Kamal Bey (77 kg, Sunkist) and Cohlton Schultz (130 kg, NYAC), the World gold-medal-winning tandem from 2017, find themselves in prime position to once again raise the American flag while three of their teammates weren’t quite as fortunate — although one is currently still alive for bronze depending on what unfolds later this afternoon.
Day 1 of the 2018 Junior Greco-Roman World Championships began Monday morning at 10:30 am local time (4:30 am EST) and aired live in the US on Trackwrestling.
2017 Cadet World/2018 Junior European bronze Beka Guruli (GEO) represented a potential early stumbling block for Bey to start the day. Experienced, disciplined, and improving, not to mention from a very good “Greco country”, a solid Guruli performance in this bout would not have come off as terribly shocking.
But you know, he had never wrestled Bey, seen or felt what he was like. And that in and of itself is a very difficult thing to prepare for.
Bey prowled from the outset. In a show of immense athleticism at first contact, he zipped in on Guruli and plowed him to his back and off the line. No points were awarded but the tone was pretty much set. Guruli did an admirable job of tying up Bey with two-on-ones and slowing down the pace. Midway through the first, Guruli benefited from a passivity call to put Bey in a 1-0 hole that didn’t last too long. That’s because the 20-year-old bounded up and hipped over from par terre bottom. When Bey turned to face Guruli, he clamped around on reverse chest wrap and pulled it over for four.
The rains came soon in the second. The whistle blew and Bey immediately worked to clear Guruli’s ties. As soon as he had a lane, there it was. Bey flashed into the body, locked, lifted, and arched the Georgian up and over for five, instantly putting a bow on a mesmerizing 9-1 tech fall.
In the round-of-16, Bey further demonstrated the kind of craziness only he can offer in a tournament like this one. Matched up with Konstantinos Vachlas (GRE), Bey used a nasty duck-under to get to the body. He instinctively wrapped and turned Vachlas around in one motion. Bey then deposited Vachlas on his back and the fall was signaled at only :15 into the match.
Zuhari Zashev (BUL), this year’s Junior European Championships silver medalist, was supposed to deliver another mighty test for Bey. Zashev — though classical, presents a substantial amount of explosiveness is his own right and is more than adept on the mat both lifting and defending from par terre. At the very least, this should have been a laser show, a celebration of points but one that would see Bey somehow score one more than the other guy. Maybe even a back-and-forth struggle that came down to the wire…
No such suspense materialized.
Zashev stayed upright long enough to grab the first passivity point of the bout, making whatever happened next all the more vital since Zashev is capable of piling up points from top. But Bey managed to contort himself just enough to remain out of harm’s way, thus earning a chance back on the feet. Following a brief exchange and a reset, Bey eased into double overhooks and bombed Zashev to his back. Once again, the outcome wasn’t a question. Bey had planted Zashev perfectly, and he held tightly on the arms as he stuck the Bulgarian’s shoulders to the mat, collecting his second straight win via fall of the morning.
In the 77-kilogram semifinal, Bey will battle Islam Opiev (RUS). Opiev competed in the 2017 Junior World Championships but did not place. But this season, the Russian has medaled at two Senior events — the Vantaa Cup in Finland and the Ivan Poddubny Memorial in his home country.
Schultz, despite having only two bouts on Monday morning compared to Bey’s three, was equally as impressive. It has a lot to do with the level of opposition. In round–of-16 opponent Lingzhe Meng (CHN), Schultz was meeting up with a wrestler who has arguably performed better as a Senior than as an age-grouper. Meng, a runner-up at the Hungarian Grand Prix a couple of months ago, opened the contest with some energy and looked to put Schultz on his heels. Admirably, Schultz fought his way back into the tie-ups, almost as if to assert his presence.
It could have went either way perhaps, but Schultz was graced with the first passivity/par terre chance. At the whistle he swooped over to Meng’s head and cranked a front headlock. Meng did not comply very easily. Schultz really clamped on the pressure, and he rolled Meng for two and a 3-1 advantage.
Meng coerced Schultz off the edge for a point in the early stages of the second and appeared to be coming on a little bit more. He swam behind Schultz for a takedown to jump out ahead 4-3 and went to lock for a turn. But as Meng gripped and turned, Schultz stepped over. There was no escape. Meng was pasted on his back with nowhere to go. Schultz held position — but really, it was over already — and the pin arrived with 1:10 remaining in the match.
