Vito Arujau gets his hand raised after advancing to the finals at 57 kilograms (Photo/Kadir Caliskan, United World Wrestling)
TALLINN, Estonia -- Twenty-year-old Vito Arujau shined brightly on the opening day of the Junior World Championships, reaching the gold-medal match at 57 kilograms.
The Cornell All-American advanced to the finals in freestyle with a dominant 8-1 victory over returning world champion Akhmed Idrisov of Russia.
Idrisov scored first off the activity clock just over two minutes into the match to grab the early 1-0 lead. Arujau fired off a single leg a short time later and elevated Idrisov before putting him down for a takedown. Late in the first period, Idrisov got to Arujau's leg and nearly finished for a takedown, but Arujau fended it off and took a 2-1 lead into the break.
The opening minute of the second period saw a tremendous amount of action but no scoring. Arujau added to his lead midway through the final period with an exposure to go up 4-1. He added another exposure with just over 40 seconds remaining to go up 6-1. Ten seconds later, Arujau shot a single leg and converted it to a takedown to go up by seven points with under 30 seconds remaining, which would close out the scoring.
It was a difficult road for Arujau on the opening day. He opened his tournament by facing three-time Cadet world medalist Giorgi Gegelashvili of Georgia. Arujau hung on to win that match 4-3. He then edged Asian silver medalist Vijay Patil of India, 9-8, in the quarterfinals.
Arujau's father Vougar was a two-time world champion and 1996 Olympic bronze medalist in freestyle for the Soviet Union.
Arujau will face Japan's Toshiya Abe in the finals on Tuesday. The final round is scheduled for 6 p.m. local time/11 a.m. ET.
Four other Americans failed to advance to medal matches in freestyle on Monday.
Aaron Brooks, a gold medalist at the 2017 Cadet World Championships, dropped his first match to Abubakr Abakarov of Azerbaijan, 5-3, at 79 kilograms. Both wrestlers won silver medals at last year's Junior World Championships. Brooks led 1-0 at the break after scoring with a step out.
Abakarov came back in the second period with a takedown to grab a 2-1 lead. A short time later, Brooks hit a headlock and scored two points before Abakarov rolled through and picked up a reversal to take the lead on criteria. With 45 seconds left, Abakarov scored a takedown and held on for the win. Brooks' medal hopes were dashed when Abakarov lost in the quarterfinals to Russia's Amkhad Tashukhadzhiev.
Yahya Thomas went 1-1 at 65 kilograms. He started his day with a 5-2 win over Adilet Zhaparkulov of Kyrgyzstan. In the round of 16, Thomas faced Turan Bayramov of Azerbaijan. Thomas led 1-0 after the first period, but Bayramov came out strong in the second period, scoring two takedowns and a four-point throw to win 9-1. Bayramov then lost on criteria in the quarterfinals, which eliminated Thomas from the competition.
Brayton Lee was edged 3-2 in his opening match against Ashraf Ashirov of Azerbaijan at 70 kilograms. Lee led 2-0 at the break after scoring off the activity clock and with a step out. Ashirov battled back in the second period, scoring first off the activity clock and then getting a takedown off a bodylock with just under 20 seconds remaining. Lee was eliminated when Ashirov dropped his next match.
Tanner Sloan lost his first match at 97 kilograms to Feyzullah Akturk of Turkey, 12-2. His competition came to a close when Akturk lost in the semifinals.
Five more American freestyle wrestlers will open their competitions on Tuesday: Gabriel Tagg (61 kilograms), David Carr (74 kilograms), Trent Hidlay (86 kilograms), Lucas Davison (92 kilograms) and Mason Parris (125 kilograms).