Fix and Steveson win gold, USA crowned best in the world

By Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling | Aug. 02, 2017, 4:22 p.m. (ET)

Photo: Daton Fix won the Junior World Championship at 55 kg/121 lbs. on Wednesday in Tampere, Finland. Photo by Richard Immel.

VIDEO: Junior World Championships interviews

TAMPERE, Finland –Daton Fix and Gable Steveson captured World championships on Wednesday night at the 2017 Junior World Championships in Tampere, Finland, helping the USA to edge out Russia by one point for its first Junior men’s freestyle World team title since 1984.

It was also on the second time since 1984 that multiple Americans were crowned World champs.

Overall the U.S. collected seven medals, including three gold, three silver and one bronze.

Wednesday’s performance featured gold medals from Fix and Steveson and silver medals from Ryan Deakin and Zahid Valencia.

With all four Americans in the finals, the night was bookended with gold.

Fix (Sand Springs, Okla./Titan Mercury WC) started it off for the Red, White and Blue, dueling Ismail Gadzhiev of Russia. The Oklahoma State freshman scored quickly on a takedown, but it was followed by an Iranian step out.

Fix scored two more with a slick duck under and went to his dangerous gutwrench to extend his lead to 6-1 at the break. He didn’t let the match last much longer as he picked up three second-period takedowns to win the bout 12-1.

The victory marked Fix’s fifth technical fall of the day as he outscored his opponents 53-1 to claim his first World championship.

“It’s always something I’ve dreamed of doing, and it feels indescribable, really,” Fix said. “I couldn’t count the number of times I’ve dreamt of that moment and to accomplish that is really amazing.”

Russia won the next two gold-medal matchups against the U.S., leaving the team title to be decided by the 120 kg/264 lbs. championship bout.

With the weight of the country on his shoulders, Steveson (Apple Valley, Minn./Minnesota Storm) showed poise in his battle against Iran’s Naeiim Hassanzadeh.

The Minnesota native was on the board first with a step out and extended his lead to 3-0 at the break. One minute into the first period, Steveson scored a takedown on the edge, securing his final points of the day. The Iranian managed to get on the board with a step out, but it was not enough and Steveson walked away with a 5-1 win and sealed the team title for USA.

Not only did Steveson win his first Junior World title but he also claimed his third-straight age-group World championship, adding to his 2015 and 2016 Cadet World crowns.

“It feels good,” Steveson said. “It feels better than last year. I’ve worked really hard for this, so it means a lot. I’m just happy I could come out here and win a team title with my team as well as my individual title.”

The other two U.S. wrestlers gave valiant efforts in their finals, falling short but still claiming their first World medals.

At 66 kg/145 lbs., Deakin (Broomfield, Colo./Northwestern) faced 2014 Cadet World Champion and Russia Nationals bronze medalist David Baev of Russia. Baev took the bout with a 10-0 first-period tech fall.

Although it wasn’t what he came for, Deakin left his first international competition with a World silver medal and earned the right to be called one of the best in the world.   

“It was a lot of fun. I learned a lot, and it was cool getting to come fulfill it,” Deakin said.

Three-time World Team member Zahid Valencia finally captured what was once an elusive World medal on Wednesday with his silver at 84 kg/185 lbs.

“I’ve progressed every year,” Valencia said. “I went from 10th to seventh to second. It’s a learning experience, and I have a lot of growing to do. I just enjoyed the experience, and hopefully, I’m ready for Seniors.”

In his attempt at gold, Valencia faced Russia’s Artur Naifonov. The Russian led, 4-1, early in the match, but Valencia took over the lead with a big four-pointer with 30 seconds remaining in the first period.

The California native continued to battle but an additional Russia takedown and step out was all it took for Naifonov to take the crown.

Other U.S. medalists from the tournament included World champion at 74 kg/163 lbs. Mark Hall, World silver medalist at 60 kg/132 lbs. Mitchell McKee and World bronze medalist at 96 kg/211 lbs. Kollin Moore.