Next up for Schultz in the quarters was none other than one of the weight class favorites, Junior European Championships gold Oleg Agankhanov (RUS), who went for an arm throw at his first available opportunity. Schultz lassoed around the head and held on to avoid any trouble. On the next exchange after the restart, Agankhanov hung his head long enough to dig his grave. Schultz latched on a front headlock and Agakhanov had no other recourse other than to try and dip down/pop up on a high dive. Big mistake. Schultz was more than ready. When the Russian changed levels Schultz followed, and twisted Agankhanov directly to his shoulder blades. That was that. The official stoppage of the bout via fall was recorded at 1:19 of the first period.
In the 130-kilogram semis, Schultz will face David Ovasapyan (ARM).
The semifinals for Day 1 athletes are set to begin at 6:00 pm local time (12:00 pm EST) and can be viewed live on Trackwrestling.
Nutter, Koontz, & Hughes
Alston Nutter (63 kg, NMU/OTS) didn’t have a chance to get in a groove for his qualification round match-up versus 2016 Cadet World bronze Erbol Barikov (KGZ). Bakirov seized on a tiny opening to find a four-point headlock; after Nutter bellied down, Bakirov was there with a correct throw for another pair of points. The American wasn’t out of it yet. Back on the feet and Nutter flew in on a beautiful high dive attempt, instantly locking around Bakirov’s body. But the Kyrgyzstan wrestler, no doubt well-schooled regarding such defensive measures, landed on top of Nutter’s proceeding throw, ultimately being rewarded with four points and a 10-0 tech victory.
The best way to describe Brady Koontz‘s (55 kg, UA-tOSU) first entrance onto the World stage is encouraging — although he didn’t come up with a win. His opponent, 208 U23 European Championships bronze medalist Florin Tita (ROU) is a wrestler who as recently as this past spring would have been thought to run all over Koontz. That didn’t happen. What did, was a match that slipped away for the US in frustrating fashion.
Koontz gave up a four-point bodylock early in the first period. But instead of that being a portend of things to come, Koontz came alive. He began by stalking Tita and commanding more presence in the ties. This resulted in an opportunity for Koontz to use his long arms and extend off of Tita to grab a go-behind. He had to fight to get the takedown, but eventually made good on it. He also didn’t waste any time. Koontz immediately followed up with two consecutive elbow-to-elbow guts and assumed a 6-4 lead entering the second.
Tita came out for the conclusive period betraying a little more chutzpah, but Koontz, with his positioning stout, could not be moved. That was not the problem. What was the problem, however, was that Koontz’s activity level did not meet the officials’ liking. Soon enough, passivity rang out, giving Tita a point. From par terre, the Romanian secured a front headlock that he looped over to claim a 7-6 lead. Koontz now had to rush in and hunt down attempts. Time wasn’t on his side, unfortunately, and Tita walked away the winner by the same 7-6 score.
Barrett Hughes‘ (87 kg, CRTC) international Greco-Roman debut saw Kumar Sunil (IND) pick up four step-out points en-route to an 11-0 victory over the collegian. Sunil’s biggest scores came from a takedown and a four-point mini toss to end it. In between, Hughes simply found difficulty adjusting to Sunil’s pressure. Instead of pummeling back in, Hughes, likely due to his inexperience, didn’t scratch and claw his way back into the trenches. This left him to vulnerable to Sunil’s forward movement, and it became increasingly more difficult for Hughes to find a rhythm. Hopefully Hughes picked up some lessons here that he will use in 2019.
- Entering the semifinals this afternoon, Schultz has pinned four of his past six World Championship opponents.
- As of press time, Nutter can still be pulled back in since Barikov has made the semifinals. Tita, Koontz’s opponent, fell in the quarters, thus eliminating the Wisconsinite from further contention for bronze tomorrow; Sunil (Hughes’ opponent) was vanquished by Ilia Ermolenko (RUS) in the quarters.
2018 JUNIOR GRECO-ROMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Trnava, Slovakia — September 17th-19th
TEAM USA DAY 1 RESULTS
55 kg — Brady Koontz (UA-tOSU)
LOSS Florin Tita (ROU)
63 kg — Alston Nutter (NMU/OTS)
LOSS Erbol Barikov (KGZ) 10-0, TF
77 kg — Kamal Bey (Sunkist)
WIN Beka Guruli (GEO) 9-1, TF
WIN Konstantinos Valchas (GRE) via fall
vs. Islam Opiev (RUS)
87 kg — Barrett Hughes (CRTC)
LOSS Kumar Sunil (IND) 9-0, TF
130 kg — Cohlton Schultz (NYAC)
WIN Lingzhe Meng (CHN) via fall
WIN Oleg Agankhav (RUS) via fall
vs. Beka Makaridze (GEO)