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2018 World Championships preview at 57 kg/125.5 lbs. in men’s freestyle

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Sept. 19, 2018, 1:49 p.m. (ET)

Thomas Gilman of the USA, competing in Final X in Lincoln, is heading back to the World Championships to seek another medal. Photo by Richard Immel.

Dates of competition: Sunday, October 21 and Monday, October 22

If you enjoyed the competition at the 2017 World Championships at 57 kg in men’s freestyle in Paris last year, you can expect a similar show at the Worlds in Budapest in October. Eight of the top 10 finishers in Paris are expected in Budapest, with all four medalists anticipated in the field.

With that, the reigning World champion is Yuki Takahashi of Japan, who made a big leap last year after taking fifth at the 2014 World Championships and ninth in 2015. Besides making the Japanese World Team, Takahashi’s was third at the 2018 Asian Games. He went undefeated at the 2018 World Cup in Iowa City, including a 4-1 win over 2017 World silver medalist Thomas Gilman in the World Cup dual between the nations.

Gilman made an instant impact on the Senior level with his World silver medal last year in Paris, showing a knack of winning the close, rugged battles with top opponents. His defense is extraordinary and his offense is efficient. Gilman has strong young challengers in his weight class domestically, including 2017 Junior World champion Daton Fix, who he beat in Final X, and a two-time Junior World champion and NCAA champion Spencer Lee, who trains in the same room at Iowa and begins his Olympic journey this coming season. Gilman comes off a win at the tough Yasar Dogu in Turkey and will bring momentum and confidence to the Worlds. He has a Junior World medal to his credit and competed at Cadet Worlds, so he is well versed on how to compete at World events.

Based upon UWW Ranking Standings to date, Gilman is expected to get a seed, while Takahashi will not be seeded, meaning they could meet at any time in the tournament based upon the random draw.

The other two 2017 World bronze medalists are also expected in the draw, Bekhbayar Erdenebat of Mongolia and Andrey Yatsenko of Ukraine.

Erdenebat is a consistent medal threat at the World level, with two Senior World bronze medals (2015, 2017) and a fifth-place World finish in 2014. Erdenebat comes in hot, as he won four international golds this year, including the Asian Games, Mongolia Open, President of Buryatia Republic in Russia and the Takhti Cup in Iran.

Yatsenko has not had a stellar season, dropping to seventh at the 2017 U23 World Championships and falling short of medals at the Dan Kolov in Bulgaria. His silver medal at the Kartozia and Balavadze Cup in Georgia gives him some positive energy heading into Budapest. A two-time Cadet World champion, Yatsenko also had a fifth-place finish at the 2016 World Championships.

2015 World bronze medalist Vladislav Andreev of Belarus won a silver medal at the Medved International in Belarus last week in his preparation for Budapest. Andreev is a seasoned veteran, competing in his first Senior Worlds back in 2011, and has four European medals in his trophy case.

Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan, who wrestled as Artas Sanaa for Russia, is a legitimate medal contender in any event he enters. In his first two World Championships competing for Kazakshtan, he was fifth, competing at 61 kg in 2014 and at 55 kg in 2015. He won three international medals this season, including a gold medal at the 2018 Asian Championships.

2017 and 2018 European Champion Giorgi Edisharashvili of Azerbaijan has been a consistent medalist in the events he enters. His last appearance at the World Championships was in 2013, when he was competing for Georgia.

Russia brings 2018 European silver medalist Zaur Uguev to his second Senior World Championships. Last year, he fell short of the medal rounds, losing in the first round to Sandeep Tomar of India, who also did not medal. Uguev won the Russian Nationals the last two years and also won the rugged Ivan Yarygin Grand Prix for two straight years. His success goes back to age-group days, when he was a two-time Cadet World champion.

Young talent Reineri Andreu Ortega of Cuba was a 2018 Pan American champion, and claimed the 2017 U23 World gold medal. He dropped a 7-5 match to Takahashi at the World Cup in Iowa City, and had close losses to Erdenbat and Edisherashvili there, an indication that he will be dangerous at the Worlds.

American fans will surely follow 2018 European bronze medalist Stevan Micic of Serbia, who is an All-American for Michigan and hails from Indiana. Micic made two age-group World Teams for the USA, including a 2015 Junior World bronze medal effort, before switching to the nation of his family heritage. Micic won a major tuneup event, the Ziolkowski Memorial in Poland, to prepare for Worlds.

A pair of 2018 Asian Games medalists are worth watching, silver medalist Kumsong Kang of North Korea and bronze medalist Reza Atrinagharchi of Iran. Kang also won a gold medal at the 2018 Asian Championships at this weight, his only other big international achievement. Atrinagharchi was a 2015 Military World bronze medalist, and has a handful of other medals at international events to his credit.

