 seconds remaining to win.

Ziraddin BAYRAMOV (AZE)Ziraddin BAYRAMOV (AZE) defeated Sujeet KALKAL (IND) to reach his second straight U20 Worlds final. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)

At 65kg, returning silver medalist Ziraddin BAYRAMOV (AZE) will try to upgrade his medal from Ufa after he handed Sujeet KALKAL (IND) his first international defeat in the semifinal.

Bayramov seemed to have studied Kalkal's style of wrestling with underhooks and snapdowns and did not engage in any scrambles. Instead of allowing Kalkal to control the bout, Bayramov countered with single-leg attacks.

He scored the first two via steptous before blasting a double-leg for another takedown and lead 6-0. He went into a defensive mode in the second period but still managed to keep Kalkal from attacking. A late takedown gave the Indian two consolation points.

Bayramov will have to come up with another top performance if he wants to win the final against former U17 world champion Umidjon JALOLOV (UZB).

Jalolov will be looking to make amends from last year's World Championships in which he finished 10th after suffering a 6-6 loss to Abulfaz NASIROV (AZE) in his opening bout.

But in Sofia, he outscored his opponents 30-2 in the three bouts before the semifinal in which he faced Robert CORNELLA (USA) who reached the last four after scoring a final second takedown against Mohammad Reza SHAKERI (IRI) to win 6-5.

Jalolov was up 2-0 after two passivity calls against Cornella and he then scored a cradle exposure with an ankle pick to lead 4-0 and win the bout.

The remaining five freestyle weight classes will be in action on Tuesday along with the medal bouts of Monday's weights.




SF 1: Jore VOLK (USA) df. Luka GVINJILIA (GEO), 13-6
SF 2: Merey BAZARBAYEV (KAZ) df. Heorhii KAZANZHY (UKR), 6-4

GOLD: Umidjon JALOLOV (UZB) vs. Ziraddin BAYRAMOV (AZE)

SF 1: Umidjon JALOLOV (UZB) df. Robert CORNELLA (USA), 4-0
SF 2: Ziraddin BAYRAMOV (AZE) df. SUJEET (IND), 6-2


SF 1: Mitchell MESENBRINK (USA) df. Hayk PAPIKYAN (ARM), 6-3
SF 2: Kanan HEYBATOV (AZE) df. Mulaym YADAV (IND), 5-3

GOLD: Sobhan YARI (IRI) vs. Mushegh MKRTCHYAN (ARM)

SF 1: Sobhan YARI (IRI) df. Otari ADEISHVILI (GEO), 9-6
SF 2: Mushegh MKRTCHYAN (ARM) df. Mukhammad ABDULLAEV (KGZ), 2-2

GOLD: Benjamin KUETER (USA) vs. Rifat GIDAK (TUR)

SF 1: Benjamin KUETER (USA) df. Luka KHUTCHUA (GEO), 17-14
SF 2: Rifat GIDAK (TUR) df. Amirali AZARPIRA (IRI), 6-4


Iran crowns trio of U20 world champs, wins team title

By Vinay Siwach

SOFIA, Bulgaria (August 21) -- When Alireza MOHMADIPIANI (IRI) was in Bulgaria last time, he was wrestling at his first senior tournament at the Dan Kolov in Sofia. Mohmadipiani finished with a bronze medal after losing the semifinal to European silver medalist Gela BOLKVADZE (GEO) in the semifinal.

Despite the loss, Mohmadipiani took home a lesson from the loss of being on the attack from the word go in a bout.

He used a similar strategy in the 82kg final against '21 U17 world champion Achiko BOLKVADZE (GEO) to win the gold medal at the U20 World Championships in Sofia.

Mohmadipiani was one of the three gold medalists for Iran on Sunday as the latest edition of the U20 World Championships came to an end with Iran winning the Greco-Roman title with 174 points. Azerbaijan finished second with 119 points while Ukraine managed to jump to third with 93 points.

The two other gold medals on Sunday were captured by wrestlers from Azerbaijan. A historic bronze medal was also won by Richard KARELSON (EST), becoming the first-ever medalist from the country at U20 Worlds.

For Iran, Mohmadipiani had the most convincing victory even though he faced one of the most accomplished wrestlers entered in the competition.

18-year-old Bolkvadze began aggressively against Mohmadipiani but lost some steam as the bout went on. He was called passive and Mohmadipiani failed to get a turn. But 20 seconds later, Mohmadipiani got him into a body lock and pushed him to the mat to get four points.

In the second period, Bolkvadze got the opportunity to level scores but he failed to get any points from par terre.

Bolkvadze struggled to keep up with the pace of the bout and the referee warned him for blocking. On the second warning, he was cautioned with two points. Mohmadipiani got the win when Bolkvadze received his second caution and two points.

"Bolkvadze is a good wrestler and he won a gold medal last year [at U17," Mohmadipiani said. "I won the Asian Championships. So great bout but I won against him at the end."

With the U20 title in the bag, the Iran youngster is hoping to quickly move to seniors from next year onwards. But he knows the challenge that comes with it.

"The weight class has many good wrestlers," he said. "We have Azerbaijan [Rafig HUSEYNOV] and Turkey [Burhan AKBUDAK] but I'm well trained and I think I can win.”

