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Johnson still has a chance to medal for U.S. in Greco-Roman

Courtesy USA Wrestling

American Xavier Johnson has the final opportunity to win a medal in Greco-Roman for the United States, as he has qualified for the repechage round at 62 kg at the 2023 World Wrestling Championships in Stark Arena.

Johnson will wrestle Hrachya Poghosyan of Armenia in repechage on Sunday afternoon. If he wins against Poghosyan, he reaches a bronze medal match against Georgij Tibilov of Serbia.

Johnson, competing in his first Senior Worlds, opened up his competition with a 10-0 technical fall over India wrestler Vikram Kurade of UWW. In his second bout, he was edged by past World silver medalist Murad Mammedov of Azerbaijan, 3-1. Mammedov won his Saturday night semifinal, which made Johnson eligible for repechage. Only losers to a finalist may compete in repechage.

2020 Olympian Alejandro Sancho won two matches to reach the Saturday afternoon quarterfinals, where he was defeated by Slavik Galstyan of Armenia, 9-0. When Galstyan was defeated in the semifinals in the evening, Sancho was eliminated.

Sancho had a strong start, with wins over Valentin Petic of Moldova, 5-1 and Husiyuetu of China, 3-1.

The other wrestler in Group 3 of Greco-Roman, first-time Senior World Team member Zachary Braunagel, opened up his 86 kg competition with an 8-3 victory over Azym Annamagomedov ofTurkmenistan. In the next round, he was beaten by Olympic champion and two-time World champion Zhan Beleniuk of Ukraine, 5-1. When Beleniuk was beaten in the next round, Braunagel was eliminated from the tournament.

The other U.S. wrestler to compete, Joe Rau, who qualified for Saturday morning’s repechage at 97 kg. He was pinned by Nicu Ojog of Romania in 55 seconds. Rau finished with a 1-2 record for the tournament.

Both of the other U.S. wrestlers were eliminated on Friday, Patrick Smith at 72 kg and Olympian and multiple World team member Ildar Hafizov at 60 kg.

Smith won his first match by pin over Kamil Czarnecki of Poland, and was defeated in his next match. Smith placed eighth in the standings at 72 kg, earning the USA six team points in the standings.

Hafizov lost his only match to Mehdi Mohsen Nejad of Iran, 7-0, and did not place in the top 10.

So far this year, the USA has won 10 matches during the world championships. Johnson could win two more matches if he wins a bronze medal. Last year, the USA Greco-Roman team had seven victories at the Senior Worlds.

The USA has not qualified at any of the six Olympic weight classes in Greco-Roman. The USA will have to qualify them at either the Pan American Olympic Qualifier in Mexico, or the World Olympic Qualifier in Turkey this spring.

The schedule on Sunday has changed. There is no morning session. The Group 3 repechage round begins at 4:30 p.m. local time, with the Group 3 finals beginning at 6:00 p.m. Belgrade is six hours ahead of U.S. Eastern time zone.

At Belgrade, Serbia, September 23

Greco-Roman results
60 kg
Gold – Zholaman Sharshenbekov (Kyrgyzstan) dec. Fumita Kenichiro (Japan), 11-6
Bronze – Liguo Cao (China) dec. Gevorg Gharibyan (Armenia), 5-3
Bronze – Islomjon Bakhramov (Uzbekistan) dec. Mehdi Mohsen Nejad (Iran), 3-3
Olympic Playoff – Mehdi Mohsen Nejad (Iran) dec. Gevorg Gharibyan (Armenia), 7-0

72 kg
Gold – Ibrahim Ghanem (France) dec. Robert Fritsch (Hungary), 3-0
Bronze – Selcuk Can (Turkey) dec. Stoyan Kubatov (Bulgaria), 1-1
Bronze – Ali Arsalan (Serbia) tech. fall Shingo Harada (Japan), 9-0

97 kg
Gold – Gabriel Rosillo Kindelan (Cuba) dec. Artur Aleksanyan (Armenia), 3-3
Bronze – Artur Omarov (Czechia) dec. Mindaugas Venckaitis (Lithuania), 3-1
Bronze – Mohammadhadi Saravi (Iran) dec. Abubakr Khaslakhanau (Individual Neutral Athlete), 4-1
Olympic Playoff – Abubakr Khaslakhanau (Individual Neutral Athlete) pin Mindaugas Venckaitis (Lithuania), 5:08

Team Standings after first seven weight classes
Team results — 1. Iran, 87, 2. Azerbaijan, 70, 3. Turkey, 53, 4. Kyrgyzstan, 50, 5. Uzbekistan, 50

Sunday’s matches
Greco-Roman pairings
63 kg – Leri Abuladze (Georgia) vs. Murad Mammadov (Azerbaijan)
67 kg – Luis Orta Sanchez (Cuba) vs. Hasrat Jafarov (Azerbaijan)
87 kg – Ali Cengiz (Turkey) vs. David Losonczi (Hungary)

Greco-Roman semifinals results
63 kg
Leri Abuladze (Georgia) dec. Stefan Clement (France), 3-1
Murad Mammadov (Azerbaijan) dec. Georgij Tibilov (Serbia), 4-1
67 kg
Luis Orta Sanchez (Cuba) tech. fall Amantur Ismailov (Kyrgyzstan), 9-1
Hasrat Jafarov (Azerbaijan) dec. Slavik Galstyan (Armenia), 5-3
87 kg
Ali Cengiz (Turkey) pin Nursultan Tursynov (Kazakhstan), 2:18
David Losonczi (Hungary) tech. fall Semen Novikov (Bulgaria), 10-0

U.S. Greco-Roman results
60 kg – Ildar Hafizov (U.S. Army WCAP), 33rd place
LOSS Mehdi Mohsen Nejad (Iran), 7-0

72 kg –Patrick Smith (Minnesota Storm), 8th place
WIN Kamil Czarnecki (Poland), pin 4:08
LOSS Ibragim Magomadov (Kazakhstan), 5-1

97 kg – Josef Rau (Titan Mercury WC/Wildcat WC), 19th place
WIN Filip Smetko (Croatia), 4-1
LOSS Artur Aleksanyan (Armenia), tech fall, 9-0
LOSS Nicu Ojog (Romania), pin 0:55

63 kg –Xavier Johnson (U.S. Army WCAP), in repechage
WIN Vikram Krushnath Kurade (UWW), tech fall 10-0
LOSS Murad Mammedov (Azerbaijan), 3-1
Repechage – Hrachya Poghosyan (Armenia)

67 kg –Alejandro Sancho (U.S. Army WCAP), eliminated
WIN Valentin Petic (Moldova), 5-1
WIN Husiyuetu (China), 3-1
LOSS Slavik Galstyan (Armenia), tech fall 9-0

87 kg –Zachary Braunagel (Illini WC/Illinois RTC), eliminated
WIN Azym Annamagomedov (Turkmenistan), 8-3
LOSS Zhan Beleniuk (Ukraine), 5-1

Connecticut Wrestling Online has been covering the sport of wrestling in Connecticut and New England since 2001.

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