Final four U.S. freestylers weigh in and get draws for FILA Junior Worlds in CroatiaAaron Pico of the USA shown on the way to his 2013 FILA Cadet World title. Pico is seeking to win a World title at the FILA Junior level on Sunday. T.R. Foley photos.
The final four U.S. men’s freestyle wrestlers have weighed in and received their draws for the FILA Junior World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia on Sunday.
A pair of past FILA Cadet World champions will compete for the USA on Sunday, 2013 FILA Cadet World champion Aaron Pico, (Whittier, Calif./Titan Mercury WC) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. and 2011 FILA Cadet World champion Adam Coon (Fowlerville, Mich./Cliff Keen WC) at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.
Pico opens against Deichi Takatani of Japan, who was third in the 2011 Cadet World Championships.
“Aaron is at a new age level. But he has had a full year of experience wrestling development tournaments and some Senior tournaments. We’ve taken Aaron all round the world, to France, Cuba, Turkey and Spain. He has had a full-time freestyle focus. He is confident going into tomorrow. He is excited to get it on,” said Assistant National Freestyle Coach Brandon Slay.
Coon, who won a bronze medal in the Greco-Roman division on Wednesday, is seeking his second medal of this year’s Junior World Championships. He opens with Qiang Tao of China), who was fifth in the 2014 Asian Junior Championships.
“I saw Coon’s excitement when he got that bronze medal in Greco-Roman. That has given him a boost of confidence coming into freestyle and the realization that he is one of the best heavyweights in the world. He is prepared physically and mentally to get the job done.”
University of Iowa star Thomas Gilman (Council Bluffs, Iowa/Hawkeye WC) returns to the FILA Junior World Championships at 55 kg/121 lbs., after placing eighth in last year’s Junior Worlds. His first opponent is Abdelhak Kherbache of Algeria, the 2014 Mediterranean champion.
“Thomas was here last year. He will come into this tournament tomorrow realizing he left something here at the Junior Worlds last year. This year, it is time to come get it back, and I know that is going to be a gold medal,” said Slay.
Cornell University All-American Gabe Dean (Lowell, Mich./Titan Mercury WC/FLWC) will compete at 84 kg/185 lbs. in his first World-level tournament. Dean opens against Selimmuhamet Muhadeyyev of Turkmenistan.
“Gabe Dean will make a splash tomorrow. His learning curve in wrestling this last year has been extremely steep, and now specifically on the freestyle scene. Watching him at training camp, and seeing him wrestle Senior guys who were bigger than him, he wrestled really well. There is a pace he keeps, an aggression in his matches. That pace and aggression breaks a lot of foreign opponents. He will be dangerous tomorrow,” said Slay.
Team USA enters the final day in a third-place tie with Turkey, behind Iran in first and Russia in second.
FILA JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Zagreb, Croatia
U.S. Men’s Freestyle pairings for Sunday
55 kg/121 lbs. – Thomas Gilman, Council Bluffs, Iowa (Hawkeye WC)
Vs. Abdelhak Kherbache (Algeria), 2014 Mediterranean champion, Second in 2014 African Championships
66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Aaron Pico, Whittier, Calif. (Titan Mercury WC)
Vs. Deichi Takatani (Japan), 3rd in 2011 Cadet World Championships, 5th in 2014 Takhti Cup
84 kg/185 lbs. – Gabe Dean, Lowell, Mich. (Titan Mercury WC/FLWC)
Vs. Selimmuhamet Muhadeyyev (Turkmenistan),
120 kg/264.5 lbs. – Adam Coon, Fowlerville, Mich. (Cliff Keen WC)
Vs Qiang Tao (China), 5th in 2014 Asian Junior Championships