2023 UWW Worlds Preview: 65k MFS, 63k GR, 55k WFS

Updated: August 30, 2023

Photos: Xavier Johnson used to compete for the Marines before joining the Army’s World Class Athlete Program in Greco-Roman; Nick Lee, the former NCAA champ from Penn State, beat 2022 World silver medalist Yianni Diakomihalis at Final X in men’s freestyle; Jacarra Winchester has already won a World championship and competed in the 2020 Olympics. (Photos by Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

Of the 30 Americans who will wrestle at the 2023 World Championship, Sept. 16-24, in Belgrade, Serbia, a dozen will be competing on such a World stage for the first time.

That includes two — Nick Lee in men’s freestyle and Xavier Johnson in Greco-Roman — who are featured in the third of 10 installments of WIN Magazine’s preview of this year’s Worlds. The other previewed in this installment is Jacarra Winchester, a former World champ in women’s freestyle, who will compete in her fourth World tournament.

WIN Magazine will provide comprehensive coverage of the 2023 World Championships in the next issue of WIN, which will be printed on Sept. 28. Click here or call 1-888-305-0606 to subscribe.

The following is an in-depth look at three more Americans competing at the 2023 Worlds … as well as what international wrestlers will challenge them in Serbia.

Men’s Freestyle: 65k/143.5 lbs — Nick Lee (Nittany Lion WC / TMWC)

Competes Sept. 18-19

Age: 25 (born March 12, 1998); Hometown: Evansville, Ind.

Beat Yianni Diakomihalis at Final X

International Experience: This is Lee’s first World/Olympic experience. He finished third at the 2020 Olympic Trials (held in 2021). Lee was a two-time Cadet Pan-Am champ (2013-14).

Other: Lee was a three-time NCAA All-American at Penn State; highlighted by a championship at 141 pounds in 2021. He also finished fifth in both 2018 and 2019.

Top International Competition: There are three past World champs at this weight class: Iran’s Rahman Mousa Amouzadkhalili, Japan’s Takuto Otoguro and Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan.  The Iranian captured his first World title last fall when he defeated USA’s Yianni Diakomihalis in the gold medal match after he competed at 61 kilos in 2021. This will be Otoguro’s first World-level tournament since he won an Olympic championship in Tokyo in 2021. Before that, he won a World title in 2018, but settled for fifth in the 2019 Worlds. Aliyev, meanwhile, won World championships in 2014, 2015 and 2017 at 61 kilos, while he also captured gold in the 2016 Olympics at 57 kilograms.  Since moving up to 65 kilos in 2018, he has wrestled in three World tournaments as well as the 2020 Olympics when he finished second to Otoguro.

Meanwhile, there are four current or past American college wrestlers representing different countries: Josh Finesilver, formerly a Duke wrestler, who will represent Israel, current Northern Iowa junior Colin Realbuto wearing an Italian singlet, current North Carolina sophomore Lachlan O’Neil, who will compete for his native Canada, and former Rutgers/Northwestern All-American Sebastian Rivera who will wrestle for Puerto Rico.

Greco-Roman: 63k/138 lbs — Xavier Johnson (U.S. Army WCAP)

Competes Sept. 23-24

Age: 28 (born July 3, 1995); Hometown: Orangeburg, S.C.

Beat Hayden Tuma at Final X

International Experience: This marks the first Senior-level World/Olympics tournament for Johnson, who joined the Army’s WCAP in 2022 after the U.S. Marines dropped its wrestling program. One year earlier, Johnson finished second to Alejandro Sancho at the Olympic Trials at 67 kilos. In 2018, he wrestled at 60 kilos and defeated Ildar Hafizov in the Armed Forces Championships.

Top International Competition: There is only one returning World medalist at this non-Olympic weight class: Georgia’s Leri Abuladze, who earned two straight silver medals, including last fall when he came up in second to Serbia’s Sebastian Nad, who is expected to compete at 67 kilos in the 2023 Worlds. Iran’s Iman Hossein Khoon Mohammadi, who won World championships at both the U20 and U23 level last year, is also expected to make an impact in his first Senior Worlds.

Women’s Freestyle: 55k/121.5 lbs — Jacarra Winchester (USOPTC / Titan Mercury WC)

Competes Sept. 18-19

Age: 30 (born Oct. 19, 1992); Hometown: San Lorenzo, Calif.

Beat Alisha Howk at Final X

International Experience: This marks the fourth World Team for Winchester, who won a World title in 2019. She also finished fifth in the 2018 and 2022 Worlds … as well as in the 2020 Olympics (held in 2021 in Tokyo). Overall, her record is 10-6 (8-4 in the Worlds and 2-2 in the Olympics.

Other: She also won a 2015 WCWA championship for Missouri Valley.

Top International Competition: Japan’s Mayu Mukaida, who won two World championships (including last fall when she beat Winchester in the semifinals) and an Olympic gold medal in the past three years, is not expected to compete in this year’s Worlds at this non-Olympic weight. Instead, she will be replaced by Haruna Okuno, who won Senior World titles in 2017 and 2018 and was young enough to win U23 Worlds in both 2021 and 2022. Ukraine’s Aleksandra Khomenets could give her war-torn country plenty of pride as she hopes to build off last year’s silver medal performance and a bronze medal in 2021.

The following is a schedule of WIN’s other daily World Championship previews (including pertinent information on the American who will wrestle at that weight class and style). Click on previous days to read those previews: