Marc-Anthony McGowan reached the finals at 45 kilograms (Photo/Kadir Caliskan, United World Wrestling)
SOFIA, Bulgaria -- The United States has its first finalist at the Cadet World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Marc-Anthony McGowan, the nation's No. 2 overall freshman, advanced to the gold-medal match at 45 kilograms on Tuesday with a come-from-behind victory in the semifinals over Cadet European bronze medalist Tolga Ozbek of Turkey.
Trailing 2-0 in the second period, McGowan fired off a lightning quick single leg and scored a takedown to take a 2-2 criteria lead with 90 seconds remaining. No points would be scored the rest of the way, giving McGowan the victory.
It was McGowan's second consecutive come-from-behind win. In the quarterfinals against Armenia's Edik Harutyunyan, McGowan trailed 3-1 late in the match before getting a takedown and gut wrench to claim a 5-3 victory. He opened his tournament with a 7-2 win over 2019 Cadet Asian bronze medalist Suraj Annikeri of India.
He will face Cadet Asian gold medalist Ali Arab Firouzjaei of Iran in the finals.
McGowan was the lone wrestler to reach the finals on the second day of freestyle competition. America's two returning world medalists, Richard Figueroa and Alex Facundo, both lost before the semifinals.
Figueroa, a world silver medalist last year, dropped his opening match at 51 kilograms to Japan's Ato Maruyama. After Maruyama scored a takedown just over a minute into the match, he used a lace to turn Figueroa four times and claim a 10-0 technical superiority. Maruyama dropped his next match to Russia's Mukhamed Khaniev, eliminating Figueroa from the tournament.
Facundo, a 2018 world bronze medalist, went 1-1 at 71 kilograms in Tuesday's opening session, but remains alive in repechage. After opening with a 9-0 win over Shokhrukh Juraev of Uzbekistan, Facundo was edged in his quarterfinal match by Russia's Soslan Tigiev, 5-4. Tigiev led 5-1 with 45 seconds remaining before Facundo mounted late rally -- scoring a takedown and a point off a caution -- but fell short. He earned a chance to wrestle back for a bronze medal after Tigiev reached the finals.
Jesse Mendez and Kyle Haas each picked up a win but were eliminated from the tournament in Tuesday's opening session.
Mendez, a Cadet Pan American champion in both freestyle and Greco-Roman, reached the quarterfinals at 60 kilograms before losing to Farhad Karimli of Azerbaijan. Karimli scored the first point off the activity clock and led 1-0 at the break. But Karimli pulled away in the second period, scoring three takedowns to win by seven. Mendez was eliminated when Karimli lost by technical superiority in the semifinals to Iran's Erfan Elahi. Mendez started his tournament by getting a first-period fall over Osama Abdellattif of Egypt.
Haas fell in the quarterfinals to Bekzat Tazhi of Kazakhstan 6-5. Tazhi was then shut out in the semifinals by Russia's Zagid Karimov, which eliminated Haas from the tournament. Haas rolled to a 10-0 technical superiority over Er Hurilebate of China in his first match.
Stevo Poulin gets a takedown on Japan's Yuto Nishiuchi in the bronze-medal match (Photo/Kadir Caliskan, United World Wrestling)
Poulin, Howard fall drop bronze-medal matches
Stevo Poulin and Robert Howard dropped semifinal matches on Monday, which placed them in bronze-medal matches on Tuesday. Both wrestlers lost their bronze-medal matches to Japanese wrestlers after leading early.
Poulin faced Japan's Yuto Nishiuchi in the bronze-medal match at 48 kilograms. The two-time New York state champion raced out to a 6-0 lead after scoring two takedowns and a gut wrench in the opening period. Nishiuchi turned the tables in the second period. With 35 seconds left, the Japanese werstler took the lead on criteria with a lace and then added another takedown with 15 seconds remaining to win 8-6.
Howard, a Penn State commit, looked strong early in his bronze-medal match at 55 kilograms match against Japan's Riku Sugunama. He picked up two takedowns in the first minute to go up 4-0 before giving up a two-point exposure late in the first period. USA challenged the call, which was confirmed, giving the Japanese wrestler an additional point. With just over a minute remaining, Sugunama scored a point off a step out to make the score 4-4, but Howard still led on criteria. With 50 seconds left, Sugunama picked up another point off a step out to take a 5-4. He then held on for the victory.
Earlier on Tuesday, Clayton Ulrey wrestled in repechage at 80 kilograms and lost 13-0 to Rakhim Magomadov of France. Ulrev had two victories on Monday before losing in the quarterfinals to Russia's Arslan Bagaev. He finished the tournament with a 2-2 record.
The women's wrestling competition gets underway on Wednesday at 3:30 a.m. ET with five Americans competing.
Wednesday's medal matches in freestyle are slated for 11 a.m. ET.