USA wraps up first day of men's freestyle at U23 Worlds in Poland

By Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling | Nov. 25, 2017, 9:05 a.m. (ET)

Photo: Daton Fix at the 2017 U23 World Championships. Photo by Andy Hamilton, Trackwrestling.

VIDEO: U23 World Championships interviews

BYDGOSZCZ, Poland – The U.S. U23 Men’s Freestyle World Team wrapped up its first day of competition at the U23 World Championships in Bydgoszcz, Poland, on Sunday.

Team USA was unable to qualify a wrestler for the medal matches, going 0-4 on the day.

“Overall, I think Daton (Fix) and Mitch (McKee) wrestled good but not great,” Manager of U.S. Freestyle Programs Joe Russell said. “At the World Championships, you have to wrestle great. Head position and putting up a couple of shots were the problems for us today. We can’t rely on guys to pull us back in. I don’t think Sammy (Brooks) and Michael (Kroells) gave themselves a chance today. You have to be stingy with these international guys.”

2017 Junior World champion Daton Fix (Sand Springs, Okla./Titan Mercury/Cowboy RTC) dropped his tournament opener to Ali Aliev bronze medalist Parviz Ibrahimov of Azerbaijan at 57 kg/125 lbs.

Fix led, 2-2, on criteria at the break, scoring a takedown in the waning seconds of the first period. Halfway through the second period, Fix was penalized with a caution-and-two for fleeing the mat, a turning point in the bout. Ibrahimov scored the final point with a step out with just over a minute left to knock of the USA star, 5-2.

“It was just small things,” Fix said. “I need to create more angles. I didn’t do enough to win. I didn’t score enough. That’s just what it comes down to. I need to get to the legs more than I did in that match. I got to the legs one time, and I scored one time.”

Ibrahimov made it to the semifinals against 2017 Senior Pan American bronze medalist Reineri Ortega of Cuba. The Azeri lost the bout in the final five seconds of the match, when Ortega scored a takedown for a 6-5 win. Ibrahimov’s loss closed out Fix’s U23 World tournament.

Mitch McKee, 2017 Junior World silver medalist, made a late push in his match against 2017 U23 European Championships silver medalist Sedat Ozdemir of Turkey at 61 kg/134 lbs. McKee trailed 4-1 at the break, and Ozdemir extended his lead to 6-1 with a second-period takedown.

In the final minute, McKee came out on top in a scramble for a takedown, but Ozdemir scored two for exposure. The American kept pressing, picking up a reversal and later a step out but fell short in his comeback bid, 8-5.

McKee’s tournament came to an end when Ozdemir, who battled his way into the semis, was upended in the final seconds by 2017 Medved bronze medalist Kuat Amirtayev of Kazakhstan.

“I’m disappointed that I came out here just to wrestle one match,” McKee said. “He was a tough competitor and he went far. As you move up in levels, everyone is tough and is going to give you a good match. I learned from that match that there some little things that I need to go back and work on.”

In his first bout at 86 kg/189 lbs., 2011 Cadet World bronze medalist Sam Brooks suffered a loss in form of a first-period pin to 2017 Maccabiah Games bronze medalist in Greco Uri Kalashnikov of Israel, who scored quickly on an arm throw, putting Brooks to his back. He was awarded the pin at the 54-second mark.

Kalashnikov lost his next match to Alikhan Zhabrailov of Russia, 10-0, ending Brooks’ U23 World Championships.

Three-time All-American for Minnesota Michael Kroells fell in his first match at 125 kg/275 lbs. to Kazakhstan’s Yusup Batirmurzaev, who won bronze at the 2015 International D. A. Kunaev Tournament.

Batirmurzaev’s offense was too much for Kroells as scored 11 quick points for a first-period technical fall.

The Kazakh wrestler suffered an 11-0 loss in the quarterfinals to 2016 University World bronze medalist Danylo Kartavyi of Ukraine to wrap up the American heavyweight’s U23 Worlds.

NCAA wrestler for Campbell University Jere Heino, who represented Finland at the event, fell in the quarterfinals to two-time Junior World champion and 2017 World Military bronze medalist Amin Taheri of Iran.

Heino fell short in a chance for a medal, when Taheri lost in the semifinals to two-time Junior European champion Magomedamin Dibirov of Russia, 12-1.

Four more Americans will take to the mat tomorrow in the final day of the event, including Joey McKenna (65 kg, Richie Lewis (70 kg), Isaiah Martinez (74 kg) and Ty Walz (97 kg).

The preliminary rounds begin at 10 a.m. local time (4 a.m. ET), with the medal matches beginning at 6 p.m. (12 p.m. ET) on Sunday. Bydgoszcz is six hours ahead of the U.S. Eastern time zone.

Fans can find live streams and brackets on Trackwrestling.com.

2017 U23 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
at Bydgoszcz, Poland (Six hours ahead of ET)

U.S. men’s freestyle draws
57 kg/125 lbs. – Daton Fix (Sand Springs, Okla./Titan Mercury/Cowboy RTC)
LOSS Parviz Ibrahimov (Azerbaijan), 5-2

61 kg/134 lbs. – Mitchell McKee (Hanover, Minn./Minnesota Storm)
LOSS Sedat Ozdemir (Turkey), 8-5

86 kg/189 lbs. – Sam Brooks (Oak Park, Ill./New York AC/Hawkeye WC)
LOSS Uri Kalashnikov (Israel), fall

125 kg/275 lbs. – Michael Kroells (Belle Plaine, Minn./Minnesota Storm)
LOSS Yusup Batirmurzaev (Kazakhstan), 11-0