Pictured: Bryce Andonian after a win on Tuesday, Aug. 17 at the 2021 Junior World Championships. Photo courtesy of Cliff Fretwell Twitter Page (@knarkill).
Day number two (sessions three and four) of the 2021 Junior World Championships was busy but very successful for the Team USA men’s freestylers. Nine of 10 competitors took to the mats throughout the last two sessions inside Ufa Arena in Ufa, Russia.
Richard Figueroa (57 kg) was the only American freestyler to be eliminated during session one and not wrestle a match on day two.
During the day, the Red White and Blue took home three World medals Braxton Amos (Gold at 97 kg) while Beau Bartlett (65 kg) and Bryce Andonian (70 kg) each brought home World bronze medals thanks to thrilling comebacks.
The Medal-Round Matches:
Amos continued his reign of dominance in the gold-medal match against Polat Polatci (Turkey). While Amos gave up a four-point throw to his opponent at the end of the first period, Amos dominated the match. Amos used five step-outs, a caution-and-one point, and a massive five-point throw to claim gold. The 2021 World champ, Amos, was never tested during his four bouts on the path to gold. After three days of rest, he’ll be back on the mat for the Greco-Roman tournament, again at 97 kg.
Beau erased a 4-0 deficit to win bronze by way of a 7-4 decision against Mustafo Akhmedov (Tajikistan). Trailing by three (score 4-1) with just 0:22 left in the bout Bartlett stormed back with a four-pointer out of bounds followed by another takedown at the buzzer to win and take a World bronze.
In Andonian’s case, he trailed 6-0 against Stanislav Novac of Moldova, but Andonian’s pace was too much to handle. With the American down 6-2 to begin the second period, the Virginia Tech standout rattled off 16 second-period points, many via takedown, to come away with the World bronze before the end of regulation, winning convincingly 18-8.
Additionally, another trio of American freestylers is in the medal hunt. Keegan O’Toole (74 kg) and Rocky Elam (92 kg) will wrestle for gold, while Wyatt Hendrickson (125 kg) is still in contention for bronze tomorrow, Wednesday, Aug. 18, on day three at Junior Worlds.
How Team USA Got Here:
Andonian and Donnell Washington (79 kg) were both pulled into the repechage portion of the bracket after Iran won its semifinal matches at 70 kg and 79 kg during session two. Andonian rose to the occasion, winning twice to earn the right to wrestle for a medal. Bryce starting with a first-period fall over Josely Dibo of the Republic of Congo. The big fall resulted from a big throw from double overhooks, which led to the eventual fall just 59 seconds into the bout.
From there, Andonian prevailed in a back-and-forth, high-scoring affair with Asset Bauyrzhanov of Kazakhstan. The Hokie got to his offense early, scoring two takedowns for a 4-0 lead. The bout was knotted at 4-4 after Bauyrzhanov eared a four-pointer, but Andonian added a pair of takedowns (his third and fourth of the period) to add some separation at the break. Winning 8-4 at the time. Andonian held on and won 9-6, punching his ticket to the medal round.
Washington wasn’t so lucky in his repechage bout with Germany’s Richard Schroeder. Leading 6-1 at the break, it looked as if Washington would run away with the bout, but six consecutive step-outs in the second gave the German a tight 7-6 win. With the defeat, Washington is the second men’s freestyler to be eliminated from the tournament.
Also, on day two, as mentioned above, the final five American freestylers began their respective tournaments. With that, Jesse Mendez (61 kg), Keegan O’Toole (74 kg), Colton Hawks (86 kg), Rocky Elam (92 kg), and Wyatt Hendrickson (125 kg) stepped to the mat Tuesday, Aug. 17, at 2 AM ET during session three.
Unfortunately, Hawks and Mendez both ended the day 1-1 and have been eliminated from the remainder of the competition.
After a rare forfeit in the Round of 16, Air Force Academy big man (125 kg) eared his semifinal birth in the most dominant way, a 10-0 tech of Poland’s Jakub Czrczak in 50 seconds. The Service Academy star used a single-leg before quickly following up with a leg lace for two turns. With a 6-0 lead already in place, he used a nice four-pointer to finish it off and advance.
American muscle > Polish power.
— Air Force Wrestling (@AF_Wrestle) August 17, 2021
In the semifinals, Wyatt fought hard but fell 8-5 to Ali Akbarpourkhordouni (Iran). As such, Hendrickson will start his battle for a bronze medal via repechage Wednesday morning.
Missouri Tigers Stand Up
What we saw from University of Missouri teammates Keegan O’Toole and Zach Elam on day two was electric. The duo stole the show, winning three matches each to make the gold-medal matches at their respective weights.
Remarkably, in the Round of 16, O’Toole used three takedowns and two guts to get a 10-0 tech over Balint Balazs of Hungary. Then, in both the quarterfinals and finals, O’Toole was even more impressive, securing two straight falls to make the gold-medal match at 74 kg. Of note, his quarterfinal pin was against 2021 Tokyo Olympian (8th-place) and 2019 U23 World gold medalist Turan Bayramov (AZE).
Then, in the semifinals, O’Toole found himself trailing 10-5. With just over a minute remaining, Keegan locked up a filthy cradle and got the fall over Khatanov of Russia.
While fellow Mizzou Tiger World Teamer Rocky Elam’s matches weren’t as thrilling as those of O’Toole, all three of Elam’s bouts were dominant nonetheless.
Elam used three takedowns and a gut to get an 8-3 decision in the tournament opener over Mukhammadrasul Rakhimov (Uzbekistan). From there, Elam teched Pruthviraj Patil (India) 12-2 with five takedowns and a leg lace for a turn. To earn a spot in the gold-medal match at 92 kg tomorrow, Elam beat Ivan Kirillov of Russia 5-3 in the quarters. The American used a pair of back-to-back takedowns to gain the lead and win narrowly, 5-3.
Overall, the action-packed day of men’s Junior freestyle scrapping was solid. Team USA recorded a combined 17-4 (with a forfeit) between the nine World Teamers. As a unit, the squad brought home three medals (one gold, two bronze) and is guaranteed two more men’s freestyle World medals, and is still alive for a third on day three of the Championships. In total, Team USA is guaranteed five World medals, but has the possibility to take home as many as six across all 10 weight classes.
Official USA Wrestling releases from Day Two
Amos and Bartlett release
Andonian repechage release
O’Toole, Elam, Hendricks release
Amos, Bartlett, Andonian medal-round release
Other TOM Coverage
Session One recap
Session Two recap