Japan, India share 2 WW golds at U17 Worlds

By Vinay Siwach

ROME, Italy (July 28) -- In the history of women's wrestling at the U17 World Championships dating back to 1998, India never won a medal in the highest weight class 73kg; earlier 70kg.

Priya MALIK (IND) now has changed that record. She broke the jinx in 2021 by winning the gold at the U17 World Championships in Budapest.

The 17-year-old on Thursday defended her world title with a clinic display, to become a two-time U17 world champion, only the third Indian wrestler to achieve the feat in women's wrestling.

Malik entered this competition with only one loss in her entire career, a 3-3 defeat against Nodoka YAMAMOTO (JPN) at the U20 Asian Championships just 20 days back.

Priya MALIK (IND)Priya MALIK (IND) defeated Mariia ZENKINA (UKR) in the 73kg final. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

But she put that behind and wrestled like a pro throughout the tournament. After warming up with a 3-1 win over Kaiulani GARCIA (USA) in the opening round, she scored 10-0 on Dominika POCHOWSKA (POL) before pinning Alina YERTOSTIK (KAZ) in the semifinals, replicating the result from the U17 Asian Championships final.

In the gold medal bout, she wrestled European bronze medalist Mariia ZENKINA (UKR) and gave no chance to even score a point. A single leg attack opened the scoring for her and then she added one more takedown using the same attack as Zenkina tried to escape the hold.

Malik mixed it up with a double leg attack and go behind in the second period before securing the 10-0 win with 55 seconds remaining.

The Haryana-native has now joined Sonam MALIK (IND) and Komal PANCHAL (IND) as the only two-time U17 world champions in women's wrestling.

Ritika MALIK (IND)Ritika KATARIA (IND) defeated world champion Erica PASTORIZA (USA) in the 43kg. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

Another U17 Asian champion, Ritika KATARIA (IND), added a world title to her name. In the 43kg final, she defeated returning gold medalist (40kg) Erica PASTORIZA (USA) via fall after leading 9-0.

Kataria and Pastoriza were arguably the top two wrestlers of the weight classes as they dominated their way to the finals. But Pastoriza could not get going in the gold bout, failing to attack Kataria once. 

The 15-year-old Indian tried to cradle Pastoriza early but the American survived the attempt. She again locked her arms in front and pressed Pastoriza's head for another cradle but once again the American defended but could not stop Kataria from a go behind. A takedown in the zone added two more to Kataria's score as she led 5-0 at the break.

It was a similar story in the second half as Kataria opened with a takedown before a headlock worked out well and she pinned Pastoriza to claim her first world gold.

Sowaka UCHIDA (JPN)Sowaka UCHIDA (JPN) pinned Gerda TEREK (HUN) in 55 seconds to win 57kg gold. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

Japan also won two gold medals as Sowaka UCHIDA (JPN) capped off a dominant display in Rome with a fall over European champion Gerda TEREK (HUN) in the 57kg final. She took only 55 seconds to get the pin.

A product of the JOC Elite Academy which has produced the likes of Olympic champion Yui SUSAKI (JPN) and Asian champion Nonoka OZAKI (JPN) among other stars, Uchida showed glimpses of the trademark Japanese wrestling style.

Keeping a low stance, she was lighting quick to attack the front leg of the opponents and finished her bouts well before the time, majorly using a leg lace.

Anju SATO (JPN)Anju SATO (JPN) became the U17 world champion at 65kg. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

The second gold for Japan came at 65kg as Anju SATO (JPN) held on for a nervy 5-2 win over Maria PANTIRU (ROU) in the final. 

Pantiru was called passive first and Sato shot for the leg soon after but the Romanian wrestler scored an exposure to lead 2-1. Sato continued her snap downs and during one such snap, Pantiru lost her balance and Sato was quick to go behind and score a takedown to lead 3-2 at the break.

A late takedown was the only other action in the bout as Sato kept her distance from Pantiru.

Ruzanna MAMMADOVA (AZE)Ruzanna MAMMADOVA (AZE) upgraded her '21 silver to gold in Rome. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Japan's missed a chance to win a third gold medal of the night as Ruzanna MAMMADOVA (AZE) won a thrilling 49kg final against Mihoko TAKEUCHI (JPN), 5-3.

