USA Wrestling Kerkvliet earns seco...

Kerkvliet earns second-straight bid to World finals, Figueroa to join in the hunt for gold

By Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling | July 02, 2018, 2:43 p.m. (ET)

Photo: Daniel Greg Kerkvliet works a leg lace at the 2018 Cadet World Championships. Photo by Martin Gabor, UWW.

VIDEO: Cadet World interviews

ZAGREB, Croatia – On the first day of the 2018 Cadet World Championships in Zagreb, Croatia, the U.S. put two wrestlers into tomorrow’s gold-medal finals and have one athlete in the hunt for bronze.

Heading to the World finals are Daniel Greg Kerkvliet at 110 kg and Richard Figueroa at 55 kg, while Abe Assad was pulled into repechage at 80 kg.

“I’d say overall the team’s performance has been solid,” Cadet World coach Lee Pritts said. “I don’t think that we’ve performed up to our team’s ability yet. I remember this time last year after the first round, we were thinking, ‘Oh we’re in trouble,’ but Kevin Jackson brought the team in, had a conversation, and next thing you know, we were working together as a unit. We did the same thing this and said ‘You have to go take these wins. No one is going to give them to you.’”

To seal his second-consecutive appearance in the Cadet World finals was Kerkvliet, who, weighing 10 kg less, edged out Cadet European champion Sergey Kozyrev with a 2-2 win on criteria.

Kerkvliet trailed 1-0 at the break, but soon took over the lead with a single-leg takedown. With just seconds left, Kerkvliet was hit with a caution-and-one to knot up the score but held criteria with a two-point move.

“I could be wrestling a lot better,” Kerekvliet said. “We’ll find out tomorrow. The tournament is not over and I’ve still got a lot of work to do.”

In tomorrow night’s finals, Kerkvliet will battle Cadet Asian champion Amir Zare of Iran for gold.

Figueroa continued his offense-fueled day, breezing past Mykyta Abramov of Ukraine to become the first wrestler in the field to guarantee himself a 2018 Cadet World medal.

In his first match of the day that went the full four minutes, Figueroa scored early and then scored often. It was his single leg that proved to be Abramov’s kryptonite. The Californian went on to take a 10-4 win and secure a spot in the 48 kg gold-medal bout.

Figueroa will challenge 2017 Cadet World champion at 42 kg Alihasan Amirli of Azerbaijan in tomorrow night’s finals at 48 kg.

At 80 kg, Abe Assad was pulled back into repechage when Mohammadreza Ghiyasi of Iran advanced to the finals. Tomorrow, Assad will face Batmagnai Enkhtuvshin of Mongolia in his hunt for bronze.

Robert Howard, the U.S. representative at 55 kg, was knocked out of the 2018 Cadet World Championships as Simone Piroddu of Italy, who beat Howard in the second round, fell in the semifinals to Jamshidbek Marufov of Uzbekistan.

The tournament will continue tomorrow morning at 10:30 a.m. local time (4:30 a.m. ET) live on

at Zagreb, Croatia, July 2-8

Finals pairings
48 kg: Richard FIGUEROA (USA) vs. Alihasan AMIRLI (AZE)
55 kg: Hayato FUJITA (JPN) vs. Jamshidbek MARUFOV (UZB)
65 kg: Inalbek SHERIEV (RUS) vs. Turan BAYRAMOV (AZE)
80 kg: Dmitrii ELKANOV (RUS) vs. Mohammadreza GHIYASI (IRI)
110 kg: Amir ZARE (Iran) vs. Daniel KERKVLIET (USA)

U.S. men’s freestyle results

46 kg/101 lbs. – Richard Figueroa, Sanger, Calif. (Sunkist Kids/Monster Garage)
WIN Xiaolong Ye (China), fall 0:54
WIN Valerii Androsov (Russia), 10-0
WIN Mykyta Abramov (Ukraine), 10-4

55 kg/121 lbs. – Robert Howard, Cranford, N.J. (Titan Mercury/Bitetto Trained)
WIN Aliaksei Kukharchyk (Belarus), 14-3
LOSS Simone Piroddu (Italy), 9-3

65 kg/143 lbs. – Carson Manville, Shakopee, Minn. (Banditos WC)
WIN Deividas Peciulis (Lithuania) , 13-2
LOSS Masaki Sato (Japan), 11-0

80 kg/176 lbs. – Abe Assad, Carol Stream, Ill. (Izzy Style WC)
WIN Medet Biliciturk (Turkey), 2-1
LOSS Mohammadreza Ghiyasi (Iran), 10-0

110 kg/242 lbs. – Daniel “Greg” Kerkvliet, Inver Grove, Minn. (Titan Mercury/Pinnacle)
WIN Filip Jires (Czech Republic), 10-0
WIN Vasyl Sova (Ukraine), 10-0
WIN Kumar Anirudh (India), 10-0
Sergey Kozyrev (Russia), 2-2