2023 U17/U20 Worlds Recap: Men’s freestyle tallied five gold and 14 medals

Updated: August 21, 2023

Photo: Meyer Shapiro (right) overcame a four-point deficit to Ali Rezaei Aghouzgeleh of Iran to claim a U20 UWW World gold medal at 70 kilograms on Aug. 15, and is now one of four all-time Americans to win World titles in both the U17 and U20 Worlds. Shapiro was one of five Americans to win gold in one of two age-group World Championships in August. (Richard Immel photo)

By Mike Finn

As the summer comes to an end and both high school and college wrestlers enter another season of American folkstyle wrestling, it’s time to look back at what some of the more elite wrestlers accomplished at the two age-group World Championships that took place in August.

For the next three days, WIN is looking back at the U17 and U20 UWW World Championships, which were respectively held in Istanbul, Turkey, and Amman, Jordan; beginning with the success of the two men’s freestyle teams.

(WIN will focus on women’s freestyle on Tuesday and then Greco-Roman on Wednesday and will provide an even deeper recap in September’s WIN Magazine. Click here or call 888-305-0606 to subscribe.)

Based on the results of the men’s freestyle action earlier this month at these two tournaments, the future of USA Wrestling in this style remains very bright as the 20 wrestlers — 10 in each U17 and U20 — combined to earn 14 medals, including five gold medals. This comes one year after similar teams brought back 13 age-group medals, including six gold. Each 2023 team finished second to Iran in their respective team competitions.

Paul Kenny (left), Marcus Blaze and Ladarion Lockett all won 17U World titles in Istanbul, Turkey. (Photos by Kadir Caliskan, United World Wrestling)

At the U17 Worlds, Paul Kenny (48k), Marcus Blaze (55k) and Ladarion Lockett (71k) won gold medals and led a group that included bronze-medal performers Ignacio Villasenor (45k), Brock Mantanona (65k) and Zack Ryder (80k). Overall, the 10-man team combined to win 26 of 34 matches, a 76.4 winning percentage.

Kenny, a 15-year-old native of Bayville, N.J., who will be a freshman at Christian Brothers this fall, won both his semifinal and championship matches by criteria, including a 1-1 decision against Japan’s Yamato Furusawa to win a gold medal. Kenny benefitted from Furusawa not being able to score while on the shot clock in the second period.

Blaze, 16, who has already won two Ohio state titles for Perrysburg High School and returns for his junior year, earned three victories by technical fall to reach the finals, where he edged India’s Ankush Ankush by a 4-3 margin with a takedown and two stepouts.

The 17-year-old Lockett, who will be a junior at Stillwater (Okla.) High School (where he has won two state titles), outscored five opponents by a 42-1 margin. That included a 4-1 victory over Seyedabolfazl Hosseini of Iran in the gold medal match by scoring both of his takedowns in the second period.

Meanwhile at the U20 Worlds ten days later, Meyer Shapiro (70k) and Mitchell Mesenbrink (74k) each won gold medals for a group that won 33 of 41 matches, an 80.4 winning percentage. That included silver medal performances by Luke Lilledahl (57k) and Jesse Mendez (65k), while Nic Bouzakis (61k), Matthew Singleton (79k), Bennett Berge (86k) and Camden McDanel (97k) all earned bronze medals.

Shapiro, a 19-year-old native of Woodbine, Md., and freshman at Cornell, won two of his first four bouts by technical fall before beating Ali Rezaei Aghouzgeleh of Iran, 11-6, in the gold-medal bout after overcoming a 4-0 deficit. With the victory, Shapiro (who also won a Cadet/U17 World title in 2021) joins Gable Steveson, Spencer Lee and Mark Hall as the only Americans to win World gold at both age levels.

Mitchell Mesenbrink (right), who will be a redshirt freshman at Penn State this season, won all five bouts at the 20U Worlds by technical fall, including over Hossein Mohammad Aghaei (Iran) in the 79k finals. (Richard Immel photo)

Mesenbrink, a 20-year-old native of Hartland, Wisc., who will be a redshirt freshman at Penn State, won all five bouts by a technical fall and a 59-6 scoring margin. That included a 16-5 domination of Hossein Mohammad Aghaei of Iran in the final, one year after he finished second in the 2022 20U World Championships.

