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|Zastrow wins Sombo World title, with USA taking second place as a team with seven medals|
By Gary Abbott USA Wrestling
ANTALYA, Turkey - Jeff Zastrow (Whitewater, Wis./Warhawk WC) won a gold medal at 96 kg/211.5 lbs at the World Sombo Championships at the Antalya Sports Salon on Thursday.
Zastrow, a late addition to the U.S. lineup at the World Championships, won three matches to capture the gold medal, including a submission victory over Ivan Nemeth of Hungary in the finals.
He was one of seven U.S. medalists at the first World Championships in Sombo held since FILA has reinstated the sport as a part of international wrestling. Sombo is a style of jacket wrestling with submission holds originally developed in the former Soviet Union as a form of unarmed self-defense.
Zastrow came here two days ago as a member of the U.S. team to compete at the World Beach Wrestling Championships. He was able to be added as a second U.S. participant at his weight class, after FILA invited the delegations to include additional athletes. Zastrow was second at the 2006 U.S. Sombo Nationals, just missing out on a spot for the team.
"It was awesome," said Zastrow. "I have been doing Sombo lately with people who want to learn. I have been teaching it, not just practicing. That always makes you better."
Zastrow used a submission move early in his finals match to lock up his opponent's leg, and he tapped out. He was taught the move initially by wrestling legend Wade Schalles and Sombo referee Curt Shearer at the U.S. Sombo Nationals in Florida.
"You step on your own leg and it puts pressure on everything," said Zastrow.
Zastrow had a tough travel day getting to Antalya, spending over 40 hours en route, including a night at the Antalya airport. When he finally arrived at the Champion Resort, the host hotel, he was immediately asked if he wanted to enter the Sombo event. He weighed in this morning, and won the World title this evening.
"I met Jeff at the U.S. Sombo Nationals in Florida," said U.S. coach Floyd Winter. "When I talked to him, he wanted to make a commitment to Sombo. He came here to wrestle on the beach, and when I asked him to enter Sombo, he said yes. He had a great attitude and he is mentally tough. He submitted his last two guys. He has submission skills, and when he had an opportunity, he took it. His win was big. It gave us second place as a team."
Zastrow opened the tournament with a 6-1 win over U.S. teammate Moises Hernandez. It was a rematch of the U.S. Sombo Nationals finals, won by Hernandez. These athletes are friends, and helped coach each other in their other bouts.
"That was the last match I wanted today," said Zastrow. "It would have been the finals, no doubt, if we had a different draw."
In the semifinals, Zastrow fell behind Jose Rodenas of Spain, 4-0, then scored a stunning submission hold to win the match and earn his spot in the finals. He made it two submissions in a row with his gold-medal stoppage against Nemeth.
Zastrow was a two-time Div. III national qualifier for UW-Whitewater, and now works as an assistant wrestling coach at his alma mater. He was eighth at the U.S. Nationals in Greco-Roman in 2006. He also placed fourth at the 2006 U.S. Beach World Team Trials, after winning one of the national titles in the style.
"The reason I wrestled the other styles (beach and sombo) was to improve my Greco-Roman," said Zastrow. "This is only my second major competition in Sombo."
Ramie Mohlman (Lake Worth, Fla./Seadog WC) won a silver medal at 55 kg/121 lbs., dropping a 1-0 battle against Sahin Selcuk of Turkey in the finals. Selchuk scored early in the match on a fireman's carry takedown, then the two battled the rest of the way without a score.
"I was disappointed, because I hesitated out there," said Mohlman. "I thought I had more time. I was confident I could score on him, but I did not get it done before time ran out. Part of it was the inexperience with the jacket, but I really believe I could have scored on him."
The U.S. won five other bronze medals in the FILA format, which provides two bronze medals in each weight class. The U.S. bronze medalists included Matt Morkel (Washington, DC/Gator WC) at 60 kg/132 lbs., Ray White (Clearwater, Fla./Team Pursuit) at 66 kg/145.5 lbs., Faruk Sahin (Colorado Springs, Colo./EA Kombat), Moises Hernandez (Quantico, Va./U.S. Marine Corps) at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. and Angelo Borzio (Stroudsburg, Pa.) at 120 kg/264.5 lbs.
"To get seven medals and place second as a team, with the short time we were together, was a great showing," said U.S. coach Floyd Winter. "We had a tough draw early, and caught several wrestlers who won gold medals. We settled down and wrestled back to get medals. There is nobody on this team with international experience. This was a great effort."
All of those with the U.S. team were excited with the performance, and look forward to helping build Sombo in the United States.
"This is the first year that Sombo is back with FILA. I hope next year we have even more athletes make the commitment to Sombo," said Winter.
"Sombo is going to be great," said Zastrow. "Right now, with Mixed Martial Arts picking up worldwide, and with it so popular in the United States, the time is right. When people know there are submissions in Sombo, it will get even more popular. I also think Beach Wrestling will get huge."
WORLD SOMBO CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Antalya, Turkey, Nov. 2
CHAMPION - Turkey
SECOND PLACE - United States
THIRD PLACE - Spain
55 kg/121 lbs. - Ramie Mohlman (Lake Worth, Fla./Seadog WC), silver medal
LOSS Sahin Selcuk (Turkey), 1-0
60 kg/132 lbs. - Matt Morkel (Washington, DC/Gator WC) , bronze medal
LOSS Bakir Ayahan (Turkey), 0-7
LOSS Thierry Bastien (France), 1-8
LOSS Daniel Ruiz (Spain), 2-0
66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Ray White (Clearwater, Fla./Team Pursuit), bronze medal
LOSS Muhammed Ilkhan (Turkey), 0-8
WIN Yogendra Kawade (India), inj. dft.
LOSS Emik Tevana (India), 0-12
74 kg/163 lbs. - Faruk Sahin (Colorado Springs, Colo./EA Kombat), bronze medal
WIN Busby Hanson (Panama), submission
LOSS Jose Maria Hidalgo (Spain), 6-3
WIN Yadan Sachin (India), 2-0
84 kg/185 lbs.- Juan Ramos (Jacksonville, N.C./U.S. Marines)
LOSS Aykac Abdullah (Turkey), 0-5
96 kg/211.5 lbs. - Jeff Zastrow, Whitewater, Wis. (Warhawk WC), gold medal
WIN Moises Hernandez (USA), 6-1
WIN Jose Rodenas (Spain), submission
WIN Ivan Nemeth (Hungary), submission
96 kg/211.5 lbs. - Moises Hernandez (Quantico, Va./U.S. Marine Corps), bronze medal
LOSS Jeff Zastrow (USA), 1-6
WIN Jose Rodenas (Spain), 3-3
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Angelo Borzio, Stroudsburg, Pa., bronze medal
LOSS Daniel Bona (Hungary), 5-0
WIN Vinod Yadan (India), submission
120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Carlos Dolmo, Bronx, N.Y.(New York AC)
LOSS Pedro Amalo (Spain), submission
COMPLETE MEDAL RESULTS TO COME WHEN AVAILABLE