U.S. Quartet Sweeps into Gold Medal Finals, Russia Advances Three in Jr World C'ships Freestyle

By William May

TAMPERE, Finland (August 2) – Two-time cadet world champion Gable STEVESON (USA) rallied for a 21-10 victory over Zaur KOZONOV (RUS) at the Junior World Wrestling Championships on Wednesday, setting up a showdown for the team title between the American and Russian squads.

Steveson wrapped up four technical falls in the morning session, including a 13-0 triumph over last year’s junior world silver medalist Umar ISRAILOV (AZE) in the round of 16. Kozonov, who finished fifth in last year’s senior Ali Aliev tourney, also racked up a pair of technical falls before meeting Steveson in the semifinals.

Stevenson will square off with former Asian cadet champion Naeiim Rahim HASSANZADEH (IRI) for the gold medal while Kozonov meets Zuriko URTASHVILI (GEO) for one of the bronze medals at 120kg.

All four members of the U.S. quartet advanced to the gold medal round on the final day of freestyle competition at Tampere Exhibition and Sport Center and were matched nearly step-for-step by the Russian squad.

Three Russian wrestlers, including former junior European champions Ismail GADZHIEV (55kg) and David BAEV (66kg) will face American opponents in three of the championship bouts, while Kozonov will wrestle for a bronze medal.

At 55kg, 2014 Youth Olympic Games gold medalist Gadzhiev takes on Daton FIX (USA), a bronze medal winner at last year’s junior world meet in Macon.  In his charge to the final, Fix notched four technical falls, including a 10-0 triumph over defending world champion Afgan KHASHALOV (AZE).

At 84kg, Zahid VALENCIA (USA) opened with an 11-2 win over two-time European champ Gadzhimurad MAGOMEDSAIDOV (AZE) avenging a 5-4 quarterfinal loss to Magomedsaidov in the 2016 world meet.

Valencia added a pair of technical falls to advance to the championship match against Artur NAIFONOV (RUS), who posted three technical falls and a 9-4 win over 2016 world silver medal winner Osman GOCEN (TUR).

At 66kg, last year’s European champion Baev also rolled to four technical fall wins, including a 10-0 win over Iveriko JULAKIDZE (GEO), who took a bronze medal at this year’s European under-23 championships.

In the final, he will meet Ryan DEAKIN (USA), who is making his international debut. Deakin had to rally with three late takedowns for a 7-6 quarterfinal win over ENKHTUYA Temuulen (MGL), who finished fifth at the Asian championships in June.

Event Page

Medal Pairings & Semifinal Results


55kg (23 entries)
Gold – Ismail GADZHIEV (RUS) v Daton FIX (USA)
Bronze – Arsen HARUTYUNYAN (ARM) v Ramzan AWTAEW (GER)

Semifinal – Ismail GADZHIEV (RUS) df. Ramzan AWTAEW (GER), 8-3 
Semifinal – Daton FIX (USA) df. Nader NASRISAMAKOUSH (IRI) by TF, 10-0, 0:32

66kg (25 entries)
Gold – Ryan DEAKIN (USA) v David BAEV (RUS)
Bronze – ENKHTUYA Temuulen (MLG) v Amirhossein HOSSEINI (IRI) 
Bronze – Iveriko JULAKIDZE (GEO) v Gevorg MKHEYAN (ARM)

Semifinal – Ryan DEAKIN (USA) df. Amirhossein HOSSEINI (IRI), 10-2 
Semifinal – David BAEV (RUS) df. Gevorg MKHEYAN (ARM) by TF, 12-2, 4:06

84kg (24 entries)
Gold – Zahid VALENCIA (USA) v Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) 
Bronze – Gadzhimurad MAGOMEDSAIDOV (AZE) v Deepak PUNIA (IND)
Bronze – Osman GOCEN (TUR) v Ahmed BAZRIGHALEH (IRI)

Semifinal – Zahid VALENCIA (USA) df. Deepak PUNIA (IND) by TF, 11-0, 4:07
Semifinal – Artur NAIFONOV (RUS) df. Ahmed BAZRIGHALEH (IRI) by TF, 11-0, 0:51

120kg (20 entries)
Bronze – Feyzullah AKTURK (TUR) v DAVAADORJ Erdenetulga (MGL)
Bronze – Zuriko URTASHVILI (GEO) v Zaur KOZONOV (RUS)

Semifinal – Naeiim HASSANZADEH (IRI) df. DAVAADORJ Erdenetulga (MGL), 3-1
Semifinal – Gable STEVESON (USA) df. Zaur KOZONOV (RUS) by TF, 21-10, 4:08