Gilman goes for gold while Cox, Gwiazdowski will go for bronze in freestyle at World Championships in Paris

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Aug. 25, 2017, 10:32 a.m. (ET)
Thomas Gilman of the USA battles Andrey Yatsenko of Ukraine at the World Championships in Paris. Gilman won four matches to reach the World finals. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors.

PARIS, France – Competing in his first Senior World Championships, Thomas Gilman (Council Bluffs, Iowa/Titan Mercury WC/Hawkeye WC) won four matches to qualify for the gold-medal finals at 57 kg/125.5 lbs. in men’s freestyle at the World Championships at the AccorHotels Arena on Friday.

Gilman will battle 2017 Asian champion Yuki Takahashi of Japan in the gold-medal match, in a session which begins at 7:00 p.m. Paris time. U.S. fans can watch the finals live on Trackwrestling. Takahashi was ninth in the 2015 World Championships, his only previous Worlds appearance.

In his first match, Gilman earned a 5-2 win over 2016 European silver medalist Andrey Yatsenko of Ukraine. The bout was tied 2-2 at the break, as both wrestlers scored takedowns. Gilman scored on a step out and a single leg takedown in the second period to secure the win.

Gilman next drew 2017 Asian bronze medalist Reza Ahmad Atrinagharchi of Iran, who he had beaten in the third round at the 2014 Junior World Championships, in a 4-4 criteria decision. Gilman won a Junior World bronze medal in 2014 after beating Atrinagharchi.

This match was equally close, as Gilman emerged with a 3-0 victory. In the first period, Gilman received a point when Atrinagharchi could not score on the shot clock. In the second, a Gilman single leg led to a step out point. As time ran out, Atrinagharchi attempted to score on a leg attack, but Gilman held onto the Iranian’s leg during the finish. Officials ruled no takedown, and the Iran coaches challenged. The jury confirmed that Atrinagharchi had not scored, giving one additional point to Gilman.

Gilman was dominant in the quarterfinals, as he defeated Nadirjon Safarov of Uzbekistan by technical fall, 12-1. Gilman scored five takedowns and a counter exposure during the match. Safarov was fifth in the 2015 World Championships.

The semifinals opponent was Hakjin Jong of North Korea, a two-time World Military Champion, who was fifth in the 2015 World Championships. Gilman led 2-0 at the break on a point when Jong did not score on the shot clock and on a step out. In the second period, Jong took 3-2 lead after a takedown and a forced step out. Gilman came back with a takedown and a step out point of his own to lead 5-3. Jong forced Gilman out for another step out to make it 5-4, but was unable to score in the closing seconds, giving Gilman the big win.

“In international wrestling like this, you don’t have any choice. Matches turn around quick. That is good for me. I can recover quicker. I think this format favors me, but any format favors me. We have been working on (composure) since the Trials. Obviously, (Tony) Ramos was a good test for this. He is clutch. When he gets down, he comes back strong. We focused on short time goes. We went from a minute to 10 seconds. That is where these guys will wrestle. The North Korean, he didn’t do anything for the first period. In the last period, he threw the whole sink at me,” said Gilman.

Gilman was a three-time All-American for Iowa. Although this is his first Senior World Championships, he has competed in three age-group World events, one as a Cadet and two as a Junior.

Two other U.S. wrestlers have qualified to compete in bronze-medal matches, 2016 Olympic bronze medalist J’den Cox (Titan Mercury WC/Missouri WF) at 86 kg/189 lbs. and Nick Gwiazdowski (Raleigh, N.C./Titan Mercury WC/Wolfpack WC) at 125 kg/275 lbs.

Cox came out a bit slowly in his opener against 2012 Junior World silver medalist Ahmed Dudarov of Germany trailing 1-0 at the break. Cox scored three second-period points for a 6-1 victory.

In the second round, he drew Ville Tapa Heino of Finland, who competes for NCAA Div. I Campbell University. Right off the opening whistle, Heino scored a takedown and two turns for a 6-0 lead over Cox. A four-point takedown by Cox closed it to 6-4 at the break. In the second period, a pair of takedowns and a forced step out for Cox made the final, 9-6.

In the quarterfinals, Cox drew Zbigniew Baranoski of Poland, the No. 2 seed who was fifth at the 2017 European Championships. Cox had beaten Baranoski at the Olympic Qualifier in Mongolia last season. This match was very close, with Cox needing a step out point to break a 2-2 tie.

He faced Boris Makoev of Slovakia in the semifinals. Makoev jumped to an early 6-0 lead, hitting a four-point fireman’s carry and a two-point turn. Cox battled back in the second period with three stepout points but could not complete a takedown attempt, losing 6-3.

Cox, a three-time NCAA champion for Missouri, will face 2010 World champion Mihail Ganev of Bulgaria in the bronze-medal bout.

In his first World Championships appearance, Gwiazdowski was dominant in his opener against Moldova’s Andrei Romanov, securing a 10-0 technical fall. Gwiazdowski scored three takedowns and two turns to close out the victory.

In the second match, Gwiazdowski stopped two-time Olympian and No. 4 seed Daniel Ligeti of Hungary, 10-1. Gwiazdowski scored three first-period takedowns to lead 6-0 at the break, then added two more takedowns for the big win.

