UPDATE Pico wins gold medal Nickal takes fifth in freestyle on last day of Cadet Worlds in Serbia

Aug. 31, 2013, 9:33 a.m. (ET)
Aaron Pico of the USA executes a leg attack on Yuhi Fujinami of Japan in the 63 kg finals at the Cadet World Championships in Zrenjanin, Serbia. T.R. Foley photo

ZRENJANIN, Serbia - Aaron Pico of California won a gold medal in men's freestyle at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. with a spectacular performance on the final day of competition at the Cadet World Championships.

Pico defeated Yuhi Fujinami of Japan in the championship match, 8-6. Pico was effective with his takedown attacks and was able to score at key points of the match. He led 4-2 at the break, and kept up the pressure, as Fujinami battled back and forth with Pico in the deciding second period.

"Nothing really changed in the final. I met with my coach and stuck with my game plan, which was to attack and get the guy tired. He was a good opponent and he didn't get tired. I was able to score during some situations and that was the difference in the match. There is a big difference wrestling internationally and wrestling in the United States. Fortunately, I got the win. I am super happy, and overall, I think I did good" said Pico.

Pico became the only American in any Olympic style to win a gold medal at this year's Cadet World Championships, which has been held for the last six days.

Pico won four matches to qualify for the finals. He opened with an impressive offensive display from his feet in his first match, a 7-0 technical fall victory over Adilbek Osmonaliev of Kyrgyzstan in 1:41.

His second match was a very close battle with Teymur Mammadov of Azerbaijan, a 2-1 victory for Pico. Mammadov scored the only point in the first period on a pushout. In the second, Pico scored a two-point takedown, and was able to avoid any dangerous situations the rest of the period for a hard-fought one-point victory.

In the quarterfinals, Pico dismantled Maxim Carabadjac of Moldova by technical fall, 10-2 in 1:45. He was able to score multiple takedowns on him. Carabadjac's only points came when Pico attempted a high amplitude throw from a double leg and exposed himself in the attempt.

In the semifinals, Pico fell behind Vikas Vikas of India, 4-0 at the half. However, in the second period, Pico turned on the offense, scoring four straight two-point takedowns for an 8-4 victory.

"Aaron wrestled hard. He has a pretty aggressive style. He did a great job today. He came out and pushed the pace. Early in the tournament, he wasn't able to get his offense going. The match with Azerbaijan was low scoring. He hit his stride after that and figured out how to move guys, open things up, not only scoring go behinds but getting to people's legs to score" said Assistant National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick.

Pico won three freestyle national titles this year, including the FILA Cadet Nationals in Akron, Ohio, the FILA Junior Nationals in Las Vegas, Nev. and the Junior Nationals in Fargo, N.D. His personal coach Valentin Kalika was with him at the Cadet Worlds, and was one of the U.S. coaches in his corner during his gold-medal victory.

Bo Nickal of Texas placed fifth at 76 kg/167.5 lbs. after dropping a close 2-4 match to Ali Mojerloo of Iran in a bronze-medal match. It was Mojerloo who was able to score the key takedown in the second period to secure the victory. Mojerloo was 10th at the 2012 Cadet World Championships.

"I scored right at the beginning and after that, I couldn't get to my offense. I didn't work hard enough for that. I ended up going for a desperation throw and didn't come out on top. I felt it was an up and down day for me. Against the Russian guy, I felt I could beat him and he took the whole thing. Some matches I wrestled real good and the two matches I lost I felt I didn't perform to my ability" said Nickal.

Nickal finished with a 3-2 record for the day. He came out strong in a first-round win over Takashi Ishiguro of Japan, 6-3. Nickal scored all of his six points in the first period with both takedowns and a turn. Ishiguro was more effective in the second period, but could not score late in the match.

Nickal drew Batyrbek Tcakulov of Russia and scored the first point of the period. Tchakulov led 3-1 at the break, and added four more points on a scramble late in the second period for a 7-1 victory over Nickal.

Nickal was pulled back into repechage when Tcakulov won a challenge on the final few seconds of his semifinal match to get two points against Iranian Ali Mojeroo and advance into the finals.

