USA Greco

ATTAO GOING FOR BRONZE; PAY-JAY Also Still Alive After Day 1 of U20 Worlds

aden attao, 2022 u20 world championships
Aden Attao -- Image: UWW

Day 1 of Greco-Roman is in the books at the U20 Worlds and Team USA already stands in position to come away with some hardware.

The first day of action of the 2022 U20 Greco-Roman World Championships began at 11:00am local time from Sofia, Bulgaria and aired live in the US on FLOWrestling.

not all roads lead to gold, jim gruenwald

Heavyweight standout Aden Attao (Suples) will do battle in tomorrow’s bronze round following a booming Worlds debut that was punctuated by two pins. Senior National Team member and uber-prospect Payton Jacobson (77 kg, Sunkist/NTS) likewise remains in the hunt, though he will first have to survive two repechage matches.

Attao — who during this summer season alone has become a sizzling commodity stateside — was in the midst of an entertaining dustup with Parvesh Parvesh (IND) when a particularly destructive sequence ended the skirmish. Attao was holding a 4-4 criteria lead and made good on an arm throw attempt; space after the maneuver allowed Parvesh to try and scramble to his feet — where Attao, who had remained latched with his left overhook, bombed a headlock that delivered the points necessary for a VSU along with the fall.

The quarterfinal started a little differently. Hungarian Adolf Bazso, whose most recent relevant credential was a ’22 European Championships silver, had opened up an 8-2 halfway through the first period. Time wasn’t yet a factor — but it was a dicey proposition. Bazso, he must have fallen victim to complacency. He had engaged an over/under and kept static. For his part, Attao briefly negotiated his own positioning within the hold until confidence in the grip appeared. Then in one motion, the Idahoan locked and hipped Bazso to the tarp ahead of collecting his second pin of the day.

Mykhailo Vyshnyvetskiy (UKR) awaited in the semifinal. An incomplete reference, but Vyshnyvetskiy had edged Baszo for gold at the aforementioned Junior Euros, which spoke to the level of Attao’s third opponent. In other words, Vyshnyvetskiy was likely to provide just as a tough of a test.

And he did. Attao looked to create movement early on in the ties as Vyshnyvetskiy played back with similar zeal. An arm drag for UKR put Attao down by two before a follow-up gut doubled the deficit. A reset, and Vyshnyvetskiy was there again with a correct hold for two more; an arm throw shortly thereafter wrapped it up at 10-0, hence depositing Attao in the bronze-medal match tomorrow evening where his opponent will be either Junho Park (KOR) or Fekry Mohamed Eissa (EGY).

Jacobson & Stephens

Jacobson started his first World tournament in the round-of-16 opposed by yet another ’22 Junior Euro medalist, Yueksel Saricicek (TUR), and immediately intended to impose his will. They chipped through the preamble, with the Northern Michigan rep scanning for workable looks. Eventually, passivity, with Saricicek the beneficiary. From top par terre, the Turk locked for a lift and succeeded with four points. Not wishing to let the opportunity go to waste, Saricicek maintained his clasp and rotated Jacobson once more for a wide 7-0 advantage.

Jacobson wasn’t done entering Period 2. He strolled out of the corner appearing undaunted. An uptick in pressure soon put Saricicek enough on the defensive to warrant passivity, giving Jacobson a chance to climb back in the match. But his lock did not yield a score and they returned standing. Despite the even tempo, it was Saricicek who was capitalizing in terms of movement. One step out point, and then another, resulted in a premature finish for Jacobson, who was on the wrong end of a 9-1 VSU.

However — Saricicek did advance to the final round, thus pulling Jacobson into tomorrow’s repechage where he will need to win twice. Jacobson’s first dance partner is Diego Macias Torres (MEX); should he prevail, the American will square off against ’22 U23 Euro gold Khasay Hasanli (AZE); and if Jacobson can get past Hasanli, the bronze round will produce tough Moldovan Alexandrin Gutu.

Most wrestlers try to keep a “one match at a time” attitude. Returning World Team member Kodiak Stephens (87 kg, Beaver Dam RTC) was probably in the same boat when he arose on Friday morning, but domination must have also creeped into his thoughts.

He refused to expend meaningless motion, and Surjeet Singh (IND) seemed a formidable foe upon the whistle, at least until Stephens found his groove in the pocket. A clash, some jousting, and then a step for an arm try — in short order — saw Stephens race ahead 4-0. Increasing experience paid dividends, as well. After securing position, Stephens clamped gut and rolled Singh right out of dodge for the tech victory.

