2021 U23 World Championships

Iowa’s Tony Cassioppi Makes U23 World Championships Freestyle Semifinal

Pictured: U23 World Team member (125kg) Tony Cassioppi. Photo by Cam Kramer. 

As session 11 began early Saturday at the U23 World Championships in Belgrade, the last group of Team USA men’s freestylers finally took to the mat and started their respective brackets. With that, Cannon (61 kg), Peyton Robb (74 kg), Myles Wilson (86 kg), Nino Bonaccorsi (92 kg), and Tony Cassioppi (125 kg) started competition.

At the same time, Jake Marsh (79kg) was also back on the mat in repechage play. 

Cassioppi has made the semifinals. Marsh was eliminated. Others are still alive for repechage tomorrow. 

Inside the bouts – Repechage Round

 In the opening match of session 11, Team USA’s Jake Marsh lost 8-4 to Goga Mamiauri of Georgia, a 2019 Junior European Championships bronze medalist and a 2021 U23 Senior European Championships fifth-place finisher. 

Marsh went into period two, trailing 6-0. Marsh found his offense in the second, adding a pair of takedowns, cutting into the deficit, but never getting closer to 8-4, the final score. Marsh was eliminated as a result. 

Inside the bouts – USA’s Perfect Qualification Round

Myles Wilson got things started for the Red, White, and Blue from the second freestyle group. The Iowa Hawkeye looked dominant, storming to a 7-0 decision against Poland’s Cezary Sadowski, a 2021 Poland Open champion. 

Wilson took a 1-0 lead with an activity point and never looked back. The Iowa Hawkeye added a pair of takedowns and a turn to complete his 7-0 opening-round shutout against Sadowski, who placed 11th at the 2021 U23 European Championships earlier this year. 

Peyton Robb wasted little time in match two of qualification play for the group before securing a 10-0 opening round teach against Hassan Alharthi of Saudi Arabia. Robb used a double-leg to get a four-pointer right off the bat. Then Robb added another takedown with two turns to end the bout in under a minute, 10-0. 

At 61kg, Northwestern youngster Chris Cannon kept the shutout streak alive for the USA. Cannon took down India’s Suraj Kokate with 4:52 remaining in the bout. From there, Cannon never let his opponent back to his feet. The American got a turn via gut wrench before transitioning to a leg lace and turning him to earn a  a 10-0 tech. Kokate was a 2018 Junior Asian Championships bronze medalist. 

Team USA was 3-0 and outscored opponents by a combined 27-0. Both Bonnacorsi and Cassioppi received a bye in this round. 

Inside the bouts – Round of 16

In the Round of 16, the U.S. took three tough losses at 74kg, 86kg, and 92kg.

First, Myles Wilson dropped a 7-4 decision to Armenia’s Mher Markosyan. What a wild match! Wilson was in a 7-0 hole after giving up four via throw, two more via takedown, plus a failed challenge. 

The Hawkeye responded with a takedown to make it 7-2. From there, an inside trip allowed him to put the Armenian on his back. Wilson looked to secure the fall, but it wasn’t called. Wilson lost by that same 7-4 score to the 2019 Juniors European Championships runner-up. 

At 92kg, Nino Bonaccorsi took a 4-3 lead into period two. Unfortunately, his opponent, Turkey’s Erhan Yaylaci, a 2021 U23 Senior European Championships gold medalist, 2018 Junior World bronze medalist, and 2021 Senior World Championships participant, put up eight points in the final period. Bonaccorsi dropped his first match in Serbia, 12-6. Yaylaci won the match with solid defense and a successful counter offense. 

At 125, Tony Cassioppi marched to an early 6-0 lead (a takedown, gut wrench, and two turns) over 2017 Armenia’s Martin Simonyan, a Cadet European Championships bronze medalist. After taking an 8-4 lead into period two, that’s when it got interesting. The second period, filled with big- man body locks, saw the score tied 8-8. It ended with Tony getting the fall as time expired. Cassioppi was up13-8 at the time of the pin.

Peyton Robb trailed 4-2 (all takedowns) at the break against Vasile Diacon of Moldova, a two-time Junior World medalist. Robb got things knotted at 4-4 but gave up the winning takedown with under 15 seconds to go. The Cornhusker went down 6-4 at 74kg. 

At 61kg, Chris Cannon kept up that frantic offensive pace against Taiyrbek Zhumashbek Uulu of Kyrgyzstan, a 2019 Junior Asian Championships bronze medalist. A takedown and gut wrench for a turn put Cannon out a 4-0 lead. Another takedown made in 6-0 in favor of the NU Wildcat. Then, a scramble gave two sets of exposure, and a failed challenge point to Uulu, cutting the deficit, 6-5. Cannon got the final takedown to seal the W with 0:40 remaining. He won by that same score. 

Inside the bouts – Quarterfinals

Cassioppi wasn’t phased by his close  back-and-forth battle in the Round of 16. In the quarters, Tony was dominant. He delivered a 7-0 shutout of Albania’s Paris Karepi. Cassioppi scored via takedown, numerous step-outs, a shot clock, and even a caution point. 

Cannon fought hard in the quarters against Russia’s Artur Chebodaev but had no answers for the Russian’s defense and counter attacks. Chebodaev used three takedowns and a step-out to win it, 7-0. 

Looking ahead, Cassipoppi goes for a semifinal win later this afternoon. Others hope for repechage tomorrow. 


Session I Recap here

Session 2 Recap here

Session 3 Recap here

Session 4 Recap here

Session 5 Recap here

Session 6 Recap here

Session 7 Recap here

Session 8 Recap here

Session 9 Recap here

Session 10 Recap here

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