In the repechage, Nickal dispatched two opponents with first period technical falls. In the first repechage bout, Nickal had a quick takedown and three ankle lace turns for a technical fall in less than a minute over Simone Iannattone of Italy. In the second repechage match, Nickal was also active with takedowns and turns for a technical fall over Sargis Hovsepyan of Armenia, 8-0 in 1:40.

"Bo is a great kid. He has a wide open style. He throws everything and the kitchen sink at you. Sometimes, he is a little high risk. He took some chances in the Russia match in defensive situations. That's his attitude, to take no prisoners. He took some risk and it hurt him. The techniques and tactics are sharper at this level" said Zadick.

All three of the other U.S. wrestlers who competed on Sunday were defeated and were not eligible for the repechage during the morning session.

The United States placed ninth in the team standings in men's freestyle with 23 points. Pico won the only men's freestyle medal for the USA. Claiming the team title was Russia with 85 points, followed by Azerbaijan in second with 66 points and Iran in third with 56 points.

"Overall, it was a little bit disappointing. We came in here with some high hopes and a very talented team, like we have every year. It is just the small differences and gaps we have to narrow and close" said Zadick.

Over the six day event, the United States won six overall medals. Aaron Pico of California won a gold medal in men's freestyle at 63 kg/138.75 lbs. A silver medal went to Regina Doi of California at 40 kg/88 lbs. in women's freestyle. The USA had four bronze medalists, Greco-Roman wrestlers Cade Olivas of California at 42 kg/92.5 lbs. and Jon Jay Chavez of Idaho at 69 kg/152 lbs. plus women's freestyle wrestlers Marina Doi of California at 38 kg/83.75 lbs. and Teshya Alo of Hawaii at 56 kg/123.25 lbs.

At Zrenjanin, Serbia, August 25

Men's freestyle results

46 kg/104.25 lbs.
Gold - Darhan Kalkenov (Kazakhstan)
Silver - Fasil Hasanov (Azerbaijan)
Bronze - Takuto Otoguro (Japan)
Bronze - Kheyrolla Ghahramani (Iran)
5th - Deveci Bulent (Turkey)
5th - Aslan Minkailov (Russia)
7th - Vadzim Yerakhau (Belarus)
8th - Rinku Rinku (India)
9th - Aidar Alymbekov (Kyrgyzstan)
10th - Oscar Bulaqui (Canada)
Gold - Darhan Kalkenov (Kazakhstan) tech. fall Fasil Hasanov (Azerbaijan), 7-0
Bronze - Takuto Otoguro (Japan) dec. Deveci Bulent (Turkey), 6-1
Bronze - Kheyrolla Ghahramani (Iran) dec. Aslan Minkailov (Russia), 6-5

54 kg/119 lbs.
Gold - Andriy Yatsenko (Ukraine)
Silver - Imam Tesaev (Russia)
Bronze - Yerlan Abylkhan (Kazakhstan)
Bronze - Zandanbud Zanabazar (Mongolia)
5th - Iovu Petru (Moldova)
5th - Keisuke Otoguro (Japan)
7th - Ulukbek Zhoodoshbekov (Kyrgyzstan)
8th - Ravi Kumar (India)
9th - Jakub Sykora (Slovakia)
10th - Bartosz Stawinoga (Poland)
Gold - Andriy Yatsenko (Ukraine) dec. Imam Tesaev (Russia), 8-5
Bronze - Yerlan Abylkhan (Kazakhstan) dec. Iovu Petru (Moldova), 5-4
Bronze - Zandanbud Zanabazar (Mongolia) tech. fall Keisuke Otoguro (Japan), 10-0

63 kg/138.75 lbs.
Gold - Aaron Pico (USA)
Silver - Yuhi Fujinami (Japan)
Bronze - Bakar Ayubov (Russia)
Bronze - Teymur Mammadov (Azerbaijan)
5th - Ali Esmaeilpourjoubari (Iran)
5th - Vikas Vikas (India)
7th - Maxim Carabadjac (Moldova)
8th - Hakob Avetisyan (Armenia)
9th - Mateusz Kampik (Poland)
10th - Shakhrukh Sapaev (Uzbekistan)
Gold - Aaron Pico (USA) dec. Yuhi Fujinami (Japan), 8-6
Bronze - Bakar Ayubov (Russia) dec. Ali Esmaeilpourjoubari (Iran), 1-0
Bronze - Teymur Mammadov (Azerbaijan) dec. Vikas Vikas (India), 1-1 (criteria)

