Pictured: Jay Aiello (97kg) after his win in the Round of 16 at the 2021 U23 World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia. Image courtesy of the Cavalier Wrestling Club (@CavalierWRSTL).
As session nine began early Friday at the U23 World Championships in Belgrade, the Team USA men’s freestylers finally had the opportunity to take to the mat and start their respective brackets.
Pat Glory (57 kg), Dom Demas (65 kg), Brock Mauller (70 kg), Jake Marsh (79 kg), and Jay Aiello (97 kg) get the action going on the first day of the men’s freestyle festivities. The other five athletes will begin their competition on Saturday, including Chris Cannon (61 kg), Peyton Robb (74 kg), Myles Wilson (86 kg), Nino Bonaccorsi (92 kg), and Anthony Cassioppi (125 kg).
Inside the bouts – Qualification Round
Dom Demas got Team USA the first win of qualification play with a forfeit from Abdelwahad Badri Morocco in a rather anticlimactic fashion.
At 70kg, Brock Mauller was the first American to wrestle a match Friday morning. Unfortunately, it didn’t go the Mizzou Tiger’s way. Mauller lost to Turkey’s Cuneyt Budak, who recently placed eighth at the 2021 U23 European Championships.
It was a back-and-forth battle for Mauller. With 30 seconds left, it was tied at 4-4, and Mauller had criteria advantage. However, Budak landed his third takedown and transitioned to a lace for two turns. Budak won, 10-4. Sadly, Budak lost in the quarters. Mauller is eliminated.
In Pat Glory’s opening-round match, he lost a heartbreaker to Iran’s Ahmad Mohammadnezhadjavan 11-11 on criteria. Glory took a 5-0 lead into the break. His lead was extended to 11-5 with just 40 seconds to go. However, Mohammadnezhadjavan got a takedown, gut, and two turns to tie things 11-11 with just 20 seconds to go. Iran held on to beat the Princeton Tiger on criteria in a genuinely wild match, a tale of two distinctly different periods. Glory was eliminated after Mohammadnezhadjavan lost his quarterfinal bout.
Inside the bouts – Round of 16
At 97kg, Virginia’s Jay Aiello got Team USA the first non-forfeit or bye win of the session. Aiello prevailed in a tight 5-3 decision over Turkey’s Feyzullah Akturk, a two-time Junior World bronze medalist (2017, 2019). Two takedowns and a step-out got it done for Aiello. Only a step-out and a takedown at the buzzer went against Aiello. There was some great defense throughout for the Virginia Caviler.
HUGE! 💪🔥 https://t.co/YwUBUqPl96— TheOpenMat (@theopenmat) November 5, 2021
Elsewhere, the struggles for Team USA continued into the second round. At 79kg, Jake Marsh was teched in just 45 seconds. A takedown with two turns had Turkey’s Ramazan Sari, a 2021 U23 European Championships gold medalist and 2019 U23 World bronze medalist, out to an early 6-0 lead. From there, Sari added a final takedown-and-turn to end it.
After a bye in the qualification round, Demas saw Azerbaijan’s Ziraddin Bayramov, a 2021 Junior World silver medalist and 2021 U23 Senior European Championships bronze medalist. Despite recoding the first takedown of the bout, Demas lost 6-3. Ziraddin tallied pair of takedowns and two exposure points against the Oklahoma Sooner standout. Bayramov lost in the quarterfinals. As a result, Demas is eliminated.
Inside the bouts – Quarterfinals
In the quarterfinals, Aiello kept the momentum going against Russia’s Shamil Gadzhialiev. Aiello took a narrow 2-1 lead into the break. Then, trailing 4-2 late in the match, Aiello recorded his second takedown with just 15 seconds to go. The American won on criteria, 4-4. With that, Aiello is on to the semifinals later today.
Aiello will wrestle Iran’s Amirali Azarpira in the semifinals later this afternoon.