PARIS, France – The United States claimed three individual medals on the first day of men’s freestyle competition at the World Wrestling Championships at the AccorHotels Arena on Friday, and was in first place in the team standings.
In his first Senior World Championships, Thomas Gilman (Council Bluffs, Iowa/Titan Mercury WC/Hawkeye WC) won a silver medal at 57 kg/125.5 lbs.
Gilman was defeated in the gold-medal finals by 2017 Asian champion Yuki Takahashi of Japan, 6-0, a match where he could not get his effective offense untracked.
The match did not start well for Gilman, as Takahashi drove him out of bounds, and the officials awarded Takahashi two points and a caution against Gilman for fleeing the mat. Another Takahashi takedown late in the first period made it 4-0 at the break. In the second period, although Gilman pressed the action, Takahashi was able to get the only takedown to win the match 6-0.
“The guy is a good wrestler. I was a little racy, as we say. We talked about it, that I need to score in the first 20 seconds. I don’t have a problem with that, but I have got to be smarter. I didn’t score on any of his attacks or his reattack. I can only wrestle so hard against the best guys in the world. I have to wrestle smart, too,” said Gilman.
Gilman won four tough bouts in the morning session to reach the finals. In his first match, he earned a 5-2 win over 2016 European silver medalist Andrey Yatsenko of Ukraine. In the second round, he edged 2017 Asian bronze medalist Reza Ahmad Atrinagharchi of Iran, 3-0. After a 12-1 technical fall over Nadirjon Safarov of Uzbekistan in the quarterfinals, Gilman emerged from a tough semifinals with a 5-4 win over two-time World Military Champion Hakjin Jong of North Korea.
Gilman was a three-time All-American for Iowa. A 2014 Junior World bronze medalist, Gilman made two Junior World Teams and a Cadet World Team.
The United States added World bronze medals from 2016 Olympic bronze medalist J’den Cox (Titan Mercury WC/Missouri WF) at 86 kg/189 lbs. and Nick Gwiazdowski (Raleigh, N.C./Titan Mercury WC/Wolfpack WC) at 125 kg/275 lbs.
Cox got his takedown offense untracked in the bronze-medal bout, defeating 2010 World champion Mihail Ganev of Bulgaria, 8-0. Cox went into the break with a 1-0 lead when Ganev was put on the shot clock and unable to score within 30 seconds. In the second period, Cox was moving and shooting, getting three takedowns and forcing a step out to dominate the action.
A three-time NCAA champion for Missouri, Cox now boasts a pair of bronze medals, his 2016 Olympic bronze from Rio de Janeiro, and a 2017 World bronze in Paris.
“It was a tough day. I had some tough matches. I didn’t come out on top in one of them, but I ended the day on a high note. I want to thank my parents who are here. I want to thank the USA Wrestling team, which has been awesome. Today was awful for me. I wrestled really bad. My body was feeling bad, I was hurting. No excuses though. When I show up to the mat, I am ready to go. Sometimes, the other guys out did me in the battles. At the end of the day, I had fun,” said Cox.
Cox opened with a 6-1 win against 2012 Junior World silver medalist Ahmed Dudarov of Germany. In the second round, he came from behind with a six point deficit, before beating Campbell University wrestler Ville Tapa Heino of Finland, 9-6. His quarterfinals win was a close 3-2 victory over Zbigniew Baranoski of Poland. In the semifinals, he fell behind to Boris Makoev of Slovakia, 6-0, before eventually losing 6-3.
Gwiazdowski controlled the action in his bronze-medal bout, defeating 2014 Asian silver medalist Zolboo Natsagsuren of Mongolia, 6-1. Gwiazdowski was ahead 3-0 at the break, on a shot clock violation against Natsagsuren and a double leg takedown. He finished another takedown and pushout for the margin of victory.
“Today was a good day on the mats, minus one match. At the World Championships, it feels good leaving with something. I don’t know if it was what the staff was telling me and I started believing it, or if it was true. But every day they said I was looking good. I don’t know about that. But it showed out there in the ones I won. I did good,” said Gwiazdowski.
Gwiazdowski scored a 10-0 technical fall over Moldova’s Andrei Romanov in round one. He came back with a strong 10-1 win over No. 4 seed Daniel Ligeti of Hungary. In the quarterfinals, Gwiazdowski won a tough battle against 2017 Asian champion Yadolla Mohebi of Iran, 5-4. 2016 Olympic champion and two-time World champion Taha Akgul of Turkey defeated In the semifinals, Gwiazdowski in the semifinals, 10-0.
The other U.S. athlete competing on Friday, 2016 World champion Logan Stieber (Columbus, Ohio/Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC) went 1-2 for the day and did not reach the medal rounds. Seeded No. 1, his losses were to 2016 European champion Gadzhimurad Rashidov of Russia and Olympic and World champion Vladimer Khinchegashvili of Georgia.
The United States is in first place in the team standings after day one with 25 points, ahead of second place Russia with 23 points and Turkey in third place with 19 points.
“Three medals. The guys wrestled well. We have some room to grow, some things to fix. I wish they were all gold. I am happy for those guys. They worked hard. They deserve those medals. That’s what I heard (that the USA is in first place). I like to focus on the athletes and focus on the details and the rest of that stuff takes care of itself,” said National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick.
At 61 kg/134 lbs., Haji Aliyev of Azerbaijan, a 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, won his third career World title, pinning Russian National champion Gadzhimurad Rashidov of Russia in 5:31 . With the match tied at 1-1 in the second period, Aliyev scored a takedown and added a turn for a 5-1 lead. Aliyev caught Rashidov attempting a front headlock turn, put him to his back and secured the fall.
2016 Olympic champion Hassan Yazdani Charati of Iran moved up in weight this year and won his first Senior World title at 86 kg/189 lbs., with a dominant 10-0 technical fall over Boris Makoev of Slovakia. Yazdani scored five first-period takedowns to the delight of the many Iranian fans in attendance.
In an action-packed heavyweight battle at 125 kg/275 lbs., 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Geno Petriashvili of Georgia scored a late takedown to edge 2016 Olympic champion and two-time World champion Taha Akgul of Turkey, 10-8 in the finals.
U.S. fans can watch Team USA on Saturday as the final four weight classes are held on the live webcast on Trackwrestling.