Pictured: Team USA 2021 Greco World Team member (55kg) Taylor LaMont. Image courtesy of Larry Slater.
The 2021 U23 World Championships return after a more than 700-day hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The competition is taking place in Belgrade, Serbia. The event starts with the Greco-Roman competition November 1-3, women’s freestyle action November 3-5, and men’s freestyle wrestling October 5-7.
Here is all the essential information regarding the three Team USA squads.
In session one, Taylor LaMont (55kg), David Stepanian (63kg), Britton Holmes (77kg), Spencer Woods (87kg), and Brandon Metz (130kg) took to the mats to begin their respective Greco brackets. The group was a combined 3-4 (including a forfeit win for Stepanian).
At 55kg, Utah Valley standout Taylor LaMont, a 2016 Junior World bronze medalist and eight-time age-group World Team member, earned an opening-round win against Moldova’s Artiom Deleanu, 2-1. After exchanging passivity points, Deleanu challenged a failed throw attempt late in the second. The 2019 U23 European Championships bronze medalist fell narrowly in the Round of 16 due to the unsuccessful challenge. LaMont’s win was the first of the day for Team USA.
In his quarterfinal matchup, LaMont beat Giorgi Tokhadze of Georgia 6-3 thanks to two four step-out points, a passivity point, and finally, a failed challenge point. He’ll wrestle in the semifinals later today. Tokhadze placed seventh at the 2021 Junior Worlds earlier this year.
Next up, LaMont will wrestle Iran’s Poya Dad Marz in Greco-Roman semifinals this afternoon.
Britton Holmes fell 5-1 in his opening-round bout to Dilshod Omongeldiyev of Uzbekistan. Omongeldiyev took third at the 2019 Junior Asian Championships and wrestled at the 2019 Junior Worlds.
Omongeldiyev executed a four-pointer in which Britton ended on top for a point of his own. Then, a passivity point for Omongeldiyev saw Holmes trail 5-1 at the break. The match would end with that same score.
At 87kg, things didn’t go as Spencer Woods hoped at his first World Championships. Woods was put to his back and pinned at the 0:46 mark by Szymon Szymonowicz of Poland. Woods, who has a U23 Nationals and a Senior Nationals title to his credit from earlier this year, now hopes Poland advances to the finals to put Woods into the repechage. Szymonowicz has a U23 seventh-place finish (2019) to his credit.
At 130kg, North Dakota State big man Brandon Metz dropped a tough 2-1 decision to Ukraine’s Vlaydslav Kovalenko. Kovalenko, who competed in 2018 and 2019 at the Junior World Championships, won via a caution point and a step-out point. Metz tallied a passivity point of his own, but that wasn’t enough. The NDSU Bison wrestler needs Ukraine to advance if he wants to keep his first World Team appearance alive.
After receiving a forfeit in his opener, Stepanian, also competing on his first age-group World Team, faced Moldova’s Corneliu Rusu in the quarterfinals. The American fell 2-0 to Rusu after giving up two passivity points. Rusu must make the finals to bring Stepanian back to the tournament.