70 kg world team member Zain Retherford (photo courtesy of Ben Mrad Bayrem/UWW)
The first four weight classes for men's freestyle took the mat Thursday morning at the 2022 World Championships. In doing so, the American team made its presence felt. Three of the four team members punched their ticket to the semifinals and did so in impressive fashion
Former Penn State Hodge Trophy winners Zain Retherford (70 kg) and David Taylor (86 kg) both have berths in the semifinals and went 5-0 with a combined score of 36-0 and a fall. For Taylor, he is seeking his fourth world/Olympic medal and second world championship. A possible 2021 finals rematch with Hassan Yazdani (Iran) is one of the most anticipated potential matches of the entire tournament. Before getting another shot at Yazdani, Taylor will need to go through the Asian Champion Azamat Dauletbekov (Kazakhstan), a fifth place finisher at the 2021 World Championships.
Retherford, on the other hand, is chasing after his first world medal, after coming up short in his two previous world team appearances. He had a tech and a fall in his first two bouts, before a workman-like 5-0 victory over Arman Andreasyan (Armenia) in the quarterfinals.
The third semifinalist for the American team is one of the most decorated wrestlers in our nation's history, Jordan Burroughs at 79 kg. In search of his sixth world title and seventh world/Olympic gold medal, Burroughs has looked like his typical self. Although he's the only one of the semifinalists who have surrendered a single point, they have been insignificant in back-to-back 12-1 victories to start the tournament. None of Burroughs' three matches this morning made it out of the first period.
For another world medal and a berth in the finals, Burroughs will have to get by Ali Umarpashaev (Bulgaria). Umarpashaev's best finish at the world championships has been 9th place, which he has done twice.
Also starting his tournament today was Hayden Zillmer at 125 kg. Zillmer picked up two solid wins, the second being a 3-2 victory over battle-tested veteran, Robert Baran (Poland), before running into legendary big man Geno Petriashvili (Georgia). The two-time Olympic medalist downed Zillmer 9-4 to move into the semi's. But with a loss to a high-quality opponent like Petriashvili, Zillmer's hopes for repechage look good.
The morning started with one of our women's freestylers in repechage, Abby Nette, at 59 kg. Nette fell to Mongolia's Erdenesuvd Bat Erdene 4-0 and has been eliminated.
2022 World Championship US Results
70 kg Men's Freestyle
Qualification: Zain Retherford over Kevin Henkel (Germany) 10-0
Round of 16: Zain Retherford over Marc Dietsche (Switzerland) Fall 1:10
Quarterfinals: Zain Retherford over Arman Andreasyan (Armenia) 5-0
79 kg Men's Freestyle
Qualification: Jordan Burroughs over Sahergeldi Saparmyradov (Turkmenistan) 12-1
Round of 16: Jordan Burroughs over Dejan Mitrov (Macedonia) 12-1
Quarterfinals: Jordan Burroughs over Arslan Budazhapov (Kyrgyzstan) 10-0
86 kg Men's Freestyle
Round of 16: David Taylor over Aron Caneva (Italy) 10-0
Quarterfinals: David Taylor over Ethan Ramos (Puerto Rico) 11-0
125 kg Men's Freestyle
Qualification: Hayden Zillmer over Zyyamuhammet Saparov (Turkmenistan) 15-4
Round of 16: Hayden Zillmer over Robert Baran (Poland) 3-2
Quarterfinals: Geno Petriashvili (Georgia) over Hayden Zillmer 9-4
59 kg Women's Freestyle
Repechage: Erdenesuvd Bat Erdene (Mongolia) over Abby Nette 4-0