Ukraine women snag trio of Pellicone golds

By Eric Olanowski

ROME, Italy (June 23) -- Ukraine women shined at Matteo Pellicone by winning three of four gold-medal matches contested on Thursday, while Azerbaijan closed out the Greco-Roman side of the Ranking Series event with the team title.

The trio of Ukraine winners were Alina HRUSHYNA (UKR), Iryna KOLIADENKO (UKR) and Alla BELINSKA (UKR).

In Greco-Roman, Azerbaijan had six finalists – including four wrestlers who ascended to the top of the podium – and won the Greco-Roman team title 46 points ahead of second-place Hungary (102 points).

Of the three Ukraine women who summitted the Ranking Series podium Thursday, Belinska, without question, made the biggest splash.

In just her second competition down at 68kg since the 2018 World Championships, Belinska snapped world champion Irina RINGACI's (MDA) 20-match win streak that dated back to August 2021.

Since the 2021 U20 World Championships, Ringaci has been victorious in 20 consecutive matches. Her run spanned the U20 and Senior World Championships, U23 and Senior European Championships, Dan Kolov and the Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series event.

But Belinska wasn't worried about Ringaci's resume or her win streak. Instead, she had one thing on her mind: flip the script from their March matchup where Ringaci pinned Belinska after leading, 12-0.

In the short-lived 68kg finals in Rome, Belinska snapped the continental champion into a front headlock and caught Ringaci's head near her knee. Then, the 2022 European bronze medalist locked up a cradle, remained composed and was methodical in working to the fall. She remained patient and took her time, using nearly 90 seconds to inch Ringaci's shoulders to the mat for the pin.

With her win on Thursday, Belinska added a third Ranking Series gold to her resume. She also won golds at the '21 Poland Open and '18 Yasar Dogu.

Alina HRUSHYNA (UKR) dominated Elvira KAMALOGLU (TUR), 11-1, in the 57kg gold-medal match. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Hrushyna and Koliadenko also dominated their final opponents on Thursday, helping Ukraine (95 points) carry the 55-point lead over Brazil (40 points) into Friday, the final day of women's wrestling action.

In the first period of the 57kg finals, Hrushyna snapped Elvira KAMALOGLU (TUR) down to the mat and worked on a front headlock for nearly 40 seconds before getting to the corner and picking up her first takedown. After a minute of scoreless action, Hrushyna went back to her front headlock and picked up a second go-behind takedown.

With less than a minute to go in the first frame, Hrushyna brought Kamaloglu down to all fours with two-on-one. Then, as the reigning European champ's Turkish opponent tried building back up to her feet, Hrushyna used an underhook throw-by to put four points on the board, increasing her lead to 8-0.

There was some confusion at the end of the scoring sequences, as Hrushyna's corner thought there should have been another set of two awarded. The refs came together and white-paddled the two in question, keeping Hrushyna's lead to 8-0.

In the second period, Hrushyna and Kamaloglu traded step-outs, before the Ukraine wrestler stopped a swing single attempt to her left leg and spun behind for the 11-1 win.

In an all-Ukrainian battle at 62kg, Tokyo Olympic bronze medalist Koliadenko cruised to a one-sided 6-0 win over Ilona PROKOPEVNIUK (UKR).

While on the shot clock in the first period, Koliadenko shot an open double leg, transitioned into a pair of leg laces and jumped out to the 6-0 lead.

In the second period, Koliadenko switched to a more defensive wrestling style and was never really in danger of surrendering points. Instead, she stayed poised, controlled Prokopevniuk's head with a left-side collar tie and halted the European bronze medalist's high-level attacks.

Zoltan LEVAI (HUN) eased his way to a 4-0 win over Amin KAVIYANINEJAD (IRI) in the 77kg finals. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Meanwhile, Hungary, Lithuania and Moldova each had a wrestler win Greco-Roman gold on Thursday. Still, Azerbaijan ended up winning the team title after pushing six wrestlers into the finals.

Zoltan LEVAI (HUN) breezed past Amin KAVIYANINEJAD (IRI) in the 77kg finals and defended his Matteo Pellicone Ranking Series titles from '20 and '21. He was the second Hungarian Greco-Roman champion of the week, joining David LOSONCZI (HUN), who won 87kg last night.

