2022 U20 World Champion Jore Volk (photo courtesy of Kadir Caliskan/UWW)
The U20 World Championships took place this past week in Sofia, Bulgaria. The United States men finished with four medals and a second-place team finish.
The best performances of the tournament came from a group of young/future Big 12 stars.
Wyoming freshman Jore Volk(57KG) brought home one of the two championships won by the Americans here. Volk defeated Ahmad Mohammadnezhadjavan (Iran), 7-5 in an absolute nail-biter of a first-round match on a late challenge. He then defeated Azizbek Naimov (Uzbekistan), 7-2, Luka Gvinjilia (Georgia), 13-6, and Merey Bazarbayev (Kazakhstan), 3-2 in the finals to bring home the World Championship.
Mitchell Mesenbrink looks like he could quickly be a superstar for the newest Big 12 wrestling program, Cal Baptist. Mesenbrink won silver at 70 KG. He opened with tech falls over Belgium and Kyrgyzstan before defeating Iran's Hossein Mohammad Aghaei, 9-7. He followed that up with a 6-3 decision over Armenia's Hayk Papikyan to make the finals where he fell to Azerbaijan's Kanan Heybatov.
This is the kind of wrestler that Cal Baptist will need to make an early splash in their new division (DI) and conference (Big 12).
Bennett Berge was the other medal winner from the Big 12. The soon-to-be freshman at South Dakota State took home silver at 86 KG. He got three techs in a row over Armenia, Hungary, and Ukraine to make the semifinals. There he beat Turkey's Ismail Kucuksolak, 9-7. In the finals he met France's Rakhim Magamadov and fell 10-5, finishing with a silver medal.
One other future Big 12 wrestler made the team here with Oklahoma State commit Brayden Thompson(79 KG). He fell in his first match to eventual champion Sobhan Yari of Iran. He dropped his repechage match 2-1 to finish in ninth.
Overall, three of the four medals won by the United States were won by current or soon-to-be Big 12 wrestlers and four of the ten overall spots were represented by the future of the Big 12. It's a good sign for the conference and for those programs moving forward.