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Men’s Freestyle Worlds Recap: Dake & Cox win gold again
Photos: Both J’den Cox (left) and Kyle Dake won World championships but must now move up or down to make Olympic weights next April at the Trials. (Mark Lundy and Justin Hoch photos)
2019 UWW World Championships – Men’s Freestyle Recap
For the second year in a row, Kyle Dake and J’den Cox won World championships at 79 and 92 kilograms, respectively, during the final four days — Sept. 19-22 — of the Worlds in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan.
The only difference between the two years for the defending champions was that Cox was the one who went unscored upon in his four bouts in 2019, including a 4-0 win over Iran’s Alireza Karimimachiani. Dake, who went unscored upon in 2018, outscored four foes 27-6 in 2019, including a 4-2 victory over Azerbaijan’s Jabriel Hasanov in the gold medal match
This also marked the second straight year that a pair of former World champs — Jordan Burroughs (74k) and Kyle Snyder (97k) — were forced to settle with consolation medals as each American won bronze.
The other American who came close to a medal was Tyler Graff, who won three matches, but lost a bronze medal bout at 61 kilos to Rahul Aware of India.
The bronze medal victories by Burroughs and Snyder also clinched Olympic berths for the 2020 Olympics. Dake’s and Cox’s victories came at non-Olympic weights, and now must decide if they go up or down when the Olympic Trials are held next April in State College, Pa. The United States will look to qualify the other four weights — 57k, 65k, 86k and 125k — over the next year.
The United States’ men’s freestyle team won 22 of 31 matches and placed third in the team competition with 94 points behind Russia (190) and Kazakhstan (103).
Overall, the three American teams — men’s and women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman — ended the weeklong 2019 World Championships with seven medals: five gold by Dake and Cox in men’s freestyle and by Jacarra Winchester, Tamyra Mensah-Stock and Adeline Gray and two bronze medals by Burroughs and Snyder. A year ago, the USA earned 11 total medals in the 2018 Worlds in Budapest: 4 gold, 3 silver and 4 bronze.
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The following are highlights of the USA men’s freestyle wrestlers in the 2019 UWW World Championships.
57k – Daton Fix (1-1, did not place)
Competed Sept. 19
1stround – won by TF over Vladimir Egorov (North Macedonia), 12-1
The Oklahoma State All-American scored three takedowns in each period with his sixth takedown — using a duck-under to score a double – ended the bout with 40 seconds left.
2ndround – lost to Yuki Takahashi (Japan), 4-2
Takahashi, the 2017 World champ, forced a stepout with 16 seconds left to clinch the victory. The Japanese also was awarded another point when Fix lost a challenge to the call. Before this action, Fix led on criteria by virtue of a takedown eight seconds into the second period. Japan’s first two points came when Fix failed to score while on the shot clock in both the first and second period. Fix was eliminated when Takahashi lost his next bout, 6-1, to India’s Kumar Ravi.
61k – Tyler Graff (3-2, fifth place)
Competed Sept. 21-22
1stround – won by TF over Jincheoi Kim (South Korea), 10-0
The fourth single leg takedown by this former All-American from Wisconsin led to a gut wrench that ended the bout with 2:11 in the match. Graff’s second takedown came with five seconds left in the first period.
2ndround – dec. Minhu Liu (China), 7-0
Graff scored both of his takedowns in the second period, including four seconds after the break, in a bout that saw the Chinese wrestler twice fail to score while being put on a passivity shot clock.
Quarterfinal – lost to Beka Lomtadze (Georgia), 3-1
Lomtadze, a 2016 World silver medalist, iced the victory with 12 seconds left when he fought off a single by Graff and scored exposure points off a defensive lift. Graff led 1-0 at the break after the Georgia failed to score on the shot clock before Lomtadze forced a stepout by Graff with 1:19 left.
Repechage – won by TF over Mihai Esanu (Moldova), 13-4
Graff’s fifth takedown, a counter with 53 seconds left, ended the technical fall. Graff’s third takedown, which came moments after Esanu cut the margin to 4-2 on an arm throw with 38 seconds left, became a four-pointer when he got behind his foe and threw him to his back off the mat. Graff closed out the first period on a single leg with one second left in the first.
Bronze Medal – lost to Rahul Aware (India), 11-4
Graff actually led 2-0 by scoring on a double in the first five seconds of the match before Aware, whose previous Worlds came in 2011 and ‘14, scored 11 straight points. That included a duck-under with 1:47 left in the bout that led to the Indian wrestler scoring four exposure points off a leg turk 20 seconds later. Aware also fought off three good single attempts by Graff, who finally scored again on a go-behind with 15 seconds left.
