Earlier today at the 2018 Junior Greco-Roman World Championships in Trnava, Slovakia, three Americans saw themselves reach medal contention. For Kamal Bey (77 kg, Sunkist) and Cohlton Schultz (130 kg, NYAC), that endeavor was rather simple: they both made it to the semifinals.
First-year World Teamer Alston Nutter (63 kg, NMU/OTS) was in a different boat. Nutter dropped his opening round match to Kyrgyzstan’s Erbol Bakirov, one of the tournament’s most dominant competitors thus far. Nutter was caught in a headlock and then proceeded to give up a two-point correct hold. The American did zero in on a nice bodylock attempt, only to have Bakirov land on top for the match-ending points.
But because Bakirov advanced to tomorrow’s 63-kilogram final, Nutter has a new lease on life and will begin his trek to bronze in the repechage opposite Hrachya Poghosyan(ARM).
Overall, Team USA went 5-5 Monday with all five wins coming courtesy of Bey and Schultz. Brady Koontz (55 kg, UA-tOSU) wrestled well in a loss to Florin Tita (ROU) and Barrett Hughes (87 kg, CRTC) was overwhelmed by India’s Kumar Sunil.
Junior World Team co-head coach Nate Engel intimated afterwards that he liked what he saw out of the athletes and feels tomorrow brings a brand new set of possibilities.
“All in all, I was pretty pleased with how we wrestled today,” Engel said via call following the tournament. “I think Cohlton definitely showed the world that he’s capable of doing more than being a Cadet World champ by beating two proven guys and losing in the semis. I think if the calls were different then we’re in the finals, but he’s going to bounce back and get a bronze medal tomorrow night.”
“Kamal had the tough side of the bracket and showed once again why he’s one of the best. The match with Russia, you know, I don’t like to blame referees but it was tough to watch. But Kamal left it all out there. He really went for it in the last :30. I know he’s real positive that he is going to come back and get the bronze medal. Nutter coming back is huge for us, too. I think he has a great setup. He has two matches. He just has to take it one match at a time to get into the bronze medal match. We just have to keep fighting. Everyone has to do their jobs tomorrow and great things can happen.”
“As far as draws go tomorrow, it’s a new day. The five guys’ draws, they just have to go out there and wrestle hard, set the pace high. We saw matches today where when guys would set the pace high, they won their matches. That’s what I told the guys tonight in the meeting and that’s what we have to do. We have to wake up, get a good warm-up in after weigh-ins, and be ready to go.”