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International Wrestling

U23 World Championship Men’s Freestyle Preview

Martin, Myles

photo courtesy of Richard Immel

On Monday the final World Championship event of the calendar year the U23 World Championships kicked off from Bucharest, Romania. Friday, the men’s freestyle portion of the tournament will begin. The 57 kg, 65 kg, 70 kg, 79 kg, and 97 kg weight classes will start. Saturday, the medal rounds in these five weights will be conducted. The remaining five weights will start their tournaments on Saturday, as well.

Here are the members of Team USA for each weight class and notable wrestlers from around the globe, as well as predictions for each women’s freestyle weight class.

57 kg

Jack Mueller – A 2017 All-American as a true freshman at 125 lbs for Virginia, Jack Mueller bulked up to wrestle 133 pounds last season. He was a match away from getting onto the podium for the second time. Mueller will redshirt the 2017-18 to focus on preparing for this tournament. Jack breezed his way through the U23 World Team Trials, four techs in his five pre-finals matches. He swept RayVon Foley (Michigan State) two matches to none in their final series.

Top International Wrestlers to Watch:

Afgan Khashalov (Azerbaijan) – 2018 European U23 silver medalist, 2017 Junior World bronze medalist, 2016 Junior World Champion

Mikyay Salim Naim (Bulgaria) – 2017 U23 World silver medalist

Reineri Andreu Ortega (Cuba) – 2018 Senior World fifth-place, 2018 Pan-American Senior Champion, 2017 U23 World Champion

Toshihiro Hasegawa (Japan) – 2018 Asian Senior bronze medalist, 2013 Cadet World bronze medalist

Zanabazar Zandanbud (Mongolia) – 2017 Asian Senior silver medalist, 2015 Junior World fifth-place

Muslim Sadulaev (Russia) – 2018 Medved Champion, 2018 Russian Senior bronze medalist

Taras Markovivch (Ukraine) – 2018 European U23 bronze medalist

Jahongirmirza Turobov (Uzbekistan) – 2017 Asian Junior Champion

TOM Predictions

Gold: Reineri Andreu Ortega (Cuba)

Silver: Muslim Sadulaev (Russia)

Bronze: Afgan Khashalov (Azerbaijan)

Bronze: Toshihiro Hasegawa (Japan)

61 kg

Sean Fausz – Sean is preparing for his senior season as the 125 lber for NC State. Last year he captured his first ACC Championship and earned the fifth seed at nationals, though he ultimately did not place. Despite wrestling at 125 lbs, Sean has been known as one of the bigger wrestlers in the nation for that weight, so size should not be a problem for him. Fausz finished fourth at the U23 WTT’s and was named to the team when Vito Arujau (Cornell) had to withdraw.

Top International Wrestlers to Watch:

Teimuraz Vanishvili (Georgia) – 2018 European U23 and Junior bronze medalist

Georgios Pilidis (Greece) – 2018 European U23 bronze medalist, 2017 Cadet World bronze medalist, Two-time Cadet World silver medalist

Iman Sadeghikoukandeh (Iran) – 2018 Asian Senior fifth-place, 2017 U23 World ninth-place, Two-time Junior World Champion

Yudai Fujita (Japan)  – 2018 World University Champion

Magomedrasul Idrisov (Russia)  – 2018 Russian Senior Champion, 2018 European U23 Champion

Ertugrul Kahveci (Turkey) – 2018 European U23 bronze medalist, 2015 Cadet World bronze medalist

TOM Predictions

Gold: Magomedrasul Idrisov (Russia)

Silver: Iman Sadeghikoukandeh (Iran)

Bronze: Teimuraz Vanishvili (Georgia)

Bronze: Yudai Fujita (Japan)

65 kg

Colton McCrystal – In 2017-18 Colton McCrystal finished his collegiate career wrestling for Nebraska. He qualified for the NCAA Championships in each of his last two seasons. Both of those years saw him place top-four in the Big Ten. As a junior, Colton was a match shy of earning All-American honors. McCrystal finished third at the U23 WTT’s, yet was named to the team after Mitch McKee (Minnesota) withdrew from the competition.

