Nick Gwiazdowski (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
PISCATAWAY, N.J. -- Three returning world medalists earned spots on the 2019 U.S. World Team on Saturday at Final X: Rutgers.
World champion J'den Cox (92 kilograms), along with world bronze medalists Nick Gwiazdowski (125 kilograms) and Tamyra Mensah-Stock (68 kilograms), were among the seven champions crowned in the final session of Final X: Rutgers.
The 24-year-old Cox won in two straight matches over 2019 Dan Hodge Trophy winner Bo Nickal at 92 kilograms. Cox claimed a 4-2 victory in the first match. In the second match, Cox blanked Nickal 5-0 to earn his fourth straight spot on a World or Olympic Team.
"He's a great wrestler," Cox said of Nickal. "He presented a lot of challenges. I think that he's going to be really tough in the future."
Gwiazdowski, a two-time returning world bronze medalist, defeated three-time age-group world champion Gable Steveson in two straight matches at 125 kilograms. Gwiazdowski won both matches on criteria. He took the first match 4-4, scoring a takedown in the final period. He claimed the second match 3-3 on the strength of a late reversal.
"I've been through this," said Gwiazdowski. "It's a different challenge. But they challenge me in different ways to be a master of this sport. There are things I haven't faced before. I was prepared for them. I focus on those things. I was confident in what I was doing."
Mensah-Stock won in two straight matches over WCWA national champion Alexandria Glaude at 68 kilograms. Mensah-Stock, the only American wrestler ever to win three Yarygin Grand Prix gold medals, secured a fall in the first match after building a 6-0 lead. She closed out the victory with a 10-0 technical fall.
At 50 kilograms in the women's wrestling competition, Whitney Conder made her fourth World Team by beating Victoria Anthony in two straight matches. Conder, a six-time U.S. Open champion, took the first match 7-4 before earning a first-period fall in the second match to close out the victory.
"I'm not just trying to wrestle one person ... It's the world," said Conder. "So I have to improve every position as much as I can."
Forrest Molinari came back to defeat Maya Nelson (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
World fifth-place finisher Forrest Molinari came from behind to defeat 2017 Junior world champion Maya Nelson at 65 kilograms to earn a spot back on the World Team. Nelson claimed a 5-3 victory in the first match before Molinaro came back to win by technical fall in the second match and 4-1 in the third and deciding match.
Zain Retherford defeated Yianni Diakomihalis in two straight matches (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
2017 World Team member Zain Retherford punched his ticket to the World Championships by beating U.S. Open champion Yianni Diakomihalis at 65 kilograms in two straight matches, avenging a U.S. Open finals loss. Retherford rolled to a 10-4 victory in the first match before closing out the victory with a 6-6 victory on criteria.
"Yianni is a great opponent," said Retherford. "Shooting on his legs is dangerous, but I know I've got to take that risk or else I'm not going to beat him. So that is kind of my thought … just to keep going."
Pat Smith bounced back to defeat 2017 Junior world champion Kamal Bey at 77 kilograms. Bey rolled to an 11-2 technical fall in the first match. But Smith came back to win the final two matches by scores of 3-2 and 6-3. It's the second time in three years Smith has made a World Team. Bey defeated Smith at the U.S. Open in April.
"I'm focused on giving everything I have, being the best possible version I can of me," said Smith. "That's the No. 1 goal. The results follow that. The biggest thing is wrestle well."
65 kilograms: Zain Retherford over Yianni Diakomihalis, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Retherford dec. Diakomihalis, 10-4
Match 2: Retherford dec. Diakomihalis, 6-6
92 kilograms: J'den Cox over Bo Nickal, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Cox dec. Nickal, 4-2
Match 2: Cox dec. Nickal, 5-0
125 kilograms: Nick Gwiazdowski over Gable Steveson, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Gwiazdowski dec. Steveson, 4-4
Match 2: Gwiazdowski dec. Steveson, 3-3
Women's wrestling results
50 kilograms: Whitney Conder over Victoria Anthony, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Conder dec. Anthony, 7-4
Match 2: Conder pin Anthony, 1:57
65 kilograms: Forrest Molinari over Maya Nelson, 2 matches to 1
Match 1: Nelson dec. Molinari, 5-3
Match 2: Molinari tech. fall Nelson, 12-2
Match 3: Molinari dec. Nelson, 4-1
68 kilograms: Tamyra Mensah-Stock over Alexandria Glaude, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Mensah-Stock pin Glaude, 4:50
Match 2: Mensah-Stock tech. fall Glaude, 10-0
77 kilograms: Pat Smith over Kamal Bey, 2 matches 1
Match 1: Bey tech. fall Smith. 11-2
Match 2: Smith dec. Bey, 2-1
Match 3: Smith dec. Bey, 6-3