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Hopke grabs gold, Castillo, Forrest, Kasak silver, Ryder bronze at U17 World Championships

by Ellen Paddock, USA Wrestling

Koy Hopke at the U17 World Championships. Photo by United World Wrestling / Kadir Caliskan


ROME, Italy – U.S. men’s freestyle scored five medals today, a gold, three silvers and one bronze, at the U17 World Championships in Rome.


Koy Hopke won the 110 kg title in dominating fashion after outworking Levan Lagvilava of France in the finals. Lagvilava has two U17 European medals, a gold from 2021 and bronze from 2022, but was no match for Hopke. After trailing 4-3 at the break, the wrestler from Amery, Wisconsin battled back to flip the script 11-6.


Hopke, who has U17 Pan American golds in freestyle and Greco-Roman, was nearly perfect in Rome. He entered the gold-medal match after earning a technical fall over 2022 U17 Asian bronze medalist Khikmatullo Kurbonov of Uzbekistan. In the round of 16, he defeated Ramini Gulitashvili of Georgia 14-3 and won 11-2 over Poland’s Mateusz Pudlowsk in the quarters.


Christian Castillo at 48 kg, Jax Forrest at 55 kg and Tyler Kasak at 65 kg finished with silver.


Castillo’s final with European champion Vasif Baghirov of Azerbaijan was tied at 1-1 after an exchange of shot clock violations, Baghirov winning on criteria with less than a minute remaining. Baghirov scored four points to lock in the match. Castillo battled until the end and finished on top, falling 5-3.


The Pan American champion in freestyle and Greco-Roman had an incredible showing at Worlds. He had two technical falls and a dramatic quarterfinal victory that featured a flying squirrel in the last second.


Forrest fell to 2022 U17 Asian champion Daryn Askerbek of Kazakhstan 11-10 for gold. He led 6-0 before getting caught in two headlocks. Like Castillo, he battled up until the final whistle and finished on top.


On his way to the medal rounds, Forrest breezed through his bracket scoring technical falls over Takuto Osedo of Japan and Sandro Hungerbuehler of Switzerland. In the semifinals, Forrest rallied back from 7-4 with two takedowns in the second period against 2022 U17 Asian champion Vaibhav Patil of India.


Kasak led 3-3 on criteria over European champion llyas Isayev from Azerbaijan before a step out and challenge lost gave up the match 5-3 in the finals.


Kasak, a 2021 USMC 16U National runner-up, was on a roll in Rome. He stopped Ankit of India 10-3 in the semifinals, pinned 2021 U15 silver medalist Bogdan Olinyk of Ukraine in the quarterfinals and topped U17 Asian silver medalist Akobir Rahimov of Uzbekistan 7-6 with a last-second takedown in his opening bout.


Topping off the medal haul today for Team USA was 2021 USMC 16U National champion Zack Ryder. Ryder breezed to bronze after falling to eventual silver medalist Reza Soleimanian of Iran in the first round.


In repechage he defeated Slavi Stamenov of Bulgaria 9-0 and teched Askhab Khajiyev of Kazakhstan. He carried that momentum into the bronze medal match against 2022 U17 Asian bronze medalist Muhammadamin Abduloev of Tajikistan, winning 8-0.


U.S. men’s freestyle closes out the U17 World Championships with four athletes going for medals at noon U.S. ET. Watch live on FloWrestling and follow along with live updates @USAWrestling on Twitter. 


U17 World Championships
Rome, Italy | July 25-31


U.S. men’s freestyle results

48 kg: Christian Castillo (Glendale, Ariz./Thorobred Wrestling Club) – SILVER
WIN Ozgur Caglayan (Turkey), 10-0

WIN Arshia Haddadi (Iran), 8-6

WIN Rassoul Galbouraev (France), 12-1

LOSS Vasif Baghirov (Azerbaijan), 5-3


55 kg: Jax Forrest (Johnstown, Pa.) – SILVER
WIN Takuto Osedo (Japan), 12-2

WIN Sandro Hungerbuehler (Switzerland), 10-0

WIN Zalkarbek Tabaldiev (Kyrgyzstan), 10-6

WIN Vaibhav Patil (India), 9-7

LOSS Daryn Askerbek (Kazakhstan),11-10


65 kg: Tyler Kasak (Doylestown, Pa.) – SILVER
WIN Akobir Rahimov (Uzbekistan), 7-6

WIN Bogdan Olinyk (Ukraine), fall

WIN Ankit (India), 10-3

LOSS llyas Isayev (Azerbaijan), 5-3


80 kg: Zack Ryder (Westtown, N.Y. /KD Training Center) – BRONZE
LOSS Reza Soleimanian (Iran), 10-0

WIN Slavi Stamenov (Bulgaria), 8-0

WIN Askhab Khajiyev (Kazakhstan), 10-0

WIN Muhammadamin Abduloev (Tajikistan), 8-0


110 kg: Koy Hopke (Amery, Wis./Pinnacle Wrestling Club) – GOLD
WIN Ramini Gulitashvili (Georgia), 14-3

WIN Mateusz Pudlowski (Poland), 11-2

WIN Khikmatullo Kurbonov (Uzbekistan), 12-2

WIN Levan Lagvilava (France), 11-6


Schedule (local time, six hours ahead of U.S. ET)

Sunday, July 31
4:30 p.m. – Repechage (MFS 45, 51, 60, 71, 92kg)
6 p.m. – Finals (MFS 45, 51, 60, 71, 92kg)

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