Beau Bartlett (left/red singlet) during session one at the 2021 Junior World Championships in Ufa, Russia, on August 16. Photo courtesy of the (@knarkill) Twitter Page.
Fresh off the heels of a historic showing for USA Wrestling at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games in Japan, the Red, White, and Blue look to carry that Senior-level momentum into the Junior World Championships this week as session one gets underway Monday, August 16, from Ufa Arena, in Ufa, Russia. The 2021 Worlds return after a more than 700-day hiatus, a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The tournament begins with men’s freestyle Aug. 16-18, followed by women’s freestyle Aug. 18-20, and closing out with Greco-Roman Aug. 20-22. There will be over 500 athletes from 52 different nations in attendance.
In session one, Richard Figueroa (57 kg), Beau Bartlett (65 kg), Bryce Andonian (70 kg), Donnell Washington (79 kg), and Braxton Amos (97 kg) took to the mats to begin their respective brackets.
It got off to a bit of a rough start for the United States as Figueroa, Andonian, and Washington all found themselves on the wrong end of contests against Iranian grapplers. Figueroa dropped a 15-2 decision while Andonian and Washington fell 8-7 and 6-3, respectively.
After beating Figueroa in the opener, Gholi Zadegan of Iran dropped a very close match in the quarterfinals to Armenia, which eliminated Figueroa from the competition. Both Andonian and Washington still have hope for repechage heading into session two later today.
Big Ten wrestlers Amos and Bartlett were able to right the ship a bit for Team USA. Amos, who recorded the USA’s first win of the tournament, got things started with a workmanlike 6-4 decision over Yunus Gafurov (Kazakhstan). Amos tallied a four-pointer plus an extra takedown in the bout’s finals seconds to extend the lead and advance. The points against the Wisconsin Badger were the match’s opening takedown, a step-out, and a point via failed challenge.
In the quarterfinals, Amos was dominant, picking up a nice 10-0 technical fall over Hungary’s Milan Korcsog thanks to a takedown-to-gut, a quick go-behind, and a pair of takedowns to finish it off.
Bartlett was Team USA’s best wrestler through the first two rounds in Ufa. The young Nittany Lion stormed to a 12-1 technical superiority victory in his opener over Marcell Budai Kovacs (Hungary) after six successful takedown attempts to end the bout with 1:47 still on the clock. The lone point for the Hungarian came via step-out.
In the quarterfinals, it was more of the same for Beau. He authored a 10-0 tech of Davit Margaryan (Armenia). A four-pointer and a step-out point created a 5-0 lead for Beau at the break. In the second period, he added three more takedowns to end it at 11-0.
Bartlett will face U23 Euro bronze medalist Ziraddin Bayramov of Azerbaijan in the semifinal later today. Amos has India’s Deepak at 97 kg.
In Richard’s 57 kg bout, Figueroa took an early 2-0 lead over Iran’s Ali Zadegan Koloukhi before falling behind 3-2 at the break. A pair of step-outs went against Figueroa and extended the Iranian’s lead 5-2. From there, the Iranian added a pair of takedowns, a four-pointer, and more to win it 15-2.
Virginia Tech’s Bryce Andonian had similar luck against Iranian Erfan Elahi in his opening-round bout. The VT youngster fell 8-7 with a step-out point with 30 seconds being the deciding factor.
Thanks to a two-and-two, the American got off to a fast start, which created an early 4-0 lead. Then Andonian gave up a takedown and a gut to leave it knotted at 4-4. The VT Hokie added a double-leg of his own for a 6-4 lead at the break. After exchanging step-outs, Andonian led 7-5 with 90 seconds to go. Tied at 7-7 after a takedown for Iran, Andonian gave up the costly step-out with just 30 seconds remaining.
In Washington’s case, he trailed Mohammad Nokhodilarimi (Iran) 2-2 on criteria at the break. In the second, a big four-pointer proved too much for Washington to overcome. Washington added a caution-and-one point but fell 6-3.
Read the official USA Wrestling release from session one here.