U.S. receives draw in men’s freestyle for 2023 World Championships in Belgrade, Serbia
by Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling
BELGRADE, Serbia – The draw for men’s freestyle was held at the 2023 Senior World Championships, set to begin at Stark Arena on Saturday. All 10 U.S. entries in the competition received their draws, although the team will compete in three different groups over the next few days.
2016 Olympic gold medalist Kyle Snyder, a three-time World champion, was the No. 1 seed at 97 kg. He opens against 2022 Commonwealth Games champion Nishan Randhawa of Canada. Two-time Olympic champion Abdulrashid Sadulaev, an Individual Neutral Athlete from Russia, was drawn into Snyder’s half-bracket, and they could wrestle in the semifinals.
2020 Olympic gold medalist David Taylor (86 kg). a two-time World champion, received the No. 7 seed. He opens with Sofiane Padiou Belmir of Morocco, who was fifth in the 2023 African Championships. In the bottom bracket, Taylor has No. 2 seed Boris Makoev of Slovakia and No. 3 seed Azamat Dauletbekov of Kazakhstan on his side. Individual Neutral Athlete Arslan Bagaev of Russia is also on his side.
Four-time Senior World champion and 2020 Olympic bronze medalist Kyle Dake is the No. 2 seed at 74 kg. He opens with Magomet Evloev of Tajikistan, who was seventh in the 2023 Asian Championships. The No. 3 seed, who Dake could hit in the semifinals, is Taimuraz Salkazanov of Slovakia, who Dake defeated in the last two World Championships finals. His half-bracket also features two-time World champion Frank Chamizo of Italy.
2022 World silver medalist Zain Retherford received the No. 2 seed at 70 kg and received an opening round bye. He will open with the winner of the bout between 2022 Asian bronze medalist Mustafo Akhmedov of Tajikistan and Kevin Henkel of Germany, who was fifth in the 2023 European Championships. In his half-bracket is No. 3 seed Arman Andreasyan of Armenia. Retherford’s half bracket also features Evgenii Zherbaiev, an Individual Neutral Athlete from Russia.
Six members of the men’s freestyle team will be competing in their first Senior World Championships: Zane Richards (57 kg), Vitali Arujau (61 kg), Nick Lee (65 kg), Chance Marsteller (79 kg), Zahid Valencia (92 kg) and Mason Parris (125 kg).
Richards opens against 2023 European champion Aliabbas Rzazade of Azerbaijan. Should he advance, he could face Milad Valizadeh of Iran, Also in his half-bracket is No. 2 seed and 2022 World champion Zelimkhan Abakarov of Albania, as well as 2022 World bronze medalist Stevan Micic of Serbia, the No. 6 seed. Also in his half-bracket is unseeded Individual Neutral Athlete Zaur Ugaev, a 2020 Olympic champion for Russia.
Arujau, a 2023 NCAA champion for Cornell, opens against 2023 Asian silver medalist Ossimzhan Dastanbek of Kazakhstan. He is in the top bracket, which includes No. 1 seed Reza Atrinagharchi of Iran, a 2022 World silver medalist, and No. 4 seed Taiyrbek Zhumashbek Uulu of Kyrgyzstan, a 2022 U23 World silver medalist.
Lee will open against 2021 European silver medalist Kryzsztof Bienkowski of Poland. In his second match, he could draw Austin Gomez of Mexico, who competed at Iowa State and Wisconsin in his college career. In the top half-bracket, Lee could run into No. 1 seed and 2022 World champion Rahman Amouzahkhalili of Iran or No. 4 seed Iszmail Muszukajev of Hungary, a 2022 World bronze medalist. Also in his half bracket is Shamil Mamedov, an Individual Neutral Athlete from Russia.
Marsteller was the No. 5 seed, and has a first-round bye. He will open against either 2022 African champion Chems Fetairia of Algeria or Gunwoo Lee of Korea. He is in the top bracket, which features No. 1 seed and two-time World silver medalist Mohammad Nokhodilarimi of Iran and No. 4 seed Arman Avagyan of Armenia. Individual Neutral Athlete Akhmed Usmanov, a 2023 Russian Nationals champion, is also in the half-bracket.
