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Three Americans (Taylor, Arujau, Retherford) win world titles

Americans David Taylor, left, Zain Retherford, center, and Vito Arujau each won gold medals in freestyle at the world championships in Serbia on Sunday. (Photos courtesy USA Wrestling)

Courtesy USA Wrestling

Three American wrestlers won gold medals at the world wrestling championships in Belgrade, Serbia and had three Americans qualify for the Olympic Games in Paris next summer.

David Taylor (86 kilograms), Vitali Arujau (61 kg) and Zain Retherford (70 kg) captured world championships on Sunday here in Belgrade, Serbia, and qualified the U.S. for the Paris Olympics in their respective weight classes. Mason Parris (125 kg) won a bronze medal.

Taylor won his third world championship while Arujau and Retherford won their first world titles. Parris won a medal in his first appearance at the world championships.

Also on Sunday, four-time world champion Kyle Dake (74 kg) won his semifinal match to move into Monday night’s gold medal round. Coverage begins at 4:30 a.m. on

The top five wrestlers in each of the six Olympic weight classes in men’s freestyle wrestling qualify their nation for the 2024 Paris Olympics. (57 kg, 65 kg, 74 kg, 86 kg, 97 kg, 125 kg). Therefore, Taylor, Parris and Dake have qualified the USA for the Paris Olympics, with two other Olympic weight classes still yet to be contested.

Taylor won his rivalry match in the finals, pinning Olympic and world champion Hassan Yazdanicharati in the finals in 5:57. Taylor now has beaten Yazdani in five of their six meetings, with the only loss happening in the 2021 World finals. Taylor beat Yazdani in the last two world championships, as well as in the 2020 Olympic Games finals.

Taylor led 5-3 at the break after a big exchange that went his way in the first period. Leading 1-0, a Taylor shot ended up in a big scoring move. Officials initially gave the edge to Yazdani, but after a USA challenge, Taylor was given a four-point move in the exchange. Taylor added a takedown in the second period to lead 7-3, and when Yazdani tried to turn Taylor, it was the American who ended up on top and Taylor got the fall.

Taylor dominated his competition, scoring three pins and two technical falls in his five matches.

Arujau led early, with a step out, 1-0. The wrestlers got into a nice scramble where they both were able to score, and after a challenge, Arujau had a 7-4 lead. In the second period, Magomedov scored a takedown which was challenged and denied, tying the bout at 7-7 with Magomed holding criteria. Arujau answered with a takedown and a step out for a 10-7 lead. Arujau was twice hit with caution and one for fleeing at the end, but the final score was 10-9 for Arujau.

Arujau won a gold medal in his first Senior World championships appearance. He follows in the footsteps of his father, Vougar Orudjev, who won two Senior World titles for the former Soviet Union before emigrating to the United States.

Retherford led 3-2 at the break with a takedown and a step out, while Yazdani scored a takedown. In the second period, Zain opened things up with a takedown, a step out and another takedown to lead 8-2. Yazdani was only able to add a takedown and a caution and one to close it at the end to the final score of 8-5.

Retherford was competing in the World finals for the second straight year, after placing second last year.

Parris rebounded from Saturday night’s close semifinals loss to three-time world champion Geno Petriashvili of Georgia with a dominant effort in the bronze-medal bout. Parris scored a 12-2 technical fall over individual neutral athlete Abdulla Kurbanov, who is from Russia. In the first period, Parris scored a big four-point move to lead 6-1. Kurbanov closed it to 6-2 with a step out, but Parris added three straight takedowns to finish the technical fall.

Parris was competing in his first world championship meet. A 2023 Hodge Trophy winner and NCAA champion for Michigan, Parris was second in Final X to 2020 Olympic champion Gable Steveson, who did not compete in Belgrade. Parris took advantage of his opportunity and cashed in with a medal performance.

After the first four weight classes, the United States was in first place with 90 points, followed by Iran with 65 points. Georgia was in third with 35 points.

Also on Sunday, men’s freestyle began with competition at 57 kg, 74 kg, 79 kg and 92 kg.

