After two days of Greco-Roman competition at the 2021 U23 Worlds, the United States has five individual victories, two of which were forfeits. One athlete wrestled for bronze earlier on Tuesday, and three more still have a pulse for when repechage begins in their respective weight categories tomorrow.
All of the above might not jump off the page. But compared to the first three editions of this tournament, this is the best American performance yet.
Day 2 of the 2021 U23 World Championships began at 10:30am local time in Belgrade, Serbia (5:30am ET) and aired live in the US on FLOWrestling.
For Taylor LaMont (55 kg, Sunkist/UVRTC, 5PM #2), the day actually began a little later. Following his run on Monday, which ended after two wins and a semifinal loss, LaMont did not take the mat until Tuesday’s medal round (6:00pm in Belgrade). The opposition, Nihad Guluzade (AZE), had survived repechage hours prior, and he rode that wave against LaMont all the way to the podium.
Guluzade immediately looked to isolate a two-on-one, forcing LaMont to consider prying the far elbow of his adversary in order to reset. Soon enough, LaMont flashed a headlock that was defended and ruled a slip. More in-fighting transpired, including Guluzade pursuing other two-on-one opportunities, before passivity made its first appearance. Just as in all three of his bouts on Monday, LaMont was the one put down. Guluzade’s long wingspan allowed for an elbow-to-elbow gut that delivered two turns and a 5-0 lead. Shortly into the second, Guluzade reached around for a takedown. He then achieved his lock, rolled, and the match was concluded. LaMont — who wrestled an inspired, gritty tournament in his seventh Worlds appearance — officially finished in fifth place.
Three Move Into Repechage
At 60 kilograms, “Greco’s Son” Dylan Gregerson (UVRTC) was ousted by Mehdi Nejad (IRI) in the round-of-16. Nejad, a fairly seasoned international Senior, pounced on an angle early in the first to bop a four-point lift off the edge. Later in the frame, the Iranian converted a takedown-gut combo for the 8-0 VSU. However — Nejad trucked to the 60-kilo finals, thus pulling Gregerson back into the tournament. Gregerson needs two wins for bronze. First he will face Mukhammadkodir Yusupov (UZB), who fell to Nejad in similar fashion. If successful against Yusupov, Gregerson will receive an opportunity to fight for third place.
Which is also the case for another World Championships first-timer, Nate Moore (UNCO). Moore, filling in for the injured Benji Peak (Sunkist/NTS, 5PM #2), was the beneficiary of a forfeit in the round-of-16 when Sheku Kassegbama (SLE) did not compete. Moore was automatically in the quarterfinal against Idris Ibaev (GER), who was able to score a quick takedown before a feeling-out process could begin. Then, confusion. Moore held a front headlock and was pressuring down on Ibaev; Ibaev tried to counter from beneath, but Moore cranked his front headlock for a turn on the boundary. The US was waiting with the challenge brick even before the athletes went to restart. A very long officials’ conference ensued. When the dust settled, Moore was awarded two, as was Ibaev (which translated to a 4-2 advantage). After the reset, Ibaev scurried behind for a takedown and followed with a gutwrench. Maintaining his position from top, he next stepped to lift and deposited Moore to the tarp for the match-ending points.
With Ibaev having advanced to the final, Moore himself is alive and well in the repechage tomorrow morning. His opponent will be Erik Persson of Sweden. Two noteworthy facts about Persson: he was defeated soundly by Ibaev on Tuesday, and was also downed by the German rep at 2020 Thor Masters; in addition, Persson is a Swedish athlete with whom some in the US might be familiar. He had participated in a few joint American/Swede training ventures, and was tech’ed by Spencer Woods (87 kg, Army/WCAP, 5PM #2 at 82 kg) in the ’19 US/Team Skane Brottning dual meet.
Two-time National Champion Nick Boykin (97 kg, Sunkist/Ohio RTC, 5PM #3) is, like Gregerson and Moore, in position to potentially earn bronze. A 2-2 criteria lead belonged to “Big Nick” entering the second period against Gerard Kurniczak (POL) until the floodgates opened. An over/under test of wills invited the most significant score of the bout, and Kurniczak was the catalyst. He had used the clinch as a response to Boykin’s left underhook. Kurniczak bailed for a moment, but not Boykin. Scoring was on his mind. After adjusting his clasp, Boykin bodied Kurniczak at the edge for four and a cushiony 6-2 lead. An exchange near the edge with less than :90 to go brought more points when Boykin was in hot pursuit for a takedown. Kurniczak did manage to notch a step-out in the match’s final minute, but the train would not be derailed. Boykin moved into the round-of-16 pocketing an impressive 8-3 decision.
Freshly-minted Senior bronze/multi-time Junior medalist Artur Sargsyan (RUS, world #13) was next in line, representing Boykin’s most high-profile opponent to date. A curious sequence unfolded in the first as Sargsyan tried to wedge his way to a bodylock. He flailed on the attempt, with Boykin deftly covering in case a takedown was the ruling. It wasn’t, though the US did challenge. The call was not changed, giving Sargsyan a point. Following the reset, Sargsyan zipped an arm drag for a lane to the body but had to settle for a step-out. He got behind Boykin again after another reset, looking to lift. Boykin defended but was hit for legs. One more Sargsyan step-out capped the scoring at 5-0 heading into Period 2. The match did not go on much longer. Sargsyan used a body attack to coax a takedown before drumming up a lift, thus earning a technical fall.