Saeid ESMAEILI (IRI)Saeid ESMAEILI (IRI) defeated Suren AGHAJANYAN (ARM) in the 60kg final. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)

At 60kg, Saeid ESMAEILI (IRI) had all but lost the gold to Suren AGHAJANYAN (ARM) as he trailed 6-2 with 22 seconds left in the final. But Esmaeili got his hands around Aghajanyan’s waist before moving into a bearhug and he secured a four-point throw to win 6-6.

Aghajanyan scored exposure from par terre to lead 3-2 before Esmaeili scored a takedown on the edge just before the break.

In the second period, Esmaeili worked more but there was no passivity call as Aghajanyan scored two stepouts to lead 5-2.

Esmaeili tried going for a takedown but his hands moved below the Aghajanyan’s waist and the move was illegal. Iran challenged the call but lost. It seemed that the final was all locked up when the U20 Asian champion stunned Aghajanyan, and the crowd with the throw to take the criteria lead.

Ali ABEDIDARZI (IRI)Ali ABEDIDARZI (IRI) scored six stepout points against Iussuf MATSIYEV (KAZ) in the 97kg final. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)

The third gold medal for Iran came in emphatic fashion as Ali ABEDIDARZI (IRI) won the 97kg weight class over Iussuf MATSIYEV (KAZ).

Matsiyev took a 4-0 lead with a stepout and turn from par terre and Abedidarzi was struggling to get going with his attacks. But just before the break, he scored two stepouts and Matsiyev was hit with caution for fleeing.

Abedidarzi scored three more stepouts in the second period to claim the lead 5-4. When Matsiyev was called passive, Abedidarzi continued the bout from standing and scored three points to win 9-4.

Kanan ABDULLAZADE (AZE)Kanan ABDULLAZADE (AZE) won the gold at 67kg after beating Nika BROLADZE (GEO). (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)

Azerbaijan won the remaining two gold medals as Kanan ABDULLAZADE (AZE) won the 67kg weight class while Gurban GURBANOV (AZE) won at 72kg.

Abdullazade wrestled Nika BROLADZE (GEO) in the final and fell when the latter took the 1-1 criteria lead. Broladze planned to keep the lead until the end of the six minutes but Abdullazade scored a stepout with a minute and 13 seconds left.

Broladze, with time running out, tried to throw Abdullazade but both wrestlers fell with no control. But in the same sequence, Abdulladze managed to run around and score a go-behind to extend his lead to 4-1 for the win.

Gurban GURBANOV (AZE)Gurban GURBANOV (AZE) celebrates after emerging as the champion at 72kg. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)

Gurbanov had a similar script for his final as he defeated Alexandru SOLOVEI (MDA), 4-0, in the 72kg final. Perhaps he did not plan to get the first passivity point but Solovei was called passive and forced into par terre.

The former U17 world champion got the turn using a gut wrench to lead 3-0 at the break. He then continued to wrestle aggressively in the second period and Solovei was again called passive. This time Gurbanov did not get the turn but the score read 4-0.

Solovei got his chance to score when the third passivity was called against Gurbanov but Solovei had nothing left in him to turn the Azerbaijan wrestler.

Richard KARELSON (EST)Richard KARELSON (EST), blue, won Estonia's first-ever medal at U20 World Championships. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)

Estonia’s historic medal

No Estonia Greco-Roman wrestler even won a medal at the U20 Worlds but Richard KARELSON (EST) changed that on Sunday as he won a bronze medal in the 97kg weight class after beating Roman BALCHIVSCHII (MDA), 8-0, in the bronze medal bout.

In June, Karelson had become the first U20 European champion from Estonia in Greco-Roman. He was the second ever Estonian Greco-Roman wrestler to enter the final.

Incidentally, his father is also named Richard.

“It’s a great feeling,” Karelson said. “I hope I can work on this and win at the U23 Worlds as well. I know that the competition will be harder than this.

Karelson's father was the one who forced his son into wrestling after he was growing too fast.

In the previous two U20 Worlds, Karelson had finished 15th in Ufa and 12th in Tallin, his hometown. But with the bronze medal in Sofia, Karelson hopes he can lift his performance moving forward.

"The U20 European gold and this bronze medal will help me get some funds," he said. "Now I hope to continue this performance and train more."

With the U17 and U20 behind, the action now moves on to the World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia in two weeks. 

IranIran won the Greco-Roman team title at the U20 World Championships. (Photo: UWW / Kostadin Andonov)



BRONZE: Nihat MAMMADLI (AZE) df. Koto GOMI (JPN), 3-3 


BRONZE: Seyed SOHRABI (IRI) df. Nestori MANNILA (FIN), 11-2

GOLD: Gurban GURBANOV (AZE) df. Alexandru SOLOVEI (MDA), 4-0

BRONZE: Irfan MIRZOIEV (UKR) df. Igor BOTEZ (ROU), 7-6




BRONZE: Rohit DAHIYA (IND) df. Ruslan ABDIIEV (UKR), 8-7 (via cautions)
BRONZE: Alperen BERBER (TUR) df. Fares GHALY (EGY), 9-1


BRONZE: Nurmanbet RAIMALY UULU (KGZ) df. Luka KATIC (SRB), 9-0