Snyder ended historic Worlds with USA’s fourth gold in men’s freestyle

Updated: September 18, 2022

Photo: Kyle Snyder was all smiles after he claimed his third World championship at 97 kilos Sunday in Belgrade, Serbia. It was also Team USA’s fourth individual gold medal in men’s freestyle; tying a record set in 1993 and 1995. (Justin Hoch photo)

By Mike Finn

Kyle Snyder made sure the United States would not forget the 2022 UWW World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia, when the 26-year-old native of Maryland blanked Slovakia’s Batyrbek Tsakulov, 6-0 Sunday for the 97-kilogram championship in men’s freestyle.

This was Snyder’s third all-time World (others coming in 2015 and 2017) championship to go along with an Olympic gold medal in 2016 as well as silver medals in the 2020 Olympics, 2018 and 2021 Worlds and World bronze in 2019.

WIN Magazine will provide comprehensive coverage of the 2022 Worlds, including women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman, in the next issue that will be printed Sept. 29. Click here or call 888-305-0606 to subscribe to WIN Magazine.

Along with 2022 World titles secured earlier by Kyle Dake (74k), Jordan Burroughs (79k) and David Taylor (86k), the U.S. men’s freestyle team tied the record of four gold medals by the United States in the 1993 and 1995 World Championships.

The United States had a shot at another gold medal on Sunday, but Yianni Diakomihalis, the three-time NCAA champ from Cornell, dropped a wild championship match to Iran’s Rahman Amouzadkhalili at 65 kilos.

This group of men’s freestyle wrestlers won a fourth all-time World team title and produced a record-tying four gold and eight overall medals in Belgrade, Serbia. (Justin Hoch photo)

This was indeed an historic World Championships for Team USA in men’s freestyle as eight wrestlers claimed medals, tying the USA record set in 1987, when that team produced two gold, three silver and three bronze. Earlier, the 2022 squad also produced silver medals from Thomas Gilman (57k), Zain Retherford (70k) and J’den Cox (92k).

Team USA’s 10 wrestlers in men’s freestyle finished 37-7 over the four days of competition and claimed its first team title since 2017 (and fourth all-time; others coming in 1993 and ‘95) with 198 points. Iran (with two gold, three silver and two bronze) finished second with 150 and Japan (two gold) claimed third place with 70 points.

The United States had a chance to add to its 2022 medal count in men’s freestyle when first-time World Team member Seth Gross (who reached the semis) went after bronze at 61 kilos on Sunday. Unfortunately, the 26-year-old native of Apple Valley, Minn., lost 12-0 to 2021 World bronze medalist Arsen Harutyunyan of Armenia.

Overall, the United States’ three teams (including women’s freestyle and Greco-Roman) that competed between Sept. 10-18 in the 2022 Worlds, tied last year’s record of 15 overall medals. That included seven medals by the USA women, including gold medals by Dom Parrish, Tamyra Mensah Stock and Amit Elor.

Also, Sebastian Rivera, a former multiple All-American from Rutgers, barely a lost bronze-medal match at 65 kilos to India’s Barang Punia after Rivera had lost to Diakomihalis in the semifinals on Saturday.

2022 UWW World Championships Men’s Freestyle

USA Results and Match Notes for Sept. 17-18

61k/134.5 pounds: Seth Gross (Madison, Wisc./Badger RTC/Sunkist Kids WC) – fifth place

Prelim – won by TF over Andrii Dzhelep (Ukraine), 13-2, 2:43 — Leading 3-2, Gross turned a single into a body lock and put the Ukrainian on his back, where Gross then tilted Dzhelep three times for six exposure points.

1st round – dec. Eduard Grigorev (Poland), 7-0 — While on the activity clock, Gross scored on a double 46 seconds into the second period, then added two more exposure points off a leg turk nine seconds later. The American’s final takedown came off a counter to the Pole’s shot.

Quarterfinal – dec. Suleyman Atli (Turkey), 10-4 — Moments after the two-time Olympian and two-time World medalist from Turkey tied the bout 4-4 with 1:51 left in the match, Gross scored a single and added two exposure points to lead 8-4 with 1:27 left. A Gross counter led to his final takedown.

