2022 U23 World silver medalist Dymond Guilford (photo courtesy of Kostadin Andonov/UWW)
The first set of medals were awarded Thursday in women's freestyle at the 2022 U23 World Championships from Pontevedra, Spain. Two American women, Dymond Guilford and Alisha Howk, came away with hardware. Guilford took silver at 76 kg, while Howk grabbed a bronze medal at 55 kg.
The 2022 Senior World Team member, Guilford, took an early lead against Columbia's Tatiana Renteria by virtue of a shot clock violation in the opening period. Renteria's lone scoring chance came in the second period when she countered and stepped over Guilford for a takedown. That proved to be the difference in Renteria's 2-1 victory. Just to make the finals, Guilford scored a victory over Japan's Yasuha Matsuyuki in the semifinals. Matsuyuki is a past U23 and Cadet world champion.
Howk captured her bronze medal in one of the more entertaining bouts of the session 13-5 over Sri Lanka's Nethmi Poruthotage. Trailing by one with less than :30 seconds on the clock in the opening period, Howk responded with a four-point takedown to go ahead 6-3. Howk would never relinquish that advantage, but did fend off an aggressive Poruthotage, while adding to her lead. The bronze medal for Howk marks her first world-level medal after making a Cadet and Junior team. Howk finished fifth at Junior World's in 2018.
Also competing for medals today were Lexie Basham (59 kg) and Sienna Ramirez (68 kg). Both finished in fifth place in their first world-level event.
The second group of women's freestyle competitors started their tournament on Thursday and two will wrestle for medals with the possibility of a third.
Amit Elor (72 kg) will attempt to make history by winning her third world title in 2022. No other wrestler, male or female, has won three different age groups in the same year. Elor did as we have been accustomed to seeing and dominated her two opponents Thursday. She needed only :34 seconds to pin Maria Nitu (Romania) and clinch her spot in the finals.
Felicity Taylor fell in the 53 kg semifinals to Japan's Haruna Okuno, 11-1. That loss drops Taylor down into the bronze medal match against an opponent that will be determined through repechage.
Speaking of repechage, Alex Hedrick (57 kg), has qualified and will face Angola's Welvima Vemba tomorrow morning. A win would put Hedrick in the bronze medal match opposite Laura Almaganbetova (Kazakhstan).