2023 U17 Men’s Freestyle World Results

Aug. 4-6 • Istanbul, Turkey

45 kg/100 lbs: Ignacio Villasenor, Longmont, Colo. (Pomona Elite WC), Bronze Medal

First Round – dec. Fredrick Bachmann, Jr. (Puerto Rico), 6-0; Quarterfinal – won by TF over Danraj Shirke (India), 10-0; Semifinal – lost to Ahora Khateri (Iran), 5-2; Bronze Medal Match – dec. Agashirin Agasherinov (Individual Neutral Athlete), 3-2

48 kg/105.5 lbs: Paul Kenny, Bayville, N.J., Gold Medal

Prelim – won by TF over Oliwier Orzechowski (Poland), 11-0; First Round – dec.  Azymberdi Ashyrgulyyev (Turkmenistan), 4-2; Quarterfinal – pinned Yeraly Zhetpissov (Kazakhstan), 3:38; Semifinal – dec. Sam Reza Sayar (Iran), 8-8 (criteria); Gold Medal Match – dec. Yamato Furusawa (Japan), 1-1 (criteria)

51 kg/112.5 lbs: Christian Castillo, Glendale, Ariz., (Thorobred WC), dnp

First Round – lost to Rohit (India), 5-4; Repechage – lost to Sadraddin Hasanov (Azerbaijan), 12-6

55 kg/121 lbs: Marcus Blaze, Perrysburg, Ohio (Perrysburg WC), Gold medal

Prelim – dec. Amirreza Ali Teymorizad (Iran), 2-1; First Round – won by TF over Azatberdi Ashyrgulyyev (Turkmenistan), 12-1; Quarterfinal – won by TF over Oubayda Itaev (France), 10-0; Semifinal – won by TF over Samvel Gevorgyan (Armenia), 10-0; Gold Medal Match – dec. Ankush (India), 4-3

60 kg/132 lbs: Ben Davino, South Elgin, Ill. (St. Charles WC), dnp

First Round – lost to Jamal Abbasov (Azerbaijan), 5-0

65 kg/143.5 lbs: Brock Mantanona, Bermuda Dunes, Calif., (Coachella Valley WC), Bronze Medal

Prelim – dec. Almas Sabyr (Kazakhstan), 14-6; First Round – won by TF over Ankh Erdene Altangerel (Mongolia), 16-5; Quarterfinal won by TF over WIN Zafarbek Kamalov (Uzbekistan), 12-2; Semifinal – lost by TF over Magomed Alibakharchiev (Individual Neutral Athlete), 14-2; Bronze Medal Match – dec. Khizir Daciev (France), 6-4

71 kg/156.5 lbs: Ladarion Lockett, Stillwater, Okla. (Cowboy WC), Gold Medal

Prelim – won by TF over Victor Soto Rivera (Puerto Rico), 10-0; First Round – won by TF over Felix Schmitt (Germany), 10-0; Quarterfinal – dec. Nurdaulet Seilbekov (Kazakhstan), 8-0; Semifinal – won by TF over Narender (India), 10-0; Gold Medal Match – dec. Seyedabolfazl Hosseini (Iran), 4-1

80 kg/176 lbs: Zack Ryder, Westtown, N.Y. (M2 Training Center), Bronze Medal

First Round – dec. Askhab Khajiyev (Kazakhstan), 2-1; Quarterfinal – pinned Saurabh Yadav (India), pin 0:59; Semifinal – lost to Alexandru Borz (Moldova), 4-1; Bronze Medal Match – pinned Ismayil Asadli (Azerbaijan), 2:54

92 kg/202.5 lbs: Aeoden Sinclair, Edgerton, Wisc. (Askren Wrestling Academy), 8th place

First Round – pinned Bence Veress (Hungary), 1:02; Quarterfinal – lost to Toohid Amirali Noory (Iran), 5-3

110 kg/242.5 lbs: Sampson Stillwell, Centerview, Mo. (Kobra Kai Training), dnp

First Round – lost by TF to Henrik Haykyan (Armenia), 13-3


Top-10 U17 Men’s Freestyle Team Standings

Pl. Country (Champs/Medalists) Pts.
1. Iran (2/6) 156
2. United States (3/6) 126
3. Japan (2/3) 106
4. Azerbaijan (1/2) 84
5. Armenia (0/4) 79
6. India (0/2) 74
7. Georgia (1/2) 72
8. Kazakhstan (0/3) 64
9. Turkmenistan (0/0) 38
10. Turkey (0/2) 35


2023 U20 World Men’s Freestyle Results

Aug. 14-16 • Amman, Jordan

57 kg/125.5 lbs: Luke Lilledahl (St. Charles, Mo./X-Calibur Athletics WC), Silver Medal

Prelim – dec. Lev Pavlov (Individual Neutral Athlete), 9-2; First Round – dec. Tolga Ozbek (Turkey), 6-1; Quarterfinal – dec. Edik Harutyunyan (Armenia), 8-3; Semifinal – pinned Ruslan Abdullayev (Azerbaijan), 5:53; Gold Medal Match – lost to Yuto Nishiuchi (Japan), 5-0

