Punia Wins India’s First Junior Gold in 18 Years; Russia Reels in Freestyle Team Title

By Eric Olanowski

TALLINN, Estonia (August 14) – India’s Deepak PUNIA won his nation’s first junior world title in 18 years, while Russia reeled in the freestyle team title 48 points ahead of second-place United States. 

In the 86kg finals, Punia traded takedowns with his Russian opponent Alik SHEBZUKHOV, but it was the Indian wrestlers low-level attack to a takedown in the second period that assisted India in winning their first junior world title since Ramesh KUMAR and Palwinder CHEEMA’s title-winning efforts at 69kg and 130kg, respectively at the 2001 Tashkent Junior World Championships. “It feels very good to win India’s first junior world title in 18 years,” said Punia. His win on Wednesday night is an improvement on his silver-medal finish from last year’s Junior World Championships. 

Punia, who is ranked fifth in the world at 86kg on the senior circuit, is expected to represent India at September’s Nur-Sultan World Championships. “Next up is the big (senior) World Championships where I hope to become world champion again,” said Punia. 

Alan BAGAEV’s (RUS) defeated Lucas DAVISON (USA) 5-4 -- handing Russia their second freestyle gold medalist of the 2019 Junior World Championships. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Meanwhile, the Russian Federation closed out the freestyle team race on the back of Alan BAGAEV’s (RUS) run to a junior world title at 92kg. Though Russia ended with eight freestyle medals, Bagaev joined Amkhad TASHUKHADZHIEV as Russia’s only gold-medal winners. Tashukhadzhiev won the 79kg title yesterday with a 7-1 win over Bagrati GAGNIDZE (GEO). 

In his finals match, Bagaev edged Lucas DAVISON (USA), 5-4 after he scored the go-ahead takedown with 12 seconds left in the second period. Prior to picking up the match-deciding takedown, Bagaev gave up three step-outs and an inactivity point and fell behind 4-3. His clutch takedown with under 15 seconds left put an exclamation point on the team title for the Russian Federation, who finished 48 points ahead of the second-place United States and 49 points ahead of third-place Iran. 

David CARR (USA) survived a 4-4 battle against Jintaro MOTOYAMA (JPN) to win the 74kg gold medal. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

United States Storms to Second-Place Finish 
The United States stormed to a second-place finish after medaling in all five weights – extenuated by David CARR (USA) and Mason PARRIS’ (USA) gold-medal runs at 74kg and 125kg, respectively. 

David Carr snuck past Jintaro MOTOYAMA (JPN), 4-4 and became the 74kg junior world champion. After the match, when Carr was asked about becoming a world champion, he said, “I’ve been telling myself all summer. I’ve dreamed about; I write it down in my goals every day.” 

Carr scored a low-level attack in the first period, then bulldozed his Japanese opponent over in the second period -- gaining the criteria advantage after he surrendered a takedown and two one-point step-outs.

Mason PARRIS’ (USA) stuck reigning cadet world champion Amir ZARE (IRI) in 80 seconds in the 125kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan) 

Mason Parris was the second American to win a world title on Wednesday. Parris only needed 80 seconds to get to his fireman’s carry and pick up the fall against the reigning cadet world champion Amir ZARE (IRI). “I hit my fireman’s carry that I’ve been hitting since I was five years old and I got him with it. It was awesome,” said Parris while draping the American flag over his shoulders. 

The United States also had an additional trio of medalists on Day 3. Lucas John Davison (92kg) fell in the finals, while Gabriel TAGG (61kg) and Trent HIDLAY (86kg) each won bronze medals – which helped the United State get past third place Iran by one point. 

Kaiki YAMAGUCHI (JPN) scored 12 unanswered points in the second period of the 61kg to defeat Andrii DZHELEP (UKR), 13-2. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Japan’s Yamaguchi Joins Abe as Junior World Champion 
Kaiki YAMAGUCHI (JPN) trailed by one point after the opening period of the 61kg finals, but scored 12 unanswered second-period points against Andrii DZHELEP (UKR) and joined teammate Toshiya ABE (JPN) in the junior world winners circle.

Yamaguchi scored an inactivity point with one minute left in the first period, but quickly surrendered a takedown and trailed 2-1. Before the first period ended, Yamaguchi ducked behind Dzhelep but couldn’t get his Ukrainian opponents' knee down and headed into the final period down by one point. 

Whatever the message was from the Japanese corner during the break clearly hit home with Yamaguchi as he flipped on his offensive switch and scored 12 straight points to close out the match.

