Jimenez reaches U20 World women’s freestyle finals, Janiak and Blades in bronze matches; Jones and Mir are in repechage

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

Audrey Jimenez (USA) with her arm raised in victory during the U20 World semifinals. (Photo by Richard Immel - USA Wrestling)

AMMAN, JORDAN – 2022 U20 World silver medalist Audrey Jimenez has qualified for the 50 kg gold-medal finals at the 2023 U20 World Championships after her semifinals win at the Princess Sumaya Lounge on Wednesday afternoon.

Jimenez reached the U20 World finals for the second straight year, after an impressive 12-2 technical fall over Reka Hegedus of Slovakia, who was fifth in the 2022 U17 World Championships. Hegedus opened with a takedown. Jimenez responded with her own takedown to tie it at 2-0. Jimenez added five straight ankle lace turns to close out a 12-2 technical fall in just 1:05.

Jimenez will battle Yanrong Li of China in the gold-medal finals on Thursday.

Jimenez, a 17-year-old high school student in Arizona, opened with a 16-6 technical fall against Turkey’s U20 European silver medalist Zerda Demir. In the quarterfinals, she stopped Miruko Sakane of Japan, 4-2..

Two U.S. wrestlers dropped matches in the semifinals and will compete in bronze-medal bouts on Thursday, Alexis Janiak at 59 kg and 2021 U20 World champion Kennedy Blades at 76 kg.

Janiak lost a controversial 9-8 decision to 2023 U20 European champion Aurora Russo of Italy in the semifinals. Both athletes scored two takedowns in the first period for a 4-4 tie at the break. Janiak opened the match up with an explosive four-point takedown early in the second period for an 8-4 lead. Russo added a late takedown to close it to 8-6 and another with 10 seconds left to make it 8-8, with criteria to Janiak. In the final seconds, Russo charged at Janiak, who defended until time ran out. Italy challenged, asking for a fleeing call. The jury awarded one point and a caution for fleeing, giving Russo the deciding point in the match.

In her bronze-medal match, Janiak will battle the winner of the repechage match between Lana Nogic of Croatia and Elena Kurova, an Individual Neutral Athlete.

A 2023 NCWWC runner-up for Aurora University, Janiak dominated her first two bouts, with a technical fall over Serbia’s Jovana Radivojevic and a pin over Switzerland’s Annatina Lippuner.

Blades was defeated in the semifinals by Priya of India, 10-0 by technical fall. Priya scored a takedown and turned Blades twice to take a 6-0 lead. She finished the technical fall with two more takedowns in the first period. Priya is a two-time U17 World champion and returning U20 World runner-up.

Blades will compete in a bronze-medal match against the winner of the repechage between two athletes who are entered as Individual Neutral Athletes, Mariia Silina, who lives in Russia, and Aliaksandra Kazlova, who lives in Belarus.

In the quarterfinals, Blades defeated 2022 U20 World champion Ayano Moro of Japan, 4-3. She opened with a 10-0 technical fall over Mariia Senkina of Ukraine.

All five of the U.S. athletes from Group One in women’s freestyle have advanced to the second day and have the chance to win a medal.

First-time World Teamers Amani Jones (55 kg) and Bella Mir (68 kg) were pulled back into repechage after the athlete who defeated them won their semifinals match won in the semifinals. Only athletes who lose to a gold-medal finalist are eligible for repechage.

Jones went 1-1 on Wednesday, winning her first match then falling to Individual Neutral Athlete Aryna Martynava in a 10-0 technical fall loss. Martynaya won her semifinals match by technical fall, making Jones eligible for repechage.

Jones, who was a NCWWC runner-up for North Central, will face Aysanem Kurbanbaeva of Uzbekistan in the repechage round on Thursday mornig. Kubanbaeva was fourth in the 2022 and 2023 Asian U20 Championships, If she defeats Kurbanbaeva, Jones will battle 2022 U20 World silver medalist Albina Rillia of Ukraine in a bronze-medal match.

Mir also went 1-1 on Wednesday. After an opening win, she was defeated in the quarterfinals by Asian U20 champion Ray Hoshino, a U20 Asian champion, by technical fall, 12-1. Hoshino won her semifinal match by decision, pulling Mir back into the tournament.

Mir, who competes for the University of Iowa, will battle 2021 European U17 silver medalist Karolina Jaworska of Poland in a repechage match on Thursday morning. If she beats Jaworska, she will wrestle 2022 Asian U20 champion Arju of India in a bronze-medal match.

The United States and Japan are close in the team race after five weight classes. Both teams have one athlete in the gold-medal finals. The United States has two athletes in bronze-medal matches, while Japan has one in a bronze-medal match. The USA has two in repechage, while Japan has one.

The U20 World Championships also hosted the finals of Group 2 of the men’s freestyle tournament on Wednesday night, which will be reported in a separate story.

The USA women’s team will have its final five athletes begin their competition on Thursday morning.

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 16

Women’s Freestyle Group One (50-55-59-68-76 kg) finals pairings

50 kg – Audrey Jimenez (USA) vs. Yanrong Li (China)

55 kg - Aryna Martynava (Individual Neutral Athlete) vs. Georgiana Lirca (Romania)

59 kg - Aurora Russo (Italy) vs. Alesia Hemanava (Individual Neutral Athlete)

68 kg - Elizaveta Petliakova (Individual Neutral Athlete) vs. Ray Hoshina (Japan)

76 kg - Priya (India) vs. Laura Kuehn (Germany)

Women’s Freestyle Group One (50-55-59-68-76 kg) semifinal results

50 kg

Audrey Jimenez (USA) tech. fall Reka Hegedus (Slovakia), 12-2

Yanrong Li (China) pin Viktoriia Slobodeniuk (Ukraine), 1:38

55 kg

Aryna Martynava (Individual Neutral Athlete) tech fall Albina Rillia (Ukraine), 11-0

Georgiana Lirca (Romania) pin Moe Kiyooka (Japan), 1:15

59 kg

Aurora Russo (Italy) dec. Alexis Janiak (USA), 9-8

Alesia Hemanava (Individual Neutral Athlete) dec. Kalmira Bilimbek Kyzy (Kyrgyzstan), 6-4

68 kg

Elizaveta Petliakova (Individual Neutral Athlete) dec. Arju (India), 6-3

Ray Hoshina (Japan) dec. Alina Shauchuk (Individual Neutral Athlete), 9-4

76 kg

Priya (India) tech fall Kennedy Blades (USA), 10-0

Laura Kuehn (Germany) dec. Veronika Nyikos (Hungary), 9-4

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

WIN Reka Hegedus (Slovakia), tech. fall 12-2

GOLD Yanrong Li (China)

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

REPECHAGE Aysanem Kurbanbaeva (Uzbekistan)

59 kg – Alexis Janiak (Plainfield, Illinois/SPAR Wrestling Academy)

WIN Jovana Radivojevic (Serbia), tech. fall, 10-0

WIN Annatina Lippuner (Switzerland), fall, 1:55

LOSS Aurora Russo (Italy), 9-8

BRONZE – winner of Lana Nogic (Croatia) and Elena Kurova (Individual Neutral Athlete)

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

REPECHAGE Karolina Jaworska (Poland)

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

LOSS Priya Priya (India), tech fall, 10-0

BRONZE winner of Mariia Silina (Individual Neutral Athlete) or Aliaksandra Kazlova (Individual Neutral Athlete)

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