Blades, Jimenez, Janiak impress on U20 World semifinal runs
by Richard Immel, USA Wrestling
AMMAN, JORDAN – The first crop of American women hit the mats inside Princess Sumaya Lounge on Wednesday morning at the U20 World Championships, three of whom qualified for the semifinal round.
The highlight bout of the session came in the 76 kg quarterfinals when Kennedy Blades met Ayano Moro of Japan in a matchup of two U20 World champions. Blades, who won her gold medal two years ago in Ufa, Russia, wrestled a tactful match against last year’s 76 kg gold medalist to win, 4-3.
The U.S. Open champion and Final X runner-up has put herself in prime position to claim a second World title, but it won’t come easy. Standing opposite Blades in the semifinals is two-time U17 World champion and returning U20 World runner-up Priya Priya of India.
Also making the semifinals for Team USA was 17-year-old Audrey Jimenez at 50 kg and NCWWC runner-up Alexis Janiak at 59 kg.
Jimenez, a returning U20 World finalist, opened with a strong 16-6 technical fall against Turkey’s U20 European silver medalist Zerda Demir before taking down Miruko Sakane in the quarterfinals, 4-2, to give the U.S. its second win over Japan on the day.
Janiak wasted no time in her two outings as she teched Serbia’s Jovana Radivojevic before pinning Switzerland’s Annatina Lippuner. Her competition ratchets up a notch in the semis against current U20 European champion Aurora Russo of Italy.
First-time World Teamers Isabella Mir (68 kg) and Amani Jones (55 kg) each went 1-1 during the morning session and await semifinal results to learn their repechage fortunes.
Mir stopped returning U23 World bronze medalist and three-time U20 European champion Manola Skobelska of Ukraine in a thrilling 12-8 opener. She lost in the quarterfinals to Japan’s Ray Hoshino, a U20 Asian champion, by technical fall, 12-1.
Jones impressed in a decisive 11-1 win against past U17 European bronze medalist Lina Nita of Moldova. She fell victim to a tight leg lace from Individual Neutral Athlete Aryna Martynava in the next round.
The U20 World Championships continue at 4:45 p.m. local time with the women’s freestyle semifinals and second batch of men’s freestyle medal matches. Amman, Jordan, is in the GMT +3 time zone, which is seven hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time.
2023 U20 World Championships
At Amman, Jordan, August 14-20
U.S. Women’s Freestyle Group One (50-55-59-68-76 kg) Results
50 kg – Audrey Jimenez (Tucson, Arizona/Sunkist Kids WC)
WIN Zerda Demir (Turkey), 16-6
WIN Miruko Sakane (Japan), 4-2
VS Reka Hegedus (Slovakia)
55 kg – Amani Jones (Jonesboro, Georgia/Cardinal WC)
WIN Lina Nita (Moldova), tech. fall, 11-1
LOSS Aryna Martynava (Individual Neutral Athlete), tech. fall, 10-0
59 kg – Alexis Janiak (Plainfield, Illinois/SPAR Wrestling Academy)
WIN Jovana Radivojevic (Serbia), tech. fall, 10-0
WIN Annatina Lippuner (Switzerland), fall, 1:55
VS Aurora Russo (Italy)
68 kg – Isabella Mir (Las Vegas, Nevada/Iowa Women’s WC)
WIN Manola Skobelska (Ukraine), 12-8
LOSS Ray Hoshino (Japan), tech. fall, 12-1
76 kg – Kennedy Blades (Chicago, Illinois/Sunkist Kids WC)
WIN Mariia Senkina (Ukraine), tech. fall, 10-0
WIN Ayano Moro (Japan), 4-3 2022 U20 World champ
VS Priya Priya (India)