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  • Photo: Amirreza Aliasgari

    Photo: Amirreza Aliasgari

    Three Americans Advance to Finals on Day One of 2023 World Championships

    Day one is in the books at the 2023 World Championships. The United States men’s freestyle team flexed their muscles by winning their first 14 matches of the tournament (14-1 overall) and placing three of their four wrestlers into the world finals. 

    The first American to make the finals first-time world team member Vito Arujau. Arujau needed just over two minutes to tech Asian champion Taiyrbek Zhumashbek of Kyrgyzstan. It was one of three techs in four matches for the Cornell star. Arujau appeared to have blown the match open with a feet-to-back exposure sequence against Zhumbashbek. The Kyrgyzstan staff challenged the sequence and it was overturned ruling that Arujau just should receive a set of exposure points and a 4-2 lead. That didn’t phase Arujau, who secured another takedown shortly thereafter and ended the bout with three leg laces. 

    The win guarantees at least a silver medal for Arujau. Since 61 kg is not an Olympic weight, Arujau will get a bye to the semifinals of his Olympic Trials weight class; which we assume is 57 kg. 

    Arujau’s closest match of the day was an 8-2 victory over Kodai Ogawa (Japan) in the quarters. A match prior, Ogawa knocked off the returning silver medalist Reza Atri (Iran). Arujau’s win eliminated Atri, which should help in the team race. 

    Last year, Zain Retherford got over the hump and made the world finals, claiming a world medal in his third tournament. Now, Retherford is back in the finals and seeking to improve the color of his medal. Retherford has put together a rather workman-like tournament winning all three of his matches without an early match termination. 

    All of the action in Retherford’s semifinal bout with two-time world fifth-place finisher Arman Andreasyan (Armenia) came within the first minute and a half of the bout. Retherford was able to get a takedown using a sweep single. Immediately, he transitioned into an arm bar, but was having difficulty scoring. Andresyan stood up, but Retherford never relinquished the bar and turned Andresyan to his back from his feet. 

    The Armenia corner challenged the rule that Retherford deserved four points for the sequence; however, it was upheld. Those seven points were the only ones Retherford needed to tally during the bout. 

    Like Arujau, Retherford’s medal at a non-Olympic weight will place him into the Olympic Trials semifinals, presumably at 65 kg. 

    Fellow Penn State alum, David Taylor, is back in the world finals for the fourth time. Like his last two appearances (and the Olympic finals), Taylor will face rival Hassan Yazdani (Iran). Taylor left no doubt in any of his four matches with two falls and two techs. In his first bout, Taylor only needed :14 seconds to cradle and pin Morocco’s Sofiane Belmir.

    Since Taylor has clinched a medal at an Olympic weight, he’s earned the right to sit in the best-of-three finals at the Olympic Trials. 

    Late replacement at 125 kgs, Mason Parris, nearly earned a spot in the world finals as he pushed three-time world champion Geno Petriashvili (Georgia) to the brink in the semifinals. Parris held a 6-4 lead with under a minute remaining in the contest. During the previous flurry, Parris was able to use a chest-wrap to nullify a Petriashvili scoring attempt and earn two points himself. He attempted that again, but was not successful and gave Petriashvili two points to go ahead on criteria. Needing a score to retake the lead, Parris was pushing the pace; however, he was caught off balance and muscled over to his back by the legendary Georgian. 

    To get to the finals, Parris downed returning world medalists in the Round of 16 and quarterfinals. In the quarters against Zhiwei Deng (China), Parris seemed to have the match under control with under :30 left in the bout. Deng was able to expose Parris from his feet with a head pinch, taking a 4-3 lead. Almost immediately, Parris came back and finished a single leg for four points to retake the lead, for good. The Chinese corner challenged the sequence and, after a lengthy challenge, the call stood and Parris was awarded an additional point to win 8-4. 

    Parris will drop down to a bronze medal match tomorrow. Should he win that match, he’ll lock up a spot in the Olympic Trials finals and earn an Olympic quota for the United States at 125 kg. If he loses, he’d drop into an additional match for Olympic quota purposes. 
     

    Saturday’s American Results

    61 kg

    Qualification: Vito Arujau over Ossimzhan Dastanbek (Kazakhstan)  10-0

    Round of 16: Vito Arujau over Stilyan Iliev (Bulgaria)  10-0

    Quarterfinals: Vito Arujau over Kodai Ogawa (Japan)  8-2

    Semifinals: Vito Arujau over Taiyrbek Zhumashbek (Kyrgyzstan)  12-2

    Finals: Abasgadzhi Magomedov (AIN - Russia)

     

    70 kg

    Round of 16: Zain Retherford over Mustafo Akhmedov (Tajikistan)  4-0

    Quarterfinals: Zain Retherford over Abhimanyou (UWW - India)  9-2

    Semifinals: Zain Retherford over Arman Andreasyan (Armenia)  7-0

    Finals: Amirmohammad Yazdani (Iran)
     

    86 kg

    Qualification: David Taylor over Sofiane Belmir (Morocco)  Fall: 14

    Round of 16: David Taylor over Benjamin Greil (Austria)  10-0

    Quarterfinals: David Taylor over Magomed Sharipov (Bahrain)  12-2

    Semifinals: David Taylor over Azamat Dauletbekov (Kazakhstan)  4:36

    Finals: Hassan Yazdani (Iran)

     

    125 kg

    Qualification: Mason Parris over Yusup Batirmurzaev (Kazakhstan)  11-0

    Round of 16: Mason Parris over Abraham Conyedo Ruano (Italy)  3-0

    Quarterfinals: Mason Parris over Zhiwei Deng (China)  8-4

    Semifinals: Geno Petriashvili (Georgia) over Mason Parris  8-6

    Bronze Medal Match: Determined via repechage

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