The victory was even sweeter as Mammadov had to make a comeback in the second period after trailing 3-0. Warned for passivity, Mammadova gave up a takedown after conceding the point for passivity.

Takeuchi had to hold her lead but was warned for inactivity and she then gave up a takedown in the activity period as Mammadova took a 3-3 criteria lead with 15 seconds remaining.

As Takeuchi tried to find her final attack, Mammadova used an arm throw to score two more points and seal the gold medal with a 5-3 win.

The European champion had fallen short at the last U17 World Championships as she suffered a 7-2 loss to Komal in the 46kg final.

A clearly improved Mammadova showed up in Rome as she went past U20 European champion Sevval CAYIR (TUR) 3-2 in the quarterfinals as well.

She is now only the fourth wrestler from Azerbaijan to win the U17 world title in women's wrestling.

Chisato YOSHIDA (JPN)Chisato YOSHIDA (JPN) will wrestle in the 69kg final on Friday. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Japan, India dominate, again

Japan and India shared seven spots out of 10 in the finals on Thursday. Japan managed to send four wrestlers into the gold medal bouts while India managed three. The USA entered two while Ukraine managed a finalist.

In a repeat of the U17 Asian Championships final, MUSKAN (IND) set up the 40kg gold medal bout against Mona EZAKA (JPN). Both were class apart in the eight-wrestler field and will now wrestle for gold. In the Asian final, Muskan had pinned Ezaka.

At 46kg, Gabriella GOMEZ (USA) came from behind to beat European champion Kornelia LASZLO (HUN), 3-3, in the semifinals. She will now wrestle for gold against Koko MATSUDA (JPN) who managed to scrape past SHRUTI (IND) 4-0 with some solid defense.

India manage to beat a Japanese wrestler when SAVITA (IND) pinned Suzu SASAKI (JPN) in the 61kg semifinal by locking up a cradle. She will now face Valerie HAMILTON (USA) in the final after the USA wrestler made it past Sevinch SULTONOVA (UZB) with ease.

Mariia YEFREMOVA (UKR)Mariia YEFREMOVA (UKR) will wrestle Sakura ONISHI (JPN) in a bid to win her second U17 world title. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

At 53kg, one of the two finalists is destined to suffer their first-ever international loss. Sakura ONISHI (JPN) overpowered Ya CHEN (TPE) in the semifinal while returning world champion Mariia YEFREMOVA (UKR) pinned Khaliun BYAMBASUREN (MGL) in the other semifinal.

Both Onishi and Yefremova have never lost a bout on the international stage but that record will hold one more day for one of them.

HARSHITA (IND)HARSHITA (IND) secured her first U17 world medal after missing out in 2021. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)
The final pair at 69kg includes HARSHITA (IND) and Chisato YOSHIDA (JPN). Harshita gave no chance to Veronika VILK (CRO) to get her double arm lock and won 8-1 while Yoshida had to recover from 4-2 down to score a takedown Nadiia SOKOLOVSKA (UKR) and then score another clumsy one with seven seconds remaining.



GOLD: Ritika KATARIA (IND) df. Erica PASTORIZA (USA), via fall (9-0)

BRONZE: Elvina KARIMZADA (AZE) df. Arina ABDULLINA (KAZ), via fall (8-0)
BRONZE: Anastasiia POLSKA (UKR) df. Gulnura RUSLANOVA (UZB), 5-3

GOLD: Ruzanna MAMMADOVA (AZE) df. Mihoko TAKEUCHI (JPN), 5-3

BRONZE: Sevval CAYIR (TUR) df. Aiymgul ABYLOVA (KAZ), 13-0
BRONZE: Fabiana RINELLA (ITA) df. Reka HEGEDUS (SVK), 7-0

GOLD: Sowaka UCHIDA (JPN) df. Gerda TEREK (HUN), via fall (6-0)

BRONZE: Ulmeken ESENBAEVA (UZB) df. Shelby MOORE (USA), 4-2
BRONZE: Tuba DEMIR (TUR) df. Liza TOMAR (IND), 7-0

