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Rau still has chance at medal in Greco-Roman at world championships

Courtesy USA Wrestling
The United States won three matches on Friday in Greco-Roman at the 2023 World Wrestling Championships at Stark Arena on Friday in Belgrade, Serbia.

Of the seven athletes who have competed so far for the USA, only Joe Rau at 97 kg still has a chance to battle for a medal. Rau had a 1-1 record on Saturday, winning his opening bout over Filip Smetko of Croatia, 4-1, then losing to Olympic and world champion Artur Aleksanyan of Armenia by technical fall, 9-0.

When Aleksanyan won his semifinal match on Friday night, Rau was pulled back into Saturday morning’s repechage round, which gives him a chance to wrestle back for a bronze medal.

Rau will face Nicu Ojog of Romania in repechage on Saturday morning. If he beats Ojog, he has another repechage match against Artur Omarov of Czechia. A win over Omarov would advance Rau to Saturday night’s bronze medal bout against Mindaugas Venckaitis of Lithuania.

The three other wrestlers for the USA have been eliminated and will not advance to Saturday’s action. The opponents who beat two-time Olympian Ildar Hafizov at 60 kg and Pat Smith at 72 kg did not reach the finals, which made them ineligible for repechage.

Smith got off to a strong start, coming from behind to pin Kamil Czarnecki of Poland in 4:08. Czarnecki ran off seven unanswered points to lead 7-0 and need just a point to get a technical fall. Smith rallied back to close the gap to 7-5, then he threw Czarnecki for a pin in 4:08.

Smith lost a tough 5-1 match in the next round to Ibragim Magomadov of Kazakhstan, who was beaten in his next match, knocking Smith out of the competition.

On Friday morning, Kamal Bey competed at the 77 kg repechage, and opened with a 7-3 win over Jonni Sarkinen of Finland. Bey scored two late takedowns in the match to secure the victory. In his next repechage bout, he dropped a tight 3-3 criteria decision to Alexandrin Gitu of Moldova. Gitu had the only two point move in the match.

Bey finished 10th in his weight class, which allowed him to score two team points for the USA.

Bey had a 1-1 record on Thursday, with a victory over Fabio Deitsche of Switzerland and a loss to 2021 World silver medalist Sanan Suleymanov of Azerbaijan. When Suleymanov reached the finals, Bey was pulled into repechage. Bey is the only U.S. athlete at this point with two wins at the 2023 Worlds in Greco-Roman.

The other three wrestlers from Group One from the USA were all eliminated on Thursday.

Brady Koontz, who went 1-1 at 55 kg on Thursday, placed 10th in his weight class, which earned two team points for the USA.

Cohlton Schultz, who opened his tournament with a pin over Marcel Albini of Czechia, then was beaten in his next match, also placed 10th in his weight class and two team points.

Azerbaijan led the team standings with 70 points, followed by Iran with 60 points and Turkey with 38 points. The USA was in 18th with six points.

The final three U.S. wrestlers will start competition on Saturday, 2020 Olympian Alejandro Sancho (67 kg), plus Xavier Johnson (63 kg) and Zach Braunagel (87 kg).

At Belgrade, Serbia, September 22

Greco-Roman finals pairings
55 kg
Gold – Eldaniz Azizli (Azerbaijan) tech fall Nugzari Tsurtsumia (Georgia), 13-4
Bronze – Poya Soulat Dad Marz (Iran) dec. Marlan Mukashev (Kazakhstan), 6-3
Bronze – Jasurbek Ortikboev (Uzbekistan) dec. Artiom Deleanu (Moldova), 6-1

77 kg
Gold – Akzhol Makhmudov (Kyrgyzstan) dec. Sanan Suleymanov (Azerbaijan), 1-1
Bronze – Malkhas Amoyan (Armenia) dec. Demeu Zhadrayev (Kazakhstan), 9-7
Bronze – Nao Kusaka (Japan) tech, fall Aram Vardanyan (Uzbekistan), 8-0
77 kg Olympic Playoff – Aram Vardanyan (Uzbekistan) dec. Demeu Zhadrayev (Kazakhstan), 5-4

82 kg
Gold – Rafig Huseynov (Azerbaijan) dec. Alireza Mohmadipiani (Iran), 2-1
Bronze – Aues Gonibov (Individual Neutral Athlete) dec. Burhan Akbudak (Turkey), 6-3
Bronze – Yaroslav Filchakov (Ukraine) dec. Mihail Bradu (Moldova), 1-1

130 kg
Gold – Amin Mirzazadeh (Iran) dec. Riza Kayaalp (Turkey) , 2-2
Bronze – Abdellatif Mohamed (Egypt) dec. Lingzhe Meng (China), 3-2
Bronze – Oscar Pino Hinds (Cuba) dec. Romas Fridrikas (Lithuania), 3-1
130 kg Olympic Playoff – Lingzhe Meng (China) dec. Romas Fridrikas (Lithuania), 1-1

U.S. Greco-Roman results
55 kg – Brady Koontz (Titan Mercury WC/Dubuque RTC), 10th place
WIN Hyeokjin Jeon (Korea), 7-3
LOSS Denis Mihai (Romania), tech fall 9-0

77 kg – Kamal Bey (U.S. Army WCAP), 10th place
WIN Fabio Dietsche (Switzerland), 4-1
LOSS Sanan Suleymanov (Azerbaijan), tech fall, 8-0
WIN Jonni Sarkinen (Finland), 7-3
LOSS Alexandrin Gitu (Moldova), 3-3

82 kg – Spencer Woods (U.S. Army WCAP), 18th place
LOSS Stanislaw Shafarenko (Individual Neutral Athlete), 5-3

130 kg – Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist Kids), 10th place
WIN Marcel Albini (Czechia), pin 5:03
LOSS Romas Fridrikas (Lithuania), pin 0:56

Team Standings after four weight classes
1. Azerbaijan, 70, 2. Iran, 60, 3. Turkey, 38, 4. Uzbekistan, 31, 5. Georgia, 30

Greco-Roman semifinal results
60 kg
Fumita Kenichiro (Japan) dec. Gevorg Gharibyan (Armenia), 5-1
Zholaman Sharshenbekov (Kyrgyzstan) dec. Mehdi Mohsen Nejad (Iran), 4-3
72 kg
Ibrahim Ghanem (France) dec. Selcuk Can (Turkey), 4-0
Robert Fritsch (Hungary) dec.,Shingo Harada (Japan), 3-1
97 kg
Artur Aleksanyan (Armenia) tech fall Mindaugas Venckaitis (Lithuania), 9-0
Gabriel Rosillo Kindelan (Cuba) dec. Mohammadhadi Saravi (Iran), 3-0

U.S. Greco-Roman first round pairings
60 kg –Ildar Hafizov (U.S. Army WCAP), eliminated
LOSS Mehdi Mohsen Nejad (Iran), 7-0

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

97 kg – Josef Rau (Titan Mercury WC/Wildcat WC), in repechage
WIN Filip Smetko (Croatia), 4-1
LOSS Artur Aleksanyan (Armenia), tech fall, 9-0
Repechage – Nicu Ojog (Romania)

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