Men’s freestyle at the 2016 UWW Cadet World Championships in Tblisi, Georgia, kicked off Saturday with competition in the 42 kg, 50 kg, 58 kg, 69 kg and 85 kg weight categories.
Kurt McHenry, 42 kg
On an American team with two defending champions and several other household names in the domestic wrestling community, McHenry came in a little under the radar. Once the tournament started, however, he made sure everyone knew his name. By far his toughest match of the morning session was a 6-4 win over Seyed Azimisiyacheghaei (IRI) in the opening round. From there McHenry rolled to two tech-falls, including blanking the Russian in the semi-finals, to earn his place in the gold medal match opposite Mahir Mammadzada (AZE). There McHenry opened the scoring with an early takedown and followed that up with another on a fantastic duck under to lead, 4-0. Kurt continued to attack, but the Azerbaijani cut his lead in half on a counter. Another counter takedown by Mammadzada in the second period tied the score at four with just over a minute remaining and gave the Azerbaijani the lead on criteria. McHenry was still getting to the leg, but couldn’t score and, as the seconds ticked away, found himself defending a low single. At the last moment, McHenry rolled Mammadzada through for a two point exposure! After a reversal and a failed challenge from his opponent, the final score was 7-5 as Kurt McHenry became a Cadet world champion.
Vitali Arujau, 58 kg
Arujau got his day off to a strong start with a 10-0 tech over Hector Candelaria Rivera (PUR) before being tested a bit in a 9-6 win over Ryuto Sakaki (JPN). The semi-final was not a test as Vitali steadily built his lead and ended it in just under three minutes, 10-0, over Denys Borohan (UKR). That gave Team USA a second finalist on the day with Arujau facing Amirhossein Maghsoudi (IRI) for gold. In a wild match that went back and forth several times, Iran led 4-3 at the break, Arujau scored a pair of crotch lifts to gain a three point lead of his own and Iran responded immediately, running through a shot for four then tacking on a gut wrench to make the score 10-7. Though it appeared Vitali scored a takedown out of a scramble to narrow the margin to 10-9, the officials eventually ruled the situation a two point exposure for Maghsoudi and a reversal for Arujau making it 12-8, Iran, with under 20 seconds on the clock. That would be the final as Arujau was forced to settle for the silver medal.
David Carr, 69 kg
After a pair of drama-less wins, 11-0 over Belarus and 10-2 over Ukraine, Carr’s semi-final, another match-up with Iran, was action packed and drama filled. David fell behind 8-2, against Sajjad Gholami, after the first period. As the second opened, Carr started to chip away at the lead, scoring a takedown 18 seconds into the final frame, but he looked to be out of gas. Nevertheless, he kept coming and managed to knot the score at eight with 15 seconds to go. Unfortunately the Iranian held criteria on the strength of a four point move and Carr could not find the winning point late. With the loss, he dropped down to the bronze medal match against Gegham Galstyan (ARM). In that one, Carr came forward early and the Armenian went on the clock a minute into the first period. Galstyan nearly scored off a wild shot from Carr, but David slipped away and led, 1-0, when the clock expired. Off the restart, Carr hit a nice blast double to extend the lead to 3-0 at the break. Another missed shot by Carr, early in the second, turned into a takedown for Galstyan, cutting the advantage to 3-2. With just under a minute to go, Carr hit that blast double off of another restart and it worked again for a 5-2 lead. A final takedown off a desperation attempt by Armenia gave David Carr a 7-2 win and the bronze medal!
Jacob Warner, 85 kg
Warner had a similar morning session to David Carr, rolling early, with a fall in 1:20 over Kyrgyzstan and a 10-0 tech-fall over Uzbekistan. His dramatic bout happened in the quarter-finals against eventual gold medalist Deepak Punia (IND). At first, it appeared Warner would handle the Indian, building a 3-0 lead after one period. However, Punia’s pace proved to be an issue as Warner started to wear down as the match went along. After an early second period takedown by Punia narrowed the gap to 3-2, Warner went on the clock with 43 seconds to go. If it expired, Jacob would be trailing on criteria. Both men continued to wrestle and Punia scored a takedown to lead, 4-3, with under 30 seconds remaining. Warner managed a step-out to tie the score, but fell on criteria, 4-4. Punia smashed the Polish wrestler in the semi-final, 10-0, to bring Warner back into the repechage. There, Jacob controlled Simon Oksaniani (GEO), 8-2, to reach the bronze medal match. In the medal match, he faced Jakub Szymula (POL). With a medal in his grasp, Warner never wavered, building a 7-0 lead in a strong first period before finishing the match, 11-0 in 2:43!
Team USA leads after day 1 of men’s freestyle
With a gold, silver, two bronze and all five wrestlers finishing in the top 10, Team USA racked up 38 points on the first day of men’s freestyle competition and sits in first place. Hot on their heals are Russia (37 pts) and Iran (35 pts). With a pair of 2015 Cadet world champions to come tomorrow, Yianni Diakomihalis and Gable Steveson, the Americans have a team title in their sights. Sunday should be a fantastic day of wrestling!