First four U.S. men freestylers weigh in and get draws at FILA Junior Worlds in Croatia

By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling | Aug. 08, 2014, 3:17 p.m. (ET)
Kyle Snyder, pictured, will seek to defend his FILA Junior World title at 96 kg on Saturday. John Sachs photo.

The first four U.S. men’s freestyle wrestlers have weighed in and received their draws for the FILA Junior World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia, on Saturday, August 9.

Leading the U.S. team is 2013 FILA Junior World champion Kyle Snyder (Woodbine, Md./Sunkist Kids) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. Snyder will compete for Ohio State this coming year after a year training at the U.S. Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs, Colo.

Snyder opens his defense of the Junior World title against Alexios Kaousilidis of Cyprus, who was ninth in the 2014 European Junior Championships.

“Kyle is very mature for his age. He’s had a very strong summer in his preparation. He was in his element at the training camp at Ohio State. He will be a freshman there this fall and was very comfortable there. He challenges himself on a daily basis, not just on the mat but with cross-training, weightlifting and cardiovascular preparation. He is a professional at a very young age,” said U.S. Coach Mike Duroe.

Jabari Moody (Country Club Hills, Ill./Harvey Twisters) will open at 50 kg/110 lbs. against Russian Badhrud Khasankhuseyn.

“This guy has a lot of talent. He is strong and a good sized kid for 50 kg. Jabari is very quick and strong technically. He has a chance to do real well here,” said Duroe.

At 60 kg/132 lbs.. Joseph McKenna (Towaco, N.J./Lehigh Valley AC) has drawn Burghum Aliyev of Azerbaijan, who was fifth in 2011 Cadet World Championships and third in 2013 European Junior Championships. McKenna competes for Blair Academy.

“Joey surprised me in training. He is extremely strong and big for his weight class. He has some great technique and is a battler. He really impressed me in training. Joe McKenna is the real deal. If he has a good warmup and a good start in the morning, he can be in the championship round,” said Duroe.

Anthony Valencia (Pico Rivera, Calif./Sunkist Kids) will open at 74 kg/163 lbs. agains Tarzan Maisuradze of Georgia, the 2014 European Junior champion.

“Just by watching him in training, he is obviously talented. I think the biggest thing for him is getting through that first match. He may be a little nervous at his first World Championships, like everybody else. We have prepared him for that and he knows what to expect out there,” said Duroe

In 2013, the United States placed fifth in the FILA Junior Worlds in men’s freestyle, led by two finalists and six athletes who placed in the top eight of their weight class.

“Our preparation has been great. Almost the entire team was in Tempe, Ariz. for 12 days, training with our University World Team and our Senior World Team. They went home for a couple of weeks to train with their personal coaches and then they came back to Ohio State University. We had a seven-day training camp which I felt was excellent. They worked hard and I feel real good about where they are right now,” said Duroe.

At Zagreb, Croatia, August 5-10

U.S. Men’s Freestyle pairings for Saturday

50 kg/110 lbs. – Jabari Moody, Country Club Hills, Ill. (Harvey Twisters)
Vs. Badhrud Khasankhuseyn (Russia)

60 kg/132 lbs. – Joseph McKenna, Towaco, N.J. (Lehigh Valley AC)
Vs. Burghum Aliyev (Azerbaijan), 5th in 2011 Cadet World Championships, 3rd in 2013 European Junior Championships

74 kg/163 lbs. – Anthony Valencia, Pico Rivera, Calif. (Sunkist Kids)
Vs. Tarzan Maisuradze (Georgia), 2014 European Junior champion, 3rd in 2012 European Cadet Championships

96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Kyle Snyder, Woodbine, Md. (Sunkist Kids)
Vs. Alexios Kaousilidis (Cyprus), 9th in 2014 European Junior Championships