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Shapiro becomes U20 World Champion as U.S. goes five-for-five on freestyle medals

by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling

Meyer Shapiro after winning the U20 World Championships at 70 kg in Amman, Jordan. (Photo by Richard Immel - USA Wrestling)

Video: U.S. athlete and coach interviews at U20 World Championships

AMMAN, JORDAN – The U.S. secured its first gold medal at the 2023 U20 World Championships as crowd favorite Meyer Shapiro gutted out a grueling 11-6 victory over Ali Rezaei Aghouzgeleh of Iran in the 70 kg finals on Tuesday evening at Princess Sumaya Lounge.

The 2021 U17 World bronze medalist from Iran stunned Shapiro early in the contest, storming to quick a 4-point lead. A momentary pause in the action was needed after the contenders collided, gashing the top Shapiro’s head. The American utilized this break to do what he has done so well all week, collect himself and adjust to the moment.

Over the next three minutes of the match, Shapiro reeled off eight-straight points thanks to some crafty edge work and relentless pace. The two traded takedowns in the final minute to round out the scoring.

Now adding a U20 World title to his gold medal from the 2021 U17 World Championships, Shapiro has joined an elite club that includes the likes of 2020 Olympic champion Gable Steveson, three-time NCAA champion Spencer Lee of Iowa and NCAA champion Mark Hall of Penn State as Americans to win World gold at both age levels. What's next for the budding American superstar? Shapiro is boarding a plane tonight to head straight to Ithaca, N.Y., for his freshman orientation at Cornell.

Shifty lightweight Luke Lilledahl was hoping to join Shapiro in the double gold club but fell one match short of the lofty achievement. Japan’s returning U20 World champion Yuto Nishiuchi, who held the crown at 61 kg last year, was a pinch stronger and quicker than Lilledahl throughout a 5-0 contest at 57 kg. The incoming Wyoming Seminary (Pennsylvania) Senior attempted to get Nishiuchi biting on leg attack fakes and changes of direction, Lilledahl’s bread and butter. But, Nishiuchi never flinched.  

Despite the defeat, Lilledahl was able to reach some impressive milestones in Jordan, namely making a third-straight World finals appearance and medaling across the U17 and U20 divisions. Not to mention, he is just two weeks removed from his 18th birthday, meaning he still has a couple more cracks at a U20 World crown.

NCAA All-American Jesse Mendez finally broke through to make a World medal stand after a 4-0 outing on Monday but came up just short of his chief goal, the 65 kg gold medal. Iran’s Mohammad Shakeri stuck to the traditional Iranian playbook—underhooks, hand fighting, and timely pressure–to grab a three-point win over the talented American.

Prior to this week’s competition, Mendez earned top-ten finishes at the 2021 U20 World Championships in Ufa, Russia, and the 2019 U17 World Championships in Sofia, Bulgaria, for Team USA. He will be a force for Ohio State at the Div. I ranks and on the Senior circuit in the coming years.

Matthew Singleton and Camden McDanel both bounced back from tough semifinal losses to bring two bronze medals home for the U.S. squad. Singleton edged Ahmet Yagan of Turkey in a wonky 8-7 affair at 79 kg. McDanel powered through Kamil Kurugliyev of Kazakhstan by an 8-2 mark at 97 kg.

All five Americans in the first group of men’s freestyle weights earned a medal, putting the U.S. in solid position as it aims for the team title. Four Americans are in the medal running tomorrow—Mitchell Mesenbrink will go for gold, Bennet Berge is in the bronze medal match, and Nic Bouzakis and Christian Carroll were pulled into repechage.

Heading into the final set of medal matches, the U.S. leads second-place Iran by 15 points. Iran has picked up three medals so far but has a shot to add three champions tomorrow evening, while the U.S. only has one more going for gold.

The U20 World Championships continue at 10 a.m. local time on Wed. with the repechage for today’s contested weights, as well as the start of women’s freestyle. Amman, Jordan, is in the GMT +3 time zone, which is seven hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time.

Those in the U.S. can watch all the action live on Brackets and updated results will be provided by United World Wrestling on and the UWW mobile app.

2023 U20 World Championships

At Amman, Jordan, August 14-20

Men’s Freestyle Group One (57-65-70-79-97 kg) Results

57 kg

Gold – Yuto Nishiuchi (Japan)

Silver – Luke Lilledahl (United States)

Bronze – Nodirbek Jumanazarov (Uzbekistan)

Bronze – Edik Harutyunyan (Armenia)

5th – Sagar Sagar (India)

5th – Ruslan Abdullayev (Azerbaijan)

7th – Luka Gvinjilia (Georgia)

8th – Merey Bazarbayev (Kazakhstan)

9th – Lee Pavlov (Independent Neutral Athlete)

10th – Herbert Akapian (Independent Neutral Athlete)

Gold – Yuto Nishiuchi (Japan) dec. Luke Lilledahl (United States), 5-0

Bronze – Nodirbek Jumanazarov (Uzbekistan) tech. fall Sagar Sagar (India), 10-0

Bronze – Edik Harutyunyan (Armenia) dec. Ruslan Abdullayev (Azerbaijan), 8-3

65 kg

Gold – Mohammad Shakeri (Iran)

Silver – Jesse Mendez (United States)

Bronze – Abdullah Toprak (Turkey)

Bronze – Dalgat Abdulkadyrov (Independent Neutral Athlete)

5th – Aden Sakybaev (Kyrgyzstan)

5th – Kaiji Ogino (Japan)

