Collum wins Veterans World gold, USA adds three medals Thursday to secure the Freestyle World Team Title

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

U.S. men's freestyle Veterans World medalists on Thursday: Ben Kjar (silver), Matthew Collum (gold), Grant Nakamura (bronze) (Photo by Chris Brown)

LOUTRAKI, Greece – The United States won three medals on the final day of men’s freestyle at the 2023 Veterans World Championships on Wednesday, with competition was held in Division A.

Claiming an individual gold medal today for Team USA was Matthew Collum of Illinois (70 kg Div. A).

Collum won four matches on the way to the title. His first three victories came by technical fall, including a 10-0 victory in the semifinals over U.S. wrestler Grant Nakamura. In the gold-medal finals, Collum defeated Fuad Mussayev of Kazakhstan, 6-4.  Collum wrestled in college at Iowa Central, Old Dominion, Oklahoma State, and Missouri Baptist.

Capturing a silver medal was past Utah Valley All-American Ben Kjar of Utah (62 kg Div. A). Kjar won his first two matches to reach the finals, including a 6-2 decision over Manatay Nuradilov of Kazakhstan, 6-2. In the gold-medal finals, he was edged out by Jalai Suleymanov of Azerbaijan, 4-1.

Claiming a bronze medal on Thursday was Grant Nakamura of Hawaii (70 kg Div. A). Nakamura finished 2-1 for the day, including a pin in the opening round and a 6-4 victory over Oleksandr Kosyntsev of Ukraine in the bronze-medal match. His only loss was to eventual champion and U.S. teammate Matthew Collum in the semifinals.

Two U.S. wrestlers reached bronze-medal matches, where they were defeated and placed fifth, Connor Keating of Vermont (78 kg Div. A) and Mingo Grant of Maryland (130 kg Div. A).

The USA has finished with 14 men’s freestyle medals at the Veterans Worlds over three days. There were five World champions in freestyle for the United States this year: Ben VomBaur of Colorado (62 kg Div. B), Eric Mittlestead of California (130 kg Div. E), Rudy James of Minnesota (78 kg Div. C), George Porter of Florida (Div. D 130 kg) and Matthew Collum of Illinois (70 kg Div. A).

The United States also repeated as Veterans Freestyle World Team Champions, the third time it has won the overall freestyle team race. Combining the team points from all five age divisions in men’s freestyle, the United States scored 355 points, with runner-up Iran with 269 points and third-place Kazakhstan with 266 points.

The Greco-Roman competition begins on Friday with Div. B and Div. E action. Saturday will feature Greco-Roman in Div. C and Div. D. Sunday will conclude with Greco-Roman competition in Div. A.

The Veterans World Championships are broadcast live on FloWrestling.

2023 Veterans World Championships

At Loutraki, Greece, October 19

Div. A freestyle champions

62 kg - Jalai Suleymanov (Azerbaijan)

70 kg – Matthew Collum (United States)

78 kg – Eldar Gaidarov (Individual Neutral Athlete)

88 kg – Temur Gelitashvili (Georgia)

100 kg – Javad Nazari (Iran)

130 kg - Ioannis Papadopoulos (Greece)

U.S. Div. A freestyle results

62 kg – Ben Kjar, Pleasant Grove, Utah, Silver Medal

WIN Cornel Predoiu (Romania), tech fall 10-0

WIN Manatay Nuradilov (Kazakhstan), 6-2

LOSS Jalai Suleymanov (Azerbaijan), 4-1

70 kg – Grant Nakamura, Pukalani, Hawaii, Bronze Medal

WIN Orlando Jimenez (USA), pin 0:43

LOSS Matthew Collum (USA), tech fall 12-2

WIN Oleksandr Kosyntsev (Ukraine), 6-4

70 kg - Matthew Collum, Arlington Heights, Ill., Gold Medal

WIN Oleksandr Kosnytsev (Ukraine), tech fall 10-0

WIN Revaz Shergelashvili (Georgia), tech fall, 12-2

WIN Grant Nakamura (USA), tech fall 10-0

WIN Fuad Mussayev (Kazakhstan), 6-4

70 kg - Orlando Jimenez, San Diego, Calif., 7th place

WIN Efthymios Tserepas (Greece), tech fall 15-4

LOSS Grant Nakamura (USA), pin 0:43

78 kg – Daniel Rodriguez, LaSalle, Ill., 8th place

WIN Zhomart Utebov (Kazakhstan), tech fall 10-0

LOSS Zaid Galeb (Iraq), tech fall 10-0

78 kg - Connor Keating, Northfield, Vermont, 5th place

WIN Marco Menta (Italy), tech fall 11-0

WIN Alexandre Meyer (France), 8-3

LOSS Eldar Gaidarov (Individual Neutral Athlete), pin 1:26

LOSS Amir Turdubaev (Kyrgyzstan), inj. dft.

100 kg – Michael Burke, Yorktown, Ind., 7th place

WIN Abdullah Kacmazoglu (Turkey)

LOSS Ahmet Bilici (Turkey), tech fall 10-0

LOSS Ilias Boukis (Greece), tech fall 16-5

100 kg - DeAndre Nunn, Joliet, Ill., 9th place

WIN Omer Purnel (Turkey), forfeit

LOSS Aibek Usupov (Kyrgyzstan), tech fall 10-0

130 kg – Mingo Grant, Baltimore, Md., 5th place

LOSS Ioannis Papadopoulos (Greece), pin 2:59

WIN Ioannis Kargiotakis (Greece), forfeit

LOSS Rustam Gereikhanov (Individual Neutral Athlete), 10-1

Team Standings

1. United States, 355 points

2. Iran, 269 points

3. Kazakhstan, 266 points