Snyder, Burroughs, Green reach World finals and USA remains first in team race at World Championships in Paris

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Aug. 26, 2017, 10:12 a.m. (ET)
Kyle Snyder of the USA locks up Aslanbek Alborov of Azerbaijan in the 97 kg semifinals, and has reached his third straight World or Olympic finals. Photo by Mark Lundy.

PARIS, France – In a spectacular morning session of wrestling, the United States put three star freestyle wrestlers into the finals of the World Wrestling Championships and held a razor-thin lead over Russia in the team race at the AccorHotels Arena on Saturday, the final day of competition.

Making the gold medal finals are 2016 Olympic champion and 2015 World champion Kyle Snyder (Woodbine, Md./Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC) at 97 kg/213 lbs., 2012 Olympic champion and three-time World champion Jordan Burroughs (Lincoln, Neb./Sunkist Kids/Nebraska RTC) at 74 kg/163 lbs. and 2015 World bronze medalist James Green (Lincoln, Neb./Titan Mercury WC/Nebraska RTC) at 70 kg/154 lbs.

In the finals, Snyder will face 2016 Olympic champion and two-time World champion Abdusalim Sadulaev of Russia, who moved up a weight class this year to challenge Snyder. It is a matchup the wrestling world has dreamed about all year.

In his first match. Snyder untracked his offense in a 10-0 technical fall over 2014 Asian Games bronze medalist Mamed Ibragimov of Kazakhstan in the opening bout. Snyder racked up four takedowns and two step out points in a dominant win. Snyder tacked on another 10-0 technical fall in the second round over Naoya Akaguma of Japan, who was fifth in 2017 Asian Championships. Snyder had three takedowns and four forced step outs to end it one second before the first period ended.

In the semifinals, Snyder faced Aslanbek Alborov of Azerbaijan, an athlete who beat Snyder in the 2017 World Cup in Iran, 5-4. Snyder scored two takedowns and forced three stepouts in the first period, to lead 7-2 at the break. In the second period, Snyder scored the only takedown for a 9-2 win.

“I feel good. I have wrestled pretty good so far. (Alborov) was pretty good. It was nice to wrestle him again and see some improvement. No real game plan. Just a little hand fighting adjustments. When I hand fight with him really hard, he jumps out of his stance. So I caught him in the zone and put a lot of stress on him that way. Just picking up on his tendancies a little bit. This is the third time I wrestled him

And the big showdown with Sadulaev in a few hours? The two-time NCAA champion from Ohio State is looking forward to a great battle.

“I am going to wrestle as hard as I can. Everything I have will be put into this match. The best man will win. The moment that whistle blows I am going to attack. Maybe its 2-1 or something like that. From the second the whistle starts, I believe I can score on him. I believe I am strong enough to push through him and push him out of bounds. I will see if he can last with the hand fight. It will be a great challenge for me,” said Snyder.

Burroughs, who did not place at the 2016 Olympic Games, has powered back into the World Championship finals this year, making it the fifth time in his glorious career that he made a World or Olympic finals.

In the championship finals, Burroughs will face 2014 World champion Khetig Tsabalov of Russia in the championship finals, a key matchup in the team race between the USA and Russia.

In the opener, Burroughs another hard fought match against two-time World medalist Ali Shabanau of Belarus, earning a 7-5 victory. Their previous meetings were very physical, and that remained the case this time. Burroughs trailed 5-2 at the break, as Shabanau scored two takedowns and a stepout as Burroughs scored on two step outs. In the second, Burroughs scored a takedown and a step out to tie it at 5-5, but with criteria to Shabanau. With 21 seconds left, Burroughs nailed a two-point double leg takedown to win the bout.

In his second match, he battled 2014 World silver medalist Sohsuke Takatani of Japan, who he had beaten in the 2017 Beat the Streets Benefit in Times Square. Takatani scored the first takedown, then Burroughs took over the match, scoring 12 straight points. He got two takedowns and a turn to lead 6-2 at the break, then had two more takedowns and another turn to secure the 12-2 technical fall.

