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  • Photo: Amirreza Aliasgari

    Photo: Amirreza Aliasgari

    Mesenbrink Wins Gold as U20 Men's Freestyle Team Finishes Second

    Wednesday in Amman, Jordan saw the men’s freestyle portion of the 2023 U20 World Championships come to a close. The American team finished with a remarkable eight medals, yet still finished in second place to an Iranian team that crowned four champions amongst their eight medalists. 

    The final session on Wednesday saw Mitchell Mesenbrink put the cherry on top of an already incredible tournament when he put together a tech fall victory in the world finals at 74 kg. Mesenbrink used relentless pressure and attacking to wear down 2022 U20 World bronze medalist Hossein Mohammad Aghaei (Iran), 16-5. 

    Right off the opening whistle, Mesenbrink was in on Aghaei’s leg and wasn’t able to lock up a takedown, but did get credit for a step-out point. Mesenbrink blew the match wide open off of the ensuing restart when he used a body lock finish to a single leg for a takedown, then transitioned into a gut wrench for two turns. Aghaei ended the sequence with a reversal and a leg lace; however, the damage was done and Mesenbrink led 7-3.

    Undeterred by the scoring from the Iranian, Mesenbrink got back on the offensive and split the middle to finish another takedown and led 9-3. Late in the first period, Aghaei was able to withstand Mesenbrink’s heat and grabbed a takedown of his own, only to give up a step on point and trail 11-5 at the break. 

    Despite holding a six-point lead, Mesenbrink continued to be the aggressor and managed to get a set of exposure points, while attempting to finish a high-c. The Iranian corner challenged the ruling, which was upheld, and pushed Mesenbrink’s lead to 14-5. Mesenbrink put the finishing touches on his gold medal performance by scoring a takedown off of a low single, to push the score into tech fall territory (16-5). 

    With his gold medal and a silver in 2022, Mesenbrink becomes only the third US man in the last decade to make the U20/Junior finals twice. The other two were Spencer Lee and Mark Hall. 

    Mesenbrink wasn’t the only medalist for the United States men’s freestyle team. Nic Bouzakis (61 kg) and Bennett Berge (86 kg) both locked up bronze medals with strong performances. Bouzakis was all over Besir Alili (North Macedonia) from the outset and prevailed 11-1 in a first-period tech. Wrestling directly after Mesenbrink’s lap with the American flag, Berge needed just over two minutes to tech Shakjir Bislimi (North Macedonia), 11-0. Berge is now a two-time U20 world medalist after taking silver at the 2022 tournament. 

    In addition to the exploits from the men’s freestyle team, the women’s freestyle squad saw their tournament commence today, as well. Audrey Jimenez, a 2022 U20 World silver medalist, is back on the main stage after going 3-0 on the day. In the quarterfinals, Jimenez came back from a 2-0 deficit at the break to down Japan’s Miruko Sakane, 4-2. She was also down momentarily in the semi’s against Reka Hegedus (Slovakia), but was not flustered. Jimenez responded with a takedown of her own and managed to stay in bounds to rattle off five turns via leg lace to end the contest 12-2 in just over a minute. 

    Jimenez will head to tomorrow’s 50 kg gold medal match against China’s Yanrong Li. 

    The performance of the women’s 50 kg fireplug was a high note, while the ending of the 59 kg semifinal was definitely a downer from an American perspective. Alexis Janiak held a seemingly comfortable 8-4 lead with less than :30 seconds left in her bout against Aurora Russo (Italy). Janiak even had the edge on criteria due to a four-point throw early in the period. Russo grabbed a pair of takedowns, to pull even with Janiak, though the Italian still trailed on criteria 8-8 with a restart with :05 remaining in the bout. 

    Like most international wrestlers in a similar situation, Janiak did not actively attack and was totally in a defensive mode fending off potential attacks from Russo. After the final seconds ticked off the clock, the Italian corner threw a seemingly hopeless challenge brick. That closing sequence was reviewed and the official gave a point for caution and one to Russo, which gave her the bout, 9-8. It was truly a puzzling ruling given Janiak had no passivity warnings and conducted herself as most wrestlers do in that situation. Frankly, the match had no business being decided on a caution challenge after the final whistle. 

    Janiak will try and regroup and wrestle for the bronze tomorrow after a challenger is determined via repechage. 

    The rest of the women who wrestled on Wednesday are all still in the tournament and in the hunt for a bronze medal. Amani Jones (55 kg) and Isabella Mir (68 kg), will go through repechage, while Janiak and Kennedy Blades (76 kg) drop from the semis to a bronze medal match. 