Valencia, the No. 7 seed, has a bye, then the winner of the match between two-time U23 World champion Amirali Azarpira of Iran and Woomin Jang of Korea. His side has the No. 2 seed Osman Nrmagomedov of Azerbaijan and No. 3 seed Gankhuyag Ganbaatar of Mongolia. Vladislav Valiev, the Individual Neutral Athlete from Russia, is also on his side.
Parris, this year’s Hodge Trophy winner for Michigan, opens against 2020 Asian champion Yusup Batirmurzaev of Kazakhstan. Parris is in the bottom bracket, which features No. 2 seed and three-time World champion Geno Petriashvili of Georgia, as well as No. 3 seed and two-time World bronze medalist Lkhagvagerel Munktur of Mongolia. Abdulla Kurbanov, an Individual Neutral Athlete from Russia, is in Petriashvili’s quarterbracket.
Group One, which features Arujau, Retherford, Taylor and Parris, compete Saturday and Sunday. Group Two, including Richards, Dake, Marsteller and Valencia, compete Sunday and Monday. Group Three includes Retherford and Snyder, who wrestle Monday and Tuesday.
All of the action is live on FloWrestling.
2023 WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS
At Belgrade, Serbia.
U.S. men’s freestyle draws
57 kg - Zane Richards (Titan Mercury WC/Illinois RTC)
Vs. Aliabbas Rzazade (Azerbaijan), 2023 European champion, Second in 2022 Europeans, 2021 U23 World champion
61 kg - Vitali Arujau (Titan Mercury WC/Spartan Combat RTC)
Ossimzhan Dastanbek (Kazakhstan), 2nd in 2023 Asian Championships, 2nd in 2013 Imre and Janos Memorial (Hungary)
65 kg – Nick Lee (Titan Mercury WC/Nittany Lion WC)
Kryzsztof Bienkowski (Poland), 2021 European silver medalist, 5th in 2021 World Championships
70 kg - Zain Retherford (Titan Mercury WC/Nittany Lion WC)
Bye, vs. winner of Mustafo Akhmedov (Tajikistan) and Kevin Henkel (Germany)
Akhmedov - 2nd in 2023 Asian U23 Championships, 3rd in 2022 Asian Senior Championships, 5th in 2021 U20 Worlds
Henckel – 5th in 2023 Europeans, 3rd in 2023 Yasar Dogu (Turkey)
74 kg – Kyle Dake (Titan Mercury WC/Nittany Lion WC)
Vs. Magomet Evloev (Tajikistan), 7th in 2023 Asian Championships
79 kg – Chance Marsteller (Titan Mercury WC/NYC RTC)
Bye, vs. winner of Chems Fetairia (Algeria) and Gunwoo Lee (Korea)
Fetairia – 2nd in 2023 African Championships, 2022 African champion
Lee – 11th in 2023 Asian Championships, 10th in 2017 Asian Championships
86 kg - David Taylor (Titan Mercury WC/Nittany Lion WC)
Vs. Sofiane Padiou Belmir (Morocco), 5th in 2023 African Championships, Ninth in 2018 European U17 Championships
92 kg - Zahid Valencia (Sunkist Kids)
Bye, vs. winner of Woomin Jang (Korea) and Amirali Azarpira (Iran)
Jang – 9th in 2019 Asian Championships, 2022 Sassari Tournament champion (Italy)
Azarpira – 2021 and 2022 U23 World champion, 2022 Asian champion,
97 kg - Kyle Snyder (Titan Mercury WC/Nittany Lion WC)
Vs. Nishan Randhawa (Canada), 3rd in 2023 Pan American Championships, 2022 Commonwealth Games champion, 2019 Canada Cup champion
125 kg – Mason Parris (Titan Mercury WC/Cliff Keen WC)
Vs. Yusup Batirmurzaev (Kazakhstan), 2nd in 2023 Asian Championships, 2020 Olympian, 2020 Asian champion