Kadir Caliskan; UWW)

The team race in the women’s freestyle portion of the 2021 Junior World Championships came down to the very last weight class of the entire tournament. A loss by India in a bronze medal bout at 72 kg crushed any hopes they had of catching the United States. The US also had an ace-in-the-hole, Kennedy Blades, who was competing for the gold one match later. As it turns out, it may have taken longer to read this introduction than it did for Blades’ entire bout.

Like her semifinal bout, Blades didn’t waste any time feeling out her opponent, Lilly Schneider (Germany). After a pair of level changes, Blades blew through her German counterpart with a big double leg. She elevated Schneider above her head for an incredible high-amplitude finish. Sensing a possible fall, Blades sunk in a half and looked for the kill. The official was too busy trying to signal four points for the maneuver and likely missed the fall at the eight-second mark! Even so, after a few seconds of squirming by Schneider, Blades was able to control her opponent for the pin. After only 16 seconds, Blades had become a Junior world champion.

Yesterday we saw, Amit Elor and Kylie Welker put the finishing touches on tournaments that are absurdly dominant. Blades’ performance in Ufa, Russia, is just as impressive, if not more! She outscored her first three opponents 31-0 before her quick finals pin. Only one of her four opponents managed to make it out of the first period. Looking ahead, three weeks from now, Blades has already registered for Senior Nationals at 72 kg.

Blades’ title gave the American women four for the tournament, which adds onto an already record-setting figure. Team USA also claimed five total medals. The other medal captured on Friday came from Kennedy’s younger sister Korina. Competing at 62 kg, with Cadet eligibility, Korina notched an 11-1 victory over Viktoria Oeverby (Norway) to claim her medal.

Two other American women competed for bronze medals on Friday, with Jaslynn Gallegos and Alara Boyd. Both were embroiled in back-and-forth, action-packed contests and were caught and lost via fall.

Friday also marked the beginning of the Men’s Greco-Roman tournament. The United States saw five wrestlers start their tournaments, but none of the group were able to come away with victories. Kodiak Stephens, at 87 kg, is the only of the bunch that was pulled back into repechage. He’ll have to win three bouts tomorrow to come away with a medal. His journey back towards medal contention starts with a match against Maksat Sailau (Kazakhstan).

Tomorrow the final group of Greco-Roman wrestlers hit the mat. Freestyle world champion Braxton Amos will be among the US contingent as he seeks to medal in both styles.

American Women’s Freestyle Results

53 kg

Bronze Medal Match

Choigana Tumat (Russia) over Jaslynn Gallegos (USA) Fall 4:10

62 kg

Bronze Medal Match

Korina Blades (USA) over Viktoria Oeverby (Norway) 11-1

65 kg

Bronze Medal Match

Viktoria Vesso (Estônia) fall Alara Boyd (USA) 3:58

72 kg

Gold Medal Match

Kennedy Blades (USA) fall Lilly Schneider (Germany) :16

American Greco-Roman Results

55 kg

Iskhar Kurbayev (Kazakhstan) over Billy Sullivan (USA) 11-2

63 kg

Iman Mohammadi (Iran) over Chayse LaJoie (USA) 8-0

77 kg

Andreas Vasilakopoulos (Greece) over Matthew Singleton (USA) 7-0

87 kg

Tyrone Sterkenburg (Netherlands) over Kodiak Stephens (USA) 8-0

130 kg

Razmik Kurdyan (Armenia) over Luke Luffman (USA) 6-1