Photos by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling
One of the interesting aspects of extending international tournaments into a two-day format is that the styles bleed into each other. Wednesday saw the close of Greco at the 2017 Cadet World Championships in Athens, Greece, with the repechage and medal matches for the final five weights. It also brought the first wave of women’s freestyle, wrestling through the semi-finals. Team USA sent six athletes into competition with two alive in the Greco repechage and four medal contenders on the women’s side. Japan, as expected, were dominant in women’s freestyle, losing just once on the day, at 38 kg. They’ll have four finalists and one athlete in the bronze medal match tomorrow. Team USA sits third, three points behind Ukraine for second. The US finished with 23 points in Greco, their highest total here since 1998, ultimately finding themselves 11th overall. Russia walked away with the Greco team title scoring 64 points in all, outdistancing second place Iran (50) and third place Ukraine (49). Georgia (48) and Kazakhstan (41) rounded out the top five.
After collecting four Fargo titles over the past two years, Emily Shilson (43 kg) made her debut at the Cadet World Championships look a lot like what we’ve seen domestically. Despite giving up a quick takedown to Aldynai Darzhaa (RUS), the stoic Shilson needed just 1:27 to win her opener, displaying a diverse array of attacks and par terre offense en route to a 12-2 tech. In the quarter-finals, Shilson battled Asian silver medalist Ayazhan Markasheva (KAZ). After opening the scoring by dumping Markasheva to her back off a shot by the Kazak, Shilson worked for a go behind, but could not free her arm. In the ensuing scramble, Shilson scored an exposure, but her arm got in worse and worse position, eventually seeing her spend a fair amount of time on her back before she was able to kick over out of a high bridge. The American led 4-2 at the break before ending any suspense with a takedown off of a two on one then three consecutive gut wrenches to advance to the semi-finals.
There was no slow start or dangerous sequence for Shilson this time around as she put Karina Chornomor (UKR) on the back foot early and often. The American picked up the opening takedown after snagging an ankle off a restart. Emily got a good lock on a leg lace and it was only through remarkable toughness displayed by Chornomor that there were no additional points scored in the sequence. After a cross ankle pick, however, Shilson got the lace rolling, scoring twice on the edge to put herself on the verge of the final. She caught the Ukrainian’s ankle one last time to finish a 10-0 technical superiority and advance to the gold medal match.
2016 Cadet world bronze medalist Alara Boyd (65 kg) made certain she would finish at least one step higher on the award’s stand, navigating a tricky opening bout before rolling to the finals. The random draw saw Boyd draw another Cadet world bronze medalist in the first round, reigning European champion Oksana Chudyk (UKR). The only point in the opening two minutes was a shot clock in favor of Boyd which set up a tense final frame. After a go behind by Alara, it looked like she was in good position for another before the Ukrainian somehow built up to cut the lead to 3-2. When Chudyk got in again, she was close to scoring on the edge before Boyd used a reverse lift to establish her winning margin, 5-2. Pan American bronze medalist Nyla Burgess (CAN) would be less of an obstacle. Boyd got her offense going, using a pair of snatch singles to lead 3-0 before another go behind led to a pair of exposures. One more takedown finished an 11-0 tech as the American worked her way to the semi-finals.
With a spot in the gold medal match on the line, Siyka Ivanova (BUL) would be the opponent, a wrestler who had twice attended this event without a finish better than 10th. This, too, would be a tactical affair. Again leading 1-0 at the break on a shot clock point, Boyd stuffed another shot then won the ensuing scramble for a 3-0 lead. The Bulgarian went for a head lock, but Alara easily countered, taking Ivanova over with a half, then settling in for the fall in 3:26. She’ll wrestle for gold tomorrow.
Vayle Baker (49 kg) began her day looking rock solid against Maria Triantafyllidou (GRE). A standard sprawl and go behind for Baker opened the scoring and she tacked on leg lace to lead 4-0. She continued to dominate the ties, bowling over the Greek for another takedown to make it 6-0. In the final sequence, Triantafyllidou tried another shot, but Baker stuffed it and whipped her over for the fall in 1:19. Always lurking in these brackets are the Japanese women and Baker ran into a great one after her opening win.
Suzuna Yoshimura (JPN) won the Asian gold medal in 2015 before coming here a year ago and winning a world title. In a scramble filled match, Baker fought Yoshimura for every point, but could never quite score, despite twice ending up on top with what would have been takedowns in folkstyle. The Japanese woman built an 8-0 lead in the first by taking Baker to her back with a trip, then winning a scramble and scoring on a gut wrench. The final was 10-0 as Baker lost to the gold medal favorite.
Gracie Figueroa (56 kg) is closing in on the all-time record for most Fargo titles by a female, but she entered this tournament still looking for her first world-level title. She picked up a bronze medal at this tournament last year after missing the podium in 2015. Earlier this year she took on the field at the Junior World Championships, finishing ninth. The road was not easy for Gracie on Wednesday. She made quick work of Asian silver medalist Nuraida Anarkulova (KGZ) using her famous ankle pick a couple of times before stacking the Kyrgyzstani up for a fall in 1:28. It took longer against European bronze medalist Violetta Petrovska (UKR), but the result was similar. Figueroa built a 7-0 lead after a step-out, takedown, and a pair of tilts in the first. A pair of takedowns in the second salted away another win, 11-0.
The quarter-finals pitted a pair of 2016 Cadet world bronze medalists against each other as Figueroa ran into Isa Joensson (SWE). The American jumped on top early with a takedown, but Joensson secured a two on one before ducking to the far side to put Figueroa in danger. The fall was called with 1:18 showing on the clock. When the Swede was defeated in a wild, 10-8, semifinal, Figueroa was a stunning elimination.
Before the women got going, Mason Reiniche (69 kg) and Jake Hendricks (76 kg) got their chances in the repechage, looking to add to Team USA’s Greco medal haul. However, both men would bow out early, with Reiniche falling 9-3 to Nordic champion Samat Cetin (NOR) and Hendricks dropping a 6-1 decision to Nordic silver medalist Turpal-Ali Bisultanov (DEN).