Amine, Micic qualify weight for Olympics, the top efforts of U.S. collegians wrestling for other nations

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | Sept. 22, 2019, 11:34 a.m. (ET)
Myles Amine of San Marino, who wrestles for Michigan, celebrates a win at the World Championships. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors

NUR-SULTAN, Kazakhstan – Every year, it seems more athletes who competed in the U.S. college programs show up at the World Championships competing for other nations. In most cases, the athletes are based in the USA and are eligible to compete for the other nation due to family heritage. In a few cases, international athletes have come to wrestle in American colleges.

The two U.S. collegians on foreign teams who made the biggest news in Nur-Sultan are both student-athletes for the University of Michigan: Myles Amine of San Marino and Stevan Micic of Serbia. Both are NCAA All-Americans for the Wolverines. Both also made a huge splash by reaching the World semifinals and qualifying their nation to compete at the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games.

Amine, who hails from Brighton, Mich., went on an amazing run, winning four straight matches against high-caliber international athletes. He knocked off Ali Shabanau of Belarus, Yurieski Torreblana Queralta of Cuba and Sohsuke Takatani of Japan in a row. Shabanau and Takatani are past World medalists. His win in the quarterfinals over Ahmed Dudarov of Germany, 4-1, put him into the semifinals.

By making the semifinals, Amine guaranteed himself a top five finish, which means he qualified San Marino for the 2020 Tokyo Games. No wrestling athlete from San Marino had ever done anything as amazing as that.

Amine was handled in the semifinals by World and Olympic champion Hassan Yasdani Charati of Iran in an 11-1 technical fall. He was defeated in the bronze-medal match by Artur Naifonov of Russia, 6-0 to finish fifth.

Micic, who hails from Cedar Lake, Ind., was not as big a surprise as Amine at the international level. Micic won a Junior World bronze medal for the United States before making the decision a few seasons ago to compete for Serbia at the world level. Micic won a bronze in the 2018 European Championships and added a silver at the 2019 European Games.

Micic opened with a 14-3 technical fall over Chakir Ansari of Morocco and beat Canada’s Darthe Capellan, 10-2. He dropped a tight 5-4 match to 2019 European champion Suleyman Atli of Turkey in the quarterfinals. When Atli made the finals, Micic was pulled back into repechage, where he beat Givi Davidovi of Italy, 8-0.

In a bronze medal match, Micic was edged by veteran star Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan, 4-3 to place fifth. It was a great match which went for the local hero. Of course, Sanayev himself is not a native Kazakh. He previously wrestled for Russia under the name of Artas Sanaa.

Serbia is a Greco-Roman nation, and has a long legacy of Olympic involvement and success. However, Serbia has not had any previous success in men’s freestyle until Micic became part of their national team.

A pair of U.S. collegians who were past World medalists did not reach the medal rounds this year: Franklin Gomez of Puerto Rico and Bekzod Abdurakhmanov of Uzbekistan. In fact, they wrestled each other in the first round at 74 kg.

Adburakhmanov, who is a two-time World bronze medalist, was an NCAA All-American for Clarion, and also competed at Colby CC. Gomez, a 2011 World silver medalist, was an NCAA champion for Michigan State. Abdurakhmanov won the match against Gomez, 4-0. After another victory, Abdurakhmanov was beaten by 2017 Junior World champion Khadzimurad Gadzhiyev of Azerbaijan, who lost to American superstar Jordan Burroughs of the USA in the quarterfinals, eliminating Abdurakhmanov from repechage.

Myles Amine was not the only Amine to win bouts at the 2019 Worlds. His brother Malik, also representing Sam Marino, won his first two bouts at 65 kg, beating athletes from Guinea Biseau and Mexico. He lost to Iszmail Muszukajev of Hungary, the eventual bronze medalist. Amine also wrestles at Michigan.

Other athletes who wrestled in U.S. college that won a match at the Senior Worlds this year were David Habat of Slovenia (an NCAA finalist for Edinboro) and Nestor Tafur Barrios of Columbia (an EIWA champion for Boston University).

U.S. college wrestlers competing for other nations


57 kg - Stevan Micic (Serbia) – Michigan, 5th place
WIN Chakir Ansari (Morocco), tech fall 14-3
WIN Darthe Capellan (Canada), 10-2
LOSS Suleyman Atli (Turkey), 5-4
WIN Givi Davidovi (Italy), 8-0
LOSS Nurislam Sanayev (Kazakhstan), 4-3

65 kg - David Habat (Slovenia) – Edinboro, dnp/26th
WIN Fati Vejself (North Macedonia), 9-1
LOSS Bajrang (India), 3-0

65 kg - Malik Amine (San Marino) – Michigan, dnp/13th
WIN Mbunde Cumba Mbali (Guinea Biseau), 14-11
WIN Brandon Diaz Ramirez (Mexico), 13-6
LOSS Iszmail Muszukajev (Hungary), 8-0

74 kg - Elias Laufofo Vaoifi (American Samoa) – Missouri Valley, dnp/24th
LOSS Kyrillos Binenmpaoum (Greece), 9-3

74 kg – Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico) – Michigan State, dnp/26th
LOSS Bekzod Abdurakhmanov (Uzbekistan), 4-0

74 kg – Nestor Tafur Barrios (Colombia) – Boston Univ, dnp/20th
WIN Miroslav Kirov (Bulgaria), 8-4
LOSS Murad Kuramagomedov (Hungary), 3-0

74 kg – Bekzod Abdurakhmanov (Uzbekistan) – Clarion/Colby CC, dnp/12th
WIN Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico), 4-0
WIN Jeandry Garzon Caballero (Cuba), 10-6
LOSS Khadzimurad Gadzhiyev (Azerbaijan), 12-9

86 kg – Myles Amine (San Marino) – Michigan, 5th place
WIN Ali Shabanau (Belarus), 5-1
WIN Yurieski Torreblana Queralta (Cuba), 3-2
WIN Sohsuke Takatani (Japan), 5-2
WIN Ahmed Dudarov (Germany), 4-1
LOSS Hassan Yasdani Charati (Iran), tech. fall 11-0
LOSS Artur Naifonov (Russia), 6-0

86 kg – Domenic Abounader (Lebanon) – Michigan
LOSS Uri Kalashnikov (Israel), withdraw

86 kg - Angus Arthur (Jamaica) – Adrian College/Michigan State
LOSS Pool Edison Ambrocio Greifo (Peru), 6-4

86 kg – Ville Heino (Finland) – Campbell
LOSS Artur Naifanov (Russia), 5-0

97 kg – Maxwell Lacey Garita (Costa Rica) – Wheeling Jesuit
LOSS Nicolai Ceban (Moldova), tech. fall 11-1

125 kg – Jere Heino (Finland) – Campbell, dnp/23rd
LOSS Egzon Shala (Kosovo), pin