The win earned Stephens a ticket to the round-of-16 against Robin Uspenski (EST), who did not do too much but managed to escape with a 2-1 decision. Uspenski was gifted the first passive and in his subsequent offensive attempt received another point from a step-out when the duo hit out of bounds. Stephens pursued in spaces through the remainder and had a crack from top PT in the second frame. Uspenski defended adequately and stayed upright to the whistle, thus sending Stephens into the repechage waiting game — a game that ended after the next round, as the Estonian was torched by Maksat Sailau (KAZ).

Gurule & Drury

Jonathan Gurule (55 kg, NMU/NTS) might be heading home with an 0-1 record from the 2022 U20 World Championships but still acquitted himself well against one of the 55 bracket’s presumed favorites, ’21 U17 World gold Nuristan Suiorkulov (KGZ). There was good tension at first, on the American’s part. Gurule wasn’t phased by his opposition and quickly dug into the fray for a fight. They began moving with a little more urgency as the first period warmed up, with neither holding much of a discernible positional advantage. Suiorkulov did grab the first passivity/PT chance and converted a gut for an early 3-0 lead. Back standing, and Suiorkulov was there with an arm drag that garnered another two before Gurule was banged with a caution. They restarted again from par terre, which allowed Suiorkulov a lift try. Gurule adjusted and contorted, but the action went off the line to provide KGZ one more point and a 7-0 cushion heading into the break.

Distance on the scoreboard, it matters, but only to an extent. Approach is decidedly more pressing, and Gurule made it clear that the situation might still be within reach. At the whistle to kick off the second, he pecked and prodded with poise as Suiorkulov waded into his own ties. The sledding was predictably rough. Suiorkulov, to his credit, had attempts in mind and dipped for an arm. Gurule responded by hastily defending and scampering for a takedown that cut the deficit to 7-2. There would be no further scoring from then on, as Suiorkulov pocketed the decision. Denis Mihai (ROU) defeated Suiorkulov in the semifinal to eliminate Gurule from a potential second life in the repechage.

As is and was the case with several Americans at these Junior Worlds, tremendously-skilled Haiden Drury (63 kg, UVRTC) had the honor of meeting up with a very capable and seasoned competitor in Ziya Babashov (AZE). Babashov, a Cadet runner-up three years ago, placed higher at the U23 European Championships this season (silver) than he did at the Junior level (11th). He is also one more in a long line of young Azerbaijanian wrestlers who projects to become a decorated Senior. Drury, explosive and savvy, would need to exercise equal parts patience and conviction to put Babashov on his heels.

First contact went more in Drury’s favor as the bout got underway. They were moving fluidly, not much of a feeling-out process compared to other matches in this weight range. But Babashov had caught a run off an exchange to log an ice-breaking step-out. Before long, Drury was rung up for passivity. Babashov achieved his lock and cranked a gutwrench, then rolled Drury twice more to cap the bottle at 8-0. A surprising defeat for Babashov occurred in the next round against Chiezo Maruyama (JPN) to, unfortunately, end Dury’s maiden World Championships voyage without a shot in the repechage.

Day 2

The Team USA Juniors are back at it on Saturday morning with five more athletes hoping to fight their way into the medal argument. In addition, Jacobson will face off with Macias Torres and, later in the day, Attao will go for World bronze. Draws for the Day 2 group as well as Jacobson can be found below.

Day 2 Team USA Draws

*Wrestling begins at 11:00am local time/4:00am ET.

60 kg: Max Black (NYAC/NTS)
vs. Saeid Esmaeili Leveisi (IRI)

67 kg: Robert Perez III (Sunkist)
vs. Shon Nadorgin (ISR)

72 kg: Richard Fedalen (Warhawks)
vs. Matthias Hauthaler (AUT)

77 kg: Payton Jacobson (Sunkist/NTS)
vs. Diego Macias Torres (MEX)

82 kg: Adrian Artsisheuskiy (NYAC)
vs. Odysseas Roungeris (GRE)

97 kg: Christian Carroll (Midwest RTC)
vs. Nuranbet Raimaly (KGZ)

2022 U20 World Championships

August 19-21 — Sofia, BUL


55 kg: Jonathan Gurule (NMU/NTS)
LOSS Nuristan Suiorkulov (KGZ) 7-2

63 kg: Haiden Drury (UVRTC)
LOSS Ziya Babashov (AZE) 8-0, TF

77 kg: Payton Jacobson (Sunkist/NTS)
LOSS Yuksel Saricicek (TUR) 9-1, TF

87 kg: Kodiak Stephens (Beaver Dam RTC)
WON Surgeet Singh (IND) 8-0, TF
LOSS Robin Uspenski (EST) 2-1

130 kg: Aden Attao (Suples)
WON Parvesh Parvesh (IND) via fall
WON Adolf Bazso (HUN) via fall
LOSS Mykhailo Vyshnyvetskiy 10-0, TF

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