Seven U S wrestlers place at 2001 World Championships both teams finish in top 10

By Heather Van | Dec. 02, 2001, 12 a.m. (ET)
The United States Freestyle wrestling teams captured four medals and top 10 team finishes at the 2001 Freestyle World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria. In men's freestyle competition, Brandon Eggum (Minneapolis, Minn./Minnesota Storm) earned the silver medal at 85kg after dropping a tight 3-0 decision to Khadjimourad Magomedov of Russia in the gold medal finals. Eggum replaced world team qualifier Cael Sanderson, who decided not to participate due to conflicts with his college schedule. He made his way to the finals by winning his first two pool matches against Lazaros Loizidis of Greece and Sondhi Amandeep of India. In quarter final competition Eggum handed decisions to Magomed Kurugliyev of Kazakstan and Betbulat Musaev of Belarus. "I was really excited for the opportunity to compete from the very beginning when I got the call from Jackson," said Eggum. "When I was at the training camps this fall, I thought there was a change that I would get to wrestle because the date kept getting pushed back farther and farther." Eggum said his teammates, coaches and training partners helped him train and stay focused during the competition. "Some of the older guys that have more experience and my training partner Tim Hartung kept giving me pointers and encouragement to help keep me focused," said Eggum. World team veteran Joe Williams (Coralville, Iowa/Sunkist Kids WC) captured the bronze after a controversial 5-4 loss in the semifinals against Bouvaisa Satiev of Russia. Down by one and with three seconds left in the match, Williams threw Satiev for an apparent 3 points, but was ruled out of bounds handing the decision to the three-time world champion Russian. Satiev went on to win his fourth World Championship. Williams defeated Nick Ugolaha (CAN) and Rinella Salvatore (ITA) in pool competition. On his way to the medal round he handed decisions to Pred Eugen of Romania in 1/8th round finals and Hajizadeh Joy Mehdi (ITI) in the quarterfinals. Battling for the bronze medal, Williams soundly defeated Radion Ketanti of Slovakia with a tech fall at 4:06. Also placing in the men's division were Bill Zadick (Iowa City, Iowa/Hawkeye WC), who placed 7th in the 63kg category, and Kerry McCoy (Bethlehem, Pa./NYAC), who finished 4th in the 130kg weight class. Zadick advanced to the quarterfinals after winning his two matches against Youssef Nasiri-Sadiqiu of the Netherlands and Arshak Hayrapetyan of Armenia, but dropped a 9-2 decision to Alireza Dabir of Iran in the quarterfinals. After advancing from his pool with wins over Otto Aubeli of Hungry and Golegiamts Usukhbayar or Mongolia, McCoy found himself in the semifinal round where he dropped an 8-0 decision to David Moussoulbes of Russia. In the medal match of the bronze, McCoy lost a 3-1 decision to Alexis Rodriguez of Cuba to finish 4th overall. With four top 10 place winners, the men's freestyle team secured a 5th place overall team finish behind Russia, Bulgaria, Iran, and Georgia. In the women's division, Stephanie Murata (East Lansing, Mich., Sunkist Kids) and Toccara Montgomery (Cleveland, Ohio/ Sunkist Kids) both brought home the silver medal for the United States, while world team alternate Jenna Pavlik (Lewes, Del.) earned a 5th place finish. World team veteran Stephanie Murata brought home the silver medal at 51kg. Murata advanced to the finals with pool round wins over Kyla Brenner of Australia and Sofia Poubouridou of Greece. She avenged a loss in the finals of the 2001 Sunkist open with a semifinals win over Lyndsay Belisle of Canada. In the finals Murata fell to defending World Champion Hikomi Sakamoto of Japan 12-1. Claiming her second consecutive World Championship, last year Sakamoto tech falled USA's Patricia Miranda in last year's gold medal match World Team newcomer Toccara Montgomery entered the world of international competition pinning her way into the finals. Falling to Montgomery in pool round competition were Monika Kowalska of Poland in 5:29, Yang Yanli of China in 3:54, and Heidi Martti of Finland in 1:21. Montgomery followed suit pinning her semifinals opponent Sveta Yaroshevitch of Russia in 3:13, but fell in the finals to five-time World Champion Christine Nordhagen of Canada. Also brining in a top 10 finish was world team alternate Jenna Pavlik, who stepped in for world team qualifier Iris Smith, who could not compete due to a conflict with her duties in the United States Army. Pavlik, a freshman at Lock Haven University, won two of her three pool matches with falls over Fatima de Camargo of Brazile and Damos Yasmili of Venezuela. Pavlik's only loss was to Edyta Witowska of Poland who went on to win the 75kg gold medal. With its three place winners, the women's freestyle team finished in 7th place behind China, Japan, Ukraine, Germany, Canada, and Russia. Of the 14 U.S team members, nine of them lost matches to opponents who would end up as the eventual World Champion. Eric Guererro lost his first pool match to Guivi Sissaouri of Canada; Joe Williams lost his semi finals match to Bouvaisa Satiev of Russia; Brandon Eggum fell to Khadjimourad Magomedov of Russia in the finals; Kerry McCoy lost his semi finals match to David Moussoulbes of Russia; Stephanie Murata lost in the finals to Hitomi Sakamoto of Japan; Sara McMann lost a pool match to Yamamoto Seiko of Japan; Tocarra Montgomery fell to Christine Nordhagen of Canada in the finals, and Jenna Pavlik dropped a pool match to Edyta Witkowska of Poland. The Winter Sports Palace in Sofia, Bulgaria, which serves mainly as an indoor hockey rink, was the site of the 2001 Freestyle World Championships. While seating in the venue was not nearly what it would have been had the Worlds been held at Madison Square Garden in New York, crowds packed nearly ever session of the tournament. Given the circumstances of the terrorist attacks in New York in September, security was an issue not only at the venue, but also at the host hotel and transportation in between. USA Wrestling, under the direction of its Executive Committee, requested specific security measures from the host Bulgarian Wrestling Federation. Team Leaders Jim Ravannack and Art Martori helped manage the security details for the U.S. team, and the U.S. delegation found itself with police escorts everywhere it went. The team and delegation traveled to and from the venue each session with a minimum of two police cars in front and behind the U.S. bus, as well as a full-time security expert on hand to coordinate police activities. Armed guards also were posted around the clock on the fourth floor of the hotel where the delegation stayed, as well as in the separate cafeteria area set up specifically for the U.S delegation. USA Wrestling appreciated the outstanding efforts of the Bulgarian Wrestling Federation and the local security officials who went out of their way to keep the U.S. team, and all delegations, safe during the competition. Security at the venue also was top notch, especially on the last night of finals when the Prime Minister of Bulgaria made a special appearance. The only trouble incurred by security agents was after the 63kg finals match between Serafim Barzakov of Bulgaria and Dabir Alireza of Iran. Barzakov was awarded the two points and the win after Alireza refusal to lock up a clinch in overtime. A bottle was thrown onto the mat from Iranian fans in the stand, which was met with much displeasure from the Bulgarian crowd. Police quickly calmed the crowd and escorted the Iranian fans out of the area. With short preparation time following the announcement of the rescheduled event, the tournament ran quite smoothly. Sessions started on time, and mats were rarely open as bouts were called and run in an orderly fashion. Once back home and rested, the coaches and wrestlers will begin training again for the 2002 Freestyle World Championships set for Terran, Iran for men, and Patras, Greece for women.