61 kg/132 lbs: Nic Bouzakis (Dallas, Pa./X-Calibur Athletics WC/Ohio RTC), Bronze Medal

Prelim – dec. Shehabeldin Mohamed (Egypt), 4-2; First round – dec. Yahor Rudauski (Individual Neutral Athlete), 9-6; Quarterfinal – lost to Kumar Mohit (India), 12-11; Repechage – won by TF over Dmitri Carastoianov (Moldova), 10-0; Bronze Medal Match – won by TF over Besir Alili (North Macedonia), 11-1

65 kg/143.5 lbs: Jesse Mendez (Crown Point, Ind./Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC), Silver Medal

Prelim – dec. Mykyta Zubal (Ukraine), 2-1; First Round – dec. Aden Sakybaev (Kyrgyzstan), 7-2; Quarterfinal – dec. Ion Berghi (Moldova), 13-4; Semifinal – dec., Abdullah Toprak (Turkey), 3-1; Gold Medal Match – lost to Mohammad Shakeri (Iran), 5-2

70 kg: Meyer Shapiro (Woodbine, Md./Spartan Combat RTC), Gold Medal

Prelim – won by TF over Yuma Tomiyama (Japan), tech. fall, 11-0; First Round – dec. Mirjavad Nabiyev (Azerbaijan), 6-4; Quarterfinal – dec. Magomed Baitukaev (Individual Neutral Athlete), 8-0; Semifinal – won by TF over Julian George (Puerto Rico), 11-0; Gold Medal Match – dec. Ali Rezaei Aghouzgeleh (Iran), 11-6

74 kg/163 lbs: Mitchell Mesenbrink (Hartland, Wisc./Askren Wrestling Academy), Gold Medal

Prelim – won by TF over Ion Marcu (Moldova), tech. fall, 10-0; First Round – won by TF over Elkhan Garayev (Azerbaijan), tech. fall, 12-1; Quarterfinal – won by TF over Jaideep Jaideep (India), 11-0; Semifinal – won by TF over Zhakshylyk Baitashov (Kyrgyzstan), 10-0; Gold Medal Match – won by TF over Hossein Mohammad Aghaei (Iran), 16-5

79 kg/174 lbs: Matthew Singleton (College Park, Ga./Wolfpack WC), Bronze Medal

Prelim – won by TF over Denizbek Ulan Uulu (Kyrgyzstan), 12-2; First Round – won by TF over Nandor Hajduch (Hungary), 10-0; Quarterfinal – dec. Narek Grigoryan (Armenia), 10-6; Semifinal – lost by TF to Sagar Jaglan (India), 16-6; Bronze Medal Match – dec Ahmet Yagan (Turkey), 9-7

86 kg/189 lbs: Bennett Berge (Mantorville, Minn./Jackrabbit WC), Bronze Medal

First Round – dec. Ivan Chornohuz (Ukraine), 9-5; Quarterfinal – won by TF over Slavi Stamenov (Bulgaria), 11-0; Semifinal – lost to Rakhim Magamadov (France), 9-2; Bronze Medal Match – won by TF over Shakjir Bislimi (North Macedonia), tech. fall, 11-0

92 kg/203 lbs: Jack Darrah (Washington, Mo./California RTC), dnp

First Round – lost to Giorgi Romelashvili (Georgia), 4-3

97 kg/213.5 lbs: Camden McDanel (Circleville, Ohio), Bronze Medal

First Round – won by TF over Toyoki Hamada (Japan), 12-1; Quarterfinal – won by TF over Taron Shahinyan (Poland), 12-2; Semifinal – lost to Abolfazl Babaloo (Iran), 5-1; Bronze Medal Match – dec. Kamil Kurugliyev (Kazakhstan), 8-2

125 kg/265 lbs: Christian Carroll (Stillwater, Okla./Cowboy RTC), 10th place

First Round – won by TF over Ksawery Kaminski (Poland), 14-2; Quarterfinal – lost by TF to Amirreza Masoumi Valadi (Iran), 10-0; Repechage – lost by fall to Hakan Buyukcingil (Turkey), fall, 4:44

Top-10 U20 Men’s Freestyle Team Standings

Pl. Country (Champs/Medalists) Pts.
1. Iran (4/7) 165
2. United States (2/8) 152
3. India (1/5) 102
4. Japan (1/2) 63
5. Turkey (0/3) 61
6. Kazakhstan (1/1) 56
7. Georgia (0/2) 54
8. Armenia (0/1) 53
9. Azerbaijan (0/1) 45
10. Ukraine (0/1) 44