In the quarterfinals, Burroughs beat fan-favorite Zelimkhan Khadjiev of France, opening up his offense for a 13-2 technical fall. Leading 5-2 at the break. Burroughs hit a big four-point takedown, then added a takedown and a turn to finish the bout. Khadjiev was fifth in 2015 Worlds and a 2014 Junior World champion.

In the semifinals, Burroughs avenged a loss from the 2016 Olympic Games to 2014 World bronze medalist Bekzod Abdurakhmanov of Uzbekistan, who was a two-time NCAA All-American for Clarion. Abdurakhmanov scored a technical fall over Burroughs in the repechage rounds in Rio de Janeiro.

This time, it was Burroughs who put together a courageous battle. Burroughs forced an early stepout, but Abdurakhmanov came back with a takedown and a step out for a 3-1 lead. Burroughs closed it to 3-2 with a stepout prior to the break. In the second, another stepout forced by Burroughs tied it at 3-3. Burroughs added a takedown and another stepout for a 6-3 lead. Late in the match, officials hit Burroughs for a caution and two-point penalty for fleeing, but the match ended 6-5 for the American.

“Bekzod is tough. He wrestled at Clarion, but he is a world-class competitor now. Somewhere in the last four years, he became extremely tough and very hard to beat. He beat me 11-0 at the Olympic Games. That was something that was memorable for me. I really wanted to get this one. I knew I couldn’t come out firing. He was too tactical. He did some things that I was not prepared for last time, but I made some adjustments. I have Russia in the finals. It is the first time in seven years at the Worlds or Olympic Games that I am on the opposite side from Russia. This time, I get a Russian in the finals. How crazy is that?” said Burroughs

Green will battle 2015 World champion and 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Frank Chamizo of Italy in the championship finals. Green beat Chamizo in the 2015 Spanish Grand Prix.

In his first bout, No. 1 seed Green beat Colombia’s Pan American silver Nestor Taffur, 8-0. It was a battle of New Jersey natives, and NCAA wrestlers, as Taffur was an EIWA champion for Boston University. Green led 3-0 at the break on a takedown and step out. The second period was also controlled by Green, who got a takedown and a step out point.

In the quarterfinals, Green edged 2015 European U23 champion Zurabi Erbotsonashvili of Georgia, 3-2. Green jumped to a 3-0 lead with two stepouts and a point when Erbotsonashvili did not score on the shot clock. Erbotsonashvili scored a second period takedown to tighten it up, but could not break Green’s defense in the closing seconds.

In the semifinals, Green beat two-time Junior World medalist Yuhi Fujinami of Japan, 5-3. Fujinami scored the first takedown, but Green scored two takedowns to lead 4-2 at the break. When Fujimami forced Green out late in the match, officials gave him a step out. Japan challenged, hoping for a takedown, but it was denied, giving Green his final point for the victory.

“I trained hard. I am really excited. I am going to get a little break here to rest up, get my mind right, and do what I have been doing all day. I am wrestling the whole match. I am able to stay down, stay in the center, not back up. That is the emphasis we worked on in camp. I have to finish out matches. I have to stay down,” said Green.

The University of Nebraska put two American wrestlers in the finals, as Burroughs won two NCAA titles and was a Hodge Trophy winner and Green was a four-time All-American for the Huskers.

Zain Retherford (Benton, Pa./Nittany Lion WC), competing in his first Senior World Championships, finished with a 1-1 record and did not place in the top 10 at 65 kg/143 lbs. It was a disappointing day for the two-time NCAA champion and Hodge Trophy winner from Penn State, who was a Cadet World champion in his only previous World event.

Retherford opened with a 10-0 technical fall over European bronze medalist David Habat of Slovenia. Habat was a NCAA finalist and two-time NCAA All-American for Edinboro. Retherford led 4-0 at the break on two takedowns. In the second period, Retherford launched Habat for four points to stretch it to 8-0, then nailed the coffin with one final takedown.

The next opponent was 2016 Asian champion Adam Batirov of Bahrain, who won three European Championships medals for Russia before changing nationality. Batirov started strong, getting a funky turn for two points in the opening period to lead 2-0 at the break. Retherford scored next in the second period, to tie it at 2-2, but was reversed by Batirov to make it 3-2. A Batirov fireman’s carry extended the lead to 5-2, and Retherford answered with his own takedown to pull it to 5-4. Retherford got behind Batirov and took him down, but officials said time was out. The USA challenged the bout, but it was denied, making the final score 6-4 for Batirov.