Top International Wrestlers to Watch:

Ali Rahimzade (Azerbaijan) – 2018 Yasar Dogu silver medalist, 2017 European U23 bronze medalist, 2017 European Junior Champion

Dimitar Ivanov (Bulgaria) – 2018 Senior World 10th Place, 2015 Junior World bronze medalist

Rei Higuchi (Japan) – 2017 Asian Senior bronze medalist, 2016 Olympic silver medalist

Vitallie Bunici (Moldova) – 2018 European U23 silver medalist

Tulga Tumur Ochir (Mongolia) – 2018 Senior World seventh-place, 2017 U23 World seventh-place

Islam Dudaev (Russia) – 2018 Medved bronze medalist, 2017 U23 World bronze medalist

Andrei Svyryd (Ukraine) – 2018 European U23 bronze medalist

Temurjon Usmonohunov (Uzbekistan) – 2018 Asian Senior bronze medalist

TOM Predictions

Gold: Rei Higuchi (Japan)

Silver: Islam Dudaev (Russia)

Bronze: Ali Rahimzade (Azerbaijan)

Bronze: Temurjon Usmonohunov (Uzbekistan)

70 kg

Hayden Hidlay – One of the younger members of the team, Hayden Hidlay is also one of the most talented. He is coming off of a freshman season that ended in the NCAA finals, where he dropped his only match of the season too, now two-time NCAA Champion Jason Nolf (Penn State). Hidlay earned his spot on the team after knocking off 2018 Junior World silver medalist Ryan Deakin (Northwestern), two matches to one, in their best-of-three series.

Top International Wrestlers to Watch:

Gevorg Mkheyan (Armenia) – 2018 European U23 bronze medalist, 2017 Junior World fifth-place

Giorgi Sulava (Georgia) – 2018 European U23 bronze medalist

Vishal Kaliramana (India) – 2018 Junior World eighth-place, 2018 Asian Junior silver medalist

Jintaro Motoyama (Japan) – 2016 Cadet World bronze medalist, 2015 Cadet World silver medalist

Stefan Tonu (Moldova) – 2016 Cadet World silver medalist

Temuulen Enkhtuya (Mongolia) – 2017 Junior World bronze medalist, 2017 Asian Junior fifth-place

David Baev (Russia) – 2018 Medved Champion, 2017 Junior World Champion, 2014 Cadet World Champion

Enes Uslu (Turkey) – 2018 European U23 silver medalist, 2016 Junior World Champion, 2015 Junior World fifth-place

Oleksii Boruta (Ukraine) – 2018 European U23 Champion, 2017 World Military silver medalist

TOM Predictions

Gold: David Baev (Russia)

Silver: Hayden Hidlay (USA)

Bronze: Enes Uslu (Turkey)

Bronze: Oleksii Boruta (Ukraine)

74 kg

Alex Smythe – One of the most surprises U23 WTT’s champions turned out to be Alex Smythe (Buffalo). Alex has yet to qualify for nationals yet for Buffalo; however, he prevailed over NCAA third-place finisher Evan Wick (Wisconsin) in their best-of-three series. Smythe had kept the momentum going into the collegiate season and was impressive when he upended Evan’s twin Zander in the first dual meet of the season.

Top International Wrestlers to Watch:

Ismail Abdullaev (Azerbaijan) – 2018 European Junior bronze medalist, 2017 European U23 bronze medalist, 2015 Cadet World silver medalist

Avtandil Kentchadze (Georgia) – 2018 Senior World silver medalist, 2018 European U23 bronze medalist, 2017 U23 World bronze medalist, 2017 European U23 Champion

Sumiyabazar Zandanbud (Mongolia) – 2014 Cadet World silver medalist

Nikita Suchkov (Russia) – Two-time Russian National bronze medalist

Akhsarbek Gulaev (Slovakia) – 2018 European U23 silver medalist, 2018 European Senior fifth-place, 2017 U23 World silver medalist

