photo courtesy of Mark Lundy; LutteLens.com
On the last day of the 2019 World Championships from Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, the Americans came away with a pair of medals. Kyle Dake went back-to-back and captured his second gold medal at 79 kgs in two years. Just like 2018, Dake’s opponent in the championship bout was Azerbaijan’s Jabrayil Hasanov. Last year, Kyle’s 2-0 capped a run that saw him win a world title without surrendering a single point. This time, Dake was able to prevail by the score of 4-2. While Dake did give up points in all four of his matches, he was still just as dominant and never was severely threatened in any of those bouts. Kyle joins J’Den Cox as the only repeat gold medalists from the 2018 squad.
One of the big upsets from Saturday was Kyle Snyder going down in the 97 kg semifinals to Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan, 5-2. This marked the first time in his five years at the Senior level that Snyder failed to make the world final. Snyder was able to bounce back by taking the bronze medal after defeating Elizbar Odikadze (Georgia), 5-0. Odikadze was a World bronze medalist in 2018 and has wrestled in the bronze medal match in each of the last six years.
Also, in action at 61 kg was Tyler Graff. Tyler was the first American to take the mat and tallied a 13-2 tech of Moldova’s Mihai Esanu. That put Graff into the bronze medal match facing Rahul Aware (India). Graff ambushed Aware with a double leg off the opening whistle and took a quick 2-0 lead. The Indian was able to come back and shocked Graff with his athleticism on a pair of takedowns via duck unders. A late takedown by Graff brought the final score to 11-4 as he came up just short of earning a world medal.
The wins by the Kyle’s helped propel the Americans past Iran for third place in the men’s freestyle tournament. This marked the third consecutive year that the United States has produced multiple gold medalists and four Americans came away with medals.