    Blades was teched in the semifinals by two-time U17 world champion and 2022 U20 silver medalist Priya (India). While her opponent had impressive credentials, Blades did not appear to be herself and may have been dealing with a lingering injury or another ailment. 

    In addition to these four women, the remainder of the women’s freestyle team will be in action on Thursday morning. 

    Final Results

    Men’s Freestyle

    61 kg

    Gold Medal Match: Kumar Mohit (India) over Eldar Akhmadudinov (Russia - Individual Neutral Athlete)  9-8

    Bronze Medal Match: Nic Bouzakis (USA) over Besir Alili (North Macedonia)  11-1

    Bronze Medal Match: Ali Khorramdel (Iran) over Tamazi Sulamanidze (Georgia)  10-0

    74 kg

    Gold Medal Match - Mitch Mesenbrink (USA) over Hossein Mohammad Aghaei (Iran)  16-5

    Bronze Medal Match - Giorgi Gogritchiani (Georgia) over Anton Suchkov (Russia)  3-2

    Bronze Medal Match - Jaideep (India) over Zhakshylyk Baitashov (Kyrgyzstan)  Fall 2:07

    86 kg

    Gold Medal Match - Rakhim Magamadov (France) over Fumiya Igarashi (Japan)  6-4

    Bronze Medal Match - Bennett Berge (USA) over Shakjir Bislimi (North Macedonia)  11-0

    Bronze Medal Match - Eugeniu Mihalcean (Moldova) over Mushegh Mkrtchyan (Armenia)  3-0

    92 kg

    Gold Medal Match - Mohammadmobin Azimi (Iran) over Rizabek Aitmukhan (Kazakhstan)  5-4

    Bronze Medal Match - Giorgi Romelashvili (Georgia) over Nurbolot Adyl Uulu (Kyrgyzstan)  8-1

    Bronze Medal Match - Mustafagadzhi Malachdibirov (Russia - Individual Neutral Athlete) over Knyaz Iboyan (Armenia)  11-0

    125 kg

    Gold Medal Match - Amirreza Masoumi Valadi (Iran) over Said Akhmatov (Russia - Individual Neutral Athlete)  11-0

    Bronze Medal Match - Hakan Buyukcingil (Turkey) over Volodymyr Kochanov (Ukraine)  11-1

    Bronze Medal Match - Rajat Ruhal (India) over Karanveer Mahil (Canada)  9-8


    USA Results

    Men’s Freestyle

    61 kg

    Repechage - Nic Bouzakis (USA) over Dmitri Carastoianov (Moldova)  10-0

    Bronze Medal Match - Nic Bouzakis (USA) over Besir Alili (North Macedonia)  11-1


    74 kg

    Gold Medal Match - Mitch Mesenbrink (USA) over Hossein Mohammad Aghaei (Iran)  16-5


    86 kg

    Bronze Medal Match - Bennett Berge (USA) over Shakjir Bislimi (North Macedonia)

    125 kg

    Repechage - Hakan Buyukcingil (Turkey) over Christian Carroll (USA)  13-0

    Women’s Freestyle

    50 kg

    Round of 16 - Audrey Jimenez (USA) over Zerda Demir (Turkey)  16-6

    Quarterfinals - Audrey Jimenez (USA) over Miruko Sakane (Japan)  4-2

    Semifinals - Audrey Jimenez (USA) over Reka Hegedus (Slovakia)  12-2


    55 kg 

    Round of 16 - Amani Jones (USA) over Lina Nita (Moldova)  11-1

    Quarterfinals - Aryna Martynava (Belarus - Individual Neutral Athlete) over Amani Jones (USA)  10-0

    59 kg

    Round of 16 - Alexis Janiak (USA) over Jovana Radivojevic (Serbia)  10-0

    Quarterfinals - Alexis Janiak (USA) over Annatina Lippuner (Switzerland)  Fall 1:56

    Semifinals - Aurora Russo (Italy) over Alexis Janiak (USA)  9-8

    68 kg

    Round of 16 - Isabella Mir (USA) over Manola Skobelska (Ukraine)  12-8

    Quarterfinals - Ray Hoshino (Japan) over Isabella Mir (USA)  12-1


    76 kg

    Round of 16 - Kennedy Blades (USA) over Mariia Zenkina (Ukraine)  10-0

    Quarterfinals - Kennedy Blades (USA) over Ayano Moro (Japan)  4-3

    Semifinals - Priya (India) over Kennedy Blades (USA)  10-0

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