They came to fight but the results didn’t follow.
Day 1 of the 2018 Cadet Greco-Roman World Championships, held this year in Zagreb, Croatia, saw all five Team USA competitors energetically attempt to bring the heat against their respective counterparts. Unfortunately, their combined efforts did not translate into a chance for medal and two of the athletes had their bouts all but stolen from them in the most frustrating way imaginable.
Both Hunter Lewis (55 kg, WI) and Luke Luffman (110 kg, Ill) had their moments on Friday, and both were either in position to win (or were in fact winning) when external factors managed to decide the outcome.
For Lewis, his loss to Murad Abbasov (AZE) arrived in the most heartbreaking of fashions.
Lewis grabbed an early 1-0 lead by virtue of a passivity call. He quickly circled for a front headlock but Abbasov bounded to his feet. Following the reset, Lewis spiraled down on a headlock at the boundary to pick up another pair. Another reset and they resumed clawing in the tie-ups. Abbasov then responded with his own headlock before converting straight into a gutwrench and a 6-3 advantage shortly before the break.
Lewis struck back at his first opportunity. With a minute left in the bout, he snuffed out an Abbasov try at a headlock, spun to the back, scrambled over the top holding Abbasov’s head, and collected four. Up 9-6, it was looking promising.
But as the clock was beginning to wind all the way down, Abbasov used a loose over-under to dump Lewis to his back. The sequence scored four and time ran out. The US challenged, arguing a leg foul had occurred. On the replay, it certainly appeared that was indeed the case. Nevertheless, the score was upheld and Lewis was the recipient of a crushing defeat despite how well he was able to perform.
Giorgi Pertaia (GEO) got past Abbasov via tech in the round-of-16, eliminating Lewis from possible contention for bronze tomorrow.
A lot of observers were high on Illini RTC athlete Luke Luffman (110 kg) and his chances at the 2018 Cadet Greco-Roman World Championships, and it wasn’t just because of how he competed in Akron. It also had to do with his attitude. Luffman is a hard-nosed gamer who wrestles as if he’s equally enthusiastic about punishing opponents as he is scoring on them. Thankfully, everyone in the arena got a first-hand look at how mean Luffman can be in his first-round battle with Nikolaos Ntounias (GRE).
Luffman got on the board first by pounding out an arm spin attempt that he used to scramble out and to the back for a takedown. He was simply trying to bruise and bully Ntounias around the mat, like a fighter loosening up his foe with body shots. Luffman wanted to capitalize on a chance at the edge but it was Ntounias who came away with a step-out point. A restart. Once the bout continued, Luffman clashed back into Ntounias and drove him across the mat before sewing up both a takedown and a 4-2 edge heading into the second frame.
More points would be on the way. Luffman clamped down on a front headlock that forced Ntounias to concede position. The Illinois wrestler then locked around for a gutwrench and rotated the hold over to tack on two more points. Back on the feet, Ntounias stayed alive by coercing Luffman off the edge, but that was his last gasp. After the reset, Luffman increased his output once more, bullying Ntounias out. Another restart and the end was near. Luffman trucked forward with Ntounias buckling. Greece was either broken or simply not able to withstand Luffman’s charge, because the next thing you knew, Luffman urged Ntounias to his hip — and then to his back. All that was required from then on for Luffman was to hold Ntounias right there, which he did, with the signal for the fall following soon enough.
In the quarterfinal contest, Luffman met up with the Czech Republic’s Marcel Albini and it became clear right away that this was going to be a more formidable opponent. Only, Albini would later not present nearly as much of an adversarial posture as the officials.
Albini collected a point on a step-out and then another via passivity. Up 2-0, he gutted Luffman over twice before the American ambled out to reverse position. 6-1, Albini. The second period saw Luffman begin to assert himself more. He knew he had to score, and the best way to do that was to create pressure inside. Luffman found an opportunity eventually when he squeezed a bodylock. As he attempted to walk his hold to the line, Albini tried arching back with double-overhooks only to have Luffman land on top for two. 6-3, Albini.
Entering the final half-minute, Luffman started realizing he could gain a lock around Albini’s body. His first look at the position saw him relent and break away. But with no other choice and time about to run out, Luffman seized on an over/under clinch, locked his hands, and hipped Albini to his back. There was no question it should have scored four. The referee on the mat put up the signal and it appeared to be confirmed. However, the sequence was looked at again and the call was reversed. The US immediately challenged (in fact, they asked for a challenge even before the call was reversed) but it was to no avail. Similar to Lewis — though he was on the defensive side of a leg-foul call — Luffman saw his goal for a Cadet World Championship taken out of his hands by the refs.
