World Championships, Day 5 semis set

By Vinay Siwach

ROME, Italy (July 29) -- The U17 World Championships enters day five with five freestyle weights. Wrestlers from 48kg, 55kg, 65kg, 80kg and 110kg will take the mat in Rome. Only three returning medalists are entered into the field.


14:57: The final set of semifinals is at 80kg

Reza SOLEIMANIAN (IRI) vs. Muhammadamin ABDULOEV (TJK)
Sachin MOR (IND) vs. Yehor HOROKH (UKR) 

14:56: The 110kg semifinals are set. An Iran-USA final is on the cards

Koy HOPKE (USA) vs. Khikmatullo KURBONOV (UZB)
Mohammadreza LOTFI (IRI) vs. Levan LAGVILAVA (FRA) 

14:55: Another India-USA clash in the semifinals

ANKIT (IND) vs. Tyler KASAK (USA) 

14:50: The 55kg semifinals

Jannis Valerien REBHOLZ (GER) vs. Daryn ASKERBEK (KAZ)
Jaxen FORREST (USA) vs. Vaibhav PATIL (IND) 

14:35: The 48kg semifinals are set

Lalit KUMAR (IND) vs. Vasif BAGHIROV (AZE)
Rassoul GALBOURAEV (FRA) vs. Christian CASTILLO (USA)

14:33: Vaibhav PATIL (IND) once again with that strong attacking game. He reaches the 55kg semifinal with a 19-8 win over Saba GAMBASHIDZE (GEO).

14:30: Arshia HADDADI (IRI) and Christian CASTILLO (USA) put on a show. Castillo got a takedown and arm-trap to lead 6-0. Haddadi then scores two takedowns to trim it to 6-4. He then has a takedown with 5 seconds left to lead 6-6. Castillo jumps over Haddadi and scores a takedown in the final second to win 8-6

14:20: What a bout! Zalkarbek TABALDIEV (KGZ) and Jaxen FORREST (USA) with some stunning scrambles. Forrest survived a cradle for a pin and then scored takedowns at regular intervals to win 10-6 at 55kg

14:15: A 28-point thriller on Mat B. Sahin ACAR (TUR) led 14-8 with less than 30 seconds remaining but Ergyun SHUKRI (BUL) hit a four and then a takedown to win 14-14 at 55kg

14:00: Down goes European champion at 110kg Yusif DURSUNOV (AZE)Khikmatullo KURBONOV (UZB) kept coming back despite trailing on different occasions. He wins 8-7 and will face Koy HOPKE (USA) as the American defeated Mateusz PUDLOWSKI (POL) 11-2

13:43: Vasif BAGHIROV (AZE) continues his stunning form from the European Championships. He now reaches the 48kg semifinals after beating Ramil RASSIM (KAZ) 11-0. He will face Lalit KUMAR (IND) in the semifinal after the Indian defeated Hayko GASPARYAN (ARM) 3-1 

13:30: Sachin MOR (IND) looks solid in Rome. After beating the European champion, he now takes out bronze medalist Shamistan AKHUNDOV (AZE) 7-0 to reach the 80kg quarterfinals

13:20: Vaibhav PATIL (IND) finished fifth at last year's Worlds. Can he win a medal this year? He begins with a 10-0 win over Illia SHKETYK (UKR) at 55kg.   

13:15: Zalkarbek TABALDIEV (KGZ) had five seconds to beat European champion at 55kg Jamal ABBASOV (AZE). He comes up with a big double leg to score a four-pointer. He wins 12-9

12:55: European champion Ilyas ISAYEV (AZE) vs. Asian champion Alp BEGENJOV (TKM) in the 65kg quarterfinals. Isayev with a takedown but Begenjov adds one as well. It is scored two each and reversal for Begenjov. Isayev leads 4-3. Turkmenistan challenge. It wins the challenge and Begenjov holds the criteria 2-2. Isayev gets on a single and scores a stepout. With 5 seconds remaining, Begenjov tries a head-pinch and gets the exposure but Isayev is holding on to his leg and will be awarded two points. Isayev wins 5-2

12:45: Rematch of the U17 European Championships final at 110kg. Yusif DURSUNOV (AZE) won that final agaisnt Taha TEMEL (TUR) 6-0. It's a little closer than that but Dursunov wins 5-2 in Rome. 

12:35: The USA opens its account with Koy HOPKE (USA) winning against Ramini GULITASHVILI (GEO). Strong display as he wins 14-3 

12:21: Arshia HADDADI (IRI) is up against Azim ABDYKALYKOV (KGZ) at 48kg. Haddadi was called passive but he scores a takedown in the activity period and then leg laces to lead 6-0 at the break. Haddadi adds a takedown to win 8-0

12:20: European champion Ilyas ISAYEV (AZE) wrestling Mohammad MAMIVAND (IRI) in their 65kg opening round bout. Isayev leads 1-0 at the break after Mamivand's passivity. Isayev gets the cradle and exposure for two points. The bout will end 3-0 for Isayev

12:00: Reza SOLEIMANIAN (IRI) with a big result at 80kg. He beats Zackary RYDER (USA) 10-0. Sachin MOR (IND) defeats European champion Alexandru BORS (MDA) 3-0 

11:57: U17 Asian champion Alp BEGENJOV (TKM) begins with a solid 8-1 win against European bronze medalist Narek NIKOGHOSYAN (ARM). He moves into the 65kg 1/8 finals. 

11:50: Some quick bouts at 65kg

Goga OTINASHVILI (GEO) df. Erdal GALIP (BUL), 10-0
Fatih ACAR (TUR) df. Maksat TABYLDYEV (KGZ), 10-0
Akobir RAHIMOV (UZB) df. Serghei CILCIC (MDA), 7-2
Raschid ABAKAROV (AUT) df. Terence Junior ESTERHUIZEN (RSA), via fall

11:30: Welcome to the coverage of U17 World Championships day five from Rome. After the Greco-Roman and women's wrestling, freestyle qualification and semifinals will be decided Friday.


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