Men's freestyle up for four gold medals after thrilling first day at U17 Worlds
by Ellen Paddock, USA Wrestling
Tyker Kasak at the U17 World Championships in Rome. Photo by United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan
ROME, Italy – The U.S. men’s freestyle team put on an exhilarating performance today at the U17 World Championships, sending four athletes to gold-medal matches, which begin at noon U.S. ET on Saturday.
Out of the five athletes who competed, four are guaranteed a medal and one is in the running for bronze. These results thrusted Team USA to the top of leaderboard as a team with 80 points. India sits in second with 50 points.
Christian Castillo at 48 kg was the first wrestler to earn a spot in the finals today. The 2022 U17 Pan American champion in freestyle and Greco-Roman defeated Rassoul Galbouraev of France, a 2022 U17 European silver medalist, 12-1, in the semifinals.
Castillo started the day with a technical fall over Ozgur Caglayan of Turkey and had a clutch win over Arshia Haddadi of Iran in the quarterfinals.
Standing between Castillo and gold is 2022 U17 European champion Vasif Baghirov of Azerbaijan. Baghirov teched 2022 Asian bronze medalist Ramil Rassim of Kazakhstan in the quarterfinals and won by decision over Kumar Lalit of India in the semifinals.
Jax Forrest was next to the mat, wrestling at 55 kg, against 2022 U17 Asian champion Vaibhav Patil of India. Forrest was down 7-4 in the second period and rallied back to win 9-7 with two takedowns.
Forrest will wrestle 2022 U17 Asian champion Daryn Askerbek of Kazakhstan for gold. Askerbek is 3-0 in Rome, winning matches over Aren Serboyan of Armenia, 2022 U17 Asian bronze medalist Husanboy Usmonov of Uzbekistan and Jannis Valerien of Germany.
Forrest breezed past his morning matches, scoring a technical fall over Takuto Osedo of Japan and Sandro Hungerbuehler of Switzerland. In the quarterfinals, he stopped Zalkarbek Tabaldiev of Kyrgyzstan 10-6.
Tyler Kasak was the third American to earn a bid to the finals on Friday. Wrestling at 65 kg, Kasak stopped Ankit of India 10-3 in the semifinals. Ankit didn’t surrender a point in Rome until wrestling Kasak, a 2021 USMC 16U National runner-up in freestyle.
Kasak takes on 2022 U17 European champion, lyas Isayev of Azerbaijan for gold.
Earlier today, Kasak defeated 2022 U17 Asian silver medalist Akobir Rahimov of Uzbekistan 7-6 with a last-second takedown in his first match and pinned 2021 U15 silver medalist Bogdan Olinyk of Ukraine in the quarterfinals.
Koy Hopke enters the gold-medal match coming off a 12-2 technical fall over 2022 U17 Asian bronze medalist Khikmatullo Kurbonov of Uzbekistan.
He will meet Levan Lagvilava of France in the finals on Saturday. Lagvilava owns two U17 European medals, a gold from 2021 and bronze from 2022.
Hopke won freestyle and Greco-Roman titles at the U17 Pan American Championships this year and competed on the U17 Greco-Roman World team this week in Rome. He won by technical fall over Ramini Gulitashvili of Georgia, who finished fifth at 2022 U17 European Championships. In the quarterfinals, he won 11-2 over Poland’s Mateusz Pudlowski.
2021 USMC 16U Freestyle National champion Zack Ryder was pulled into repechage when the opponent who defeated him earlier today, Reza Soleimanian of Iran, advanced to the gold-medal match at 80 kg after sweeping Muhammadamin Abduloev of Tajikistan 10-0. Soleimanian also defeated Ryder by technical fall. Ryder will wrestle Slavi Stamenov of Bulgaria, who was ninth at the 2022 U17 European championships. He must win two matches to advance to the medal rounds.
Repechage begins at 5:30 a.m. U.S. ET followed by finals at noon ET. Domenic Munaretto (45 kg), Luke Lilledahl (51 kg), Kyler Larkin (60 kg), Joseph Sealey (71 kg) and Max McEnelly (92 kg) wrestle tomorrow morning at 5:30 a.m. ET.
U17 World Championships
Rome, Italy | July 25-31
U.S. men’s freestyle results
48 kg: Christian Castillo (Glendale, Ariz./Thorobred Wrestling Club) – gold medal match
WIN Ozgur Caglayan (Turkey), 10-0
WIN Arshia Haddadi (Iran), 8-6
WIN Rassoul Galbouraev (France), 12-1
vs. Vasif Baghirov (Azerbaijan), 2022 U17 European champion
55 kg: Jax Forrest (Johnstown, Pa.) – gold medal match
WIN Takuto Osedo (Japan), 12-2
WIN Sandro Hungerbuehler (Switzerland), 10-0
WIN Zalkarbek Tabaldiev (Kyrgyzstan), 10-6
WIN Vaibhav Patil (India), 9-7
vs. Daryn Askerbek (Kazakhstan), silver at 2022 U17 Asian Championships
65 kg: Tyler Kasak (Doylestown, Pa.) – gold medal match
WIN Akobir Rahimov (Uzbekistan), 7-6
WIN Bogdan Olinyk (Ukraine), fall
WIN Ankit (India), 10-3
vs. llyas Isayev (Azerbaijan), 2022 U17 European champion
80 kg: Zack Ryder (Westtown, N.Y. /KD Training Center) – repechage
LOSS Reza Soleimanian (Iran), 10-0
vs. Slavi Stamenov (Bulgaria), ninth at 2022 U17 Europeans
110 kg: Koy Hopke (Amery, Wis./Pinnacle Wrestling Club) – gold medal match
WIN Ramini Gulitashvili (Georgia), 14-3
WIN Mateusz Pudlowski (Poland), 11-2
WIN Khikmatullo Kurbonov (Uzbekistan), 12-2
vs. Levan Lagvilava (France), 2022 U17 European bronze. 2021 U17 European gold
Schedule (local time, six hours ahead of U.S. ET)
Saturday, July 30
11:30 a.m. – Qualification rounds (MFS 45, 51, 60, 71, 92kg), repechage (MFS 48, 55, 65, 80, 110kg)
5 p.m. – Semifinals (MFS 45, 51, 60, 71, 92kg)
6 p.m. – Finals (MFS 48, 55, 65, 80, 110kg)
Sunday, July 31
4:30 p.m. – Repechage (MFS 45, 51, 60, 71, 92kg)
6 p.m. – Finals (MFS 45, 51, 60, 71, 92kg)