GOLD: Anju SATO (JPN) df. Maria PANTIRU (ROU), 5-2

BRONZE: Zharkynai NURLAN KYZY (KGZ) df. Sydney PERRY (USA), 7-0
BRONZE: Reka VAN OS (NED) df. Viktoria FOELDESIOVA (SVK), via fall (4-0)

GOLD: Priya MALIK (IND) vs. Mariia ZENKINA (UKR)

BRONZE: Alina YERTOSTIK (KAZ) df. Kaiulani GARCIA (USA), via fall (2-6)
BRONZE: Lotta ENGLICH (GER) df. Makoto KOMADA (JPN), 11-0



SF 1: Mona EZAKA (JPN) df. Yagmur KARABACAK (TUR), 11-0
SF 2: MUSKAN (IND) df. Diana VOICULESCU (ROU), 10-0

GOLD: Koko MATSUDA (JPN) vs Gabriella GOMEZ (USA)

SF 1: Koko MATSUDA (JPN) df. SHRUTI (IND), 4-0 
SF 2: Gabriella GOMEZ (USA) df. Kornelia LASZLO (HUN), 3-3


SF 1: Mariia YEFREMOVA (UKR) df. Khaliun BYAMBASUREN (MGL), via fall
SF 2: Sakura ONISHI (JPN) df. Ya CHEN (TPE), 10-0


SF 1: SAVITA (IND) df. Suzu SASAKI (JPN), via fall
SF 2: Valerie HAMILTON (USA) df. Sevinch SULTONOVA (UZB), 5-0


SF 1: Chisato YOSHIDA (JPN) df. Nadiia SOKOLOVSKA (UZB), 6-4
SF 2: HARSHITA (IND) df. Veronika VILK (CRO), 8-0


USA closes out U17 Worlds with 3 golds, historic FS title

By Vinay Siwach

ROME, Italy (July 31) -- James GREEN (USA) was part of the USA team which won the freestyle team title for the first time in 22 years at the 2017 World Championships. The two-time world medalist won a silver medal in that edition.

Five years later, Green got another chance to hold the team trophy, this time as the chief coach of the USA team at the U17 World Championships in Rome on Sunday.

USA won a historic first U17 freestyle world title in Rome with nine out of their 10 wrestlers winning medals including four golds. It finished with 190 points which was more than enough to exchange places with defending champions India which finished with 126 points.

Azerbaijan, a nation that won the European team title, finished third with 122 points.

USA became the fourth nation to win the U17 world freestyle title after Russia, Iran and India since the U17 Worlds were reinstated in 2011. Russia won the title every year until 2018 when Iran broke that streak.

Russia won again in 2019 before India became only the third country to win the title in 2021.

USAUSA coach James GREEN, center, with the team title trophy. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

"It feels like it's straight out of a movie," he said. "It's like a reminiscent of 2017 when I was part of the world team that won the title for the USA after 22 years."

After finishing with a gold, three silver and a bronze medal on day six, the USA rocked again on the final day with three gold and a bronze to close out the tournament.

"I know how these guys are feeling," he said. "I am so excited to win this on my first trip and looking forward to more coaching."

Since 2011, the USA finished in the second spot five times in nine U17 Worlds with the latest being to India at the previous edition. But this year, all the USA wrestlers won their head-to-heads against India which ultimately proved to be the difference between who became the champions.

"The draw kind of worked in our favor," Green said. "We definitely had a gameplan not just for India but for everyone else including the Europeans as well.  But I can tell you one thing that our wrestlers wanted to get a hand on Indian wrestlers because we lost to them last time."

Luke LILLEDAHL (USA)Luke LILLEDAHL (USA), blue, upgraded his '21 silver to gold. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

Luke LILLEDAHL (USA) finished with a silver medal in 2021 after suffering a loss against Aman GULIA (IND) but there was no stopping Lilledahl this year as he upgraded to gold with a dominating 10-1 win over Mohammad Reza ASADI (IRI).

The 51kg final, pretty much controlled by Lilledahl, began with two exchanging stepout but then the USA wrestler switched levels after the break and scored takedowns whenever he found Asadi going for a half shot. He countered two of Asadi's attacks while he scored a takedown and added a leg lace in his 12-1 victory for the gold medal.

"Luke wrestlers at a hard pace," Green said. "He keeps a low head but is always moving and engaging. He takes the points as they come and doesn't rush into attacks."

