Photo Courtesy of John Sachs, Tech-Fall.com
After sending three world championship debutantes to the mat on day one, Team USA sent a more experienced team to compete on day two. Each of the three Americans competing on Sunday also represented the red, white, and blue in 2015 while Alli Ragan (women’s freestyle, 60 kg) was making her fourth consecutive world championship appearance.
In the end, the result was quite similar. Ragan marched through the bracket becoming Team USA’s second world championship finalist in as many days. She would be forced to settle for silver, however, as she came up short against Xingru Pei (CHN). It would be the only medal for her country on the day as 2015 world bronze medalist James Green (men’s freestyle, 70 kg) fell in the quarter-finals and Patrick Martinez (Greco-Roman, 80 kg) dropped his opening bout. Neither was pulled into the repechage.
Ragan was in the larger half of the draw which made for a long day, but she worked her way through the early rounds, earning an 8-4 decision over Sarita (IND), a 6-3 win over Kateryna Zhydachevska (ROU), and a 5-0 shutout of Laura Mertens (GER) to reach the semi-finals. After three tough scraps in the early rounds, Ragan blew her semi-final wide open. Her 14-4 tech-fall over Ayaulym Kassymova (KAZ) held little drama as she raced out to an 8-0 lead and was unphased by the Kazakh’s four-point move on the edge which cut Ragan’s lead in half in the second period. Alli added a takedown and a four-point move of her own to book her place in the gold medal match.
In the final, Pei’s defense was simply too good. Ragan came out shooting, as is her preference. She got in on a clean shot early, but Pei was able to force a stalemate. That would become the story of the match as Ragan attacked and Pei picked her off on counter-attacks. A missed shot by Ragan led to a takedown by Pei. Twice more Pei got behind Ragan on re-shots and was able to run Alli off the mat for a 4-0 lead. Finally, as desperation set in, Ragan missed on yet another attack and Pei was able to spin behind for a final takedown. The end result was a 6-0 loss as Alli Ragan finished with the silver medal. Pei became China’s first world champion since 2013.
Green opened the tournament looking outstanding as he rolled to a 12-1 tech-fall over Gitinomagomed Gadzhiyev (AZE) in the qualification round. His round of 16 bout, however, went down to the wire with Green, leading 3-1, spending the last few seconds in a quad-pod as European silver medalist Davit Tlashadze (GEO) desperately tried to force him to the mat. They both, eventually, went to the mat, but the officials determined that time was out. Georgia’s challenge was rejected and Green advance, 4-1. There would be more high drama for James in the quarter-finals against former world bronze medalist Rashid Kurbanov (UZB). The Uzbek built a 3-0 lead on a takedown and a shot clock point before Green rallied with a takedown and a push-out point to tie the match at three. Unfortunately, the caution for the shot clock point would be the difference as Green lost on criteria. Kurbanov lost in the semi-finals to Magomed Kurbanaliev (RUS) to eliminate Green.
Martinez did not have the tournament he was hoping for. His qualification round bout against 2015 world fifth place finisher Askhat Dilmukhamedov (KAZ) ended early after a takedown and three gut wrenches gave Dilmukhamedov the 8-0 tech-fall victory. When Aslan Atem (TUR) edged the Kazakh, 3-2, in the quarter-finals, Martinez’s day was officially over.