Any drama surrounding the team race in the men’s freestyle portion of the 2023 U23 World Championships was put to rest by the American squad on days one and two. Three champions and a bronze medalist proved to be too much for any other country to compete against. That meant there was no additional pressure on the final group of wrestlers who took the mat on Wednesday.
The Americans got a fourth gold medal from NC State’s Isaac Trumble at 97 kg. Trumble was incredibly dominant on his run to the finals and nothing changed in the gold medal match. Early in the match, his opponent Radu Lefter (Moldova), went for the knockout blow and tried a headlock. That proved to be a costly mistake as Trumble took advantage for the first takedown of the contest.
Trumble continued to put pressure on the Moldovan with underhooks. He threw them by later in the first and tossed in a half-nelson to expose Lefter before getting a takedown for a 4-0 lead.
A step out combined with a caution and a defensive takedown made the score 8-0 in Trumble’s favor at the break. The second period saw Lefter get on the scoreboard with a takedown. He looked close to another; however, Trumble showed off his defense and exposed Lefter with a belly wrap. Trumble would end the match and lock up a gold medal after he thwarted another Lefter attack and spun for a takedown and the 12-2 victory.
In his four matches, Trumble posted technical falls in each of the last three. The only match that lasted the full six minutes was his first and that was not particularly close either; Trumble prevailed 13-4. The NC State star outscored his competition 47-6 across four matches.
Earlier in the afternoon, a pair of Americans wrestled for bronze medals, with opposite results. Nebraska All-American Brock Hardy outlasted Goga Otinashvili (Georgia) in a wild 8-5 victory. Otinashvili got the scoring started with a four-point arm-throw, but Hardy never wavered and wore the Georgian down in the second period.
The other American who wrestled in a bronze medal match was Penn graduate Doug Zapf at 70 kg. Zapf was never able to totally solve the problems presented by Azerbaijan’s Kanan Heybatov. Heybatov ran up a 6-0 lead before Zapf was able to get on the board, with less than 90 seconds remaining in the bout.
Wednesday also marked the first day of competition in women’s freestyle. After one day of action, two American women advanced to the finals, while the remaining three that started today were eliminated.
At 50 kg, Audrey Jimenez made her second world final of the year. Earlier this summer, Jimenez was a silver medalist at the U20 World Championships. Jimenez posted a pair of tech’s before getting pushed in the semifinals by Elnura Mammadova (Azerbaijan). Mammadova held a 4-1 lead with under a minute remaining in the contest before a Jimenez rally. After a takedown, Jimenez got a reversal and immediately transitioned to a gut wrench tying the score at four, though Mammadova held criteria. Jimenez took the lead after a step-out point and iced the match by defending a frantic Mammadova and ducking under for a takedown and the 7-4 win.
Also in tomorrow’s gold medal match is Kennedy Blades at 76 kg. Blades has yet to surrender a point this tournament. In three matches, Blades has not wrestled three total minutes. Blades has locked up her third age-group world medal and her second of 2023 (bronze at U20’s).
Round of 16 - Audrey Jimenez over Rubio Torres (Spain) 10-0
Quarterfinals - Audrey Jimenez over Neelam Sirohi (India) 12-2
Semifinals - Audrey Jimenez over Elnura Mammadova (Azerbaijan) 7-4
Gold Medal Match - Audrey Jimenez vs. Umi Ito (Japan)
Round of 16 - Alisha Howk over Immacolata Danise (Italy) Fall 4:44
Quarterfinals - Aryna Martynava (AIN - Belarus) over Alisha Howk 10-0
Round of 16 - Nichole Moore over Wiktoria Karwowska (Poland) 9-0
Quarterfinals - Michaela Rankin (Canada) over Nichole Moore 7-0
Round of 16 - Vusala Parfianovich (AIN - Russia) over Katerina Lange 7-1
Round of 16 - Kennedy Blades over Patrycja Slomska (Poland) 10-0
Quarterfinals - Kennedy Blades over Inkara Zhanatayeva (Kazakhstan) 10-0
Semifinals - Kennedy Blades over Kamile Gaucaite (Lithuania) 10-0
Gold Medal Match - Kennedy Blades vs. Reetika Hooda (India)
Repechage - Niklas Stechele (Germany) over Cooper Flynn 3-2
Repechage - Brock Hardy over Pavel Graur (Moldova) 7-4
Bronze Medal Match - Brock Hardy over Goga Otinashvili (Georgia) 8-5
Bronze Medal Match - Kanan Heybatov (Azerbaijan) over Doug Zapf 9-2
Gold Medal Match - Isaac Trumble over Radu Lefter (Moldova) 12-2