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World Championships preview in Greco-Roman wrestling at 98 kg/216 lbs.

By Richard Immel USA Wrestling | Sept. 03, 2014, 11:54 a.m. (ET)

 
 Caylor Williams (USA) at the 2014 Greco-Roman World
Team Trials. David Peterson/Minnesota USA Wrestling
Photo.
VIDEO: Caylor Williams (Army WCAP) vs. John Wechter (Minnesota Storm) at 2014 World Team Trials

Date of Competition: Sunday, September 14

Familiar faces will headline the 98 kg weight class at the 2014 World Championships as every returning World medalist from last year is entered to compete in Tashkent in two weeks.

The defending World Champion from Russia, Nikita Melnikov, has performed well since claiming his first World title last year in Budapest, Hungary.

The Russian comes in at No. 8 in the FILA World Rankings after winning gold at the Copa Brasil tournament and a pair of silvers at the Ivan Poddubny Tournament and World Cup this year.

2013 World silver medalist, Artur Aleksanyan of Armenia, has been on a tear since Budapest, winning four gold medals in international competition, including the European Championships, Dan Kolov – Nikola Petrov Tournament, Trophee Milone and Grand Prix of Germany.

Aleksanyan defeated the No. 2 ranked wrestler in the world, Cenk Ildem of Turkey, in the finals of the European Championships.

Ildem won a bronze medal at the World Championships in 2011 in Istanbul, but only finished in 10th place at the Worlds last year.

Since Budapest, Ildem has won gold at the Moscow Lights, Vehbi Emre and Golden Grand Prix, but has suffered three losses in other international events. Two of those losses have come at the hands of Aleksanyan, while the third was to No. 3 ranked Balasz Kiss of Hungary.

Kiss won a bronze medal at the World Championships last year and has backed it up with three international gold medals in 2014. He has won both of the Golden Grand Prix events and the Yadegar Imam Cup this year.

The Hungarian lost to unranked Ardo Arusaar of Estonia at the European Championships, resulting in an eighth place finish, his lowest placement of the year.

Kiss won the World Championships in Herning, Denmark back in 2009.

Azerbaijan standout Shalva Gadabadze was the second bronze medal winner at last year’s World Championships, alongside Kiss.

Gadabadze has placed in the top 10 of every World Championships and Olympic Games he has competed in, no doubt marking him a serious contender in Tashkent, even with subpar performances in 2014.

The Azerbaijani finished in a disappointing 21st place at the European Championships, losing to No. 5 ranked Belarusian Aleksander Hrabovik in the opening round.

Gadabadze appears to have returned to medal contending form following a bronze medal performance at the Golden Grand Prix in Baku, Azerbaijan last month.

2012 Olympic Gold medalist Ghasem Rezaei is primed to make another run at gold after taking 2013 off from competition.

Rezaei has not posted any international results since winning his Olympic gold medal in London, but is on the preliminary Iranian roster for Tashkent.

Yerulan Iskakov of Kazakhstan looks poised to make a run at a World medal in Tashkent after a seventh place finish in Budapest last year.

Iskakov was crowned Asian Champion in April and has also earned silver medals internationally this year at the Dave Schultz Memorial International and Grand Prix of Spain. He comes in to Tashkent at No. 12 in the FILA World Rankings.

Pan American Champion Yasmany Daniel Lugo Cabrera of Cuba is undefeated in international competition this year. In addition to Pan American gold he has won the Central American And Caribbean Games and the Granma Cup.

American Caylor Williams will bring high-flying action to the 98 kg competition in Tashkent.

Williams made his second U.S. World Team in Daytona Beach this June and will look to utilize that experience gained in Budapest last year to make a run at a medal.

At the World Championships last year, Williams lost in the opening round to Ildem, but displayed promise in a losing effort.

Strength and power are Williams strong suit, but the key to medaling for him will be converting his raw abilities into decisive action when it counts the most, on the World Championships stage.

FILA WORLD RANKINGS
1. Artur ALEKSANYAN (ARM)
2. Cenk ILDEM (TUR)
3. Balasz KISS (HUN)
4. Marthin NIELSEN (NOR)
5. Aleksander HRABOVIK (BLR)
6. Fredrik SCHOEN (SWE)
7. Shalva GADABADZE (AZE)
8. Nikita MELNIKOV (RUS)
9. Daigoro TIMONCINI (ITA)
10. Mahdi ALIYARI FEYZABADI (IRI)
11. Adam VARGA (HUN)
12. Yerulan ISKAKOV (KAZ)
13. Ali ALIYARI FEYZABADI (IRI)
14. Felix RADINGER (GER)
15. Musa EVLOEV (RUS)
16. Yasmany Daniel LUGO CABRERA (CUB)
17. Alin ALEX-CIURARIU (ROU)
18. Ivan IVANOV (BUL)
19. Mikhail KAJAIA (GEO)
20. Vladislav METODIEV (BUL)

RECENT WORLD AND OLYMPIC RESULTS AT 96 KG/211.5 LBS.

2013 World Championships
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Gold - Nikita Melnikov (Russia); Silver - Artur Aleksanyan (Armenia); Bronze – Balazs Kiss (Hungary); Bronze Shalva Gadabadze (Azerbaijan); 5th - Mahdi Aliyarifeizagadi (Iran); 5th - Norikatsu Saikawa (Japan); 7th - Yerulan Iskakov (Kazakhstan); 8th - Timo Antero Kallio (Finland); 9th – Mélonin Noumonvi (France); 10th - Cenk Ildem (Turkey)

2012 Olympic Games
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Gold - Ghasem Rezaei (Iran); Silver - Rustam Totrov (Russia); Bronze - Artur Aleksanyan (Armenia); Bronze - Jimmy Lidberg (Sweden); 5th - Yunior Estrada Falcon (Cuba); 5th - Tsimafei Dzeinichenka (Belarus); 7th - Elis Guri (Bulgaria); 8th - Ardo Arusaar (Estonia); 9th - Hassine Ayari (Tunisia); 10th - Shalva Gadabadze (Azerbaijan)

2011 World Championships
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Gold - Elis Guri (Bulgaria); Silver - Jimmy Lidberg (Sweden); Bronze - Rustam Totrov (Russia); Bronze - Cenk Idem (Turkey); 5th - Mohammed Abdelfatah (Egypt); 5th - Tsimafei Dzeinicheka (Belarus); 7th - Artur Aleksanyan (Armenia); 8th - Mirko Englich (Germany); 9th - Alin Alexuc-Ciurariu (Romania); 10th - Shalva Gadabadze (Azerbaijan)

2010 World Championships
96 kg/211.5 lbs. – Gold – Amir Ali Akbari (Iran); Silver – Timofej Dzeynichenko (Belarus); Bronze – Aslanbek Khushtov (Russia); Bronze – Jimmy Lidberg (Sweden); 5th – Justin Ruiz (United States); 5th – David Saldadze (Uzbekistan); 7th – Yunior Falcon Estrada (Cuba); 8th – Daigoro Timoncini (Italy); 9th – Robert Papp (Romania); 10th – Kaloyan Dinchev (Bulgaria)

2009 World Championships
96 kg/211.5 lbs. - Gold - Balazs Kiss (Hungary); Silver - Jimmy Lidberg (Sweden); Bronze - Amir Ali Akbari (Iran); Bronze - Aslanbek Khushtov (Russia); 5th - David Saldadze (Uzbekistan); 5th - Sergiy Yeroshkin (Ukraine); 7th - Serkan Ozden (Turkey); 8th - Chang-Gun An (Korea) ; 9th - Alin Alexuc (Romania); 10th - Oliver Hassler (Germany)