Muhammet Akdeniz (Turkey) – 2018 World University Champion, 2017 U23 World bronze medalist

TOM Predictions

Gold: Avtandil Kentchadze (Georgia)

Silver: Akhsarbek Gulaev (Slovakia)

Bronze: Nikita Suchkov (Russia)

Bronze: Muhammet Akdeniz (Turkey)

79 kg

David McFadden – David is attempting to become the second current Virginia Tech wrestler to come home with a world gold medal this year, which would match Junior world champion, Mekhi Lewis. McFadden has AA’ed twice in as many tries for the Hokies and will be moving up a weight class to 174 lbs this year. His spot on the team was clinched with two straight victories over three-time All-American Daniel Lewis (Missouri).

Top International Wrestlers to Watch:

Engin Ismail (Bulgaria) – Two-time European U23 fifth-place, 2017 U23 World Championship fifth-place

Johnny Bur (France) – 2018 European U23 silver medalist

Nika Kentchadze (Georgia) – 2018 European U23 bronze medalist, 2017 European Junior silver medalist

Yajuro Yamasaki (Japan) – 2018 World University silver medalist, 2017 Junior World fifth-place, 2014 Youth Olympic Games

Gadzhi Nabiev (Russia) – 2018 Russian National bronze medalist, 2015 Junior World Champion

Muhammet Kucukyildirim (Turkey) – 2018 World University bronze medalist, 2018 European U23 fifth-place

Isa Shapiev (Uzbekistan) – 2017 Junior World silver medalist, 2017 Asian Junior silver medalist

TOM Predictions:

Gold: Gadzhi Nabiev (Russia)

Silver: David McFadden (USA)

Bronze: Isa Shapiev (Uzbekistan)

Bronze: Nika Kentchadze (Georgia)

86 kg

Myles Martin – Could Myles Martin be the latest member of the Ohio RTC to win a world medal? The number one ranked 184 lber in the nation dominated the field at the U23 WTT’s, winning six of his seven matches without surrendering a point.

Top International Wrestlers to Watch:

Hovhannes Mkhitaryan (Armenia) – 2018 European U23 bronze medalist

Raman Chytadze (Belarus) – 2018 European U23 bronze medalist

Patrik Szurovszki (Hungary) – 2018 Junior World bronze medalist, 2018 European Junior silver medalist

Kamran Ghasempour (Iran) – 2013 Cadet World silver medalist, 2013 Asian Cadet Champion

Andrian Grosul (Moldova) – 2018 Junior World fifth-place, 2018 European Junior silver medalist

Artur Naifonov (Russia) – 2018 European Senior Champion, 2017 Junior World Champion

Javrail Shapiev (Uzbekistan) – 2018 Ali Aliev silver medalist

TOM Predictions

Gold: Artur Naifonov (Russia)

Silver: Kamran Ghasempour (Iran)

Bronze: Myles Martin (USA)

Bronze: Patrik Szurovszki (Hungary)

92 kg

Christian Brunner – The two-time NCAA qualifier from Purdue, Christian Brunner got the call to man the 92 kg spot on this team after Michael Macchiavello (NC State) was deemed to be too old to compete. In his first two years in West Lafayette, Brunner has finished in the top-seven of the Big Ten at 197 lbs, always a difficult feat for youngsters. Christian was fourth at the U23 WTT’s.

Top International Wrestlers to Watch:

Shamil Zubairov (Azerbaijan) – 2018 European U23 Champion

Irakli Mtsituri (Georgia) – 2018 European U23 silver medalist, 2018 European Senior fifth-place, 2017 U23 World bronze medalist

Hossein Shahbazigazvar (Iran) – 2017 Asian Senior silver medalist, 2016 Junior World Champion, 2012 Cadet World bronze medalist

Iliskhan Chilayev (Kazakhstan) – 2015 Junior World bronze medalist, 2015 Asian Junior silver medalist

Batyrbek Tcakulov (Russia)  2018 Russian Champion, 2018 European U23 bronze medalist