Batirov was defeated in the quarterfinals by Russia’s Alan Gogaev, which eliminated Retherford, making him ineligible for the repechage.

“It was short, short for me. There is definitely a lot to work on. That is win or lose, you always have a lot of stuff to work on. It was a good wake up call. I have not felt some of those positions before. I am certainly going to work on them when I get home,” said Retherford.

The United States was in first place after the first day, two points ahead of Russia. Both teams had strong morning sessions. The USA put three into the finals, while Russia has two in the finals and one going for bronze. The lead for the USA is just one point after the session. Either team could win, based upon the results of the finals. There are two head-to-head matchups.

The USA has won two previous World Team titles in men’s freestyle, won in 1993 in Toronto, Canada and in 1995 in Atlanta, Ga. The USA also has a Women’s World Team title in 1999 and a Greco-Roman World Team title in 2007.

The finals will be held in this order:74 kg first, followed by 65 kg, 70 kg and 97 kg. Conceivably, the team race could come down to the match between Snyder and Sadulaev. It will be a great show. The finals are set for 7:00 p.m. Paris time, which is 1:00 p.m. in the U.S. Eastern time zone and will be live for U.S. fans to enjoy on Trackwrestling.

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Paris, France, August 26

U.S. men’s freestyle performance on Saturday


65 kg/143 lbs. - Zain Retherford, Benton, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
WIN David Habat (Slovenia), tech. fall 10-0
LOSS Adam Batirov (Bahrain), 6-4

70 kg/154 lbs. - James Green, Lincoln, Neb. (Titan Mercury WC/Nebraska RTC)
WIN Nestor Taffur (Colombia), 8-0
WIN Zurabi Erbotsonashvili (Georgia), 3-2
WIN Yuhi Fujinami (Japan)
Gold Medal Finals - Vs. Frank Chamizo (Italy)

74 kg/163 lbs. - Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb. (Sunkist Kids/Nebraska RTC)
WIN Ali Shabanau (Belarus),
WIN Sosuhe Takatani (Japan), tech. fall 12-2
WIN Zelimkhan Khadjiev (France), tech fall 13-2
Gold Medal Finals – vs. Khetig Tsabalov (Russia)

97 kg/213 lbs. - Kyle Snyder, Woodbine, Md. (Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC)
WIN Mamed Ibragimov (Kazakhstan), tech. fall 10-0
WIN Naoya Akaguma (Japan), tech. fall 10-0
WIN Aslanbek Alborov (Azerbaijan), 9-2
Gold Medal Finals – vs. Abdulrashid Sadulaev (Russia)

Finals pairings

65 kg/143 lbs. - Zurabi Iakobishvili (Georgia) vs. Magomedmurad Gadzhiev (Poland)
70 kg/154 lbs. - James Green (United States) vs. Frank Chamizo Marquez (Italy)
74 kg/163 lbs. - Khetik Tsabolov (Russia) vs. Jordan Burroughs (United States)
97kg/213 lbs. - Kyle Snyder (United States) vs. Abdulrashid Sadulaev (Russia)

Semifinal results

65 kg/143 lbs.
Zurabi Iakobishvili (Georgia) dec. Alan Gogaev (Russia), 3-3
Magomedmurad Gadzhiev (Poland) dec. Alejandro Valdes Tobier (Cuba), 1-1

70 kg/154 lbs.
James Green (United States) dec. Yuhi Fujinami (Japan), 5-3
Frank Chamizo Marquez (Italy) dec. Yakup Gor (Turkey), 5-1

74 kg/163 lbs.
Khetik Tsabolov (Russia) tech. fall Soner Demirtas (Turkey), 10-0
Jordan Burroughs (United States) dec. Bekzod Abdurakhmonov (Uzbekistan), 6-5

97/213 lbs.
Kyle Snyder (United States) dec. Aslanbek Alborov (Azerbaijan), 9-2
Abdulrashid Sadulaev (Russia) dec. Georgii Ketoev (Armenia), 2-0