U20 World finalist Audrey Jimenez (photo courtesy of Kadir Caliskan; UWW)
Any week-long international tournament, like the U20 World Championships, is bound to feature some high and low points. Good days and bad. Wednesday in Sofia, Bulgaria proved to be a rough one for the American contingent. The final set of men's freestyle wrestlers finished their tournament and went 1-4 on the day.
Nic Bouzakis and Jaxon Smith got the day started for the men's freestyle team. Bouzakis lost an absolute shootout against Ukraine's Mykyta Abramov, 16-15, which eliminated him from medal contention. Smith notched the only win of the day when he tech Germany's Kiril Kildau to clinch a spot in a bronze medal match at 92 kg. There he would face Sergey Sargsyan of Armenia. Smith got on the board first with a takedown in the first period; however, that accounted for all of the offense from the American, as Sargsyan slowed poured it on, then used a series of leg laces to end the contest, 12-2.
In the only gold medal bout of the day for the United State, Bennett Berge fell to Rakhim Magamadov 10-5. Magamadov technically broke a scoreless tie with a shot clock point, though Berge converted a takedown shortly thereafter. Berge made it a 4-1 lead at the break as he finished a low double right before the buzzer. In the second it was all Magamadov. The French wrestler was able to capitalize on offense from Berge and got exposure points on multiple occasions. Magamadov also had a high-amplitude finish on a double that accounted for four points, which blew the match wide open.
The final American man to take the mat was Nick Feldman at 125 kg. Feldman survived an early onslaught from Merab Suleimanashvili (Georgia) and made things interesting at 8-5 just over two minutes into the match. From there. Suleimanashvili came out on top of Feldman in a scramble and ended things with a fall. Like Smith, Feldman finished fifth at his first U20 World event.
The American women started the day off and it was their first weight class that had the greatest impact. Audrey Jimenez, at 50 kg, was the lone American to make the finals. Jimenez was a member of the U17 world team this year, but came away without a medal. By making the championship match, she's guaranteed at least silver.
Jimenez was down 4-0 to her opponent, Natalia Walczak of Poland, Undeterred, Jimenez got in on a single and was working for a finish. As Walczak fought off the attempt, Jimenez used her body to cover her Polish foe's upper body, leading to a fall.
The only other American woman from this first group with an opportunity to medal is Tristan Kelly at 76 kg. Kelly was victorious in her opening bout, 9-0 over Brazil's Ana Dos Santos. A match later, Kelly fell to Japan's Ayana Moro via fall. Moro, like her four country women, advanced to the gold medal match, pulling Kelly into repechage.
61 kg Men's Freestyle
Repechage - Mykyta Abramov (Ukraine) over Nic Bouzakis 16-15
86 kg Men's Freestyle
Gold Medal Match - Rakhim Magamadov (France) over Bennett Berge 10-5
92 kg Men's Freestyle
Repechage - Jaxon Smith over Kiril Kildau (Germany) 10-0
Bronze Medal Match - Sergey Sargsyan (Armenia) over Jaxon Smith 12-2
125 kg Men's Freestyle
Bronze Medal Match - Merab Suleimanashvili (Georgia) over Nick Feldman Fall
50 kg Women's Freestyle
Round of 16 - Audrey Jimenez over Gultakin Shirinova (Azerbaijan) 13-2
Quarterfinals - Audrey Jimenez over Gabija Dilyte (Lithuania) 11-0
Semifinals - Audrey Jimenez over Natalia Walczak (Poland) Fall
Gold Medal Match - Audrey Jimenez vs. Umi Ito (Japan)
55 kg Women's Freestyle
Quarterfinals - Roza Szenttamasi (Hungary) over Adriana Dorado Marin 12-2
59 kg Women's Freestyle
Quarterfinals - Ebru Dagbasi (Turkey) over Savannah Cosme 1-1
68 kg Women's Freestyle
Round of 16 - Laura Godino (Italy) over Destiny Rodriguez 12-1
76 kg Women's Freestyle
Round of 16 - Tristan Kelly over Ana Dos Santos (Brazil) 9-0
Quarterfinals - Ayano Moro (Japan) over Tristan Kelly Fall
Bronze Medal Match - Tristan Kelly vs. Daniela Tkachuk (Poland)