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Vombaur, Mittlestead win Veterans World freestyle titles, USA captures seven medals on day one in Greece

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

Veterans World medalists from the USA on Tuesday: Steve Horton, Jon Daniels, Gerald Harris, James Ferguson, Ben Vombaur, Eric Mittlestead, Don Jones. (Photo by Chris Brown)

LOUTRAKI, Greece – The United States had a strong first day of men’s freestyle competition at the 2023 Veterans World Championships, winning two gold medals and seven overall medals on Tuesday. Competition was held in Group B and Group E today.


Claiming individual gold medals today were Ben VomBaur of Colorado (62 kg Div. B) and Eric Mittlestead of California (130 kg Div. E).


Vombaur won four straight matches in a five-athlete round robin to claim his title. Included were two pins and two decisions. He defeated eventual runner-up Shermat Dzhakiev of Kyrgyzstan, 3-0 in his third match.


Mittlestead also had four wins on the way to his title. He opened with a pair of pins, then won his final two matches by decision. In the gold-medal finals, Mittlestead defeated Anuar Uxumbayev of Kazakhstan, 2-0.


Reaching gold-medal matches and coming home with silver medals were James Ferguson of Nebraska (70 kg Div. B), Gerald Harris II of Oklahoma (88 kg Div. B), Stephen Horton of Texas (70 kg Div. E) and Jon Daniels of Michigan (78 kg Div. E).


Ferguson opened with a pair of pins, before losing by fall in the finals to Koji Furusato of Japan.


Harris won his first three matches, including a pin over Esenbek Baimatov of Kyrgyzstan in the semifinals. He was beaten by Yessentay Khapar of Kazakhstan in the finals.


Horton won three straight 10-0 technical falls to reach the finals, including a semifinal win over U.S. teammate Donald Jones. He was edged 3-1 in the finals by Hamidreza Mahmoud Rabiei Kenari of Iran, 3-1.


Daniels won his first three bouts, including a pin in 1:42 over Takumi Mori of Japan in the semifinals. He was edged in a 6-6 criteria decision in the finals by Osman Onder of Turkey.


Claiming a bronze medal at 70 kg in Div. E was Don Jones of Ohio, who finished with a 3-1 record. He won a 3-3 decision in his bronze-medal match against Antanas Merkevicius of Lithuania.


The Veterans World Championships continue on Wednesday with competition in men’s freestyle in Division C and Division D. Men’s freestyle concludes on Thursday with Division A competition. Greco-Roman will follow from Friday through Sunday.

2023 Veterans World Championships

At Loutraki, Greece, October 17


Div. B freestyle champions

62 kg – Ben VomBaur (United States)

70 kg – Koji Furusato (Japan)

78 kg – Aslambek Ezerkhanov (Individual Neutral Athlete)

88 kg - Yessentay Khapar (Kazakhstan)

100 kg – Shahab Tayeb Moeinifar (Iran)

130 kg – Magomed Umarov (Individual Neutral Athlete)


U.S. Div. B freestyle results


62 kg – Ben VomBaur, Greeley, Colo., Gold Medal

WIN Yerzhan Nurpeiis (Kazakhstan), 4-2

WIN Svetolsav Dimitrov (Bulgaria), pin 2:55

WIN Shermat Dzhakiev (Kyrgyzstan), 3-0

WIN Wilfied Sany (France), pin 0:43


70 kg - James Ferguson, Omaha, Neb., Silver Medal

WIN Sehrii Lovin (Ukraine), pin 0:23

WIN Aidos Kassymov (Kazakhstan), pin 2:33

LOSS Koji Furusato (Japan), pin 0:31


88 kg - Jeremy Black, LaJolla, Calif., 9th place

WIN Azamat Turkmenov (Kyrgyzstan), tech fall 10-0

LOSS Gerald Harris (USA), tech. fall 10-0

LOSS Viacheslav Babakhin (Individual Neutral Athlete), 4-3


88 kg - Gerald Harris II, Broken Arrow, Okla.,, Silver Medal

WIN Viacheslav Babakhin (Individual Neutral Athlete), 4-2

WIN Jeremy Black (USA), tech fall 10-0

WIN Esenbek Baimatov (Kyrgyzstan), pin 3:15

LOSS Yessentay Khapar (Kazakhstan), 6-0


88 kg – James Medeiros, Granada Hills, Calif., 10th place

WIN Serghei Carous (Moldova), 6-0

LOSS Takahisa Oda (Japan), 4-1


Div. E freestyle champions

62 kg – Boris Savva (Moldova)

