Putkaradze upgrades silver to U17 world gold; Iran wins GR team title

By Vinay Siwach

ROME, Italy (July 27) -- Over the last year, Anri PUTKARADZE (GEO) has suffered a few heartbreaks. Out of them, the biggest was his 6-6 loss to Imed KHUDZHADZE (UKR) in the 65kg final at the '21 U17 World Championships in Budapest.

Last month, Putkaradze was the favorite to win the gold at the U17 European Championships but was shocked in the pre-quarterfinals as he suffered a 7-6 loss to Antal VAMOS (SRB).

In Rome, when the draw for 71kg at the U17 World Championships was released, he was in for some tough bouts. European champion Ibrahim OZDEMIR (TUR), Arvin KHOSRAVY (USA) and even Vamos were drawn on the same side of the bracket. As he navigated his way to the quarterfinals, his first big test came against Khosravy. He won the bout 10-0 to set up a semifinal against Ozdemir. The first 20 seconds witnessed Putkaradze getting a four but Ozdemir recoved with a reversal and gut wrench. Putkaradze led 6-3 at the break. Just when it seemed that Ozdemir will make a comeback, Putkaradze flung a body lock throw for four and secured the fall to enter the final for the second straight year.

A day later, Putkaradze wrestled European silver medalist Davud MAMMADOV (AZE) in the final. Putting his past heartbreaks behind and wrestling with some tactics, Putkaradze won the gold medal, the first of his career, with a 3-1 win against Mammadov.

The 17-year-old got the advantage when Mammadov was called passive in the first period. He then managed to roll the Azerbaijan wrestler and lead 3-0 at the break. Putkaradze had to defend his lead for two minutes.

In his previous finals, he had failed to do so but in Rome, Putkaradze gave up a point for passivity but defended from par terre to win the gold 3-1.

Gor AYVAZYAN (GEO)Gor AYVAZYAN (GEO) celebrates after winning the 92kg gold medal. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Another Georgian wrestler who made amends from last year's medalless finish was Gor AYVAZYAN (GEO). He gave the nation a second gold of the night by winning the 92kg final. He was pinned despite leading in Budapest last year and finished eighth.

But he made sure there were no slip-ups in this edition. Wrestling European Championships bronze medalist Darius KIEFER (GER) in the final, Ayvazyan showed the gulf in class, finishing the bout with gut wrenches inside the first period.

He used the same technique to win his semifinal against Asian bronze medalist Hamidreza KESHTKAR (IRI) 5-3. After giving up a turn from par terre in the first period, Ayvazyan got two when Keshtkar was put in par terre.

Overall, the Georgian outscored his opponents 34-5 in four bouts.

Aytjan KHALMAKHANOV (UZB)Aytjan KHALMAKHANOV (UZB) pinned Mohammadreza GHOLAMI (IRI) in the 51kg final. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Despite the two gold medals Wednesday, Georgia failed to defend its team title and finished third with 121 points. Iran won the top honors with 135 points while Europe's best team Azerbaijan finished second with 130 points.

Iran had one finalist Wednesday and could have locked up the team title if Asian champion Mohammadreza GHOLAMI (IRI) had defeated Aytjan KHALMAKHANOV (UZB). Instead, he got pinned when Khalmakhanov stopped his bearhug throw and kept him on the mat. Gholami tried to escape the fall but Khalmakhanov had perfect control with both hands behind his opponent's back.

This was Uzbekistan's fifth Greco-Roman title and first in four years at the U17 World Championships. Khalmakhanov has now joined Abror ATABAEV (UZB), Lazizkhon UZBEKOV (UZB), Elbek ERGASHEV (UZB) and Turabek TIRKASHEV (UZB) as the nation's U17 world champs.

Yevhen PKOVBA (UKR)Yevhen PKOVBA (UKR) added a U17 World gold to his European gold. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

Uzbekistan could have had a second world champion in Rome but European champion Yevhen POKOVBA (UKR) had different ideas.

Asian champion Shakhzod RUZIOKHUNOV (UZB) tried all he could but was unable to break the defense of Pokovba in the 45kg final, as the Ukrainian won the gold with a thumping 9-0 win.

Pokovba got the advantage in the first period when Ruziokhunov was called passive. He got two turns from par terre to lead 5-0 at the break.

Seeing no other option, Ruziokhunov tried an arm throw but Pokovba stopped him midway and converted it into a takedown. He then got another turn to finish the bout with 1:29 remaining.

The final may have turned out to be easy for Pokovba but he was made to work hard to reach the gold medal bout.

Wrestling Asian silver medalist Payam AHMADI (IRI) in the semifinals, Pokovba was trailing 3-0 when he got a lucky chest wrap and two turns to lead 6-5 at the break. Ahmadi got the head-pinch for two but opened his hands at the last moment which resulted in two for Pokovba as well. Ahmadi's final attack came a second too late as Pokovba won 9-7.

Gaspar TERTERYAN (ARM)Gaspar TERTERYAN (ARM) became only the third U17 Greco-Roman world champ from Armenia. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

The fifth gold of the night when to Armenia as Gaspar TERTERYAN (ARM) became the nation's third-ever U17 Greco-Roman world champion.

Karen KHACHATARYAN (ARM) won the title in 2018, ending a 25-year wait for the nation. Terteryan's gold also helped Armenia put behind a medalless show in Budapest.