2018 Asian Championships bronze medalist Ulukbek Zholdoshbekov of Uzbekistan will be competing in his second Senior World event. Vladimir Egorov of Macedonia, another Russian transplant with a different country, was third in the Medved International in Belarus last week and also competed in the Senior Worlds last year.

Three-time Junior World champion Ahmet Peker of Turkey, who was ninth at the 2012 Olympic Games, is small in stature, but has considerable skills. Peker was a 2016 University World silver medalist and is competing in his third Senior Worlds this year.

Others who could challenge include two-time Commonwealth champion Sandeep Tomar of India, plus Nodiryon Safarov of Uzbekistan, Givi Davidovi of Italy and Mihan Jaburyan of Armenia.

Note: TheMat.com will be posting weight class previews for the 2018 World Championships in Budapest, Hungary, October 20-28.

Recent World and Olympic Results

2017 World Championships
57 kg/125.5 lbs. - Gold - Yuki Takahashi (Japan); Silver - Thomas Gilman (USA); Bronze –Andrey Yatsenko (Ukraine); Bronze – Bekhbayar Erdenebat (Mongolia); 5th - Hak-Jin Jong (North Korea); 5th - Vladimer Dubov (Bulgaria); 7th - Sandeep Tomar (India) ; 8th - Nodirjon Safarov (Uzbekistan); 9th - Sunggwon Kim (Korea); 10th - Givi Davidovi (Italy)

2016 Olympic Games
57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Gold – Vladimer Khinchegahsvili (Georgia); Silver – Rei Higuchi (Japan); Bronze – Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Hassan Rahimi (Iran); 5th – Vladimir Dubov (Bulgaria); 5th – Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez (Cuba); 7th – Asadulla Lachinau (Belarus); 8th – Kyong-Il Yang (DPR Korea); 9th – Victor Lebedev (Russia); 10th – Adama Diatta (Senegal)

2015 World Championships
57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Gold – Vladimer Khinchegashvili (Georgia); Silver – Hassan Rahimi (Iran); Bronze – Bekhbayar Erdenebat (Mongolia); Bronze – Viktor Lebedev (Russia); 5th – Artas Sanaa (Kazakhstan); 5th – Hak Jin Jong (North Korea); 7th – Asadulia Lachinau (Belarus); 8th – Georgi Vangelov (Bulgaria); 9th – Yuki Takahashi (Japan); 10th – Zoheir El Ouarraqe (France)

2014 World Championships
57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Gold – Kyong Il Yang (North Korea); Silver – Vladimer Khinchegashvili (Georgia); Bronze – Uladzislau Andreyeu (Belarus); Bronze – Hassan Rahimi (Iran); 5th – Bekhbayar Erdenebat (Mongolia); 5th – Yuki Takahashi (Japan); 7th – Axmedmabi Guezzatilov (Azerbaijan); 8th – Mehmed Feraim (Bulgaria); 9th – Viktor Lebedev (Russia); 10th – Qi Mude (China)

2013 World Championships
55 kg/121 lbs. – Gold – Hassan Rahimi (Iran); Silver – Amit Kumar (India); Bronze – Sezar Akgul (Turkey); Bronze – Nariman Israpilov (Russia); 5th – Angel Escobedo (USA); 5th – Rasul Kaliyev (Kazakhstan); 7th – Zoheir El Ouarraqe (France); 8th – Altynbek Alymbaev (Kyrgyzstan); 9th – Bekhbayar Erdenebat (Mongolia); 10th – Giorgi Edisherashvili (Georgia)

2012 Olympic Games
55 kg/121 lbs. - Gold – Dzhamel Otarsulatnov (Russia); Silver – Vladimer Khinchagashvili (Georgia); Bronze – Kyong-Il Yang (North Korea); Bronze – Shinichi Yumoto (Japan); 5th – Daulet Niyazbekov (Kazakhstan); 5th – Radoslav Velikov (Bulgaria); 7th – Mihran Jaburyan (Armenia); 8th – Hassan Rahimi (Iran); 9th – Ahmet Peker (Turkey); 10th – Amit Kumar (India)

Current UWW Ranking Series standings (used for seeding)
1 Zavur Uguev (Russia)
2 Thomas Gilman (USA)
3 Suleyman Atli (Turkey)
4 Tsogbadrakh Tseveensuren (Mongolia)
5 Khuresh Ool Donduk Ool (Russia)
6 Armen Arakelian (Ukraine)
7 Giorgi Edisherashvili (Azerbaijan)
8 Kumsong Kang (North Korea)
9 Reineri Andreu Ortega (Cuba)
10 Makhmudjon Shavkatov (Uzbekistan)