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Bruntil, Retherford win gold, Velte and Rodriguez claim medals at Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov International

by Taylor Miller-Gregorio, USA Wrestling

Photo (L to R): Emma Bruntil and Zain Retherford photos by Tony Rotundo,

VELIKO TARNOVO, Bulgaria – Four Americans claimed medals on Friday, including golds from Emma Bruntil and Zain Retherford, at the Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov International in Bulgaria.

2021 U23 World Team member Emma Bruntil picked up her second-straight international title, winning the 65 kg bracket just weeks after a gold-medal performance at the Ivan Yarygin in Russia. She faced USA teammate and 2018 World bronze medalist Mallory Velte in the finals, where she emerged victorious with a hard-fought 2-2 win on criteria.

Velte’s silver medal marks her first international medal since the 2020 Pan American Championships, where she won gold.

Wrestling at 70 kg in men’s freestyle, Zain Retherford capped off a solid tournament with a dramatic win over host country’s Ramazan Ramazanov. Despite giving up a four-pointer earlier in the bout, Retherford fought his way to a 10-6 victory.

Like Velte, the win marks Retherford’s first international medal since March of 2020.

After a first-round loss on Thursday, Josh Rodriguez went 3-0 in the wrestlebacks to secure a bronze medal at 61 kg. He started the day with a 13-3 tech fall over Vicky of India, followed by a 4-1 decision over Andrey Bekrenev of Belarus to advance to the bronze match. There, he took out 2021 Junior World silver medalist Ravinder of India, 10-8, for his first international medal since 2019.

Nico Provo (MFS 57 kg) and Jennifer Rogers (WFS 62 kg) have guaranteed themselves a shot at a bronze medal tomorrow.

Provo went 2-1 on the day, defeating opponents from India and Moldova before suffering a semifinal loss to Aryian Tiutrin from Belarus. He will find out his semifinal opponent after tomorrow’s repechage.

In women’s freestyle, Rogers won her first bout, 10-0, before losing to 2021 Senior World champion Bilyana Dudova from Bulgaria, 16-5. With Dudova advancing to the finals, she pulled Rogers into the backside bracket. Because it is a smaller bracket, Rogers goes to the bronze match, where she will take on Spain’s Lydia Perez, who was seventh at the 2019 U23 World Championships.

Two athletes were pulled into repechage and seek a bronze medal, including Pat Lugo (MFS 65 kg) and Tanner Farmer (GR 130 kg).

Lugo won his first match, 5-3, before dropping a 10-0 bout to two-time U23 World bronze medalist Islam Dudaev (Albania). Dudaev advanced to the finals, puling Lugo into repechage. On Saturday, Lugo will face Aikhaan Antonov of Russia.

Wrestling in Greco-Roman, Farmer opened his tournament with a dominant 9-0 technical fall, but in the next round he lost by pin to Tokyo Olympian Ciurariu Alexuc of Romania. Because Alexuc advanced to the finals, he pulled Farmer into repechage, where he will face Roman Kim of Kyrgyzstan.

Additionally, six more U.S. athletes received their first-round draws for Saturday’s competition, which are below. Action begins at 10:30 a.m. local time (3:30 a.m. ET) and is available to watch live on YouTube.

Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria | Feb. 17-20, 2022

U.S. men’s freestyle
57 kg: Nico Provo (South Side WC) – bronze match
WIN Jyotiba Bajrang (India), 8-6
WIN Aid Salihasi (Moldova), 10-0
LOSS Aryian Tiutrin (Belarus)

61 kg: Josh Rodriguez (Nittany Lion WC) – BRONZE
LOSS Zelimkhan Abakarov (Albania), 5-2
WIN Vicky (India), 13-3
WIN Andrey Bekrenev (Belarus), 4-1
WIN Ravinder (India), 10-8

65 kg: Pat Lugo (Hawkeye WC) - repechage
WIN Stefan Tonu (Moldova), 5-3
LOSS Islam Dudaev (Albania), 10-0
vs. Aikhaan Antonov (Russia)

70 kg: Zain Retherford (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC) – GOLD
WIN Ivan Stoyanov (Bulgaria), 8-0
WIN Marc Dietsche (Switzerland), 12-2
WIN Yehor Muradyan (Ukraine), fall
WIN Ramazan Ramazanov (Bulgaria), 10-6

U.S. women’s freestyle
62 kg: Jennifer Rogers (Nittany Lion WC/Titan Mercury WC) – bronze match
WIN Rani Ritu (India), 10-0
LOSS Bilyana Dudova (Bulgaria), 16-5
vs. Lydia Perez (Spain)

65 kg: Mallory Velte (Beaver Dam RTC/Titan Mercury WC) – SILVER
WIN Jaspreet Kaur (India), 10-0
WIN Roxana Capezan (Romania), 10-0
WIN Elis Manolova (Azerbaijan), 8-0
LOSS Emma Bruntil (USA), 2-2

65 kg: Emma Bruntil (USOPTC/Titan Mercury WC) – GOLD
WIN Yauheniya Andreichykava (Bulgaria), 5-2
WIN Sofia Georgieva (Bulgaria), 4-1
WIN Mallory Velte (USA), 2-2

U.S. Greco-Roman
97 kg: G’Angelo Hancock (USOPTC/Sunkist Kids) – eliminated
LOSS Aleksandar Simovic (Serbia), forfeit

130 kg: Tanner Farmer (New York AC) - repechage
WIN Singh Mehar (India), 9-0
LOSS Ciurariu Alexuc (Romania), fall
vs. Roman Kim (Kyrgyzstan)

U.S. men’s freestyle
125 kg: Ceron Francisco (Titan Mercury WC)
vs. opponent to be determined

U.S. women’s freestyle
53 kg: Alisha Howk (Sunkist Kids)
vs. Irena Binkova (Bulgaria), 12th at 2021 Junior European Championship

57 kg: Sophia Mirabella (Team Tornado WC)
vs. Jenna Hemia (Finland), sixth at 2021 Ion Corneanu Memorial

U.S. Greco-Roman
60 kg: Gabe Townsell (California RTC)
vs. Nedyalko Petrov (Bulgaria), silver at 2021 Dan Kolov-Nikola Petrov International

67 kg: Robert Perez (Greco-Roman Development)
vs. Ivo Iliev (Bulgaria), fifth at 2021 U23 European Championships

77 kg: RaVaughn Perkins (New York AC)
vs. Joilson Ramos (Brazil), silver at 2021 Pan American Championships

Schedule (Bulgaria is 7 hours ahead of U.S. ET)
Saturday, Feb. 19
10:30 a.m. – Elimination rounds (MFS 86, 97, 125; GR 60, 67, 77; WFS 50, 53, 57)
10:30 a.m. – Repechage (MFS 57, 65, 74; GR 87, 97, 130; WFS 62, 68, 76)
5 p.m. – Semifinals (MFS 86, 97, 125; GR 60, 67, 77; WFS 50, 53, 57)
6 p.m. – Finals (MFS 57, 65, 74; GR 87, 97, 130; WFS 62, 68, 76)

Sunday, Feb. 20
11 a.m. – Repechage (MFS 86, 97, 125; GR 60, 67, 77; WFS 50, 53, 57)
12 p.m. – Finals (MFS 86, 97, 125; GR 60, 67, 77; WFS 50, 53, 57)