Semih Yazici (Turkey) – 2018 European U23 bronze medalist, 2014 Cadet World silver medalist

Azizbek Soliev (Uzbekistan) – 2018 Asian Senior bronze medalist

TOM Predictions

Gold: Shamil Zubairov (Azerbaijan)

Silver: Irakli Mtsituri (Georgia)

Bronze: Batyrbek Tcakulov (Russia)

Bronze: Hossein Shahbazigazvar (Iran)

97 kg

Kollin Moore – The only American wrestler in this group with previous world hardware is Ohio State’s, Kollin Moore. Kollin has made two Junior world teams and took home bronze in his second trip. To make the team, Moore had to defeat Kyle Conel (Kent State) twice, getting some semblance of revenge on the wrestler who upset him twice at the 2018 NCAA Championships.

Top International Wrestlers to Watch:

Sargis Hovsepyan (Armenia) – 2018 European U23 fifth-place, 2017 Junior World fifth-place, 2014 Youth Olympic Games bronze medalist

Nurmagomed Gadzhiyev (Azerbaijan) – 2018 European Senior bronze medalist, 2016 European U23 Champion, 2015 Junior World Champion, 2013 Cadet World bronze medalist

Dzianis Khramiankou (Belarus) – 2018 European U23 Champion, 2017 U23 World silver medalist, 2015 Junior World silver medalist

Givi Matcharashvili (Georgia) – 2018 European U23 bronze medalist, 2017 U23 World ninth-place, 2017 Junior World silver medalist, 2014 Cadet World Champion

Erik Thiele (Germany) – 2018 European U23 bronze medalist, 2016 Junior World silver medalist

Taira Sonoda (Japan) – 2018 World University Champion

Bakdaulet Almentay (Kazakhstan) – 2017 U23 World seventh-place, 2015 Junior World bronze medalist

Feyzullah Akturk (Turkey) – 2018 Junior World fifth-place, 2018 European Junior silver medalist, 2018 European U23 fifth-place, 2017 Junior World bronze medalist

TOM Predictions

Gold: Nurmagomed Gadzhiyev (Azerbaijan)

Silver: Dzianis Khramiankou (Belarus)

Bronze: Givi Matcharashvili (Georgia)

Bronze: Feyzullah Akturk (Turkey)

125 kg

Youssif Hemida – It’s not a surprise that the big man on this squad, Youssif Hemida (Maryland), is coached by one of the best American heavyweights over the last 20 years, Kerry McCoy. Hemida came into his own last season, getting onto the All-American stand for the first time and following that up with a run through the U23 WTT’s.

Top International Wrestlers to Watch:

Vitali Piasniak (Belarus) – 2018 European U23 fifth-place, 2017 European U23 silver medalist

Amar Dhesi (Canada) – 2014 Junior World Champion

Jere Heino (Finland) – 2018 European U23 bronze medalist, 2015 Junior World fifth-place

Ronaldi Andriadze (Georgia) – 2018 European U23 fifth-place

Amin Taheri (Iran) – 2018 Asian Senior bronze medalist, 2017 U23 World bronze medalist, Two-time Junior World silver medalist

Samhan Jabrailov (Moldova) – 2018 Junior World bronze medalist, 2018 European Junior fifth-place

Lkhagvagerel Munkhtur (Mongolia) – 2017 U23 World 10th place, 2017 Asian Junior silver medalist

Kamil Kosciolek (Poland) – 2018 European U23 Champion, 2017 European U23 bronze medalist, 2014 Junior World bronze medalist

Said Gamidov (Russia) – 2018 Russian National bronze medalist, 2015 Junior World Champion, 2012 Cadet World silver medalist

Huseyin Civelek (Turkey) – 2018 European U23 bronze medalist, 2016 Junior World bronze medalist

TOM Predictions

Gold: Said Gamidov (Russia)

Silver: Amin Taheri (Iran)

Bronze: Kamil Kosciolek (Poland)

Bronze: Huseyin Civelek (Turkey)

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