To begin his march to bronze, Boykin will first dance with Ondrej Dadak (CZE). Should he prevail, Boykin will then square off against Michail Iosifidis of Greece. Markus Ragginger (AUT) is already seated in the third-place final.
Nutter & Brackett
’19 Junior bronze Alston Nutter‘s quest for a second straight World medal took a hit mere seconds into his qualification round match-up with Joni Khetsuriani (GEO). They slapped hands, the whistle blew, Nutter plunged with an underhook, and Khetsuriani reacted with an arm throw. A reset, and another try at Nutter’s arm connected for the Georgian. The officials agreed on four points but not the US. The action was reviewed and, instead of four points, Khetsuriani had to settle for two.
Nutter regained his composure and began prodding with confidence. He was likely not daunted by the deficit. His snaps were effective in spaces, he just could not convert. Khetsuriani escaped Nutter’s grasp later in the first to nudge a step-out point that delivered a 7-0 margin. The end was looming. A reset, and the back-end of an exchange near the line was all Khetsuriani required for a counter-attack takedown. Two more points the other way pushed Nutter out of the championship pool. The Northern Michigan student was eliminated altogether once Khetsuriani was clipped by Mohammad Rezaei (IRI) in the semifinal.
Tommy Brackett (82 kg, Gator, 5PM #5) poured it all out in his World debut, fighting until the last possible instant to keep his title hopes alive. Mukhammadkodir Rasulov (UZB) had simply enjoyed too substantial of a lead for the outcome to change.
Rasulov was the beneficiary of the match’s first passivity/par terre chance. A gutwrench was the choice; but as Rasulov tried to roll, Brackett stepped over for a reversal point. Criteria was logged for Brackett to start the second period. He was also actively engaged in the ties and moving Rasulov’s feet as if observing a metronome. Still, passivity again found Brackett. From top, Rasulov was credited with four on his turn. As has become a theme during this U23 Worlds, the US challenged what was by all appearances a questionable call, but to no avail. With time a factor, the wound deepened. Brackett, heavy in the hand-fight, was cautioned, lofting two more points in Rasulov’s direction. Down 8-1, Brackett caught a slight measure of justice when a caution was distributed to Rasulov. That made the score 8-3 with under :30 left in the match. Brackett kept the heat on, but the summit was out of reach. Rasulov’s own ride was cut short in the proceeding round by Hungarian Moric Kismoni.
Repechage on Day 3 of the 2021 U23 World Championships begins at 10:30am in Belgrade (5:30am ET) and can be viewed live in the US on FLOWrestling.
2021 U23 World Championships
November 1-3 — Belgrade, SRB
TEAM USA DAY 2 RESULTS
55 kg: Taylor LaMont (Sunkist/UVRTC) — 5th
LOSS Nihad Guluzade (AZE) 9-0, TF
60 kg: Dylan Gregerson (UVRTC)
LOSS Mehdi Nejad (IRI) 8-0, TF
67 kg: Alston Nutter (Sunkist/NTS)
LOSS Joni Khetsuriani (GEO) 9-0, TF
72 kg: Nate Moore (UNCO)
WON Sheku Kassegbama (SLE) via forfeit
LOSS Idris Ibaev (GER) 12-2, TF
82 kg: Tommy Brackett (Gator)
LOSS Mukhammadkodir Rasulov (UZB) 8-3
97 kg: Nick Boykin (Sunkist/Ohio RTC)
WON Gerard Kurniczak (POL) 8-3
LOSS Artur Sargsyan (RUS) 11-0, TF
DAY 1 TEAM USA RESULTS
55 kg: Taylor LaMont (Sunkist/UVRTC)
WON Artiom Deleanu (MDA) 2-1
WON Giorgi Tokhadze (GEO) 6-3
LOSS Poyo Dad Marz (IRI) 5-1
63 kg: David Stepanyan (NYAC/NTS) — 8th
WON Zolt Zonai (SRB) via forfeit
LOSS Corneliu Rusu (MDA) 2-0
77 kg: Britton Holmes (Army/WCAP) — 20th
LOSS Dilshod Omongeldiyev (UZB) 5-1
87 kg: Spencer Woods (Army/WCAP) — 19th
LOSS Szymon Szymonowicz (POL) via fall
130 kg: Brandon Metz (Bison WC) — 13th
LOSS Vladyslav Kovalenko (UKR) 2-1
TEAM USA DAY 3 DRAWS
60 kg: Dylan Gregerson (UVRTC)
vs. Mukhammadkodir Yusupov (UZB)
72 kg: Nate Moore (UNCO)
vs. Erik Persson (SWE)
97 kg: Nick Boykin (Sunkist/Ohio RTC)
vs. Ondrej Dadak (CZE)
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