SOFIA, Bulgaria – It was a disappointing morning session for the U.S. men’s freestyle team, which saw all four of its entries drop matches. None of the U.S. athletes qualified to compete in the repechage, because all of the opponents who beat them failed to make the finals.
The day started strong for the USA, which won its first five matches, then saw each of the wrestlers defeated.
At 55 kg/121 lbs., Thomas Gilman (Council Bluffs, Iowa/Hawkeye WC) finished with a 2-1 record.
Gilman came out of the chute on fire, with a pair of technical falls, putting away Robert Kardos of Hungary, 8-0 in 2:22 and Dylan Hazan of Italy, 7-0 in 1:42. He was scoring takedowns and getting turns in both bouts.
In the third round, he dropped a controversial decision to Georgi Vangelov of Bulgaria, 3-4. Vangelov scored the first four points early, but Gilman came back strong in the second period. Gilman scored a two-point takedown to close it to 4-2, then added another late takedown which was initially scored as two points. Referees met and changed the score, giving Gilman just one point, saying the move was initiated from the mat rather than the feet, changing it to 4-3. Gilman was unable to score in the closing seconds.
Gilman was eliminated from repechage when Vangelov lost by a single point in the semifinals to Ismail Musukaev of Russia, 9-8.
“Gilman wrestled hard and scored two takedowns in the last two minutes. After the second one, which puts him even and basically puts him ahead, 12 seconds went by and they changed the score on us. I asked for a clarification. They said I should have thrown in the challenge. I feel like what’s the use throwing in the challenge and throwing another point out the window. I think its confusion with the new rules. You see a situation called one way in one instance and differently in another,” said Assistant National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick.
At 66 kg/145.5 lbs., Alex Tsirtsis (Crown Point, Ind./Wildcat WC) opened with an offensive display in his first two matches, both technical falls in the first period. He stopped Ruslan Sadybaskov of Kyrgyzstan, 8-0 in 47 seconds, then put away Toma Vascan of Moldova, 8-0 in 1:30.
In his third match, Tsirtsis scored the first takedown to take an early lead over Peyman Morteza Yarahmadi of Iran, who took over the match and scored eight straight points, beating Tsirtsis, 8-2. Tsirtsis was eliminated from the repechage when Yarahmadi was pinned in his next match by Davit Buziashvili of Georgia.
“Against the Iranian, Tsirtsis went out and scored right away. He knew the guy was good and he wrestled hard. He got in a situation where he felt comfortable. The Iranian felt the change of pace and it gave him confidence. He started wrestling and we didn’t match his rise in level,” said Zadick.
At 84 kg/185 lbs., Sam Brooks (Oak Park, Ill./Hawkeye WC) also opened with two impressive technical falls. He stopped Masayoshi Sukuraba of Japan, 7-0 in 1:57 in his first match. In an amazing comeback, Brooks fell behind Caner Demirtas of Turkey, 0-6 in the first period of his second match. With an arsenal of takedowns and turns, Brooks scored 13 straight points to get the technical fall, 13-6 in 5:13.
In the third round, Brooks did not get his offense going in a technical fall loss to Aliaksandr Hushtyn of Belarus, 0-7, in 3:06. Trailing 4-0 at the break, Brooks was thrown for three points early in the second period for the seven points needed for a technical fall. Brooks was eliminated when Hushtyn lost a technical fall to Vladislav Valiev of Russia in the semifinals.
“The guy was pretty good from Belarus. I don’t know, but whatever reason, Sam didn’t come out with the same fire he had in the earlier matches. From that standpoint, he was inconsistent in his performance,” said Zadick.
At 120 kg/264.5 lbs., Austin Marsden (Crystal Lake, Ill./Cowboy WC) was defeated in his only match, dropping a technical fall to 2012 Cadet World champion Georgii Gogaev of Russia, 0-7 in 2:02. Marsden did not qualify for repechage when Gogaev was defeated in the semifinals by Geno Petriashvili of Georgia, 4-11.
“Austin is a tough kid. I think he went out apprehensive and tentative. That kid is a good wrestler, but it doesn’t matter what country is on the singlet. Austin didn’t go out there and take charge of the situation,” said Zadick.
All four U.S. wrestlers competing Sunday are from Div. I college wrestling programs. Gilman and Brooks wrestle for the University of Iowa, Tsirtsis is at Northwestern and Marsden competes for Oklahoma State. Marsden was competing in his second straight Junior World Championships.
“We started out well. The first three guys went out and won their first round. They are talented and capable guys. In a couple of situations, we scored early and their opponents raised their level and we didn’t match them. We wrestled hard, but we have to fight for every position, tooth and nail. You have to be willing to fight for every position with good skills. We weren’t able to do that in situations today, it cost us and it stings,” said Zadick.
The USA will finish with the two medals won on Saturday, a gold by Kyle Snyder at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. and a silver by Alex Dieringer at 74 kg/163 lbs.
“We had some positive things happen. We had some setbacks. Every competition is a learning experience. We will evaluate, make adjustments and learn moving forward. We will celebrate our two medals and our Junior World champion,” said Zadick.
Earning a spot in the finals at 84 kg/185 lbs. is Ophir Bernstein, who is a wrestler for Brown who is competing for Israel. Bernstein was born in Israel, and moved to Texas as a small child, and has dual citizenship. He has been an NCAA qualifier for the Bears, and is entering his junior year at Brown.
Bernstein opened with a victory over Wladimir Remel of Germany by technical fall, 7-0, then defeated Hosam Mostafa of Egypt, 7-2. In the semifinals, Bernstein drew Alireza Karimimachiani of Iran. Based upon politics, Iranians do not compete against athletes from Israel, and Bernstein advanced to the gold-medal finals when he received a forfeit. He will face Vladislav Valiev of Russia in the finals.
“Last year, I wrestled for Israel in the European Championships and didn’t have a lot of success. I went out and wrestled smart and was able to pick up a couple of wins. I had an Iranian in the semifinals and they don’t wrestle Israeli wrestlers. It has worked out well for me. I would have loved to wrestle. They shouldn’t let politics get in the way of wrestling. It’s supposed to be which athlete is the best. I took the forfeit, I’m in the finals, and hopefully will win a gold medal for Israel,” said Bernstein.
JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Sofia, Bulgaria, August 18
U.S. men’s freestyle performances
55 kg/121 lbs. – Thomas Gilman, Council Bluffs, Iowa (Hawkeye WC/University of Iowa)
WIN Robert Kardos (Hungary) tech. fall, 8-0, 2:22
WIN Dylan Hazan (Italy), tech. fall, 7-0, 1:42
LOSS Georgi Vangelov (Bulgaria), 3-4
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Jason Tsirtsis, Crown Point, Ind. (Wildcat WC/Northwestern University)
WIN Ruslan Sadybaskov (Kyrgyzstan) tech. fall 8-0 (0:47)
WIN Toma Vascan (Moldova) tech. fall 8-0, 1:30
LOSS Peyman Morteza Yarahmadi (Iran), 2-8
84 kg/185 lbs. – Sam Brooks, Oak Park, Ill. (Hawkeye WC/University of Iowa)
WIN Masayoshi Sukuraba (Japan), tech fall 7-0 1:57
WIN Caner Demirtas (Turkey), tech fall, 13-6 (5:13)
LOSS Aliaksandr Hushtyn (Belarus), tech fall 0-7, 3:06
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Austin Marsden, Crystal Lake, Ill. (Cowboy WC/Oklahoma State University)
LOSS Georgii Gogaev (Russia) tech. fall 0-7 (2:02)