Leading up to the 2018 Junior Greco World Championships, much of the talk has centered around the thought that this year’s US squad might be one of historical significance. Whether or not that’s true remains to be seen, but after a first day of action that resulted in two Americans reaching the semifinals along with another still alive for bronze tomorrow, you can’t argue that the Team USA Juniors still appear to be on the right track.
Reigning Junior World Champ Kamal Bey (77 kg, Sunkist) put on a captivating performance in the morning session but couldn’t quite keep the vibes going against an opponent on a hot streak. Teenage wonder and 2017 Cadet World gold Cohlton Schultz (130 kg, NYAC), who like Bey also enjoyed a memorable run to the semis, was unable to punch his ticket for a chance at titles in back-to-back years. Even with that, both athletes — plus one more — are still alive for podium spots tomorrow.
The Day 1 semifinals of the 2018 Junior Greco World Championships wrapped up earlier this afternoon and were broadcast live in the US on Trackwrestling.
As was the case practically all morning long, Bey looked to utilize his one-of-a-kind explosiveness in effort to employ his offense. Islam Opiev (RUS), who had earlier defeated last year’s runner-up Azkhol Makhmudov (KGZ), was working with his own momentum and it never seemed to shift towards the American’s favor.
Bey got down to business in the tie-ups, undoubtedly interested in gaining the type of clearing that usually welcomes in those zooming body attacks. The athletes engaged in a hard-fought hand-fighting battle, with Opiev looking to tie up Bey just enough so that he wasn’t a threat. Eventually, it was passivity for the Russian. But just as Bey went to get his lock, Opiev was up and out. They resumed jousting. Again, Opiev appeared content to bog down the action. If he was trying to open up serious attempts it was indiscernible. Bey didn’t cease his movement or urgency, and strolled to the corner at the break holding the same 1-0 advantage.
The second period wasn’t an exact replica of the first — obviously — but it started off similarly enough. There was tension, just not electricity. Opiev, depending on which side you were rooting for, could either be credited or blamed for that. But since this is international wrestling and passivity rules the day, it was Bey’s turn to be penalized. Once set, the US athlete tried to remain plastered to the tarp although Opiev still managed to rotate a gut over for a pair of points.
Time began disappearing from the clock. As could be expected, Bey started increasing his output, practically throwing his own body at Opiev. All he needs is to get a handle. Unfortunately for Bey, however, in the midst of a dart at the body he lost his footing, allowing Opiev to scamper behind for two more. And Bey, perhaps under the impression he was eligible for a slip call and waiting for a whistle, was immediately victimized by an Opiev follow-up gut to widen the US deficit to 7-1.
Back on the feet and mere seconds remained. Bey dashed in for a look, including another right at the buzzer that was more of a friendly feint. Opiev, coming off one of the strongest performances of the event thus far, had engineered a 7-1 upset of Bey that was more notable for its strategic effectiveness than anything else.
Tomorrow, Bey will wrestle for bronze against either Makhmudov, Yilana Yilana (CHN), or Andrija Maletin (SRB).
Two falls over two high-quality opponents put Schultz in the 130-kilogram semifinals opposite Junior European Championships bronze David Ovasapyan (ARM) for what was another frustrating, contentious battle. Schultz constantly set out to pummel his way to underhooks. From there, he has an assortment of slide-by’s and go-behinds, or he can lift up on the arm to yank down on a front headlock. Maybe Ovasapyan knew all of this beforehand, because it definitely seemed like he had Schultz scouted well. Anytime Schultz came close to a tie-up he liked, the Armenian bailed.
That approach should have had Ovasapyan banged for passivity but it went the other way around. Schultz defended well from the bottom and back to the feet they were. The tempo waxed and waned from then on with Ovasapyan holding a 1-0 lead entering the break.
In the second, Schultz resumed prying inside. And just like the first period, Ovasapyan bailed or fought out of each tie-up without answering back. But he still scored. Schultz, in pursuit of Ovasapyan at the edge, was turned around and forced out, giving Ovasapyan another point. There was no question Schultz was the aggressor — but aggression isn’t easily accounted for when the action is so tight. He did get his shot from top eventually, Schultz. Ovasapyan was nailed, finally, for passive, and the Armenian bounded up and out of Schultz’s front headlock attempt nearly immediately.
Schultz dug in and fought but found Ovasapyan not to be a willing dance partner. There was no further scoring the rest of the way, and Ovasapyan earned his ticket to the final on the same 2-1 score.
In the bronze medal round tomorrow, Schultz will face the winner of Ante Milkovic (CRO) and Ignat Milenov (BUL).
Alston Nutter (63 kg, NMU/OTS) is back in: because Ebrol Bakirov (KGZ) advanced to the final, Nutter is now in the repechage round tomorrow. He will first square off against Hrachya Poghosyan (ARM). Should Nutter emerge victorious, he will then face Germany’s Chlovelle Meier. After that would be the bronze medal match itself, where Azamat Kairov (RUS) awaits.
2018 JUNIOR GRECO-ROMAN WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Trnava, Slovakia — September 17th-19th
TEAM USA FULL 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
WIN Zahari Zashev (BUL) via fall
LOSS Islam Opiev (RUS) 7-1
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
LOSS David Ovasapyan (ARM) 2-1
TEAM USA DAY 2 DRAWS
60 kg — Taylor LaMont (Sunkist)
vs. Galym Kabdunassarov (KAZ)
67 kg — Peyton Omania (CYC)
vs. Mohamed Elsayed (EGY)
72 kg — Tyler Dow (WRTC)
vs. Gergely Bak (HUN)
82 kg — Andrew Berreyesa (NYAC/FLWC)
vs. Simone Fidelbo (ITA)
97 kg — Chad Porter (Sunkist)
vs. Illia Laurynovich (BLR)
2018 Junior Greco Worlds Schedule
Tuesday, September 18th
9:30 am-3:00 pm — Qualification round(s) — 60 kg, 67 kg, 72 kg, 82 kg, & 97 kg
9::30 am-3:00 pm — Repechage round(s) — 55 kg, 63 kg, 77 kg, 87 kg, & 130 kg
5:15 pm-6:00 pm — Semifinals — 60 kg, 67 kg, 72 kg, 82 kg, & 97 kg
6:00 pm-8:30 pm — Finals — 55 kg, 63 kg, 77 kg, 87 kg, & 130 kg
Wednesday, September 19th
10:30 am-1:30 pm — Repechage round(s) — 60 kg, 67 kg, 72 kg, 82 kg, & 97 kg
6:00 pm-8:30 pm — Finals — 60 kg, 67 kg, 72 kg, 82 kg, & 97 kg