Dake earned his place in the world championship finals for the fifth time in a row. Dake, also a 2020 Olympic bronze medalist, will battle 2020 Olympic champion and two-time world champion Zaurbek Sidakov, an individual neutral athlete from Russia, in Monday’s gold-medal match.

Dake won four matches on Sunday, including a 4-1 decision over Georgios Kougioumtsidis of Greece in the semifinals. By reaching the finals, Dake also qualified the U.S. for the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France. Dake was a bronze medalist in the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

Four other American wrestlers were defeated on Sunday morning.

Zahid Valencia has qualified for Monday morning’s repechage round at 92 kg. He opened with a victory over two-time U23 world champion Amirali Azarpira of Iran in his opening bout, 12-9, but fell to Osman Nuramagomedov of Azerbaijan, 5-1. When Nuramagomedov qualified for the finals, Valencia was pulled back into repechage, where he will face Denys Sahaliuk of Ukraine on Monday morning.

Two U.S. wrestlers were eliminated when the athlete who beat them did not qualify for the gold-medal finals, Zane Richards at 57 kg and Chance Marsteller at 79 kg.

The final two men’s freestyle weight classes begin on Monday, with 2016 Olympic champion and three-time world champion Kyle Snyder competing at 97 kg and first-time World team member Nick Lee entered at 65 kg. The women’s freestyle tournament also begins on Monday.

2023 World Wrestling Championships
At Belgrade, Serbia, September 17

Top 10 nations after first four weights (61kg, 70kg, 86kg, 125kg)
Team results– United States 90, 2. Iran 65, 3. Georgia 35, 4. Kyrgyzstan, 29; 5. Kazakhstan, 19; 6. Uzbekistan, 18; 7. Turkey, 17; 8. (tie) Japan and Ukraine, 16; 10. (tie) Armenia, Bulgaria, San Marino, 15 

Men’s Freestyle
61 kg
Gold – Vitali Arujau (USA) dec. Abasgadzhi Magomedov (Individual Neutral Athlete), 10-9
Bronze – Taiyrbek Zhumashbek Uulu (Kyrgyzstan) dec. Kodei Ogawa (Japan), 2-1
Bronze – Shota Phartenadze (Georgia) dec. Valentyn Bliasketskyi (Ukraine), 5-5

70 kg
Gold – Zain Retherford (USA) dec. Amirmohammad Yazdanicherati (Iran), 8-5
Bronze – Ramazan Ramazanov (Bulgaria) dec. Emazar Akmataliev (Kyrgyzstan), 8-6
Bronze – Arman Andreasyan (Armenia) tech fall Abhimanyou (UWW), 12-0

86 kg
Gold – David Taylor (United States) pin Hassan Yazdanicharati (Iran), 5:57
Bronze – Myles Amine (San Marino) dec. Javrail Shapiev (Uzbekistan), 8-5
Bronze – Azamat Dauletbekov (Kazakhstan) dec. Magomed Sharipov (Bahrain), 5-3
86 kg Olympic Playoff – Javrail Shapiev (Uzbekistan) dec. Magomed Sharipov (Bahrain), 3-1

125 kg
Gold – Amir Zare (Iran) tech fall Geno Petriashvili (Georgia), 11-0
Bronze – Taha Akgul (Turkey) dec. Daniel Ligeti (Hungary), 5-0
Bronze – Mason Parris (United States) tech. fall Abdulla Kurbanov (Individual Neutral Athlete), 12-2
125 kg Olympic Playoff – Abdulla Kurbanov (Individual Neutral Athlete) dec. Daniel Ligeti (Hungary), 8-3

Sunday’s results
Men’s Freestyle Semifinal results
57 kg
Rei Higuchi (Japan) tech. fall Meirambek Kartbay (Kazakhstan), 11-0
Stevan Micic (Serbia) dec. Zelimkhan Abakarov (Albania) , 6-2
74 kg
Zaurbek Sidakov (Individual Neutral Athlete) dec. Turan Bayramov (Azerbaijan), 5-1
Kyle Dake (United States) dec. Georgios Kougioumtsidis (Greece), 4-1
79 kg
Akhmed Usmanov (Individual Neutral Athlete) dec. Orkhan Abasov (Azerbaijan), 3-0
Vladimeri Gamkrelidze (Georgia) vs. Vasyl Mykhailov (Ukraine), 10-4
92 kg
Rizabek Aitmukhan (Kazakhstan) dec. Miriani Maisuradze (Georgia), 8-1
Osman Nurmagomedov (Azerbaijan) tech. fall Arash Yoshida (Japan), 10-0