Levai controlled the bout against Kaviyaninejad from whistle to whistle and was never threatened by the former U20 world champ. He earned an inactivity point in each period and scored two points from a correct lift.

More importantly, Levai likely punched his ticket to World Championships after beating fellow Hungarian and reigning European champion Robert FRITSCH (HUN), 8-1, in their semifinal meeting.

Mihail BRADU (MDA) celebrates beating Rasoul GARMSIRI (IRI), 2-1, in the 82kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

At 82kg, Mihail BRADU (MDA) used a first-period takedown to edge Rasoul GARMSIRI (IRI), 2-1.

Bradu worked on a front-head pinch when Garmsiri bailed out and conceded the first two points of the match. That lone takedown proved to be the key factor in the match.

In the second period, Bradu was dinged with inactivity when Garmsiri went for a reverse lift and transitioned into somewhat of an unorthodox gut wrench, picking up what seemed to be two exposure. The Moldovan challenged the call, saying his Iranian opponent committed a leg foul. Bradu won the challenge and led, 2-1, with under a minute to go in the match. He held on to the one-point win and grabbed gold at a Ranking Series event for the first time in his career.

The final Greco-Roman gold went to top-ranked Kristupas SLEIVA (LTU). In the 72kg finals, the Lithuanian earned an injury default victory as Ulvi GANIZADE (AZE) could not compete in the gold-medal bout.

Yelena MAKOYED (USA) hip tossed Anastasiya ALPYEYEVA (UKR) during the 76kg finals. (Photo: UWW / Kadir Caliskan)

Makoyed's dream run

In her debut senior-level competition, Yelena MAKOYED (USA) shocked the wrestling world en route to winning the 76kg gold medal. 

Makoyed picked up confidence-building wins over European champion Epp MAE (EST), world bronze medalist Martina KUENZ (AUT) and European bronze medalist Catalina AXENTE (ROU) before throttling U23 world champ Anastasiya ALPYEYEVA (UKR) in the finals. 

In the gold-medal match, Makoyed capitalized on a swing single and led by two points. Then, after the action was blown dead and the wrestlers came up to their feet, the American worked with an underhook when she timed a hip tossed perfectly and tacked on another two points. Her third takedown came with a low-level double, sitting Alpyeyeva to her butt, gaining a 6-0 lead at the end of the first period.

In the second, Makoyed only needed 35 seconds to score four points off a beautiful go-behind to a gut wrench with double boots in, giving her the 10-0 win and first Ranking Series gold. 


Women's Wrestling

GOLD - Alina HRUSHYNA (UKR) df. Elvira KAMALOGLU (TUR), 11-1

BRONZE - Patrycja GIL (POL) df. Tamara DOLLAK (HUN), via fall
BRONZE - Giullia RODRIGUES (BRA) df. Erika BOGNAR (HUN), via fall


BRONZE - Lais NUNES (BRA)  df. Ana GODINEZ (CAN), 8-6

GOLD - Alla BELINSKA (UKR) df. Irina RINGACI (MDA), via fall 

BRONZE - Wiktoria CHOLUJ (POL) df. Noemi SZABADOS (HUN), 4-2
BRONZE - Blessing OBORUDUDU (NGR) df. Grabriela PEDRO (BRA), 11-0

GOLD - Yelena MAKOYED (USA) df. Anastasiya ALPYEYEVA (UKR), 10-0

BRONZE - Martina KUENZ (AUT) df. Catalina AXENTE (ROU), 5-2


GOLD - Kristupas SLEIVA (LTU) df. Ulvi GANIZADE (AZE), via inj. def.

BRONZE - Valentin PETIC (MDA) df. Haavard JOERGENSEN (NOR), 3-1 
BRONZE - Selcuk CAN (TUR) df. Matias LIPASTI (FIN), 9-0


BRONZE Robert  FRITSCH (HUN) df.Joilson DE BRITO (BRA), 9-0

GOLD - Mihail BRADU (MDA)  df. Rasoul GARMSIRI (IRI), 2-1

BRONZE - Exauce MUKUBU (NOR) df. Oldrich VARGA (CZE), 2-1 


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