The draws have been released for the five Team USA Juniors who are set to compete on the first day of Greco at the 2019 World Championships.
Four of the five Americans will be starting off in the round-of-32, including 2017 Cadet World Teamer Dylan Ragusin (55 kg, Izzy Style), who will meet up with Mukremin Aktas (TUR). Aktas appeared in the Cadet Worlds himself in both ’17 and ’18, taking fifth and seventh, respectively. He is experienced — and has defeated solid competition throughout his travels. He is also a bit of a scrambler, which mixes in well with his sound fundamentals. But Ragusin is Ragusin. There is not a more fiery athlete on the Team. And should Ragusin prove successful, he will meet the winner of U23 European Championships bronze Artiom Deleanu (MDA) and Tuorki Ali Hazoazi (KSA).
Alston Nutter (63 kg, Sunkist/OTS) is the only US rep to begin in the round-of-16 and expects a suitable test in the form of ’16 Cadet World bronze Zaur Nuriyev (AZE). Nuriyev also participated in the 2017 Junior World Championships, making this his last year of eligibility. He has some Senior cred: Nuriyev checked in for this past January’s Takhti Cup and placed fifth. He is a little long in the body but not incredibly active. Nutter is going to want to work hard to move his counterpart around and lean on what should be a decisive speed advantage to create scoring opportunities. But as always, par terre is the equalizer. If/when Nutter emerges and advances to the quarterfinal, waiting for him will be either Abdelmalek Merabet (ALG) or Villius Savickas (LTU).
At 77 kilograms, Jack Ervien (Takedown Express) gets a crack at one his weight class’ biggest studs, Sajan Sajan (IND). Sajan earned bronze at the Junior Worlds in ’17 and was a runner-up a year ago. He then barely missed out on a medal at the U23 Worlds last November. For those who remember Sajan in ’18, he is a workhorse with strengths in each phase of the game, though it’s his chug-along approach that has been the key. Ervien is a tremendous all-around wrestling athlete, however. To take out one of the main medal contenders at 77, wrestling his match — and defending when it counts — would seem to be his pathway to victory. If/when Ervien shocks the bracket, he will face the winner of 2018 Junior Euro bronze Vahe Poghosyan (ARM)/Azamat Zhamgyrchy (KGZ).
Michigan State’s Cameron Caffey (87 kg) has himself a stout Russian in returning World bronze Ilya Ermolenko. Most recently, Ermolenko powered through the Junior Euros for gold, defeating up-and-coming Hungarian David Losonczi. Good everywhere: Ermolenko sports an excellent gut and big lift, and has been identified as one of Russia’s potential stars of the future in a weight class that is typically deep for them. That makes the assignment for Caffey easy to understand: remain active at all costs and pounce in search of a breaking. It has been done before. A notch in the win column for Caffey here would escort him towards a showdown with whoever survives between Kumar Sunil (IND) and Junior Asian Championships runner-up Meirbek Kordabay (KAZ).
2017 Cadet World Champion and returning Junior World bronze Cohlton Schultz (130 kg, Sunkist) will see a familiar country code on the back of his first-round opponent’s singlet — Dariusz Vitek (HUN). Vitek hasn’t had a ton of high-profile matches at Junior but did place third at the Euros in June. He’s appropriately sized for a heavy and a very good athlete, but has competed mostly at 87 and will be playing up against the larger Schultz — despite Vitek’s own recent growth spurt (if you want to call it that). As for Schultz, the incoming Arizona State freshman has improved mightily in terms of his positioning and pummeling, evidenced in both the Senior Trials and Final X Series. So if Schultz sticks to what he does best, this is a matchup that should favor him. And if things go well, Schultz could face Junior Asian Championships silver Aawesh Aawesh (IND) or Ciprian Trufan (ROU) in the round-of-16.
Wrestling at the 2019 Junior World Championships kicks off at 10:30am local time in Tallinn (3:30am ET) and can be viewed live in the United States on Trackwrestling.
2019 Junior World Championships
August 16-18 — Tallinn, Estonia
DAY 1 TEAM USA DRAWS
55 kg — Dylan Ragusin (Izzy Style)
vs. Mukremin Aktas (TUR)
63 kg — Alston Nutter (Sunkist/OTC)
vs. Zaur Nuriyev (AZE)
77 kg — Jack Ervien (Takedown Express)
vs. Sajan Sajan (IND)
87 kg — Cameron Caffey (MSU)
vs. Ilya Ermolenko (RUS)
130 kg — Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist)
vs. Dariusz Vitek (HUN)