photo courtesy of UWW
The third day of the UWW Cadet World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria was the best yet for Team USA.
Day three featured the last of the boys freestyle competition and the US went out with a bang.
Florida product Marc-Anthony McGowan, the top-ranked wrestler in the Class of 2023, won a gold medal with a 3-1 victory over Ali Arab Firouzjaie of Iran. McGowan took an early lead on a shot clock point but trailed on criteria after giving up a shot clock point of his own in the second period. He came up big late, however, with a snap down to go behind to pick up a 3-1 victory and bring home the gold.
Returning bronze medalist Alex Facundo of Michigan picked up yet another bronze. Facundo trailed Davit Kutchuashvili of Georgia in the second period but scored a takedown midway through the second to lead 2-2 on criteria. A failed challenge by the Georgian corner made it 3-2 and Facundo scored another two late to take a 5-2 win.
Wednesday also marked the first day of the girls freestyle competition and was wildly successful for Team USA.
At 43 kilos, Maryland’s Alex Szkotnicki dropped her opening match to Japan’s Nagisa Harada in a narrow 2-0 contest, but Harada advanced to the finals and pulled Szkotnicki back into tomorrow’s repechage. She’ll begin the day with Zerda Demir of Turkey.
Up at 49 kilograms, California’s Cristelle Rodriguez had herself a fantastic day. She began with a come from behind, 10-5, win over Antim Antim of India before topping Belarus’ Valeriya Kapustsina, 7-2, in the quarters. Rodriguez was barely breathing heavily in the semis when she locked up a standing cradle and pinned Yung Hsun Lin of Taipei in 19 seconds. Cristelle will face Moe Kiyooka of Japan in tomorrow’s gold-medal match.
Not to be outdone, New Hampshire’s Skylar Hattendorf was perhaps the most exciting wrestler to watch up at 57 kilograms. In her opening match, she fell behind Alina Kasabieva before a big four-point hip toss to tie the score at 4-4. Both wrestlers then exchanged step-outs, with Hattendorf taking the 5-5 win on criteria. In the quarterfinals, she threw Maarja Plaser of Estonia to her back for the fall at the 2:17 mark. Lastly, in the semis, she used a pair of big throws to build a lead on Azerbaijan’s Birgul Soltanova and then notched the fall at 1:41. Hattendorf will face Ruka Natami of Japan in the final.
California’s Lillian Freitas started her tournament with a hard-fought 2-1 win over Sandra Escamilla Menchaca of Mexico. She then dropped her semifinal to India’s Sonam Sonam, 7-1. But Sonam advanced to the finals, pulling Freitas back into tomorrow’s repechage against Khadija Jlassi of Tunisia.
Unfortunately, it was an uneasy day for gold-medal favorite Kennedy Blades of Illinois. Blades dominated Daria Klimovich of Belarus in her first match, picking up the fall in 21 seconds. However, in her second match Blades appeared to pick up a head injury and dropped a 9-5 decision to Julia Fridlund of Sweden. Fridlund then lost in the semifinals, eliminating Blades.
The five wrestlers on the girls side who did not wrestle on Wednesday all received their opening-round draws. They are as follows:
40 kg: Sterling Dias (Nevada) vs. Alina Kurylenka (Belarus)
46 kg: Sage Mortimer (Utah) vs. Serena DiBenedetto (Canada)
53 kg: Adriana Dorado Marin (Colorado) vs. Alessia Hetmanava (Belarus) OR Pushpa Yadav (India)
61 kg: Kylie Welker (Wisconsin) vs. Yu Lin Lo (Taipei)
69 kg: Amit Elor (California) vs. Karolina Povk (Ukraine)
Wrestling begins on Thursday at 3:30 a.m. ET and can be viewed live on TrackWrestling.com.