Semifinal – lost to Rei Higuchi (Japan), 14-7 – Gross battled back to take a 7-6 lead after being down 4-1 before the 2016 Olympic silver medalist from Japan scored a pair of exposure points with 49 seconds left. Gross challenged the call, looking for two exposure points himself off the scramble. Instead, he lost the challenge and was also penalized on a caution and one before he gave up four more exposure points later in the match. Higuchi went on to win the gold medal.

Bronze-medal bout- lost by TF to Arsen Harutyunyan (Armenia), 12-0, 3:38  – Harutyunyan, a 2021 Senior world bronze medalist and 2020 Olympian, led 7-0 off two takedowns and three step-outs — including two countering a two-on-one trip attempt by Gross, when the Armenian ended the match with two takedowns in the first 30 seconds of the second period.

65k/143.5 pounds: Yianni Diakomihalis (Rochester, N.Y./Spartan Combat RTC/Titan Mercury WC) – Silver

Yianni Diakomihalis led 8-6 before Rahman Amouzadkhalili of Iran scored the final seven points in beating the three-time NCAA All-American from Cornell in the 65-kilo gold-medal bout. (Justin Hoch photo)

Prelim – dec. Vazgen Tevanyan (Armenia), 4-0 — Diakomihalis avenged a 2021 Worlds loss to Tevanyan when the three-time NCAA champ from Cornell scored a match-clinching single-leg takedown with 16 seconds left.

1st round – won by TF over Vladimir Dubov (Bulgaria), 10-0, 1:45 – Diakomihalis scored three takedowns, turning the first one into a gut-wrench 30 seconds into the match before ending the bout on a leg lace after the final takedown.

Quarterfinal – won by TF over Bajrang Punia (India), 10-0, 4:57 — Diakomihalis scored four straight stepouts before adding two takedowns in the final 2:15 in dominating the 2020 Olympic bronze medalist.

Semifinal – won by TF over Sebastian Rivera (Puerto Rico), 10-0, 0:53 – Diakomihalis scored a pair of single-leg takedowns and added six exposure points from those takedowns to beat Rivera, the former All-American from Rutgers.

Gold-medal bout – lost to Rahman Amouzadkhalili (Iran), 13-8 — The 20-year-old Amouzadkhalili, a two-time Cadet and 2021 Junior World champ, scored the final seven points, including two takedowns and a stepout after the bout was tied 8-8 at the break. The start of the match was a wild scramble as a video challenge by USA enlarged Diakomihalis’ lead from 4-2 to 8-6 one minute into the bout.

97k/213.5 pounds: Kyle Snyder (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC) – Gold

Kyle Snyder (right) outscored his four foes by a 24-2 margin, including a 6-0 shutout of Slovakia’s Batyrbek Tsakulov in claiming a third World championship to go along with the 2016 Olympic gold medal and four other World/Olympic medals. (Justin Hoch photo)

1st round – dec. Zbigniew Baranowski (Poland), 4-1 — Snyder’s points included three stepouts and a passivity point against the Pole, who was put on the activity clock midway through the first period. Baranowski’s point came off a stepout with 44 seconds left.

Quarterfinal – won by TF over Magomedkhan Magomedov (Azerbaijan), 10-0, 2:44 – Snyder jumped on top 6-0 in the first 46 seconds when he scored a takedown on a go-behind and added four exposure points off two turns. The American then added a pair of takedowns, off a low single and another go-behind to end the bout.

Semifinal – dec. Mohammahossein Mohammadian (Iran), 4-1 – Snyder scored the match’s only takedown off a double after taking a shot right off the opening whistle, then added a passivity point (when the Iranian was put on the clock in the first period) and a stepout with six seconds left. Mohammadian scored his point on a stepout with 2:08 left in the match to cut the margin to 3-1.

Gold-medal bout – dec. Batyrbek Tsakulov (Slovakia), 6-0 — Snyder set the tone early by scoring a takedown off a high-crotch 30 seconds into the bout, the controlled the match by forcing a passivity point against the former Russian wrestler to lead 3-0 at the break. Snyder added three step-outs in the second period to end this year’s World Championships.