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Rough start for women on Day 3 at Worlds … in many ways
By Mike Finn
LAS VEGAS, Nev. — All the excitement felt by American wrestlers and fans Tuesday night on Day 2 of the 2015 UWW World Championships showed up early on Day 3 of this year’s tournament — being held Sept. 7-12 in the Orleans Arena — especially as America’s first three women’s freestylers all scored pins in their first bouts of the day on Wednesday.
Unfortunately, that earlier excitement — created by Greco-Roman heavyweight Robby Smith in his near come-from-behind bronze-medal match on Tuesday — did not last once the competitions got tougher on Wednesday, which also showed that wrestlers and coaches in women’s freestyle were not on the same page heading into the 2015 Worlds.
For example, neither former World bronze medalist Alyssa Lampe at 48 kilos (105.5 pounds) nor former World champ Elena Pirozhkova (at 69k/157) wrestled their way into Wednesday night’s medal round.
The other two were Whitney Conder (53k/116.5), who went 1-1 women’s freestyle, and Greco-Roman’s Jordan Holm, who went 0-1 at 85k/187 pounds on the final day of Greco. They were all eliminated from medal contention when their victors failed to make the gold-medal bouts at their weight classes.
Like Conder, Lampe and Pirozhkova all scored pins in their first round matches, but all three appeared to run out of gas in their remaining matches.
Lampe needed a late passivity call against North Korea’s Hyon Gyong Kim to win on criteria in a 5-5 deadlock in that second-round match and apparently had nothing left when she was eliminated by China’s Hui Li, who needed just 90 seconds to blank Lampe, 10-0.
Later, Lampe — a bronze-medal winner in 2012 at 51 kilos and 2013 at 48 kilos — admitted a tough cut on Tuesday to make the 48-kilo weight class may have a affected her on Wednesday.
“I didn’t wrestle the best that I’ve ever wrestled,” said Lampe, a five-time World Team member from Tomahawk, Wisc. “It could have been the (tough weight cut). I definitely imagined (today going) a different way. I imagined myself on top of the podium with a gold medal around my neck.”
“Alyssa had some good efforts early but when she got to China, I don’t believe that someone is 10 points better than us,” Steiner said. “I can handle us getting beat like 5-4, I can’t handle getting beat 10-0, where we are laying down and not fighting. That’s not the American way.”
Steiner also said that Lampe checked in at 55 kilos (121) pounds at the start of this year’s training camp this summer, compared to last year when she started at 51 kilos (112 pounds).
“(Weight management is) a concern because people know what to do but are not doing things the right way,” Steiner added. “We can read millions of books and get all the specialists around us, but what you do with that information is another thing.”
Steiner was also upset that Pirozhkova, an eight-time World Team member — mostly at 63k/138.75 pounds, where she collected four medals (gold in 2012, silver in 2010 and 2014, and bronze in 2013) — chose to move up to a much heavier weight in 2015.
Pirozhkova admitted she did not have the strength to handle Sweden’s Jenny Fransson, a 2012 World champ at 72 kilos, who defeated Pirozhova, 5-3, in a second-round bout.
“I feel like I am a little bit out-powered so I have to get out and find another way to score,” said the native of Moscow, Russia, who moved to the U.S. as a child. “I definitely felt it with (Fransson). She is definitely one of the bigger ones.”
While Pirozhkova is unsure whether she stays at 69 kilos or returns to 63 kilos in time for the 2016 Olympic Trials in April, Steiner believes she should compete at a lighter weight.
“I told (Elena) already that this is the wrong weight for her,” Steiner said. “I believe her weight is 63 kilos and she proved that last year, but we don’t have that kind of control (over Pirozhkova).”
Does Steiner wish he did have more control when it comes to weight issues?
“That’s how it is,” he said. “We don’t do it like other countries do and she wanted to see if she could do it so I said prove me wrong.”
Conder, competing in her third Worlds, jumped out to a 2-0 lead against Xuechun Zhong of China, but could not sustain any later energy and lost 6-2.
“I did not give myself enough chances I guess,” Conder said. “I made a few mistakes against China that I knew that I made and that I need to go back and fix.”
Holm pretty much felt the same way after he took a 1-0 lead over Javid Hamzatau of Belarus before losing 3-1, in a first-round bout.
“I think I had my foot on the gas and maybe got out-pummeled,” Holm said. “I was in good position for the match for all but 15 seconds, which cost me the lead. I was in a position where I needed to open up on my attacks. I really feel that (Hamazatau) is a guy I should be taking down and I usually do when I wrestle my best.”
Overall, the United States finished 14-13 in the eight weight classes with Andy Bisek (75k) earning a second straight bronze on Monday and heavyweight Robby Smith claiming fifth after an exciting bronze-medal loss. Both qualified their weights for next summer’s Olympic Games with the 2015 Worlds being the first official qualifier for Rio.
Women’s freestyle will have a chance to change the attitude of the team as four more women will compete — Helen Maroulis (55k/121), Alli Ragan (58k/128), Erin Clodgo (63k/138.75) and two-time World champion Adeline Gray (75k/165) will take to the mats Thursday in the Orleans Arena.