70 kg - Hamidreza Mahmoud Rabiei Kenari (Iran)

78 kg – Osman Onder (Turkey)

88 kg – Igor Dokuchaev (Individual Neutral Athlete)

100 kg – Abdurashid Bagavdinov (Individual Neutral Athlete)

130 kg – Eric Mittlestead (United States)

U.S. Div. E freestyle results

62 kg – Joseph Raia,, South Elgin, Ill., 5th place

LOSS Boris Savva (Moldova), 8-0

WIN Tsogtsaikhan Myagmar (Mongolia), pin 2:00

LOSS Roger Papotto (France), 4-0


62 kg – James Marti, Colorado Springs, Colo., 9th place

LOSS Roger Papotto (France), tech fall, 10-0


70 kg - Marc Cecconi, Waynesville, Ga., 13th place

LOSS Baiar Ochirov (Individual Neutral Athlete), 2-1


70 kg - Stephen Horton, Cibolo, Texas, Silver Medal

WIN Antanas Merkevicius (Lithuania), tech fall 10-0

WIN Michael Madry (USA), tech fall, 10-0

WIN Donald Jones (USA), tech fall, 10-0

LOSS Hamidreza Mahmoud Rabiei Kenari (Iran), 3-1


70 kg - Michael Madry, Saint Petersburg, Fla., 9th place

WIN Jakov Rueegg (Switzerland), 6-5

LOSS Stephen Horton (USA), 10-0

LOSS Antanas Merkevicius (Lithuania), 7-0


70 kg - Jerry Valencia, Lowell, Ore., 14th place

LOSS Sandor Pali (Hungary), pin 3:25


70 kg - Don Jones, Maineville, Ohio, Bronze Medal

WIN Jamshed Maqsudov (Tajikistan), 4-0

WIN Sandor Pali (Hungary), tech fall 11-1

LOSS Stephen Horton (USA), tech fall 10-0

WIN Antanas Merkevicius (Lithuania), 3-3


78 kg – Louis Orr, Rochester, Minn., 12th place

LOSS Munkhbat Namsrai (Mongolia), pin 2:00


78 kg – Jon Daniels, Lansing, Mich., Silver Medal

WIN Feodor Procop (Romania), pin 1:33

WIN Stuart McKay (Great Britain), 10-2

WIN Takumi Mori (Japan), pin 1:42

LOSS Osman Onder (Turkey), 6-6


88 kg - Petros Petrosyan, Los Alamitos, Calif., 5th place

WIN Kim Skhashok (Individual Neutral Athlete), 5-2

WIN James Miller (USA), pin 2:52

LOSS Guido Meltzer (Germany), tech fall 12-2

LOSS Azat Sheroyan (Armenia), inj. dft


88 kg – James Miller, Houston, Texas, 10th place

LOSS Petros Petrosyan (USA), pin 2:52


100 kg – Erik Hinckley, Lansing, Kansas, 5th place

LOSS Habiballah Khjevand Sarivi (Iran), 6-0

WIN Hirokazu Akiba (Japan), 7-2

LOSS Sarantsogt Narangerel (Mongolia),


100 kg – Charles Jones, North Las Vegas, Nev., 12th place

LOSS Detlef John (Germany), tech fall 11-0


130 kg – Brian Jones, Los Angeles, Calif., 7th place

LOSS Saadanbek Niiazov (Kyrygzstan), 7-0

LOSS Anuar Uxumbayev (Kazakhstan), pin 0:53

LOSS Michael Buckingham (USA), pin 3:00


130 kg – Eric Mittlestead, Exeter, Calif., Gold Medal

WIN Igor Poletaev (Individual Neutral Athlete), 1:41

WIN Gantulga Gursed (Mongolia), pin 0:18

WIN Saadanbek Niiazov (Kyrygzstan), 5-0

WIN Anuar Uxumbayev (Kazakhstan), 2-0


130 kg – Michael Buckingham, Mountain Lakes, N.J., 5th place

LOSS Anuar Uxumbayev (Kazakhstan), pin 1:17

LOSS Saadanbek Niiazov (Kyrgyzstan), pin 1:20

WIN Brian Jones (USA), pin 3:00

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