Snyder advances to Olympic finals, Molinaro searching for bronze on final day in Rio

By Richard Immel, USA Wrestling | Aug. 21, 2016, 10:49 a.m. (ET)
 
 Kyle Snyder (USA) moves on to the 97 kg Olympic gold medal match.
Photo: Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com.
RIO DE JANEIRO – Both U.S. wrestlers are still in medal contention on the final day of the Olympic Games with 2015 World champion Kyle Snyder wrestling for gold and Frank Molinaro still in the hunt for bronze.

Snyder, the youngest World champion in U.S. history, brutalized his side of the 97 kg bracket to earn a spot in the gold medal match against seven-time World and Olympic medalist Khetag Goziumov of Azerbaijan.

“I am ready to go,” Snyder said. “I am excited. There will be a little break and then I will be ready to wrestle.”

The two behemoths met at the Grand Prix of Germany last month with Goziumov edging Snyder, 2-1.

“I have got to get to his legs. I didn’t get to his legs, maybe not even once, in Germany when I wrestled him. I have to move my feet a little bit more and just take more attacks. And give 100% of my efforts. Sometimes you only go 90% because you want to hold something back so he doesn’t spin behind, but 100% is what I am going to need against this guy. He is good,” said Sndyer.

To secure a spot in the gold medal match, Snyder took out Javier Cortina Lacerra of Cuba, 10-3, Albert Saritov of Romania, 7-0, and Elizbar Odikadze of Georgia, 9-4. The 20-year-old American trailed World No. 6 Odikadze 4-0 at the end of the first period, but battle back with sheer determination to break the Georgian and win convincingly.

“I never feel like I am out of a match, so, down 4-0 in the first 20 seconds, there is still a lot of time left to wrestle. If I don’t have the power to score four points on a guy, then he is probably better than me. I am just confident in myself,” he added.

Molinaro opened his first Olympic appearance with a clutch 2-2 criteria win over European champion Magomedmurad Gadzhiev of Poland. In the quarterfinals, Molinaro ran into 2012 Olympic champion Tohgrul Asgarov and was controlled throughout, 10-0.

“With [Frank], it is all about gratitude and enthusiasm and energy,” said U.S. coach Cody Sanderson. “That is what we want. He is a spark plug. He is a dangerous guy coming through that back side. He just needs to work into good solid positions and fire his attacks. Just simple and basic. If he gets two or three takedowns, throws a double leg in there, he will beat these guys.”

Asgarov sneaked by 2015 World champion Frank Chamizo of Italy in the 65 kg semifinals, 7-4, to pull Molinaro into the repechage. Molinaro is set to wrestle Andriy Kvyatkovskyy of Ukraine for a spot in the bronze medal match against Chamizo.

The gold medal match at 65 kg features World No. 5 Asgarov against 2014 World Champion and World No. 2 Soslan Ramonov of Russia.

Borislav Novachkov of Bulgaria and Franklin Gomez of Puerto Rico were both NCAA Division I wrestling standouts in recent years, Novachkov for Cal Poly and Gomez for Michigan State. The two met in the round of 16 with Gomez winning, 7-4. In the quarterfinals, Gomez was eliminated by 2015 World silver medalist Ikhtiyor Navruzov of Uzbekistan, 8-5, in perhaps the most controversial match of the entire Olympics thus far.

Men’s freestyle competition will resume at 11:45 p.m. (ET) today with the repechage rounds and medal matches at 65 kg and 97 kg.

Every match from the 2016 Olympic Games can be viewed live courtesy of NBC at NBCOlympics.com. Complete brackets and match-by-match results can be found at unitedworldwrestling.org.

2016 OLYMPIC GAMES
Aug. 14-21 at Carioca Arena 2 in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Finals Matchups
65 kg/143 lbs.

Gold – Toghrul Asgarov (Azerbaijan) vs. Soslan Ramonov (Russia)

Bronze – Frank Chamizo (Italy) vs. Repechage 1 Winner
Repechage 1 – Frank Molinaro (United States) vs. Andriy Kvyatkovskyy (Ukraine)

Bronze – Ikhtiyor Navruzov (Uzbekistan) vs. Repechage 2 Winner
Repechage 2 – Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia) vs. Repechage 1 Winner
Repechage 1 – Haislan Garcia (Canada) vs. Alejandro Valdes Tobier (Cuba)

97 kg/213 lbs.
Gold – Kyle Snyder (United States) vs. Khetag Goziumov (Azerbaijan)

Bronze – Elizbar Odikadze (Georgia) vs. Repechage 1 Winner
Repechage 1 –  Javier Cortina Lacerra (Cuba) vs. Albert Saritov (Romania)

Bronze – Valerii Andriitsev (Ukraine) vs. Repechage 2 Winner
Repechage 2 – Magomed Ibragimov (Uzbekistan) vs. Repechage 1 Winner
Repechage 1 – Radoslaw Baran (Poland) vs. Reza Yazdani (Iran)

U.S. men’s freestyle results
65 kg/143 lbs. – Frank Molinaro, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
WIN Magomedmurad Gadzhiev (Poland), 2-2
LOSS Toghrul Asgarov (Azerbaijan), 10-0

97 kg/213 lbs. – Kyle Snyder, Woodbine, Md. (Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC)
WIN Javier Cortina (Cuba), 10-3
WIN Albert Saritov (Romania), 7-0
WIN Elizbar Odikadze (Georgia), 9-4