Thursday will also be the start of men’s freestyle as Brent Metcalf (65/143) will compete in his fourth Worlds.
U.S. Results and Highlights from Day 3 at the 2015 UWW World Championships
85k/187 pounds — Jordan Holm (Minnesota Storm/Northfield, Minn.)
1st round — lost to Javid Hamzatau (Belarus), 3-1
Holm took a 1-0 lead when Hamzatau was penalized for passivity two minutes into the match. But the Belarusian first forced a step out against Holm at the 4:13 mark, and then clinched the win with an effective gut with 44 seconds left. Holm was eliminated when Hamzatau lost his next match to Habibollah Akklaghi of Iran.
Gold-Medal Match — Zhan Beleniuk (Ukraine) dec. Rustam Assakalov (Uzbekistan), 6-0
Bronze-Medal Match — Habibollah Jomeh Akhlaghi (Iran) dec. Rami Antero Hietaniemi (Finland), 5-1
Bronze-Medal Match — Saman Ahman Tahmasebi (Azerbaijan) pinned Viktor Lorincz (Hungary), 5:53
48k/105.5 pounds — Alyssa Lampe (Sunkist Kids/Tomahawk, Wisc.)
1st round — pinned Thi Hang Vu (Vietnam), 4:37
The match was actually a struggle for Lampe, who gave up two duck-under takedowns and trailed 7-4 at the 3:50 mark before the two-time bronze medalist finally scored four points off a double, then added a two-point exposure and eventually flattened Vu for USA’s third fall of the tournament.
2nd round — def. Hyon Gyong Kim (North Korea), 5-5 criteria
Lampe’s final point came with 10 seconds left when Kim was penalized for passivity to even the match. Lampe then won on criteria because of a four-point move, which put the North Korean on her back the final 40 seconds of the first period. Lampe led 4-3 before Kim scored a takedown with 54 seconds left.
Quarterfinals — lost by TF to Hui Li (China), 10-0
The match only last 90 seconds as Li scored a takedown in the first 20 seconds and used a gut to tally a pair of two-point moves, then ended the match after Li’s second takedown at the 1:18 mark also put Lampe on her back for another two-point tilt. Lampe was eliminated when Li lost in the semifinals to World champion Mariya Stadnyk of Azerbaijan.
Gold-Medal Match — Eri Tosaka (Japan) dec. Mariya Stadnyk (Azerbaijan), 2-2, criteria
Bronze-Medal Match — Jessica Cornelia Blaszka (Netherlands) dec. Hui Li (China), 5-5, criteria
Bronze-Medal Match — Geneviève Morrison Haley (Canada) dec. Valentina Ivanovna Islamova Brik (Russia), 3-2
53k/116.5 pounds — Whitney Conder (U.S. Army WCAP/Puyallup, Wash.)
1st round — pinned Isabelle Sambou (Senegal), 2:20
Conder got women’s freestyle off to a big start for the U.S. as she used a headlock to throw Sambou to her back at the 1:44 mark before finally scoring a fall with 40 seconds left in the first period. Sambou nearly scored a takedown against Conder 32 seconds into the match by getting around the American but failed to breakdown Conder, who eventually escaped the hold.
2nd round — lost to Xuechun Zhong (China), 6-2
Conder actually scored the bout’s first takedown, but the World’s third-ranked Zhong earned two more exposure points off a takedown with 2:40 gone … and then added a second takedown 17 seconds into the second period. Conder was eliminated when Zhong lost by fall in the semifinals to Sweden’s Sofia Mattsson.
Gold-Medal Match — Saori Yoshida (Japan) dec. Sofia Magdalena Mattsson (Sweden), 2-1
Bronze-Medal Match — Myong Suk Jong (D.P.R. Korea) won by TF over Anzhela Dorogan (Azerbaijan), 13-2
Bronze-Medal Match — Odunayo Folasade Adekuoroye (Nigeria) pinned Xuechun Zhong (China), 0:23
69k/157 pounds — Elena Pirozhkova (Titan Mercury/Moscow, Russia/Greenfield, Mass.)
1st round — pinned Ilana Keju (Marshall Islands), 0:59
Competing up from 63 kilos a year ago, Pirozhkova scored a takedown 40 seconds into the bout before she used a bar-arm, half-nelson combination to turn to earn a second straight fall by the American women.
2nd round — lost to Anna Jenny Fransson (Sweden), 5-3
In a battle of 2012 World champions, Fransson (the former 158-pounder) scored a pair of takedowns, including the first in the closing seconds of the first period to lead 3-0. After Fransson added another takedown to lead 5-0, Pirozhkova finally got on the board with a takedown at the 4:37 mark and earned another when Fransson’s protest was denied. Pirozhkova was eliminated when Fransson lost in the quarterfinals to Russia’s Natalie Vorobeva.
Gold-Medal Match — Natalia Vorobieva (Russia) pinned Feng Zhou (China), 1:14
Bronze-Medal Match — Sara Dosho (Japan) dec. Nasanburmaa Ochirbat (Mongolia), 6-5
Bronze-Medal Match — Aline Focken (Germany) dec. Anna Jenny Eva Maria Fransson (Sweden), 6-5