His first lead of the second period came when he strung together a high crotch and a leg to regain the lead, 5-2. Soon after, Yamaguchi ended the match when he transitioned from a single leg to a trio of leg laces to win his first international medal -- which just happened to be a world gold. 

Wrestling resumes on Thursday at 10:30 (local time) and will be broadcasted live on www.unitedworldwrestling.org.


Final Freestyle Team Scores 
GOLD - Russia  (168 points)
SILVER - United States (120 points)
BRONZE - Iran (119 points)
Fourth - Japan (84 points)
Fifth - India (80 points)

GOLD - Kaiki YAMAGUCHI (JPN) df. Andrii DZHELEP (UKR), 13-2 
BRONZE - Gabriel Robert TAGG (USA) df. Goderdzi DZEBISASHVILI (GEO), 15-4 

GOLD - David CARR (USA) df. Jintaro MOTOYAMA (JPN), 4-4 
BRONZE - Abdulvasi BALTA (TUR) df. Bat-Erdene BYAMBASUREN (MGL), via fall 
BRONZE - Khadzhimurad GADZHIYEV (AZE) df. Devid BETANOV (RUS), 7-0

GOLD - Deepak PUNIA (IND) df. Alik SHEBZUKHOV (RUS), 2-2 
BRONZE - Trent Niemond HIDLAY (USA) df.  Ivars SAMUSONOKS (LAT), 9-0
BRONZE - Hunter Jeffery LEE (CAN) vs. Miriani MAISURADZE (GEO), 4-2 

GOLD - Alan BAGAEV (RUS) df. Lucas DAVISON (USA), 5-4 
BRONZE - Ertugrul AGCA (GER) df. Ali ABDOLLAHI (IRI), 8-6
BRONZE - Viky VIKY (IND) df. Batmagnai ENKHTUVSHIN (MGL), 4-3 

GOLD - Mason PARRIS (USA) df. Amir ZARE (IRI)
BRONZE - Alen KHUBULOV (RUS) df. Hovhannes MAGHAKYAN (ARM), 14-3
BRONZE - Pasa Ekrem KARABULUT (TUR) df. Vasil KHVISTANI (GEO), 4-1 


Russia Wins Greco-Roman Team Title; Kamal Claims Third Junior World Gold

By Eric Olanowski

TALLINN, Estonia (August 18) – The Russian Federation joined their fellow freestyle countrymen as junior world team champions, while Kerem KAMAL (TUR) gained ownership of his third consecutive junior world title.

Russia entered the final day of wrestling in Tallinn, Estonia, with the seven-point team lead over Iran, and ended with winning the team title by 37 points. They closed out the Junior World Championships with three additional medals – bringing their overall total to seven junior world medal winners. In total, Russia had four world champs, a pair of silver medalists, and a bronze-medal finisher. 

Sergei STEPANOV (RUS) joined Greco-Roman teammates Anvar ALLAKHIAROV (55kg), Abu AMAEV (63kg) and Ilia ERMOLENKO (87kg) as junior world champs. 

Stepanov, who said the plan coming into the final “was to be first,” collected two points in the first period and one point in the second period and snatched his first world title with a gritty 3-1 victory over Ulvu GANIZADE (AZE). After his win, Stepanov said, “I can’t say (how I feel), I’m just so emotional.”

In the opening period of the finals, Stepanov scored two points from inactivity point and step-out point and carried the 2-0 lead into the closing period. The second period was scoreless until the 65-second mark when Stepanov was thrown down in par terre after being hit for inactivity. He escaped without surrendering a point and managed to tack on a point of his own after a failed leg-foul challenge from the Azerbaijani corner. Stepanov ultimately held on to win, 3-1 -- giving Russia their fourth Greco-Roman gold medal of the tournament, but more importantly, the team title. “Russia is so strong, and I am so happy to become team champions.” 

Kerem KAMAL (TUR) won his third junior world title with a 7-2 win over Sahak HOVHANNISYAN (ARM) in the 60kg finals. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Meanwhile, Kerem Kamal held up three fingers to the crowd, signaling his possession of a third consecutive junior world title after he defeated Sahak HOVHANNISYAN (ARM), 7-2 in the 60kg gold-medal bout. “I’m very happy to win the third gold medal in the junior category. I was before in the cadet finals three times and I lost,” said Kamal.  