While it was a moment to savor for Terteryan, he denied France a piece of history. Lucas LO GRASSO (FRA), the first-ever Greco-Roman U17 World finalist for France, was aiming to become the nation's first-ever world champion but fell short.

In the 60kg final, Lo Grasso was called passive and Terteryan managed to get a turn to lead 3-0 at the break. Lo Grasso went for the arm throw in the second period but had an awkward fall which did not count as a slip and Terteryan was awarded two points. He added another turn to make it 7-0.

Between the two moves, France had challenged for a slip but they lost the challenge and Terteryan got the winning point in the 8-0 win.

Sowaka UCHIDA (JPN)Sowaka UCHIDA (JPN) reached the 57kg final with 3 technical superiority wins and one fall. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Japan sends 3 in WW finals

Women's wrestling also began at the U17 Worlds with gold medal bouts of five weight classes set. Japan, returning to the competition after skipping the previous edition, managed to enter three wrestlers in the gold medal bouts.

Sowaka UCHIDA (JPN) led the way for Japan as she destroyed her opponents to make the 57kg final. She is yet to give up a single point after four bouts as her wins include three technical superiority and one fall.

In the final, she will face European silver medalist Gerda TEREK (HUN) who avenged her Bucharest final loss to Tuba DEMIR (TUR) with a fall.

At 49kg, Mihoko TAKEUCHI (JPN) set up a gold medal bout with returning bronze and European champion Ruzanna MAMMADOVA (AZE).

Like Uchida, Takeuchi has also dominated the show with three technical superiority wins. But Mammadova may prove to be a tough opponent in the final.

Mammadov had a tough quarterfinal against Sevval CAYIR (TUR), an opponent she beat in Euros semifinal. A month ago, the score was 8-5 but Wednesday, Cayir closed the gap to one point, losing an extremely close bout 3-2.

Anju SATO (JPN) would consider her lucky to reach the final at 65kg against Maria PANTIRU (ROU). Sato was awarded points for a leg lace when Zharkynai NURLAN KYZY (KGZ) was well outside the zone in the semifinal. Sato won 6-5.

Pantiru avenged her European lost to Reka VAN OS (NED) with a fall and then made her way to the semifinal against Viktoria FOELDESIOVA (SVK). She controlled the bout and won 8-2.

Erica PASTORIZA (USA)Erica PASTORIZA (USA), red, is one win away from her second world title. (Photo: UWW / Martin Gabor)

At 43kg, returning world champion Erica PASTORIZA (USA) will be eyeing her second world title. Just one win away, she will face Asian champion RITIKA (IND) in the final.

Ritika's semifinal against Anastasiia POLSKA (UKR) was the only time she could not get a victory via fall. She won 7-0 to enter the final.

Pastoriza used the ankle-pick to great effect throughout the day to reach her second straight U17 World final.

The defending champion at 73kg Priya MALIK (IND) will try to win her second straight gold after reaching the final. But she will have to beat European bronze medalist Mariia ZENKINA (UKR) for that.

Zenkina pinned Makoto KOMADA (JPN) to reach the final and will now hope to upset Malik.




GOLD: Yevhen POKOVBA (UKR) df. Shakhzod RUZIOKHUNOV (UZB), 9-0

BRONZE: Huseyn SAVADOV (AZE) df. Ionut MEREUTA (ROU), 9-0

GOLD: Aytjan KHALMAKHANOV (UZB) df. Mohammadreza GHOLAMI (IRI), via fall


GOLD: Gaspar TERTERYAN (ARM) df. Lucas LO GRASSO (FRA), 8-0 

BRONZE: Yussuf ASHRAPOV (KAZ) df. Abolfazl MIRSHEKAR (IRI), via fall (11-10)


BRONZE: Maksym RADYK (UKR) vs. Ararat VARDERESYAN (ARM), 12-1
BRONZE: Ibrahim OZDEMIR (TUR) df. Arvin KHOSRAVY (USA), 5-3

GOLD: Gor AYVAZYAN (GEO) df. Darius KIEFER (GER), 9-0

BRONZE: Cody MERRILL (USA) df. Marcell GYURICZA (HUN), 3-1
BRONZE: Hamidreza KESHTKAR (IRI) df. Riccardo BUFIS (ITA), via fall 

Women's wrestling


SF 1: Erica PASTORIZA (USA) df. Arina ABDULLINA (KAZ), 12-2
SF 2: RITIKA (IND) df. Anastasiia POLSKA (UKR), 7-0


SF 1: Ruzanna MAMMADOVA (AZE) df. Aiymgul ABYLOVA (KAZ), 10-0
SF 2: Mihoko TAKEUCHI (JPN) df. Fabiana RINELLA (ITA), 12-1

GOLD: Sowaka UCHIDA (JPN) vs Gerda TEREK (HUN)

SF 1: Sowaka UCHIDA (JPN) df. Ulmeken ESENBAEVA (UZB), via fall
SF 2: Gerda TEREK (HUN) df. Tuba DEMIR (TUR), via fall


SF 1: Anju SATO (JPN) df. Zharkynai NURLAN KYZY (KGZ), 6-5
SF 2: Maria PANTIRU (ROU) df. Viktoria FOELDESIOVA (SVK), 8-2


SF 1: Mariia ZENKINA (UKR) df. Makoto KOMADA (JPN), via fall
SF 2: Priya MALIK (IND) df. Alina YERTOSTIK (KAZ), via fall


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