Conley and Anundson win silver medals, Kelly takes bronze at Grappling Worlds in Serbia

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | Sept. 30, 2011, 1:35 p.m. (ET)
Kelly Anundson won his third career World Grappling medal with a silver in the No-Gi Absolute division. Here he battles Juan Francisco Espino of Spain in the finals. Robbert Wijtman photo

BELGRADE, Serbia -- Three U.S. Grapplers won medals on the second day of the FILA Grappling World Championships on Friday.

Capturing silver medals were Kelly Anundson (Coral Springs, Fla./American Top Team) in the Absolute division of the No-Gi competition and Travis Conley (Lee's Summit, Mo./KCBJJ) at 90 kg/198 lbs. in the Gi competition.

Anundson won three straight bouts to reach the finals. He scored submission victories over Michele Verginelli of Italy and Karim Mosbah of France. In the semifinals, he defeated 2010 World silver medalist Eddy Bengtsson of Sweden, 3-1. Bengtsson was an Olympian and Junior World medalist in Greco-Roman wrestling before starting his Grappling career.

In the championship finals, Anundson lost a controversial 0-1 decision to Juan Francisco Espino of Spain.

The match was scoreless until about 30 seconds left, when Espino scored a takedown for a point. Anundson claimed that Espino had grabbed his boardshorts while executing the attack. When the U.S. coaches became aware of this, they attempted to protest the move, but was told the protest was done too late. Anundson was unable to score in the closing seconds.

It was Anundson's third career World finals match. Anundson was a 2009 World champion in two weight classes, winning both the 120 kg/264.5 lbs. division and the Absolute division.

"Kelly was the class of his division. He fought like a World champion. He got an extremely questionable call from the referee which cost him the finals match. I would have loved to see him go a two-out-of-three with his opponent" said U.S. coach Sheldon Marr.

Conley, competing in his first Grappling World Championships, opened with a huge win, defeating 2010 Gi World champion Takanori Kuno of Japan, 5-4. He won his semifinals match by submission over Mladen Jokmanovic of Montenegro.

In the championship finals, Conley lost to Piotr Baginski of Poland, 1-2. The score was tied at 1-1 when Conley was called for a one-point penalty while attempting a scoring maneuver.

In Grappling, if you lose a video protest, the penalty is five points. Conley chose not to protest the illegal move call, hoping to score in the closing seconds, which he was unable to do.

"It was Travis' first time on the U.S. Grappling Team. We saw him beat last year's World Champion in the first match and he went on to win the silver medal. He did a fantastic job" said Marr.

Claiming a bronze medal in the No-Gi Absolute division was Mike Kelly (Hebron, Ill. /Old School Wrestling).

Kelly opened with a submission victory over Alex Sung of Canada. In his next match, he lost to eventual champion Juan Francisco Espino of Spain, 1-6. Kelly was pulled back into the repechage rounds, where he won three straight bouts to capture the bronze medal.

Kelly competed at 90 kg/198 lbs. in No-Gi on Thursday, but did not win a medal.

It was Kelly's third career Grappling World Championships bronze medal. Kelly won a bronze medal at 76 kg/165 lbs. in No-Gi at the 2010 World Championships and a bronze medal at 74 kg/163 lbs. in No-Gi at the 2009 World Championships.

"I love coaching Mike Kelly" said Marr. "This is his fifth time on the U.S. team for Grappling and this is his third World medal. He has still got it."

Competing on Friday but falling short of the medal rounds were Shane Cross (Denver, Colo./Grappler`s Edge) in the No-Gi Absolute and Tom LeCuyer (Plano, Ill.,/Torres Martial Arts) at 75 kg/165 lbs. in the Gi competition.

Cross won his first two matches before being eliminated by Bengtsson in the third round. LeCuyer, competing up a weight class, was injured in his opening bout, but finished the match in a loss to Ermis Dimitropoulos of Greece.

The United States placed a strong third as a team in the No-Gi competition, finishing behind champion Poland and runner-up Sweden.

The No-Gi team standings combine both men and women entries, and the USA had only one woman participating, without an entry in five women's weight classes.

"We were right behind Sweden, and Poland was about 50 points ahead of us. Poland won most of the women's divisions and had a men's champion. Our team fought real hard and represented our nation well, in spite of the challenges we faced" said Marr.

The Gi-Grappling competition concludes on Saturday with the Absolute division. The USA will have no entries in this weight class.

At Belgrade, Serbia, Sept. 20

Men's No-Gi results

Gold - Juan Francisco Espino (Spain)
Silver - Kelly Anundson (USA)
Bronze - Mike Kelly (USA)
Bronze - Eddy Bengtsson (Sweden)

Team Trophies for No-Gi Grappling
1st - Poland
2nd - Sweden
3rd - United States

U.S. Men's No-Gi results

Absolute - Kelly Anundson, Coral Springs, Fla. (American Top Team), 2nd
WIN Michele Verginelli (Italy), submission
WIN Karim Mosbah (France), submission
WIN Eddy Bengtsson (Sweden), 3-1
LOSS Juan Francisco Espino (Spain), 0-1

Absolute - Michael Kelly, Hebron, Ill. (Old School Wrestling), 3rd
WIN Alex Sung (Canada), submission
LOSS Juan Francisco Espino (Spain), 1-6
WIN S. Jorvovic (Serbia), dec.
WIN Bruno Ivan Tommasetti (Italy), inj. dft.
WIN Brice Willis (Canada), inj. dft

Absolute - Shane Cross, Denver, Colo. (Grappler's Edge), did not medal
WIN Kuprichenkov (Russia), 5-2
WIN Mladenovic (Serbia), 5-0
LOSS Eddy Bengtsson (Sweden), submission

Men and Women's Gi medalists not currently available

U.S. Men's Gi results

75 kg/165 lbs. - Tom LeCuyer, Plano, Ill., (Torres Martial Arts), did not medal
LOSS Ermis Dimitropoulos (Greece), 3-7

90 kg/198 lbs. - Travis Conley, Lee's Summit, Mo. (KCBJJ), 2nd
WIN Takanori Kuno (Japan), 5-4
WIN Mladen Jokmanovic (Montenegro), submission
LOSS Piotr Baginski (Poland), 1-2