2021 Junior World Championships

Team USA Snags Two Men’s Freestyle Gold Medals; Three Going for Gold Tomorrow in Women’s Freestyle

Photo of Amit Elor by Kadir Caliskan, United World Wrestling.

Have yourself a day, Team USA!

As day number three concludes at the 2021 Junior World Championships inside Ufa Arena in Ufa, Russia, Team USA men’s and women’s freestylers keep racking up wins on the mat. Wednesday (day three) was a fantastic day of wrestling for the Americans. 

On the women’s side, all three semifinalists Emily Shilson (50 kg), Amit Elor (68 kg), and Kylie Welker (76 kg), remained unbeaten in Ufa. Each added another win to their records and advanced to the 2021 World Championships gold-medal finals! Similarly in the semi’s, all three won via tech or fall. 

At 50 kg, Shilson needed just over two minutes to tech her opponent, Simran Simran, from India. After getting the first takedown less than 10 seconds in, Shilson quickly added another four points via gut wrench and exposure. Now up 6-0, Shilson used a takedown-and-turn combo to end the match at 10-0 and advance.

At 68 kg, Elor needed less than two minutes to beat Zsuzsanna Molnar of Slovakia. A step-out, then a takedown into two turns from a lace had her up 7-0. From there, the American used an arm spin to grab another four to win 11-0. 

At 76 kg, Kylie added her third consecutive tech of the tournament. It started with a quick single-leg takedown for two. After a restart, Welker promptly whipped Belarus’ Kseniya Dzibuk to her back and worked for the pin. Welker secured at the fall 1:02 into the match. 

Elsewhere, at 55 kg, Bilimbek Kyzy of Kyrgyzstan pins her opponent from Russia, pulling Payton Stroud into tomorrow’s repechage and put her in bronze-medal contention. 

Thus, four of five women’s freestylers from pairing number one see the mats during day four. Three are guaranteed a medal while Stroud can battle back for bronze. 

Later in the round, the final set of the men’s freestyle medal-round matches got underway. Team USA thrived there, too. 

Keegan O’Toole got things started for the U.S. He recorded a 10-0 tech to claim World gold over Nurdaulet Kuanyshbay (Kazakhstan). A quick takedown and turn gave O’Toole a fast 4-0 lead, and he never looked back. The American added two step-outs and locked up another cradle to add the final four points needed for the tech. The Mizzou Tiger was utterly dominant.

It was a nail-biter at 92 kg for O’Toole’s college teammate Rocky Elam, but the result was still the same – another World gold medal for the USA. Elam took a 2-0 lead into the break (activity point and a step-out). However, in the second, Iran’s Mahdi Hajiloueianmorfah countered an Elam offensive attack into a takedown for himself. Late in the second period, the Iranian led 2-2 on criteria. That said, Elam wasn’t deterred. Elam remained aggressive and recorded the match-clinching takedown with just 0:14 left on the clock!

At 125 kg, Team USA fell short of a third medal match victory in as many attempts. Up 3-0 to end the first period (step-out and takedown) over Andrei Bestaev (Russia), Hendrickson couldn’t find his offense in the second period and fell 7-3. 

The loss brought the men’s freestyle portion of the 2021 World Championships to a close. 


Other TOM Coverage 

Session One recap

Session Two recap

Session Three and Four recap

Session Five recap


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