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Team USA Struggles, Iran Claims Greco Crown on Final Day of 2017 Junior World Championships

Randon Miranda, Cohlton Schultz

Photos by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

The 2017 Junior World Championships has been a thrilling event featuring incredible competition, history being made by a wide range of countries, and Team USA having perhaps their best performance, across all three styles, in history. Unfortunately, the lightning that has struck so often this week for the Americans, leading to individual champions in men’s freestyle, women’s freestyle, and Greco in the same year for the first time ever, failed to materialize on the event’s final day.

Team Race

Though Team USA entered the second day of Greco on top with 29 points, Iran and Russia, who began the day second and third, quickly took charge, racing past the struggling Americans. Iran led Russia by six points as competition began, but saw their lead imperiled when their rivals put all four wrestlers in medal matches while Iran’s 55 kg Mohammad Rezaei fell to the Armenian and was not pulled into the repechage. Rezaei had a pair of shutout techs before his loss which earned him crucial classification points. This would prove important as the Iranian finished seventh, earning four team points, allowing his country to wrap up the team title before Amin Mirzazadeh (IRI) crushed Georgii Gadzhinov (RUS) in the bronze medal match at 120 kg.

The final accounting saw Iran with 58, Russia with 53, Turkey in third with 36, and the United States finishing fourth with 29.

Match of the Day: Kerem Kamal (TUR) vs. Nugzari Tsurtsumia (GEO), 55 kg

After Tsurtsumia took a 2-1 lead into the break, the Georgian came out strong in the second, scoring a correct throw and a takedown in the first twenty seconds to stretch his advantage to 6-1. It seemed that Kamal had struck right back when he was awarded four less than 10 seconds later, but a successful challenge of the chaotic sequence saw it white paddled, leaving the Turk trailing by five once again. Despite having plenty of time, Kamal attacked like a man possessed, running down Tsurtsumia for a takedown on the edge, cutting his deficit to three. This seemed to calm him as he wrestled a more normal, but still aggressive pace after that, nearly scoring on a throw attempt with just over one minute remaining. However, when that throw came up empty, ultimately being called a slip, it left Tsurtsumia in the driver’s seat.

A passivity point made it 6-4, but the clock was winding down. Finally, Kamal’s consistent pressure was rewarded when he unbalanced the Georgian for a takedown and a lead on criteria, just 15 seconds from the six-minute mark. Kerem nearly tacked on a gut wrench, though Tsurtsumia floated his hips deftly to avoid further points. With 10 seconds to go and both wrestlers having scored two twice and one twice, Kamal’s score was underlined on the board, indicating he held criteria via last score. The Georgian attacked as if he knew he was trailing, but as the Turk’s hand was raised, he had a sudden change of heart, vehemently protesting the result and yelling for someone off camera to come to his aid, apparently believing his correct throw had scored four instead of two followed by a takedown for two more. It was all for not, though, as the criteria had been correctly interpreted and Kamal had won. That would be the last close match for Kamal as he rolled over his semifinal and final opponents to claim the gold medal.

Randon Miranda, 55 kg

Making his second consecutive trip to the Junior World Championships, Miranda had his sights set on a medal, having gained international experience and moved to Northern Michigan since a seventh place finish a year ago. He was the final American to hit the mat on Sunday drawing Turabek Tirkashev (UZB). After an opening head-pinch put Miranda in a 2-0 hole, the bulk of the damage came on an arm throw that sent the California native sprawling and made it 6-0 heading into the break. Randon picked up the pace in the second, but could only find a single passivity point as the clock ticked under 15 seconds to go. The Uzbek then briefly lifted Miranda in an awkward position with Miranda trying to secure a front headlock. When the American got his feet back on the mat, having released his lock, he drove through his opponent for four-points, but it just wasn’t enough. Miranda fell 6-5 and was eliminated when Tirkashev, an eventual bronze medalist, fell to Kerem Kamal (TUR) in the semi-finals.

Dom Demas, 66 kg

Before heading to Norman to join the Sooners this fall, Demas found himself squaring off with Joilson De Brito Ramos (BRA) in the qualification round at 66 kg. After a passivity and a step-out opened the scoring for De Brito Ramos, the lanky Brazilian picked Demas up off the mat, backed to the edge, only to land flat on his back as his throw attempt failed. Demas’ foot was ruled to have hit first out of bounds, making the score 3-0 after one. By the time Dom got on the board it was 6-0 and he needed something good to happen. It looked like it might when he got to a body lock and started to drive his opponent across the mat. The Brazilian tried to use that momentum to work a throw, but again landed on his back. The call gave Demas two with an immediate challenge from the Team USA coaches claiming it should have been four. That challenge was denied and moments later De Brito Santos finally did hit a clean throw, earning four and tacking on two for a leg foul to win it, 12-2. Stoyan Kubatov (BUL) ushered the Brazilian out of gold medal contention in the next round, eliminating Demas.

Wyatt Koelling, 84 kg

After getting a taste of World Championship competition two years ago as a Cadet, Koelling returned after a redshirt year at Missouri to find Aleksandar Stjepanetic (SWE) blocking his path. Stjepanetic did just enough with an arm throw attempt to break on top though Koelling came out of the exchange on top to make it 2-1 in favor of the Swede. A passivity point made Koelling’s deficit 3-1 at the break. Having been difficult to open up in the first, Stjepanetic locked down his defenses even further in the second and the man from Utah struggled to find any offense. A few arm-spins that never gained purchase and some desperation level changes late came to nothing as Koelling fell, 3-1. It was the Swede that struggled to score in his next match, getting clipped by Mikita Klimovich (BLR), 1-1, ending Koelling’s repechage hopes.

Cohlton Schultz, 120 kg

While Schultz continues to gain international experience in preparation for what he hopes will be a long career at the Senior level, he is still a Cadet who will wrestle in Athens, Greece next month in his second World Championship event of the year. While we saw Gable Steveson win a heavyweight title at the Junior-level in men’s freestyle while still being Cadet eligible, the big difference for Schultz is that he still has to make 100 kg, the highest class in the younger age group. USA Wrestling reported Schultz weighed in at 104 kg which left him giving up a good deal of size to much of this field. In his opener against Artur Vititin (EST), Schultz was unphased by that prospect early, bowling over the Estonian for a takedown and a 2-0 lead. However, moments later Vititin locked onto a tight arm spin, initially getting stuck on his feet having rotated his hips through before powering his way to a four-point move. It was difficult not to wonder if a 120 kg version of Schultz would have been able to complete the counter. After the break, Vititin clung to his two point lead, knowing his big move meant he could concede two points and still get his hand raised. He would yield only one, on a passivity, knocking off Schultz, 4-3. The Estonian wouldn’t be around long either, falling in his next bout to Amin Mirzazadeh (IRI), 3-0, leaving Schultz to regroup and focus on Athens.

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