65k – Zain Retherford (0-1, did not place)
Competed Sept. 19
1stround – lost to Alejandro Valdes Tobier (Cuba), 10-9
Falling behind 6-0 in the first 1:10 when the Cuba turned a takedown into a pair of high gut wrench turns, the former three-time NCAA champ from Penn State rallied to within 6-4 after scoring a low double with 2:34 left. The final minute saw both wrestlers scrambling for exposure points two different times, but the American came up short by one point. Retherford was eliminated when Valdes Tobier lost to Haji Ali of Bahrain in the second round.
70k – James Green (1-1, did not place)
Competed Sept. 20
1stround – won by TF over Vincent De Marinis (Canada), 10-0
A power double takedown by Green led to a trap arm gut wrench that ended the match with 1:14 left in the first period. Green earlier scored two more takedowns and a high gut wrench 52 seconds into the bout.
2ndround – lost to Magomedmurad Gadzhiev (Poland), 4-3
Gadzhiev scored a single leg takedown with seven seconds left to take a criteria lead and the earned a final point when Green lost a challenge to the call. Green led 1-0 at the break when the Polish wrestle failed to score on the shot clock and extended his lead to 3-0 when the former Nebraska All-American scored off a power double at the 2:23 mark. Gadzhiev finally got on the board with 1:07 left when Green failed to score while on the shot clock. Green was eliminated when Gadzhiev lost 5-2 to David Baev (Russia) in the semifinals.
74k – Jordan Burroughs (4-1, Bronze medalist)
Competed Sept. 20-21
1stround – dec. Azamat Nurykau (Belarus), 11-10
In a wild match that saw Burroughs trail 6-2 and 10-7, the four-time World champion clinched the victory on a stepout call against Nurykau in the final seconds. The Belarus used a pair of defensive tilts, including a four-pointer with 1:11 gone in the first, to lead 6-2. Burroughs battled back with a double leg takedown and three stepouts to lead 7-6 at the intermission. Nurykau regained the lead off a counter takedown one minute into the second period and added two more exposure points off a gut wrench to lead 10-7 with 1:50 left. Burroughs eventually tied the bout, 10-10, on a takedown and passivity call against the Belarusian. He also appeared to earn two exposure points at the end, but a challenge by Nurykau was upheld, which in turn gave the American a stepout point.
2ndround – dec. Murad Kuramagomedov (Hungary), 6-4
Burroughs scored the final six points – all in the final two minutes – to help the American rally for the victory. Kuramagomedov scored of a duck under and single in the first period to lead 4-0 before Burroughs took a criteria lead when his double leg put the Hungarian on his back with 1:57 left. The final two points came when Kuramagomedov lost a challenge and when Burroughs forced a stepout with 35 seconds left.
Quarterfinal – dec. Khadzhimurad Gadzhiyev (Azerbaijan),8-1
Burroughs score three takedowns, including a single leg with eight seconds left in the first period that led to two more exposure points on the edge of the mat. Gadzhiyev scored a stepout seven seconds into the second period before Burroughs scored the final points off a double with 1:32 left.
Semifinal – lost to Zaurbek Sidakov (Russia), 4-3
In a similar outcome to the 2018 World semis — which the Russian also won and eventually captured a gold medal — Sidakov tallied a stepout with one second left for the victory. The Russian’s final point came when Burroughs lost a challenge to the final call. Burroughs led 1-0 at the break when he forced a stepout a minute into the bout before Sidakov used a single leg to score a takedown with 1:53 left. Burroughs battled back to lead 3-2 with 44 seconds left when he countered a shot for a takedown.
Bronze Medal – won by TF over Mao Okui (Japan), 10-0
The four-time World champion captured his seventh World medal by scoring three double leg takedown, the final one leading to additional back points that ended the bout with 2:29 left. Burroughs’ first takedown 35 seconds into the bout also led to a gut wrench for a 4-0 lead.
79k – Kyle Dake (4-0, Gold medalist)
Competed Sept. 21-22
1stround – won by TF over Oibek Nasirov (Kyrgyzstan), 12-2
Dake’s second single leg takedown ended the bout with 20 seconds left in the first period.
Dake, who did not give up a point in winning the 2018 Worlds, actually fell behind 2-0 in the first 10 seconds when Nasirov countered a throw the American. But he quickly put his foe on his back with a reversal, and then eventually added six exposure points.
Quarterfinal – dec. Gadzhi Nabiev (Russia), 5-1
Dake scored the final four points in the last minute off a takedown with 48 seconds left and a pair of stepouts. The Russian had held criteria with 1:20 left when Dake failed to score while on the shot clock. Dake was also put on the shot clock in the first, but tallied a step out with one second left in that 30-second phase.
Semifinal – dec. Rashid Kurbanov (Uzbekistan), 6-1
Dake scored all of his points in the first period, when he first countered a shot for a takedown with 1:30 left, then used an effective high gut wrench in the next 20 seconds to lead 6-0. Kurbanov tallied his point on a passivity call against Dake with 1:20 left.
