U.S. men’s freestyle draws set at U23 World Championships
by Savannah Asmann, USA Wrestling
The 10 U.S. men’s freestyle athletes have received their draws for the 2023 U23 World Championships, as announced by United World Wrestling on Sunday in Tirana, Albania.
Athletes making their return to the mat at an age-group World Championship tournament include Keegan O’Toole, Aaron Brooks and Wyatt Hendrickson. 2021 Junior World Champion O’Toole (74 kg) faces Ukraine’s Vadim Kurylenko in the opening round. Kurylenko has competed at two U23 World Championships, earning a bronze medal in 2022. Brooks, a two-time age-group World medalist, matches up against Turkey’s Ismail Kucuksolak in the qualification round, a 2022 U20 World Championships bronze medalist. Kucuksolak adds two age-group bronze medals from the 2021 and 2023 European Championships to his resume.
At 125 kg, Hendrickson’s opening round draw is Individual Neutral Athlete Abdulla Kurbanov. Hendrickson draws in experience from a fifth place finish at the 2021 Junior World Championships to face Kurbanov, a fifth place finisher at the 2023 Senior World Championships last month in Belgrade, Serbia.
Returning U23 World silver medalist Jacob Cardenas awaits the winner of the qualification match between Greece’s Gkivi Bliatze and Individual Neutral Athlete Alan Bagaev at 92 kg. Bliatze has made five trips to age-group World Championships, starting in 2018. Bagaev won gold at the 2017 Cadet World Championships and the 2019 Junior World Championships.
Cooper Flynn’s qualification round opponent is Poland’s Vasyl Ilnytskyi at 57 kg. Ilnytskyi earned a bronze at the Waclaw Ziolkowski Memorial earlier in July, where Flynn wrestled his way to gold in his first international tournament. Doug Zapf (70 kg) also earned gold at the tournament in Poland, and sees an experienced wrestler in Austria’s Benedikt Huber in the first round. This will be Huber’s fifth age-group World Championships appearance. His highest finish came in 2022 at the U20 World Championships where he placed eighth.
Dustin Plott (79 kg) will see the winner of a qualification round match between Japan’s Masaki Sato, a two-time U17 World Team member and 2021 Senior World Team member, and Canada’s Connor Church, a two-time U20 Pan American Championships medalist.
In his first international tournament, Isaac Trumble matches up against Japan’s Ito Hibiki in the first round of action at 97 kg. Hibiki was a part of a strong Japanese team at the 2022 U23 World Championships and placed 11th individually.
Joining Trumble in their debut at an international event are Julian Chlebove (61 kg) and Brock Hardy (65 kg). Chlebove’s opponent is Philippines’ Antonio Margiotta, a 20th place finisher at the 2022 U23 World Championships. At 65 kg, Hardy matches up against Puerto Rico’s Sammy Alvarez, who wrestles collegiately at Oklahoma State. Alvarez makes his second appearance at the U23 World Championships, returning from a 10th place finish in 2022.
Men’s freestyle begins competition Monday at the Sports Hall “Feti Borova” in Tirana. Athletes in the first five men’s freestyle weight classes (61-74-86-92-125 kg) begin their tournaments on October 23, with the second wave of weights (57-65-70-79-97 kg) kicking off on October 24. Each bracket will be contested over a two-day period that continues into the semifinals on the first day, followed by repechage and medal matches on the second day of competition.
The U23 World Championships will be live streamed on FloWrestling.com to the U.S. market. Brackets and updated results will be provided by United World Wrestling on uww.org and the UWW mobile app.
Those seeking to follow along in real time can reference the complete event schedule below. Tirana, Albania, is in the GMT +2 time zone, which is six hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time. USA Wrestling will provide regular updates on TheMat.com and its social media platforms throughout the event.
2023 U23 World Championships
At Tirana, Albania, October 23-29
Monday, October 23
10:30 a.m. – Qualification Rounds (MFS 61-74-86-92-125 kg)
5:15 p.m. – Opening Ceremony
6 p.m. – Semifinals (MFS 61-74-86-92-125 kg)
Tuesday, October 24
10:30 a.m. – Qualification Rounds (MFS 57-65-70-79-97 kg) and Repechage (MFS 61-74-86-92-125 kg)
4:45 p.m. – Semifinals (MFS 57-65-70-79-97 kg)
6 p.m. – Medal Matches and Awards (MFS 61-74-86-92-125 kg)
Wednesday, October 25
10:30 a.m. – Qualification Rounds (WFS 50-55-59-68-76 kg) and Repechage (MFS 57-65-70-79-97 kg)
4:45 p.m. – Semifinals (WFS 50-55-59-68-76 kg)
6 p.m. – Medal Matches and Awards (MFS 57-65-70-79-97 kg)
Thursday, October 26
10:30 a.m. – Qualification Rounds (WFS 53-57-62-65-72 kg) and Repechage (WFS 50-55-59-68-76 kg)
4:45 p.m. – Semifinals (WFS 53-57-62-65-72 kg)
6 p.m. – Medal Matches and Awards (WFS 50-55-59-68-76 kg)
Friday, October 27
10:30 a.m. – Qualification Rounds (GR 60-67-72-82-97 kg) and Repechage (WFS 53-57-62-65-72 kg)
4:45 p.m. – Semifinals (GR 60-67-72-82-97 kg)
6 p.m. – Medal Matches and Awards (WFS 53-57-62-65-72 kg)
Saturday, October 28
10 a.m. – Qualification Rounds (GR 55-63-77-87-130 kg) and Repechage (GR 60-67-72-82-97 kg)
4:45 p.m. – Semifinals (GR 55-63-77-87-130 kg)
6 p.m. – Medal Matches and Awards (GR 60-67-72-82-97 kg)
Sunday, October 29
4 p.m. – Repechage (GR 55-63-77-87-130 kg)
6 p.m. – Medal Matches and Awards (GR 55-63-77-87-130 kg)
*Listed times reflect local time in Amman, Jordan, which is seven hours ahead of U.S. Eastern Time
U.S. Men’s Freestyle Draws
57 kg – Cooper Flynn (Seymour, Tenn./Southeast RTC/Titan Mercury WC)
VS Vasyl Ilnytskyi (Poland)
61 kg – Julian Chlebove (Northampton, Pa./Sunkist Kids WC)
VS Antonio Margiotta (Philippines)
65 kg – Brock Hardy (Brigham City, Utah/Nebraska WTC)
VS Sammy Alvarez (Puerto Rico)
70 kg – Doug Zapf (Downingtown, Pa., Pennsylvania RTC)
VS Benedikt Huber (Austria)
74 kg – Keegan O’Toole (Hartland, Wis./Tiger Style WC)
VS Vadim Kurylenko (Ukraine)
79 kg – Dustin Plott (Tuttle, Okla./Cowboy RTC)
VS Masaki Sato (Japan) or Connor Church (Canada)
86 kg – Aaron Brooks (Hagerstown, Md./Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC)
VS Ismail Kucuksol (Turkey)
92 kg – Jacob Cardenas (Kearny, N.J./Spartan Combat RTC/Titan Mercury WC)
VS Gkivi Bliatze (Greece) or Alan Bagaev (Individual Neutral Athlete)
97 kg – Isaac Trumble (Springfield, Neb./Wolfpack, WC/Titan Mercury WC)
VS Ito Hibiki (Japan)
125 kg – Wyatt Hendrickson (Newton, Kan./Air Force RTC)
VS Abdulla Kurbanov (Individual Neutral Athlete)