In the quarterfinals, Gwiazdowski won a brawl against 2017 Asian champion Yadolla Mohebi of Iran, 5-4. Gwiazdowski took a 3-0 lead into the break on a takedown and a stepout. In the second period, he extended the lead to 5-0 with another takedown. Mohebi added two late takedowns, but it was not enough.

In the semifinals, Gwiazdowski was defeated by 2016 Olympic champion and two-time World champion Taha Akgul of Turkey in a 10-0 technical fall. Akgul was successful on his feet, scoring four takedowns and a turn to secure the win.

Gwiazdowski, a two-time NCAA champion for NC State, will face 2014 Asian silver medalist Zolboo Natsagsuren of Mongolia in his bronze-medal match.

World champion Logan Stieber (Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC) went 1-2 at 61 kg/134 lbs. and has been eliminated from medal contention.

Stieber, as No. 1 seed, had a bye in the first round, then drew 2016 European champion Gadzhimurad Rashidov of Russia in the second round. Rashidov had to win a preliminary match to advance to Stieber. Rashidov came out aggressively, scoring two takedowns and a stepout to lead 5-0 at the break. In the second period, Rashidov added a takedown and two quick gut wrenches to finish out the technical fall.

In his first repechage match, Stieber dominated Joszef Molnar of Hungary in a 10-0 technical fall, scoring on a variety of takedowns and turns.

In his second repechage match, he faced Olympic and World champion Vladimer Khinchegashvili of Georgia, who moved up from 57 kg this year. Khinchegashvili controlled the match early, scoring a takedown and three ankle lace turns to lead 8-0 at the break. In the second period, Khinchegashvili countered a Stieber shot for a two-point tilt to finish off the match.

“The bracket was stacked. I was pretty sure I would get somebody good right away. So it wasn’t surprising. I probably wrestled two of the top three guys. I figured it would be tough, maybe not Russia and Georgia back-to-back, but I figured it would be someone very good. I felt great. The preparation was good. It was just not my day, I guess,” said Stieber.

Stieber, a four-time NCAA champion for Ohio State, was competing in his second straight World Championships for Team USA.

The other four U.S. wrestlers weigh in this evening and will receive their draws for the final day of action at the World Championships.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Paris, France, August 25


U.S. men's freestyle performances on Friday

57 kg/125.5 lbs. - Thomas Gilman, Council Bluffs, Iowa (Titan Mercury WC/Hawkeye WC)
WIN Andrey Yatsenko (Ukraine), 5-2
WIN Reza Ahmad Atrinagharchi (Iran), 3-0
WIN Nadirjon Safarov (Uzbekistan), tech. fall 12-1
WIN Hakjin Jong (North Korea), 5-4
Gold Medal Finals – Vs. Yuki Takahashi (Japan)

61 kg/134 lbs. - Logan Stieber, Columbus, Ohio (Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC)
LOSS Gadzhimurad Rashidov (Russia), tech. fall 11-0
WIN Joszef Molnar (Hungary), tech. fall 10-0
LOSS Vladimer Khinchegashvili (Georgia), tech fall, 10-0

86 kg/189 lbs. - J’den Cox, Columbia, Mo. (Titan Mercury WC/Missouri WF)
WIN Ahmed Dudarov (Germany), 6-1
WIN Ville Tapa Heino (Finland), 9-6
WIN Zbigniew Baranoski (Poland), 3-2
LOSS Boris Makoev (Slovakia), 6-3
Bronze Medal Bout – Vs.

125 kg/275 lbs. - Nick Gwiazdowski, Raleigh, N.C. (Titan Mercury WC/Wolfpack WC)
WIN Andrei Romanov (Moldova), tech. fall 10-0
WIN Daniel Ligeti (Hungary), 10-1
WIN Yadolla Mohebi (Iran), 5-4
LOSS Taha Akgul (Turkey), 10-0
Bronze Medal Bout – Zolboo Natsagsuren (Mongolia)

Finals pairings
57 kg/125.5 lbs. - Thomas Gilman (USA) vs. Yuki Takahashi (Japan)
61 kg/134 lbs. - Gadzhimurad Rashidov (Russia) vs. Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan)
86 kg/189 lbs. - Boris Makoev (Slovakia) vs. Hassan Yazdani Charati (Iran)
125 kg/275 lbs. - Taha Akgul (Turkey) vs. Geno Petriashvili (Georgia)

Semifinal results

57 kg/125.5 lbs.
Thomas Gilman (USA) dec. Hakjin Jong (North Korea), 5-4
Yuki Takahashi (Japan) dec. Vladimir Dubov (Bulgaria), 7-2

61 kg/134 lbs.
Gadzhimurad Rashidov (Russia) dec. Cengizhan Erdogan (Turkey), 8-2
Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan) pin Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez (Cuba), 2:11

86 kg/189 lbs.
Boris Makoev (Slovakia) dec. J’den Cox (USA), 6-3
Hassan Yazdani Charati (Iran) dec. Vladislav Valiev (Russia), 4-0

125 kg/275 lbs.
Taha Akgul (Turkey) vs. Nick Gwiazdowski (USA), 10-0
Geno Petriashvili (Georgia) tech. fall Levan Berianidze (Armenia), 11-0