The Junior World Championships continue tomorrow with the first day of women’s freestyle wrestling as Asia Ray, Cameron Guerin, Gracie Figueroa and Alex Glaude take to the mat.

The first session, which includes preliminary rounds through semifinals and repechage, will begin at 10 a.m. local time. The medal matches will take place at 6 p.m. local time.

Tampere, Finland is seven hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time, meaning those wishing to watch live can tune in at 3 a.m. (ET). A live stream of the event, as well as brackets, can be found at Trackwrestling.com.

2017 JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
Aug. 1-6 at Tampere, Finland

Team results
1. USA 68
2. Russia 67
3. Iran 49
4. Turkey 36
5. Azerbaijan 34
6. Armenia 32
7. India 27
8. Georgia 26
9. Mongolia 25
10. Germany 15

Finals matchups
55 kg/121 lbs.
Gold – Daton Fix (USA) tech. fall Ismail Gadzhiev (Russia), 12-1
Bronze –
Arsen Harutyunyan (Armenia) dec. Ramzan Awtaew (Germany), 9-0
Bronze –
Afgan Khashalov (Azerbaijan) dec. Nader Amir Nasrisamakoush (Iran), 8-7

66 kg/145 lbs.
Gold – David Baev (Russia) tech. fall Ryan Deakin (USA), 10-0
Bronze –
Temuulen Enkhtuya (Mongolia) dec. Amirhossei Hosseini (Iran), 6-4
Bronze –
Iveriko Julakidze (Georgia) dec. Gevorg Mkheyan (Armenia), 6-4

84 kg/185 lbs.
Gold – Artur Naifonov (Russia) dec. Zahid Valencia (USA), 7-5
Bronze –
Gadzhimura Magomedsaidov (Azerbaijan) tech fall Deepak Punia (India), 10-0
Bronze –
Ahmad Yous Bazrighaleh (Iran) tech. fall Osman Gocen (Turkey), 18-8

120 kg/264 lbs.
Gold – Gable Steveson (USA) vs. Naeiim Hassanzadeh (Iran), 5-1
Bronze –
Erdenetulg Davaadorj (Mongolia) vs. Feyzullah Akturk (Turkey)
Bronze – Zaur
Kozonov (Russia) vs. Zuriko Urtashvili (Georgia)

U.S. men’s freestyle results
55 kg/121 lbs. – Daton Fix (Sand Springs, Okla./Titan Mercury WC) - gold
WIN Salah Eddi Kateb (Algeria), 10-0
WIN Afgan Khashalov (Azerbaijan), 10-0
WIN Gulomjon Abdullaev (Uzbekistan), 11-0
WIN Nader Amir Nasrisamakoush (Iran), 10-0
WIN Ismail Gadzhiev (Russia), 12-1

66 kg/145 lbs. – Ryan Deakin (Broomfield, Colo./Northwestern) - silver
WIN Oleksandr Rybalko (Ukraine), 13-0
WIN
Temuulen Enkhtuya (Mongolia), 7-6
WIN
Amirhossei Hosseini (Iran), 10-2
LOSS David Baev (Russia), 10-0

84 kg/185 lbs. – Zahid Valencia (Bellflower, Calif./Sunkist Kids WC) - silver
WIN
Gadzhimura Magomedsaidov (Azerbaijan), 11-2
WIN
Cheolyeon Lee (Korea), 10-0
WIN
Deepak Punia (India), 11-0
LOSS Artur Naifonov (Russia), 7-5

120 kg/264 lbs. – Gable Steveson (Apple Valley, Minn./Minnesota Storm) - gold
WIN
Khasanboy Rakhimov (Uzbekistan), 11-0
WIN
Umar Israilov (Azerbaijan), 13-0
WIN
Zuriko Urtashvili (Georgia), 11-0
WIN
Zaur Kozonov (Russia), 21-10
WIN Naeiim Hassanzadeh (Iran), 5-1