In his finals match, the Turkish wrestler trailed after the first period, but he expected to be in that position. “The match plan was (to be) safe in the first (period)…Safety first.” The second period was pivotal for Kamal in grasping his third junior world gold. After playing it safe in the first period, Kamal said, “In the second period, I go full power.” And that’s exactly what he did. In the final three minutes, Kamal earned an inactivity point and got to work quickly -- smothering Hovhannisyan with a right-side gut wrench follow by a four-point lift from the right side and commanded the 7-1 lead. He conceded a second-period point but ended up carrying the Turkish flag around the mat at a Junior World Championships for the third consecutive year with a 7-2 victory. 

Giorgi SHOTADZE (GEO) defeated Shant KHACHATRYAN (ARM), 6-3 in the 67kg finals and captured his second age-group world title. His first came at the 2016 Cadet World Championships in Tbilisi, Georgia. 

Final Trio of Day Seven Champions
In the 67kg finals, Giorgi SHOTADZE (GEO) and Shant KHACHATRYAN (ARM) exchanged one-point sequences, but it was the Georgian who headed into the second period with the lead on criteria. A stepout 15 seconds into the second period, followed by a four-point throw with 25 seconds left gave the reigning European champion his second world title and first since winning the 2016 Cadet World Championship in Tbilisi, Georgia. 

Istvan TAKACS (HUN) scored 48 offensive points on his way to the 82kg title. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

Istvan TAKACS (HUN) stopped Russia from winning their second gold medal of the night with a 7-1 statement win over Aues GONIBOV (RUS) in the 82kg finals. “I came for the gold, and I got it,” Takacs said after the award ceremony.  

In the opening period, the Hungarian traded inactivity points with his Russian opponent but wasn’t too worried because it was all a part of his initial game plan. “The plan was to defend the first par terre position, then pick up my points.” He successfully defended the par terre, and when it was his turn, he capitalized on his opportunity -- scoring six points from a pair of two-point lifts and a leg foul.  

Takas closed out the Junior World Championships scoring 48 offensive points. When asked about his offensive efficiency, Takas said, “I thought about it before the matches. I wanted to win by one or two points, but in the matches, I felt good and the points just came... Everything clicked.” 

With his win on Sunday night, Takas became Hungary’s first junior world champion since 2012, when Baliant LAM won the 120kg title in Pattaya, Thailand. 

Gabriel ROSILLO KINDELAN (CUB) easily handled Patrick NEUMAIER (GER), 8-0 in the 97kg gold-medal bout. (Photo: Kadir Caliskan)

At 97kg, it only took 74 seconds for Cuba’s Gabriel ROSILLO KINDELAN to impose his will on Patrick NEUMAIER (GER) and pick up the technical superiority victory. The Cuban suplexed his way to a four-point lead, then stacked on a takedown and a gut wrench -- giving Cuba their first junior Greco-Roman world title since Yasmany LUGO CABRERA’S (CUB) 2009 world title run in Ankara, Turkey.


Final Greco-Roman Team Scores
GOLD - Russia (157 points)

SILVER - Iran (121 points)
BRONZE - Turkey (117 points)
Fourth - Georgia (91 points)
Fifth - Hungary (62 points)

GOLD - Kerem KAMAL (TUR) df. Sahak HOVHANNISYAN (ARM), 7-2
BRONZE - Georgii TIBILOV (RUS) df. Diego CHKHIKVADZE (GEO), 5-2 
BRONZE - Asgar ALIZADA (AZE) df. Talastan KANZHARBEK UULU (KGZ), 11-2 

GOLD - Giorgi SHOTADZE (GEO) df. Shant KHACHATRYAN (ARM), 6-3 
BRONZE - Peyton Louis OMANIA (USA)  df. Xin HUANG (CHN), 6-5 
BRONZE - Valentin PETIC (MDA) df. Abdul Samet BASAR (TUR), 3-1

GOLD - Sergei STEPANOV (RUS) df. Ulvu GANIZADE (AZE), 3-1 
BRONZE - Ihor BYCHKOV (UKR)  df. Rasmus Lilleman AASTROEM (SWE), via fall 
BRONZE - Mohammadreza Mahmoud ROSTAMI (IRI) df. Ismail GUN (TUR), 6-5 

GOLD - Istvan TAKACS (HUN) df. Aues GONIBOV (RUS), 7-1 
BRONZE - Dogan KAYA (TUR) df. Lucas Alexandros LAZOGIANIS (GER), 8-6 

GOLD - Gabriel Alejandro ROSILLO KINDELAN (CUB) df. Patrick NEUMAIER (GER), 8-0 
BRONZE - Uladzislau PUSTASHYLAU (BLR) df. Gerard Cyprian KURNICZAK (POL), 3-1 
BRONZE - Beytullah KAYISDAG (TUR) df. Alex Gergo SZOKE (HUN), 1-1