There is still time for the United States to somehow, finally, break through with a medalist at the U23 Worlds, but the first day of action this year ended without a podium contender.
Day 1 of the 2022 U23 World Championships began at 10:30am local time from Pontevedra, Spain and aired live in the US on FLOWrestling.
Two of the five Americans on Monday did come away with victories, but both were eliminated from contention following second-round losses. Camden Russell (55 kg, MWC) impressively knocked out Abduvali Rahimbayev (TKM) via 11-5 decision in his opener before falling to ’21 Senior World gold Ken Matsui of Japan. Matsui was naturally seen as a strong candidate to reach the final — and to therefore pull Russell back into the event via repechage — until reigning U20 World gold/U23 bronze Nihad Guluzade (AZE) cut him down in the semifinals.
It was a similar story for Cohlton Schultz (130 kg, Sunkist), who found little difficulty disposing of Jonovan Smith (PUR) in the qualification round only to wind up on the wrong end of a 5-1 decision to ’21 U20 World silver Sarkhan Mammadov (AZE) one match later. Mammadov was subsequently ousted by Mykhailo Vyshnyvetskyi (UKR). Those who witnessed Aden Attao‘s run to Junior bronze may remember Vyshnyvetskiy, as the Ukrainian had downed Attao in the semifinal of that tournament.
Mason Hartshorn (63 kg, West Coast Greco RTC), Britton Holmes (77 kg, Army/WCAP), and Michial Foy (87 kg, Minnesota Storm) all were defeated in their openers. Hartshorn was blanked by Egyptian Ahmed Hussein Baghdouda 6-0, whereas Lamjed Maafi (TUN) got past Holmes via VSU. Foy stood his ground in a tight contest against the familiar Filip Smetko (CRO) but was ultimately downed 4-0. Smetko received passivity points and accompanying par terre chances in both periods, and had turned Foy in the first frame. Smetko, one of the 87 kg bracket’s most skilled competitors, was decisioned by recent University World champ Istvan Takacs (HUN) in the proceeding round.
After nearly giving up points to Rahimbayey from an arm throw, Russell immediately re-attacked with a pair of front headlocks. Rahimbayev reversed and cranked two gutwrenches to take a 5-4 lead into Period 2, but would not be able to do much in the conclusive three minutes. That is because Russell went on a scoring blitz as soon as the second stanza got underway. Rahimbayev had attempted a headlock, which Russell defended ahead of executing back-to-back gutwrenches. Turkmenistan challenged the sequence, the call was upheld, and Russell had then forged an 11-5 margin he would not relinquish.
Against Matsui, Russell had a nice moment that might have altered the complexion of the match had the officials called the sequence correctly in real-time. Matsui had attempted his second arm throw, to which Russell responded by yanking head-and-arm and commandeering the hold. What should have been an instant two points was instead a no-call. USA challenged, and won, with the MWC rep taking a 2-2 criteria lead. Matsui managed a takedown/gut combo prior to the close of the period, and added four more points in the final three minutes to eventually pull away 8-2.
Schultz was his typical dominant self opposite Smith, controlling position early and forcing a step-out to set the tone. Passivity on Smith meant the beginning of the end. Schultz locked and rotated a succession of guts to collect the 9-0 VSU, and Mammadov was next. An uncharacteristic development transpired when the Azerbaijani nailed Schultz with a headlock to pick up four. Passivity, for whatever reason, provided Mammadov with another point heading into the break. Schultz was given his own shot from top in the second period but was unable to yield a score.
Day 2 of the U23 World Championships starts on Tuesday morning with five more Americans gunning for potential medals — Phillip Moomey (60 kg, TMWC/Spartan RTC), ’19 Junior World bronze Peyton Omania (67 kg, NYAC/CYC), Benji Peak (72 kg, Sunkist/NTS), Ty Cunningham (82 kg, MWC), and Nick Boykin (97 kg, Sunkist/Ohio RTC). Action begins at 10:30am local time (4:30am ET) and streams in the US on FLOWrestling.
2022 U23 World Championships
October 17-19 — Pontevedra, Spain
TEAM USA DAY 1 RESULTS
55 kg: Camden Russell (MWC)
WON Abduvali Rahimbayev (TKM) 11-5
LOSS Ken Matsui (JPN) 8-2
63 kg: Mason Hartshorn (West Coast Greco RTC)
LOSS Ahmed Hussein Baghdouda (EGY) 6-0
77 kg: Britton Holmes (Army/WCAP)
LOSS Lamjed Maafi (TUN) 10-1, TF
87 kg: Michial Foy (Minnesota Storm)
LOSS Filip Smetko (CRO) 4-0
130 kg: Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist)
WON Jonovan Smith (PUR) 9-0, TF
LOSS Sarkhan Mammadov (AZE) 5-1
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