Photo: Mekhi Lewis receiving coaching from Jared Frayer (left) and Kevin Jackson at the 2018 Junior World Championships. Photo by Kadir Caliskan.
TRNAVA, Slovakia – In only his third freestyle tournament of his career, Mekhi Lewis advanced to the Junior World semifinals at 70 kg with two quick wins on Saturday morning in Trnava, Slovakia. His wins included a technical fall and a pin.
Against Erik Reinbok of Estonia, Lewis scored takedown after takedown to open his first international tournament with a 10-0 win.
The quarterfinals put the Virginia Tech wrestler against South Africa’s Matthew Bartlett, who is a four-time age-group African Championships silver medalist. Lewis was on the board quickly with a takedown, putting Bartlett to his back and securing the fall at the 1:04 mark.
In tonight’s semifinals, Lewis will face 2018 Junior Asian silver medalist Bat-Erdene Byambasuren of Mongolia.
In possibly the biggest upset of the day, three-time age-group World champion Gable Steveson lost in the quarterfinals to Khasanboy Rakhimov of Uzbekistan, who Steveson beat in the 2015 Cadet World finals.
The Minnesota Gopher led early, 2-0, and nearly pinned the Uzbek. Moments later, Steveson went for an inside trip, but Rakhimov found himself on top and pinned the American at the 1:18 mark.
Rakhimov must win his semifinal tonight against Soslan Khinchagov of Russia in order for Steveson to wrestle back for bronze.
Brady Berge advanced to the bronze medal match on Saturday, defeating Aleksander Kuryshta of Belarus in his only repechage match of the day. The Penn State wrestler put on a takedown clinic en route to a 13-2 technical fall.
Tonight for bronze, Berge will take on Arman Andreasyan of Armenia, who was third at this year’s Junior European Championships.
In the morning session, Joshua Saunders at 61 kg and Lou Deprez at 86 kg lost their second bouts of the day. Saunders fell in a 10-0 tech fall to Abasgadzhi Magomedov of Russia, while Deprez fell to Arif Ozen of Turkey, 6-1.
Should Magomedov and Ozen win their semifinals tonight, Saunders and Deprez will be pulled back in to wrestle in repechage tomorrow.
Hawkeye Jacob Warner dropped his opening bout at 92 kg, 6-6, after Askhab Hamzatov of Azerbaijan score a pair of takedown duck-under takedowns for the win. Hazmatov failed to make it to the finals, ending Warner’s 2018 Junior Worlds.
The semifinals are set for Saturday at 5:15 p.m. local time (11:15 a.m. ET), followed by medal matches at 6 p.m. (12 p.m. ET). Those wrestling for medals tonight include Aaron Brooks at 79 kg and Zach Elam at 97 kg going for gold and Daton Fix at 57 kg and Berge at 70 kg wrestling for bronze.
Fans can watch all the action live on Trackwrestling.com.
2018 JUNIOR WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
at Trnava, Slovakia
U.S. men’s freestyle results
61 kg: Joshua Saunders (St. Louis, Mo./Titan Mercury WC)
WIN Nurahamed Mukhudzinau (Belarus), fall 3:29
LOSS Abasgadzhi Magomedov (Russia), 10-0
70 kg: Brady Berge (Mantorville, Minn./Nittany Lion WC)
LOSS Razambek Zhamalov (Russia), 13-3
WIN Aleksander Kuryshta (Belarus), 13-2
vs. Arman Andreasyan (Armenia)
74 kg: Mekhi Lewis (Somerset, N.J./Southeast RTC)
WIN Erik Reinbok (Estonia), 10-0
WIN Matthew Bartlett (South Africa), fall 1:04
vs. Bat-Erdene Byambasuren (Mongolia)
86 kg: Lou Deprez (Hilton, N.Y./Bearcat WC)
WIN Mher Markosyan (Armenia), 7-0
LOSS Arif Ozen (Turkey), 6-1
92 kg: Jacob Warner (Washington, Ill./Hawkeye WC)
LOSS Askhab Hamzatov (Azerbaijan), 6-6
125 kg: Gable Steveson (Apple Valley, Minn./Minnesota Storm)
WIN Lkhagvegerel Munkhtur (Mongolia), 7-4
WIN Haroon Abid (Pakistan), 13-2
LOSS Khasanboy Rakhimov (Uzbekistan), fall 1:18