Lewan wins gold, Hoffman wins bronze and USA sends three more to Cadet World finals

By Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling | Sept. 09, 2017, 3:45 p.m. (ET)

Photo: Will Lewan won a Cadet World title in Athens, Greece. Photo by Richard Immel.

ATHENS, Greece – The U.S. men’s freestyle team finished day two of the 2017 Cadet World Championships with a World champion, World bronze medalist and three additional wrestlers earning spots in tomorrow’s World finals.

17-year-old Will Lewan won the Cadet freestyle World title at 69 kg/152 lbs. in his World debut, taking out Daud Ibragimov of Azerbaijan in a 3-1 battle. Lewan scored first with a step out to lead at the break, but Ibragimov drew a passivity point within the final minute of the bout. Trailing on criteria with two seconds left, Lewan got to his underhook and worked his way to a takedown on the edge to cement himself as the best in the world. 

“I knew I had to score because I had worked so hard for this moment,” Lewan said. “In those last seconds, I knew I really had to dig deep and throw everything I had at him to get that takedown, and eventually that step-over worked. I just had to keep going, attacking and grind out a win.”

In his championship run, Lewan also recorded wins over 2017 Cadet Asian bronze medalist Vishal Kaliramana of India, Alinur Takirov of Kyrgyzstan, Soslanbek Budaev of Russia and 2017 Cadet European bronze medalist Umur Aybey of Turkey.

“Winning a World title means a lot because of all the sacrifices I’ve made to get here. I’ve been dreaming of a moment like this my whole life. This just shows what’s next to come for me. A Cadet World title is not all I’m capable of. I can do it in Junior and eventually Senior,” Lewan said.9

At 85 kg/187 lbs., Gavin Hoffman fought back in the repechage to win a World bronze medal in his first international outing.

In the bronze-medal final, Hoffman faced Sandeep Mann of India. The American fell behind, 2-2, on criteria after the first period but picked up his offense in the second, scoring on a step out, takedown and last-second exposure to claim a 7-2 win and a World medal.

Earlier in the day, he notched two wins to advance to the bronze match.

“The biggest lesson I learned was just to fight as hard as I can every second and to not get discouraged no matter how bad I’m losing,” Hoffman said. “I have to keep my head in the match the whole time and never give up. I just have to get 100 percent out of myself every time I step on the mat.”

American freestylers Kurt McHenry, Aaron Brooks and Daniel Kerkvliet earned bids to the finals of the 2017 Cadet World Championships on Saturday evening. Two others, Jacori Teemer and Robert Howard, will fight for bronze on Sunday.

2016 Cadet World champion McHenry entered the tournament at a new weight, looking for another World crown. He will get a shot at his second gold medal after a 5-4 nail-biting win over 2016 Cadet World bronze medalist Magomed Abdurakhmanov of Russia in the 46 kg/101 lbs. semifinals.

The two met in the Cadet World semifinals for the second-straight year. Last year, McHenry dominated the Russian in an 11-0 tech fall. This year, Abdurakhmanov was more prepared.

McHenry led 1-0 at the break. Halfway through the second period, both wrestlers recorded takedowns with McHenry holding the advantage. The American separated himself with exposure on the edge, but the Russian continued to attack, scoring a late takedown. Abdurakhmanov was unable to get a turn, advancing McHenry to the 46 kg finals with a 5-4 win.

“They were more prepared definitely,” McHenry said. “Last year, no one really know who I was, so this year everybody had a game plan for me. I knew coming into the event that it was going to be a tougher tournament to win because everyone is looking for me now, but it didn’t make a difference. I found a way to win. That’s what I had to do.”

Waiting for McHenry in his return to the finals is 2016 Cadet World bronze medalist and 2017 Cadet European champion Giorgi Gegelashvili of Georgia.

Both winning their semis with tech falls, Brooks and Kerkvliet advanced to the finals of their respective weights in their World Championship debuts.

Brooks, the Cadet World Team Trials runner-up, faced Maysem Zaree of Iran. Fans were careful not to blink as Brooks was unstoppable against Iranian, rattling off point after point. The Maryland native sailed to the finals with four takedowns for a 12-1 tech fall.

“I feel awesome. The way I’m wrestling is what I envisioned, and that’s what everyone thought I was capable of doing,” Brooks said. “Snaps is the strength. Fakes are the speed. You put that all together, get to the leg and finish strong. It’s a combination of technique and staying calm.”

Tomorrow night, he’ll take on 2017 Cadet Asian champion Arsamag Khostikoev of Russia for gold.

For Kerkvliet, his semifinals match at 100 kg/220 lbs. was his first bout to make it past the first period.

2017 Cadet Asian silver medalist Zyamuhammed Saparov of Turkmenistan challenged Kerkvliet for the spot in the finals, but the American proved to be too much, jumping out to an 8-0 start. Saparov managed to get on the board late in the first period, but two final takedowns in the second period sealed the 12-2 win, giving Kerkvliet his third win by tech fall.

