A roster which, from top to bottom, is loaded with skill, athleticism, and competitiveness struggled out of the starting block. A silver lining can be spotted within the clouds, however, and the dawn promises to bring renewed hope.
Day 1 of the 2021 Junior World Championships began at 11:00am local time in Ufa, Russia and aired live in the US on FLOWrestling.
Only Kodiak Stephens (87 kg, Beaver Dam RTC) is in the medal hunt from Team USA’s batch of five athletes for opening day of Greco action. Stephens was ousted in the qualification round by a very experienced Tyrone Sterkenburg (NED) but, surprisingly, Sterkenburg went on a tear through the semifinals — which pulled Stephens back into the tournament’s repechage round scheduled for Saturday morning. Standing across from the future Oregon State Beaver will be Maksat Sailau of Kazakhstan.
Billy Sullivan (55 kg, LOG-LV) maintained his poise when mired in a tough battle with Ishkar Kurbaev (KAZ) until a game-changing sequence in the second period. Sullivan had been trailing Kurbaev 3-0 following a takedown and passive point. But from top, Kurbaev was unable to generate more offense and back to the feet they were. After the break, Sullivan darted to the ties and began finding a rhythm. Eventually, that prompted a passivity on Kurbaev. Sullivan wanted a lock, and got one. He hoisted his lock and brought Kurbaev towards the edge in search of a “Polish finish”; upon impact, the hold came loose on the boundary despite its execution. No points were distributed — but the USA challenged the call and won, trimming Sullivan’s deficit to 3-2.
Unfortunately for Sullivan, the end was looming. After the reset, Kurbaev roped a loose headlock for four and followed with enough elevation on a gut to close out via tech The Kazakh’s string was cut in the semis by Amirreza Dehbozorgi (IRI), thus ending Sullivan’s bid for a potential bronze through the repechage.
At 63 kilograms, Chayse LaJoie (Spartan Wrestling RTC) did not have an opportunity to envelope the type of offense for which he is known. The bout’s first passivity/PT saw Iman Mohammadi (IRI) crank a succession of guts to go up 7-0, and a step-out soon after brought forth the end for LaJoie. Mohammadi was defeated in the next round by Saied Bakaev (RUS).
Matt Singelton (77 kg, Compound) — one more in a long line of future stars for the US — was on the wrong end of a 7-0 decision against Andreas Vasilakopoulos (GRE). Vasilakopoulos snapped to a takedown in the first and later added a loose lift that was scored for a correct hold. In the second, Singleton started settling in just a little more, which is when he can become quite dangerous. But, the passivity fairy. Singleton was dinged, giving Vasilakopoulos the chance to pour it on. The American bit down and defended — but a caution-and-two took the match out of reach.
The score read 6-1 in favor of Razmik Kurdyan (ARM) over Luke Luffman (IRTC). The match was much more competitive than the margin. Luffman worked Kurdyan up close and personal as the bout unfolded, positioning himself for possible opportunities. Passivity swooped in, on the Armenian in fact, giving Luffman a 1-0 lead. From top, his lock did not prove successful, and they returned standing with Luffman primed for more work.
Kurdyan benefited from the second-period passive, looking gut. He netted a turn, and the action was stopped. The call was a caution on Luffman for legs. USA challenged, the call was upheld, and Kurdyan — who had been trailing 1-0 — enjoyed a 6-1 advantage. Luffman wasn’t out of it, so he resumed prowling in the trenches. Kurdyan, of course, simply needed to stay out of harm’s way, which he did. Turkish heavyweight prospect Muhammet Bakir disposed of Kurdyan in the quarters to definitively cap Luffman’s second World performance.
The draws for the 2021 Junior Worlds were released in advance of each style’s competition, meaning each of the five wrestlers scheduled for Saturday are likely already familiar with their respective bracket placements.
— Nic Bouzakis (60 kg) opens in the round-of-16 opposed by Miguel Loureiro Dos Santos (POR). In the quarters, Bouzakis would face either Abere Fetene of Israel or Arslanbek Salimov (POL).
— Dominic Damon (67 kg, NMU/NTS) starts in the qualification round against Muslim Imadaev (RUS). Should Damon advance to the round-of-16, he will greet the victor between Ilya Liudnya (BLR) and Serhat Kirik (TUR).
— Justus Scott (72 kg, LOG-LV) is another in the qualification round, and he will battle Omer Dogan (TUR). His round-of-16 opponent will come from the Asian continent, as Jamol Jumabaev (UZB) and Vikas Vikas (IND) are set to square off.
— Jonathon Fagen (82 kg, Spartan Wrestling RTC) has a bye to the round-of-16 and should have a fun fight on his hands in the form of either Mikhail Khachaturau (BLR) or Azimkhon Abdaliyev (KAZ).
— Braxton Amos (97 kg, Sunkist/Wisconsin RTC) kicks off his Greco Worlds with Yerzat Yerlanov (KAZ) in the round-of-16. If Amos can get past Yerlanov, his next opponent will be Mustafa Olgun of Turkey or Apostolos Tsiovolos (GRE).
Day 2 of the 2021 Junior Worlds begins Saturday morning at 11:00am local time from Ufa, Russia (2:00am ET) and can be viewed live on the US on FLOWrestling (subscription required).
2021 Junior World Championships
August 20-22 — Ufa, RUS
DAY 1 TEAM USA RESULTS
55 kg: Billy Sullivan (LOG-LV)
LOSS Ishkar Kurbaev (KAZ) 11-2, TF
63 kg: Chayse LaJoie (Spartan Wrestling RTC)
LOSS Iman Mohammadi (IRI) 8-0, TF
77 kg: Matt Singleton (Compound)
LOSS Andreas Vasilakopoulos (GRE) 7-0
87 kg: Kodiak Stephens (Beaver Dam RTC)
LOSS Tyrone Sterkenburg (NED) 8-0, TF
vs. Maksat Sailau (KAZ)
130 kg: Luke Luffman (IRTC)
LOSS Razmik Kurdyan (ARM) 6-1
DAY 2 TEAM USA DRAWS
60 kg: Nic Bouzakis (PA)
vs. Miguel Loureiro Dos Santos (POR)
67 kg: Dominic Damon (NMU/NTS)
vs. Muslim Imadaev (RUS)
72 kg: Justus Scott (LOG-LV)
vs. Omer Dogan (TUR)
82 kg: Jonathon Fagen (Spartan Wrestling RTC)
vs. Mikhail Khachaturau (BLR)/Azimkhon Abdaliyev (KAZ)
97 kg: Braxton Amos (Sunkist/Wisconsin RTC)
vs. Yerzat Yerlanov (KAZ)
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