7th – Ion Berghi (Moldova)

8th – Goga Otinashvili (Georgia)

9th – Andranik Avetisyan (Armenia)

10th – Sanzhar Mukhtar (Kazakhstan)

Gold – Mohammad Shakeri (Iran) dec. Jesse Mendez (United States), 5-2

Bronze – Abdullah Toprak (Turkey) dec. Aden Sakybaev (Kyrgyzstan), 5-3

Bronze – Dalgat Abdulkadyrov (Independent Neutral Athlete) dec. Kaiji Ogino (Japan), 9-2

70 kg

Gold – Meyer Shapiro (United States)

Silver – Ali Rezaei Aghouzgeleh (Iran)

Bronze – Magomed Baitukaev (Individual Neutral Athlete)

Bronze – Ibrahim Yaprak (Turkey)

5th – Julian George (Puerto Rico)

5th – Omurbek Taalaibek Uulu (Kyrgystan)

7th – Rostyslav Prus (Ukraine)

8th – Pavel Graur (Moldova)

9th – Burak Salviz (Germany)

10th – Zafarbek Otakhonov (Uzbekistan)

Gold – Meyer Shapiro (United States) dec. Ali Rezaei Aghouzgeleh (Iran), 11-6

Bronze – Magomed Baitukaev (Individual Neutral Athlete) tech. fall Julian George (Puerto Rico), 12-2

Bronze – Ibrahim Yaprak (Turkey) dec. Omurbek Taalaibek Uulu (Kyrgystan), 3-2

79 kg

Gold – Ibragim Kadiev (Individual Neutral Athlete)

Silver – Sagar Jaglan (India)

Bronze – Ali Tcokaev (Azerbaijan)

Bronze – Matthew Singleton (United States)

5th – Farzad Safijahanshahi (Iran)

5th – Ahmet Yagan (Turkey)

7th – Narek Grigoryan (Armenia)

8th – Alim Miesuvietov (Ukraine)

9th – Radomir Stoyanov (Bulgaria)

10th – Magzhan Zhanyrbay (Kazakhstan)

Gold – Ibragim Kadiev (Individual Neutral Athlete) tech. fall Sagar Jaglan (India), 17-6

Bronze – Ali Tcokaev (Azerbaijan) tech. fall Farzad Safijahanshahi (Iran), 11-1

Bronze – Matthew Singleton (United States) dec. Ahmet Yagan (Turkey), 9-7

97 kg

Gold – Abolfazl Babaloo (Iran)

Silver – Ivan Prymachenko (Ukraine)

Bronze – Camden McDanel (United States)

Bronze – Deepak Chahal (India)

5th – Kamil Kurugliyev (Kazakhstan)

5th – Uladzislau Kazlou (Individual Neutral Athlete)

7th – Taron Shahinyan (Poland)

8th – Islam Kilchukov (Individual Neutral Athlete)

9th – Zafar Aliyev (Azerbaijan)

10th – Georgian Tripon (Romania)

Gold – Abolfazl Babaloo (Iran) dec. Ivan Prymachenko (Ukraine), 5-0

Bronze – Camden McDanel (United States) dec. Kamil Kurugliyev (Kazakhstan), 8-2

Bronze – Deepak Chahal (India) dec. Uladzislau Kazlou (Individual Neutral Athlete), 9-8

U.S. Men’s Freestyle Group One (57-65-70-79-97 kg) Results

57 kg – Luke Lilledahl (St. Charles, Missouri/X-Calibur Athletics WC), silver medal

WIN Lev Pavlov (Individual Neutral Athlete), 9-2

WIN Tolga Ozbek (Turkey), 6-1

WIN Edik Harutyunyan (Armenia), 8-3

WIN Ruslan Abdullayev (Azerbaijan), fall, 5:53

LOSS Yuto Nishiuchi (Japan), 5-0

65 kg – Jesse Mendez (Crown Point, Indiana/Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC), silver medal

WIN Mykyta Zubal (Ukraine), 2-1

WIN Aden Sakybaev (Kyrgyzstan), 7-2

WIN Ion Berghi (Moldova), 13-4

WIN Abdullah Toprak (Turkey), 3-1

LOSS Mohammad Shakeri (Iran), 5-2

70 kg – Meyer Shapiro (Woodbine, Maryland/Spartan Combat RTC), gold medal

WIN Yuma Tomiyama (Japan), tech. fall, 11-0

WIN Mirjavad Nabiyev (Azerbaijan), 6-4

WIN Magomed Baitukaev (Individual Neutral Athlete), 8-0

WIN Julian George (Puerto Rico), tech. fall, 11-0

WIN Ali Rezaei Aghouzgeleh (Iran), 11-6

79 kg – Matthew Singleton (College Park, Georgia/Wolfpack WC), bronze medal

WIN Denizbek Ulan Uulu (Kyrgyzstan), tech. fall, 12-2

WIN Nandor Hajduch (Hungary), tech. fall, 10-0

WIN Narek Grigoryan (Armenia), 10-6

LOSS Sagar Jaglan (India), tech. fall, 16-6

WIN Ahmet Yagan (Turkey), 9-7

97 kg – Camden McDanel (Circleville, Ohio), bronze medal

WIN Toyoki Hamada (Japan), tech. fall, 12-1

WIN Taron Shahinyan (Poland), tech. fall, 12-2

LOSS Abolfazl Babaloo (Iran), 5-1

WIN Kamil Kurugliyev (Kazakhstan), 8-2