76 kg/167.5 lbs.
Gold - Batyrbek Tcakulov (Russia)
Silver - Balraj Balraj (India)
Bronze - Ali Mojerloo (Iran)
Bronze - Linus Van Rensburg (South Africa)
5th - Bo Nickal (USA)
5th - Johan Steinforth (Germany)
7th - Sargis Hovsepyan (Armenia)
8th - Magomedrasul Gadzhimagomedov (Azerbaijan)
9th - Bakhtiyar Japarbekov (Kyrgyzstan)
10th - Spyridon Tsakalidis (Greece)
Gold - Batyrbek Tcakulov (Russia) dec. Balraj Balraj (India), 5-3
Bronze - Ali Mojerloo (Iran) dec. Bo Nickal (USA), 4-2
Bronze - Linus Van Rensburg (South Africa) dec. Johan Steinforth (Germany), 6-2

100 kg/220 lbs.
Gold - Znaur Kotciev (Russia)
Silver - Aliasghar Akbarizarinkolaei (Iran)
Bronze - Givi Matcharashvili (Georgia)
Bronze - Turkhan Gurbanov (Azerbaijan)
5th - Meruzhan Nikoyan (Armenia)
5th - Eren Dursun Turan (Turkey)
7th - Nicolai Duscov (Moldova)
8th - Mihaly Nagy (Hungary)
9th - Vitali Pesmiak (Belarus)
10th - Masahiro Miyahara (Japan)
Gold - Znaur Kotciev (Russia) dec. Aliasghar Akbarizarinkolaei (Iran), 7-6
Bronze - Givi Matcharashvili (Georgia) dec. Meruzhan Nikoyan (Armenia), 6-0
Bronze - Turkhan Gurbanov (Azerbaijan) dec. Eren Dursun Turan (Turkey), 5-4

U.S. men's freestyle performances

46 kg/104.25 lbs. - Devin Brown, Saegertown, Pa.
LOSS Balasz Egyed (Hungary), 5-7

54 kg/119 lbs. - Stevan Micic, Cedar Lake, Ind.,
LOSS Nematdin Rahmanov (Azerbaijan), 4-10

63 kg/138.75 lbs. - Aaron Pico, Whittier, Calif., gold medal
WIN Adilbek Osmonaliev (Kyrgyzstan), tech. fall 7-0, (1:41)
WIN Teymur Mammadov (Azerbaijan), 2-1
WIN Maxim Carabadjac (Moldova), tech. fall 10-2 (1:45)
WIN Vikas Vikas (India), 8-4
WIN Yuhi Fujinami (Japan), 8-6

76 kg/167.5 lbs. - Bo Nickal, Allen, Texas, 5th place
WIN Takashi Ishiguro (Japan), 6-3
LOSS Batyrbek Tcakulov (Russia), 1-7
WIN Simone Iannattone (Italy), tech. fall, 7-0 (first period)
WIN Sargis Hovsepyan (Armenia), tech. fall, 8-0 (1:40)
LOSS Ali Mojerloo (Iran), 2-4

100 kg/220 lbs. - Lance Benick, Scandia, Minn.
LOSS Eren Dursun Turan (Turkey), 0-5

Men's Freestyle Team Standings
1 Russia, 85 pts.
2 Azerbaijan, 66 pts
3. Iran, 56 pts.
4 India, 51 pts.
5 Japan, 46 pts.
6. Kazakhstan, 36 pts.
7 (tie) Turkey, 31 pts.
7 (tie) Georgia, 31 pts.
9. United States, 23 pts.
10 Moldova, 20 pts.
11 Ukraine, 18 pts.
12 Armenia, 16 pts.
13. Kyrgyzstan, 13 pts.
14. (tie) Belarus, 12 pts.
14 (tie) Germany, 12 pts.
16. Poland, 10 pts.
17. (tie) Latvia, 8 pts.
17. (tie) Mongolia, 8 pts.
17. (tie) South Africa, 8 pts.
20. Egypt, 6 pts.
21. (tie) Hungary, 4 pts.
21. (tie) Uzbekistan, 4 pts.
23. (tie) Bulgaria, 2 pts.
23 (tie) Slovakia, 2 pts.
25. (tie) Canada, 1 pt.
25. (tie) Greece, 1 pt.