PONTEVEDRA, Spain – A week full of action that saw a pair of Gophers competing in the U23 World Championships came to a close on Sunday morning, as Gopher freshman Aaron Nagao closed out the weekend with a fifth-place finish.
Action began on Monday morning for Greco-Roman competition, as Michial Foy was slated to compete in the 87-kilogram weight division. He opened up his first World Championships against Croatia’s Filip Smetko, falling by a score of 4-0.
The turning point in the match was Smetko’s ability to convert in par terre position, as he used a gut wrench in the first period to turn Foy following a passivity point to give Foy a three-point deficit going into the break. Following the loss, Foy would need Smetko to reach the finals in order to be pulled back in to repechage, however Smetko would drop his next match and Foy would be eliminated after going 0-1.
The Maroon & Gold faithful would then have to wait until Friday before another Gopher would see action in the World Championships, where Aaron Nagao competed at 61 kilograms as a part of the freestyle world team.
Nagao would open his tournament against Taiyrbek Zhumashbek Uulu of Kyrgyzstan, where Nagao would fall 9-0. Nagao was offensive in the bout as he fired off multiple attacks, but Uulu excelled in double-underhook position and took Nagao down three times to secure the win.
Fortunately, Uulu would make the finals in the 61-kilogram bracket, which allowed Nagao to wrestle on the consolation side of the tournament on Sunday morning. In his first match of the day, Nagao would square off against Elkin Espana Santa of Columbia.
This time around, Nagao was much more successful in converting his offensive attacks as he rolled to a 14-4 technical fall against the former U20 World silver medalist to punch his ticket to the bronze medal match.
In his final match of the weekend, Nagao squared off against Turkey’s Emrah Ormanoglu for his chance at a world medal. Nagao fell into a deep 8-0 deficit early, surrendering two takedowns and a pivotal scramble situation that led to four more points for his Turkish opponent. Coming out of the break, Nagao was able to find some success in his offense with a pair of push-outs and a takedown, but it was not enough as he would fall 9-4 and settle for the fifth-place finish.
Looking ahead, Foy and Nagao will now turn their attention to the folkstyle season as the Gophers will start their 2022-23 campaign on Nov. 12 when they travel to Fargo for the Bison Open.