The World Championships started off with a bang for the United States men’s freestyle team as David Taylor faced defending World and Olympic Champion Hassan Yazdani (Iran) in the first match of the event. Amongst fans, there was plenty of discussion over whether the seeding system now in place by UWW actually works. Taylor was apparently not concerned about the draw and knocked off the Iranian in a similar fashion as the last time the pair met at the 2017 World Cup. Like the World Cup match, Yazdani jumped out to an early lead; however, Taylor was never flustered and eventually wore down his opponent. In this bout, Taylor’s scrambling ability and mindset to wrestle through every position was the difference in his 11-6 victory. Even with this huge, emotional win for the first-time world team member, Taylor still needed to win two more bouts just for a spot in the semifinals opposite Dauren Kurugliev (Russia). Kurugliev seemed to be in control of the match after the first period leading 3-1. In an exchange late in the first, Taylor was kicked in the face while trying to pursue a takedown and that would affect him for the rest of the period. In the second it was a different wrestler and Taylor was clearly the aggressor, repeatedly getting to his opponent’s legs. When it was all said and done, he racked up three takedowns to execute the comeback win 7-5. In tomorrow’s final, he will have Fatih Erdin (Turkey), the top seed at the weight.
The other bright spot for the American team was at 61 kg where late injury-replacement Joe Colon made a run to the semifinals. Colon’s length and strength seemed to frustrate his first two opponents. Unfortunately, once in the semi’s, he met a foe, Yowls Bonne Rodriguez, that was willing to engage in the upper body style the previous wrestlers could not handle. Bonne Rodriguez jumped out to a 9-0 before Colon battled back to make the final margin five points when he lost 9-4.
All told, the US team won their first eight bouts on the day, and all four wrestlers made it to the semifinals.
Returning world bronze medalist Nick Gwiazdowski fell in the quarterfinal round in a frustrating match. His opponent, Zhiwei Deng (China), never attempted any offensive moves; however, it was the American put on the shot clock while leading 2-1. Gwiazdowski took a shot and found himself stuck underneath his Chinese opponent who then exposed him for four points, which was a huge hole to climb out of late in the second period. Deng went on to win 5-0 in the semi’s which will bring Gwiazdowski back into tomorrow’s repechage.
Jordan Burroughs came up short in his quest to make American history by tieing John Smith’s record with six world/Olympic gold medals. After receiving a forfeit, Jordan gutted out a 4-3 this win over a game Mostafa Hosseinkhani (Iran). In the final bout of the quarterfinals, Burroughs met the European U23 Champion Zaurbek Sidakov (Russia). Though the veteran Burroughs jumped out to an early 2-0 lead, the Russian match him with a takedown of his own and led on criteria at the break. While trailing late in the second period, Jordan picked up a go-ahead takedown on the edge to lead 5-4. With about 15 seconds left in the match, Sidakov went on the offensive and got deep on a shot which he used to drive Jordan out of bounds as the clock expired. A review by the American bench was denied which pushed the final score to 6-5, though the Russian had criteria.
After his match with Burroughs, Sidakov also took out another defending world champion Frank Chamizo (Italy), by the score of 3-2, which pulls Burroughs into tomorrow’s repechage.
Full Results from today matches involving US wrestlers:
61 kg – Joe Colon (W) vs Ivan Bileichuk (Ukraine) 9-6
(W) vs Vladimir Dubov (Bulgaria) 10-0
(L) vs Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez (Cuba) 9-4
74 kg – Jordan Burroughs (W) vs Venecious Juah (Liberia) FFT
(W) vs Mostafa Hosseinkhani (Iran) 4-3
(L) vs Zaurbek Sidakov (Russia) 6-5
86 kg – David Taylor (W) vs Hassan Yazdani (Iran) 11-6
(W) vs Hajy Rajabau (Belarus) 10-0
(W) vs Yurieski Torreblanca (Cuba) 8-0
(W) vs Dauren Kurugliev (Russia)
125 kg – Nick Gwiazdowski (W) vs Zolboo Natsagsuren (Mongolia) 9-4
(L) vs Zhiwei Deng (China) 5-4