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|Mike Zadick wins silver, Sammie Henson captures bronze at World Championships; U.S. tied for team lead|
By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling
GUANGZHOU, China - This team was too young, too inexperienced and too unproven on the international stage.
They may not even win a medal this year.
That was what some people were saying about the United States men's freestyle team entering the World Championships.
That talk came to a screeching halt on Wednesday.
The Americans made a resounding statement as the freestyle competition started as World Team newcomer Mike Zadick won a silver medal at 60 kg/132 pounds and veteran Sammie Henson captured a bronze medal at 55 kg/121 pounds. The U.S. medal count stands at two through two weight classes, with five more Americans yet to take the mat.
The United States and Russia are tied for the early team lead with 17 points apiece. Iran is third with 13 points.
A determined Zadick ripped through four straight matches at his first World Championships before finally falling to 2005 World bronze medalist Seyed Mourad Mohammadi of Iran in the 132-pound finals Wednesday at the Tianhe Sports Center.
"There's not much to say," Zadick said. "You have to keep wrestling and I didn't keep wrestling. I was too worried about making a mistake. I didn't keep wrestling solid, keeping up the pressure. It's something I should always do. There is no excuse, I was tentative. It's a difference of being a World Champion or not - the lightest, smallest little thing."
Losing the leg clinch and losing the lead were areas the American team had focused on.
"We made some critical mistakes to lose the match. In on the clinch and we lose the position. We didn't finish the move," USA National Coach Kevin Jackson said. "One of our areas of concentration was lead management. We didn't manage the lead well. Mistakes cost us a World championship. He will have another opportunity. Hopefully, he will learn, remember and never let that happen again. We are disappointed. We spent a lot of time in those areas in training, both technically and tactically. To get beat in those areas in the top of the list is disappointing. I think Mike will learn. It won't happen again."
U.S. World Team Freestyle Coach Mike Duroe had a similar view.
"Obviously, we are all very disappointed," Duroe said. "Most of all, Mike is disappointed. I think the better man lost. We made two critical mistakes. We had the clinch in the first period. He didn't wrestle through the position and make sure he scored. Second, he was ahead with 11 seconds left. You can't shut down when you are ahead. You have to wrestle through. Mike Zadick will be back. The loss will eat at him. He has a huge heart. He won't forget this night. Hopefully, it will motivate him to train to get better."
Henson collected his bronze after wearing down World silver medalist Adcham Achilov of Uzbekistan. Henson swept the match 2-1, 2-0. The 35-year-old Henson won his third World-level medal. He won a World title in 1998 and was a 2000 Olympic silver medalist.
"He made a fight out of it - that wasn't too smart," Henson said. "I tech-falled him in Uzbekistan earlier this year. I think he knew he couldn't beat me. He tried to sneak something in, tried to frustrate me. It didn't work."
"I won the bronze. I have three medals now. It was hard. I haven't been in wrestlebacks for a long time. It is hard to get the mindset back. But all the people, you don't want to let them down. You look around here. The coaches, like Kevin Jackson and Lou Rosselli, my workout partner Danny Felix, the team leader Steve Silver. You see them and you do what you can to win for them. I wanted this for my family and for all of them."
Mohammadi scored on a pushout with nine seconds left in the second period to beat Zadick 1-0, 1-1 in the gold-medal match. Mohammadi trailed 1-0 before pushing Zadick out of bounds in the closing seconds. Mohammadi wins the period by virtue of scoring last.
The match was scoreless in the first two minutes before the first period went to a 30-second leg clinch. Zadick won the coin flip, but couldn't finish for a takedown and Mohammadi was awarded a point to win the period 1-0.
Zadick, the clear aggressor the entire bout, fired in for a double-leg takedown at the 1:03 mark to lead 1-0. It stayed that way until Mohammadi pushed Zadick to the edge and he just barely stepped off the edge of the mat. That gave the Iranian the winning point.
The United States saw its two-day lead in the Greco-Roman team race come to an end Wednesday morning. The American squad ended up finishing third in the team race with 34 points after heavyweight Dremiel Byers dropped a controversial decision to Turkey's Ismael Guzel in the second round at 120 kg/264.5 pounds. Byers was eliminated when Guzel lost in the quarterfinals. Byers finished ninth overall.
The third-place finish for the U.S. matched its best showing ever. The Americans also were third in 2001. Turkey won the Greco-Roman team title with 39 points after Guzel finished third. Russia finished second with 34 points, beating the Americans on the tiebreaker for second since it won four medals to three for the U.S.
Zadick (Solon, Iowa/Hawkeye WC) pulled out his semifinal win over Olympic champion Mavlet Batirov of Russia by winning the leg clinch in the first period as the defensive wrestler and by shooting in on a double-leg takedown in the second period. Batirov had Zadick's leg in the air to start the leg clinch, but couldn't finish a takedown as Zadick scrambled and spun away to win the period.
"The leg clinch is so new," Zadick said. "I feel confident with people on my legs. The main focus came from the World Team coaches, who have been drilling me in the position. They tell me to wait on the leg, and it paid off. Like anything, if you work hard enough, it will pay off. I have been beaten overseas in that position. The coaches showed me what to do and it paid off in the match for me."
Henson (Flintstone, Ga./Sunkist Kids) fell 4-0, 7-1 in the semifinals to past World silver medalist Radoslav Velikov at at 55 kg. Velikov beat Russia's Besik Kudukhov in the finals. Russian heavyweight Khassan Baroev, a 2004 Olympic champion, swept 2005 World Champion Mijain Lopez of Cuba in the gold-medal match at 120 kg.
Henson surrendered a takedown in the opening seconds of his bronze-medal match against Achilov, but took over after that with a pair of takedowns on a snap down and a counter move to win the first period 2-1. Tied 0-0 late in the second period, Henson powered in on a leg attack and gained two points for exposure to clinch the win.
Byers (Colorado Springs, Colo./U.S. Army) won the first period 3-0 over Guzel, hitting a reverse body lock and turn for two points. Just a few seconds into the second period, Byers was penalized for catching Guzel in the head while pummeling for position. That controversial point turned out to be the difference in the match as neither wrestler could turn the other. Guzel won the coin flip in the final period and Byers nearly turned him in the closing seconds, but couldn't quite finish.
"I was just wrestling," Byers said. "I was snapping him down and he worked into a position and got caught. I didn't throw punches, or anything. There wasn't a warning. They just jumped to giving him a point. I didn't like that call. But I should have used it in my favor."
Day 4 of the seven-day tournament is set for Thursday with the men's freestyle competition continuing. The U.S. will send three more wrestlers to the mat. They include Bill Zadick (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) at 66 kg/145.5 pounds, Donny Pritzlaff (Madison, Wis./New York AC) at 74 kg/163 pounds and Andy Hrovat (Ann Arbor, Mich./New York AC) at 84 kg/185 pounds. Pritzlaff and Hrovat are competing in their first World meet. Zadick was seventh in the World in 2001.