Sasso can not compete at U23 Worlds at 70 kg; 2023 U23 Nationals champion Zapf to wrestle in Tirana, Albania

by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling

Doug Zapf (PRTC) competition portrait. (Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors)

Senior Men’s Freestyle National Team member Sammy Sasso (Nazareth, Pa./Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC) notified USA Wrestling that he will not be able to compete at U23 World Championships in Tirana, Albania at 70 kg in men’s freestyle wrestling.

Sasso is recovering from gun shot injuries which he sustained in an attack in Columbus, Ohio on August 18. Sasso, a two-time NCAA runner-up for Ohio State, is a current student-athlete on the Buckeye wrestling team.

Sasso received his spot on the USA U23 World Team by earning the No. 3 spot on the U.S. Senior National Freestyle Team this season. He placed second at the U.S. Open in Las Vegas, Nev. in April. He then defeated Alec Pantaleo by a 10-0 technical fall in the National Team True Third Place match during Final X in Newark, N.J. in June.

According to the U23 World Team Procedures,”the highest ranked, age eligible, athlete from 2023 Senior Men’s Freestyle National Team” may represent the United States at the U23 World Championships. Sasso met this criteria and accepted his position on the team prior to the deadline of June 26.

USA Wrestling and the entire wrestling community are rallying behind Sammy Sasso as he continues his recovery from his injuries. #SassoStrong.

According to the selection procedures, the 2023 U23 World Team Trials champion at the weight class is next in line for the position on the U23 World Team. Doug Zapf (Downington, Pa./Pennsylvania RTC), the 2023 U23 Nationals champion at 70 kg, has accepted his position, and will compete in the U23 World Championships.

Zapf won the best-of-three series at the U23 World Team Trials in Geneva, Ohio against Edward Scott of the Wolfpack WC in two straight bouts, winning the first match and the second match by identical 5-4 scored. Zapf won seven matches on his way to his victory at the U23 World Team Trials.

He has been successful in freestyle wrestling, including a third-place finish at the 2022 U.S. Senior Open at 70 kg. He was also seventh at the 2021 U23 National Championships. Zapf recently won a gold medal at 70 kg at the Ziolkowski Memorial, a major Senior international tournament held in Poland.

Zapf was a three-time NCAA qualifier for the University of Pennsylvania, including a third-place finish at the 2023 EIWA Championships at 149 pounds. He is a three-time EIWA placewinner for Penn. Zapf was a PIAA state champion for Downington West High School prior to moving on to college.

United World Wrestling announced this week that 2023 U23 World Championships will be held in Tirana, Albania, October 23-29.