Gold Medal – dec. Jabriel Hasanov (Azerbaijan), 4-2
In a rematch of the 2018 World finals, Dake captured his second straight World championship when he forced a pair of stepouts in the first period, then tallied a single leg takedown with 2:38 left in the bout. Hasanov, the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist at 74 kilos, scored his points on a pair of stepouts in the final 52 seconds.
86k – Pat Downey (2-1, did not place)
Competed Sept. 21
1stround – won by TF over Hoyhannes Mkhitaryan (Armenia)
Downey’s third takedown with three second left in the first period ended the bout. The American, competing in his first Worlds, scored four points in each of his first two takedowns and earned another point when Mkhitaryan lost a challenge. The Armenian took a 1-0 lead when he forced a stepout 35 seconds into the match.
2ndround – dec. Zbignew Baranowski (Poland), 8-2
Downey scored his only two takedowns in the final 20 seconds to clinch the victory. The Polish wrestler, who trailed 2-0 at the break, cut the margin to 3-2 with a single leg takedown with 2:15 left before Downey earned another stepout with 1:45 left.
Quarterfinal – lost by TF to Ahmed Dudarov (Germany), 11-0
The German ended the match when he scored his fourth takedown on a high crotch with 2:44 left in the bout. Dudarov scored on a similar move one minute into the bout that also led to two exposure points and took a 9-0 intermission lead when he countered a throw by Downey. The American was eliminated when Dudarov lost his semifinal, 5-2, to Myles Amine, the All-American from Michigan who was representing San Marino.
92k – J’den Cox (4-0, Gold medalist)
Competed Sept. 20-21
1stround – won by TF over Mohammed Fardj (Algeria), 11-0
Moments after scoring the bout’s only takedown on a single midway through the first period, Cox rocked the Algerian back and fourth with four gut wrenches in a match that ended with 1:14 left in the first frame.
Quarterfinal – dec. Nurgali Nurgaipuly (Kazakhstan), 8-0
Cox scored two takedowns, off a single and double, in the final 56 seconds in a bout that saw the Kazakhstan wrestler fail to score on the shot clock in the first period, and then was penalized for passivity with 1:45 left. Cox also scored two exposure points off a gut with 47 seconds left.
Semifinal – dec. Irakli Mtsituri (Georgia), 3-0
Cox scored all his points a minute into the bout when he first scored a takedown off a counter then earned another point when the Georgian wrestler lost a challenge to the takedown call. Cox also fought off a double leg takedown 30 seconds into the second period when Mtsituri wrapped his arms around the American’s leg from behind but could not put Cox’s knee on the mat.
Gold Medal — dec. Alireza Karimimachiani(Iran), 4-0
Cox scored all of his points in the first period — the first coming in the first five seconds and the second takedown coming with one second left in the first frame — to capture his second straight World championship.
97 – Kyle Snyder (3-1, Bronze medalist)
Competed Sept. 21-22
1stround – won by TF over Mausam Khatri (India), 11-0
Snyder ended the match with 10 seconds left in the first when he turned a third takedown into a gut-wrench for two more exposure points. Snyder also scored a gut wrench after he tallied his first takedown a minute into the bout.
Quarterfinal – won by TF over Magomed Ibragimov (Uzbekistan),13-3
Snyder’s 13thstraight point, a stepout with 33 seconds left, ended the bout that saw Ibragimov take a 3-0 — off a stepout and single leg takedown against Snyder — with 55 seconds left in the first period. Snyder began his comeback on a single leg with 29 seconds left in the first and took a 6-3 lead on a high crotch for four points in the final 12 seconds of the first frame. Snyder added three more takedowns in the second period.
Semifinal – lost to Sharif Sharifov (Azerbaijan), 5-2
Sharifov, a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, scored a double leg takedown with 2:20 left, then added two more exposure points while defending a single attempt by Snyder, who took a 1-0 lead when Sharifov failed to score while on the shot clock. Both wrestlers added stepouts in the final two minutes.
Bronze Medal — dec. Elizbar Odikadze (Georgia), 5-0
Snyder scored a pair of takedowns — off a low double with 1:19 left in the first and off a scramble with one second left in the bout — against the 2018 World bronze medalist to capture his fifth World medal.
125k – Nick Gwiazdowski (0-1, did not place)
Competed Sept. 20
1stround – lost to Yadollah Mohebi(Iran), 5-2
Mohebi iced the victory when he scored two exposure points off a defensive lift with 17 seconds left. A pair of stepouts – one minute gone in the first and 10 seconds gone in the second – gave the two-time bronze medalist and NCAA champ from NC State a 2-1 lead. The Iranian took a 3-2 lead when he countered a Gwiazdowski shot with 1:37 left. Gwiazdowski was eliminated when Mohebi lost his next match 3-2 to Oleksandr Khotsianivskyi (Ukraine)