Monday’s matches
Men’s Freestyle Finals pairings
57 kg – Rei Higuchi (Japan) vs. Stevan Micic (Serbia)
74 kg – Zaurbek Sidakov (Individual Neutral Athlete) vs. Kyle Dake (United States)
79 kg – Akhmed Usmanov (Individual Neutral Athlete) vs. Vladimeri Gamkrelidze (Georgia)
92 kg – Rizabek Aitmukhan (Kazakhstan) vs. Osman Nurmagomedov (Azerbaijan)

U.S. men’s freestyle draw
65 kg – Nick Lee (Titan Mercury WC/Nittany Lion WC)
Vs, Kryzsztof Bienkowski (Poland), 2021 European silver medalist, 5th in 2021 World Championships

97 kg – Kyle Snyder (Titan Mercury WC/Nittany Lion WC)
Vs. Nishan Randhawa (Canada), 3rd in 2023 Pan American Championships, 2022 Commonwealth Games champion, 2019 Canada Cup champion

U.S. men’s freestyle results
61 kg – Vitali Arujau (Titan Mercury WC/Spartan Combat RTC), Gold Medal
WIN Ossimzhan Dastanbek (Kazakhstan), tech. fall 10-0
WIN Stillyan Iliev (Bulgaria), tech fall, 10-0
WIN Kodei Ogawa (Japan), 8-2
WIN Taiyrbek Zhumashbek Uulu (Kyrgyzstan), tech fall 12-2
WIN Abasgadzhi Magomedov (Individual Neutral Athlete), 10-9

70 kg – Zain Retherford (Titan Mercury WC/Nittany Lion WC), Gold Medal
WIN Mustafo Akhmedov (Tajikistan), 4-0
WIN Abhimanyou (UWW), 9-2
WIN Arman Andreasyan (Armenia), 7-0
WIN Amirmohammad Yazdanicherati (Iran), 8-5

86 kg – David Taylor (Titan Mercury WC/Nittany Lion WC), Gold Medal
WIN Sofiane Padiou Belmir (Morocco), pin 0:15
WIN Benjamin Griel (Austria), tech fall 10-0
WIN Magomed Sharipov (Bahrain), tech fall 12-2
WIN Azamat Dauletbekov (Kazakhstan), pin 3:38
WIN Hassan Yazdanicharati (Iran), pin 5:57

125 kg – Mason Parris (Titan Mercury WC/Cliff Keen WC), Bronze Medal
WIN Yusup Batirmurzaev (Kazakhstan), tech. fall 11-0
WIN Abraham Conyedo Ruano (Italy), 3-0
WIN Zhiwei Deng (China), 8-4
LOSS Geno Petriashvili (Georgia), 8-6
WIN Abdulla Kurbanov (Individual Neutral Athlete), tech. fall 12-2

57 kg – Zane Richards (Titan Mercury WC/Illinois RTC), eliminated
LOSS Aliabbas Rzazade (Azerbaijan), 3-2

74 kg – Kyle Dake (Titan Mercury WC/Nittany Lion WC)
WIN Magomet Evloev (Tajikistan), tech. fall 12-2
WIN Nurkozha Kaipanov (Kazakhstan), 9-4
WIN Daichi Takatani (Japan), 6-4
WIN Georgios Kougioumtsidis (Greece), 4-1
Gold Medal – Vs. Zaurbek Sidakov (Individual Neutral Athlete)

79 kg – Chance Marsteller (Titan Mercury WC/NYC RTC), eliminated
WIN Chems Fetairia (Algeria), 7-2
LOSS Orkhan Abasov (Azerbaijan), 9-3

92 kg – Zahid Valencia (Sunkist Kids), in repechage
WIN Amirali Azarpira (Iran), 12-9
LOSS Osman Nuragomedov (Azerbaijan), 5-1
Repechage – Vs. Denys Sahaliuk (Ukraine)

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