Sarkhan Mammadov (AZE) blew past Albini (CZE) 12-1 in the semifinals, eliminating Luffman from contending for a possible bronze.
Facing off against one of the weight class favorites in 2018 Cadet European Championships gold medalist Dimitri Khachidze (48 kg, GEO), Brendan Chaowanapibool (WA) displayed tremendous speed and aggression, and seemingly had his opponent on the ropes. Chaowanapibool benefitted from the first passive of the contest, and from top, the proceeding lift attempt was defended by Khachidze. The 1-0 lead was precarious — you figured Khachidze wasn’t out of it — but it also appeared as if Chaowanapibool was going to score more, as well. And that he did.
Soon in the second frame, Chaowanapibool zipped a beautiful arm throw to surge ahead 5-0. He could not just coast all of the sudden, as Khachidze scored on a takedown before hurling a big side lift for four points and a 6-5 advantage. The American did everything he could to come up with a last-second barrage as Khachidze looked to make it to the buzzer, which is how the bout reached its conclusion. A valiant effort for Chaowanapibool to be sure in his first World event.
Iskhar Kurbayev (KAZ) decisioned Khachidze in the quarterfinals to end Chaowanapibool’s shot at re-entering the tournament in the repechage round.
One of America’s most coveted prospects and perceived best shots for a medal on Day 1 was Dominic Damon (65 kg, WA) who impressed a lot of folks last year during his overseas adventures. But as had it been the story all morning for Team USA, Damon came close only to be turned back in bitter frustration.
He started off by trying to isolate Aleksandar Ilic‘s (SRB) right arm for a latch-and-throw. Ilic pecked back and in the midst of some in-fighting, he backed Damon to the edge, onto his knee, and out of bounds. A reset. Damon upped the intensity and seemed more eager to exchange, but Ilic adjusted to the pressure and yanked a correct-throw-arm-throw for two more.
After a restart, Damon got on the board by hastily chasing Ilic down for a go-behind before immediately transitioning into a trap-arm gut. He had tied the score, did Damon, but he was still behind on criteria entering the break.
Damon took the initiative to begin the second, looking to put Ilic on his heels. His gas tank wasn’t a question, as he scanned for openings whilst switching off from one tie-up to another. There just weren’t any windows to crack open. Damon dipped down for an arm spin and Ilic remained upright. He thought about lowering in towards the body, but the Serb fended him off. Ultimately, Ilic managed to survive to the bell with a 4-4 criteria decision.
Shant Khachatryan (ARM) defeated Ilic 8-0 to effectively end Damon’s day at the tournament.
2017 Fargo champ Jonathon Fagen (ID) was hoping to take a page out of Cevion Severado‘s book from last year, the whole I’m kind of not supposed to be here but watch what I can do when given the chance. Unfortunately for the extremely gifted Fagen, he never found the opportunity to show exactly just how good he is, and will become as his career progresses. Andrei Barbul (ROU) got around Fagen and tossed him over for four soon after the whistle. Following some jousting, Barbul came in with a bodylock and arched Fagen off the edge for two more. Romania challenged the call, desiring four, not two. The challenge was denied and the bout resumed. After the restart, Fagen tried getting on his horse in effort to press Barbul, who eventually responded with one more bodylock to seal a jarring 10-1 tech fall.
Barbul was ousted by Turpan Bisultanov (DEN) in the next round to dash Fagen’s hopes for a potential medal later on in the event.
The draws for Day 2 are:
45 kg — Cale Anderson (WI)
vs. Khusankhon Yunuskhonov (UZB)
51 kg – Jakason Burks (NE)
vs. Merey Maulitkanov (KAZ)
60 kg – Phillip Moomey (NE)
vs. Shahin Badaghi Mofrad (IRI)
71 kg – James Burks (NE)
vs. Zhenish Zhumabekov (KGZ)
92 kg – Jacob Kaminski (Ill)
vs. Aleksei Mileshin (Russia), no credential
2018 Cadet Greco-Roman World Championships
July 6th-8th — Zagreb, Croatia
TEAM USA DAY 1 RESULTS
48 kg — Brendan Chaowanapibool (WA)
LOSS Dmitri Khachidze (GEO) 6-5
55 kg — Hunter Lewis (WI)
LOSS Murad Abbasov (AZE) 11-9
65 kg — Dominic Damon (WA)
LOSS Aleksander Ilic (SRB) 4-4 (criteria)
80 kg — Jonathon Fagen (ID)
LOSS Andrei Barbul (ROU) 10-1, TF
110 kg — Luke Luffman (Ill)
WIN Nikolaos Ntounias (GRE) via fall
LOSS Marcel Albini (CZE) 7-3