Two other gold medalists for the USA on Sunday, Domenic MUNARETTO (USA) and Joseph SEALEY (USA), also impressed Green.

Munaretto won the 45kg gold medal by beating Bashir VERDIYEV (AZE), 2-0 in the final. Overall, the champion outscored his opponents 30-2 in the tournament.

Joseph SEALEY (USA)Joseph SEALEY (USA) outscored his opponents 55-1 in Rome. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

At 71kg, Sealey dashed local hopes to see a home champion by decimating Raul CASO (ITA), 12-0, in the gold medal bout.

Sealey, like his all other bouts, was wrestling at a completely different level and pace which Caso had no answer to. When Caso tried to engage in underhooks, he would get tripped by Sealey and when he tried to score a takedown, Sealey would easily stop any such attempts.

His two inside trips and two takedowns were enough to help Sealey win the crown and get some praise from coach Green.

"Sealey was very impressive," he said. "He wrestles like a senior athlete and can wrestle someone from that level. He conceded the least points in the whole tournament."

Sealey wrestled five bouts to win the gold and in an impressive record, scored 55 points and conceded only one.

Drawing experience from the title-winning run in 2017, Green had communicated to his team to 'have fun' during the tournament.

"I just told them that you are capable of being world champs and future Olympic champions," he said. "But more importantly I told them to have fun at this tournament. Most of these guys are wrestling for the first time and they can be hard on themselves so I didn't want that. And once we all met, they had the team chemistry and it clicked right away."

Ebrahim ELAHI (IRI)Ebrahim ELAHI (IRI), blue, pulled off a 5-4 win against Bilol SHARIP UULU (KGZ) in the 60kg final. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

The other gold medals of the night were shared between Iran and Kazakhstan.

At 60kg, Ebrahim ELAHI (IRI) defeated U17 Asian champion Bilol SHARIP UULU (KGZ), 5-4 to win the gold after trailing 3-1 at one point. Sharip Uulu scored the first points with a duck-under during the activity period against Elahi. It was initially awarded as four but Iran challenged the call and it was reversed to two points only.

But Elahi's constant moves towards Sharip Uulu's legs paid dividends as he leveled the score 3-3 and led on criteria. He then added a takedown against the tiring Kyrgyzstan wrestler to extend his lead to 5-3. He was warned for fleeing during the final 10 seconds which made the score 5-4 but did not change the result.

Elahi's gold was Iran's first of the tournament as it finished fifth in the team rankings.

Kamil KURUGLIYEV (KAZ)Kamil KURUGLIYEV (KAZ) won the 92kg gold, the second of the tournament for Kazakhstan. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

Returning bronze medalist Kamil KURUGLIYEV (KAZ) went all the way this year and captured his maiden world title, a month after he had won the U17 Asian title.

Musza ARSUNKAEV (HUN) had no answers to Kurugliyev's style of wrestling, inspired by his former world bronze medalist father and cousin-brother, European champion Duaren KURUGLIEV (RWF).

After a 3-0 lead in the first period, Kurugliyev began the second with a huge double-leg for four and then added two takedowns to close out a statement win in Rome.

The World Championships season will now move to Sofia, Bulgaria with the U20 Worlds beginning August 15.




GOLD: Domenic MUNARETTO (USA) df. Bashir VERDIYEV (AZE), 2-0

BRONZE: Arman HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) df. Amirmohammad NAVAZI (IRI), via fall
BRONZE: Nikoloz BOTCHORISHVILI (GEO) df. Constantin RUSU (MDA), 5-4

GOLD: Luke LILLEDAHL (USA) df. Mohammad Reza ASADI (IRI), 10-1

BRONZE: Nurdanat AITANOV (KAZ) df. Ben TARIK (MAR), 1-1

GOLD: Ebrahim ELAHI (IRI) df. Bilol SHARIP UULU (KGZ), 5-4

BRONZE: Taiga OGINO (JPN) df. Alessandro NINI (ITA), 3-1

GOLD: Joseph SEALEY (USA) df. Raul CASO (ITA), 12-0



BRONZE: Maxwell MCENELLY (USA) df. Sahil JAGLAN (IND), 2-1