“I got to my offense early and I was happy with that,” Kerkvliet said. “I made a couple of mistakes mid-match and gave up a takedown. I talked it over [Kevin Jackson] and the other coaches during the break, and I just got back to setting up my shots better. [International opponents] have a more of a bent over at the waist kind of style, and my style of attacking from out really creates problems for them.”

Kerkvliet will battle 2017 Cadet European champion and 2016 Cadet European silver medalist Ismailbek Nirov for to 100 kg World title.

In the 63 kg/139 lbs. semifinals, Jacori Teemer lost a heartbreaker to Kenshin Ito of Japan. The American trailed 3-3 on criteria but managed to throw his opponent for four points to give Teemer a 7-3 win on the scoreboard. However, Japan challenged and won as time had expired before Teemer’s points were scored. Ito moved on with a 3-3 win.

Robert Howard was pulled back into the repechage at 54 kg/119 lbs., when Iran’s Mehdi Eshghivasoukolaei dominated Roberto Alejandro Blanco of Mexico, 9-0, in the semis.

Howard will face Damirbek Maqsudov of Tajikistan Sunday afternoon.

Cole Skinner fell short of a medal in his first Cadet World Championships, dropping a tough 11-4 match to Kasei Tanabe of Japan. He finishes the tournament with a 1-2 record and a fifth-place finish.

USA continues competition tomorrow with five wrestlers, McHenry, Brooks and Kerkvliet wrestling for gold and Howard and Teemer going for bronze. Repechage starts at 3:30 p.m. local time (8:30 a.m. ET) with medal matches set to begin at 5 p.m. (10 a.m. ET).

2017 CADET WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
at Athens, Greece, Sept. 4-10

 U.S. men’s freestyle results
42 kg/92 lbs. – Cole Skinner, Middleton, Ohio (G2 World WA) – 5th
LOSS Alihasan Amirli (Azerbaijan), 11-0
WIN Kudaibergen Murat (Kazakhstan), 4-2
LOSS Kasei Tanabe (Japan), 11-4

46 kg/101 lbs. – Kurt McHenry, Leesburg, Va. (Ranger WC)
WIN Fotis Papadopoulis (Canada), 10-0
WIN Taiyrbek Zhumashbek Uulu (Kyrgyzstan), 18-8
WIN Adem Uzun (Turkey), 4-2
WIN Magomed Abdurakhmanov (Russia), 5-4

50 kg/110 lbs. – Julian Tagg, Broadview Heights, Ohio (Seasons WC) – 7th
WIN Danila Shyrokan (Belarus), 10-3
LOSS Mahir Mammadzada (Azerbaijan), 9-8
WIN Mohamed Al Lakel (Algeria) 12-1
LOSS Akbar Kurbanov (Kazakhstan), 4-2

54 kg/119 lbs. – Robert Howard, Cranford, N.J. (Bitetto Trained)
LOSS
Mehdi Eshghivasoukolaei (Iran), 8-4

58 kg/128 lbs. – Jordan Decatur, Akron, Ohio (Seasons WC) – 14th
LOSS Georgios Pilidis (Greece), 8-6

63 kg/138 lbs. – Jacori Teemer, Long Beach, N.Y. (Long Beach)
WIN
Giorgi Elbakidze (Georgia), fall 3:53
WIN Ahmet Sali Yigit (Turkey), 12-10
WIN Ikhtiyor Normurodov (Uzbekistan), 5-3
LOSS Kenshin Ito (Japan), 3-3

69 kg/152 lbs. – Will Lewan, Chicago, Ill. (Izzy Style)
WIN Vishal Kaliramana (India), 6-0
WIN Alinur Takirov (Kyrgyzstan), 6-0
WIN Soslanbek Budaev (Russia), 10-4
WIN Umur Aybey (Turkey), 6-2
WIN Daud Ibragimov (Azerbaijan), 3-1

76 kg/167 lbs. – Aaron Brooks, Hagerstown, Md. (Hagerstown)
WIN
Lasha Bairamovi (Georgia), 12-2
WIN Alex Hoerner (Germany), 11-0
WIN Filip Jires (Czech Republic), 10-0
WIN
Meysam Zaree (Iran), 12-1

85 kg/187 lbs. – Gavin Hoffman, Cogan Station, Pa. (Bison Legend WC)
WIN David Losonczi (Hungary), 10-2
LOSS Abbas Ali Foroutanrami (Iran), 9-3
WIN Brayan Ortiz Valderrama (Colombia), win by forfeit
WIN Bekzat Urkimbay (Kazakhstan), 10-0
WIN Sandeep Mann (India), 7-2

100 kg/220 lbs. – Daniel Kerkvliet, Inver Grove Heights, Minn. (Pinnacle WC)
WIN
Radu Lefter (Moldova), 10-0
WIN Filip Jires (Czech Republic), 10-0
WIN
Zyamuhammed Saparov (Turkmenistan), 12-2