Justin Ruiz battles Sweden's Jimmy Lidberg in the bronze-medal match. Larry Slater photo.
MOSCOW, Russia - Nobody could fault the effort of American wrestler Justin Ruiz
Ruiz fought gamely, but fell just short of winning a medal as the World Championships kicked off on Monday at the Olympiysky Sports Complex.
Ruiz battled back to win two repechage matches before falling to Sweden's Jimmy Lidberg 1-0, 1-0 in the bronze-medal match at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. Ruiz won a World bronze medal in 2005. He was making his fifth appearance at the Worlds, but first since 2007.
"It's been a while since I've been at this level," Ruiz said. "I was excited about every match. I wasn't thinking about end results, places and medals. I wanted to wrestle, to do my best and win."
Lidberg successfully defended Ruiz in the first period and was then able to turn him late in the second period to prevail. Lidberg was a 2009 World silver medalist.
"I felt good going into the match," Ruiz said. "In the first period, I got a lock but couldn't get a turn. In the second period, he had a couple good attempts I fought off. My mistake was I was preparing for another attempt and he caught me going the other way. It cost me the match."
The 31-year-old Ruiz opened with a 1-0, 1-0 win over Richard Karelson of Estonia before falling to Timofej Dzeinichenka of Belarus 0-1, 2-0, 4-0 in the second round. Ruiz charged at the Belarus wrestler in the third period, but was caught with a three-point move when his attack was countered with a throw. U.S. coaches protested the scoring, but it was upheld.
Ruiz came back in the repechage to earn wins over Sabhui Humbatov of Azerbaijan and Yunior Estrada Cuba before battling Lidberg for the bronze medal.
Americans Faruk Sahin and Spenser Mango fell short of medals on Monday.
Sahin opened with three-period wins over Tomasz Swierk of Poland and Tero Valimaki of Finland before falling to Ukraine's Arman Vardanyan 2-0, 1-0 in the quarterfinals at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. Vardanyan is a two-time World silver medalist and Olympic bronze medalist.
Sahin was then eliminated in the repechage when he lost 3-0, 3-0 to Olympic gold medalist Steve Guenot of France. Guenot had lost to Vardanyan earlier in the tournament. Sahin was wrestling in his second World Championships.
"I understand this is my second World Championships" Sahin said. "I have seen a lot. I haven't wrestled the guy who I lost to. He is very experienced, and has medaled a few times. He lifted me with two seconds left. My preparation, I felt was great. Sometimes, you have to have luck. The last two seconds, he got the lift. I guess things happen. I need to focus on winning. These are good experiences. I am learning a lot. It is not easy winning the Worlds."
Mango dropped his first match to 2008 Olympic champion Nazyr Mankiev of Russia at 55 kg/121 lbs. Mango was eliminated when Mankiev fell one match short of reaching the finals.
Mango dropped a 1-1, 1-0 decision to Mankiev. Mango scored on a pushout with 20 seconds left in the first period before Mankiev countered with a takedown with 12 seconds left. Mankiev then turned Mango with 13 seconds left in the second period to clinch the win.
Mango, a 2008 Olympian, was wrestling in his second straight World Championships.
"I feel like I am right there" Mango said. "It's little things, nothing major. I have to work on fixing those mistakes. I was expecting him to bring me back through and I would get some repechage matches. It didn't happen this time. I have to work on my mistakes and come back next year."
Champions crowned on Monday were Iran's Hamid Soryan at 55 kg/121 lbs., Russia's Ambako Vachadze at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. and Iran's Amir Aziz Aliakbari at 96 kg/211.5 lbs.
Soryan won his fifth straight World title.
Day 2 of the seven-day event is set for Tuesday in Moscow. Greco-Roman wrestlers Jeremiah Davis (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army), Jake Clark (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Air Force) and Dremiel Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) are scheduled to compete for the U.S.
Davis competes at 60 kg/132 lbs., Clark is at 84 kg/185 lbs. and Byers is at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. Byers won a silver medal in this event last year. He was a World champion in 2002 and a World bronze medalist in 2007. Davis and Clark are in the Worlds for the second time.WORLD WRESTLING CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Moscow, Russia, Sept. 655 kg/121 lbs.
Gold - Hamid Soryan (Iran)
Silver - Gyu-Jin Choi (Korea)
Bronze - Nazyr Mankiev (Russia)
Bronze - Roman Amoyan (Armenia)
5th - Peter Modos (Hungary)
5th - Velenin Venkov (Bulgaria)
7th -Jani Jukka Happamaki (Finland)
8th - Dawid Andrzej Ersetic (Poland)
9th - Elchin Aliyev (Azerbaijan)
10th - Gustavo Eddy Balart Marin (Cuba)]66 kg/145.5 lbs.
Gold - Ambako Vachade (Russia)
Silver - Armen Vardanyan (Ukraine)
Bronze - Vasif Arzimanov (Turkey)
Bronze - Vitaliy Rahimov (Azerbaijan)
5th - Steeve Guenot (France)
5th - Tamas Lorincz (Hungary)
7th - Pascal Strebel (Switzerland
8th - Hyeon-Woo Kim (Korea)
9th - Danijel Janecic (Croatia)
10th - Emiliyan Todorov (Bulgaria)96 kg/211.5 lbs.
Gold - A Aliakbari (Iran)
Silver - Dzeinichienka (Belarus)
Bronze - Aslanbek Khushtov (Russia)
Bronze - Jimmy Lidberg (Sweden)
5th - David Saldadze (Uzbekistan)
5th - Justin Ruiz (USA)
7th - Yunior Estrada (Cuba)
8th - Daigoro Timoncini (Italy)
9th - Robert Papp (Romania)
10th - Kaloyan Dinchev (Bulgaria)U.S. GRECO-ROMAN RESULTS FROM MONDAY'S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS55 kg/121 lbs. - Spenser Mango, St. Louis, Mo. (New York AC), dnp/19th
LOSS Nazyr Mankiev (Russia), 1-1, 0-166 kg/145.5 lbs. - Faruk Sahin, Colorado Springs, Colo. (U.S. Army), dnp/11th
WIN Tomasz Swierk (Poland), 0-1, 1-0, 1-0
WIN Tero Valimaki (Finland), 0-1, 3-1, 1-0
LOSS Arman Vardanyan (Ukraine), 0-2, 0-1
LOSS Steve Guenot (France), 0-3, 0-396 kg/211.5 lbs. - Justin Ruiz, Boise, Idaho. (New York AC) - 5th
WIN Richard Karelson (Estonia), 1-0, 1-0
LOSS Timofej Dzeinichenka (Belarus), 0-1, 2-0, 4-0
WIN Sabhui Humbatov (Azerbaijan), 1-0, 2-0
WIN Yunior Estrada (Cuba), 1-0, 0-4, 1-0
LOSS Jimmy Lidberg (Sweden), 1-0, 1-0