Angel Escobedo places fifth on first day of World Championships

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Craig Sesker (USA Wrestling)

Angel Escobedo (left) battles Turkey's Sezer Akgul in the bronze-medal match on Monday night. Tony Rotundo photo.

BUDAPEST, Hungary – Angel Escobedo gave a determined effort, but came up just short of winning a medal at the World Wrestling Championships.

Turkey’s Sezer Akgul shot in on a leg attack and finished for a second-period takedown en route to edging Escobedo 2-1 in their bronze-medal freestyle match on Monday night at Papp Laszlo Sports Arena.

Escobedo led 1-0 after scoring a first-period passivity point against Akgul, a 2009 World silver medalist. But Akgul came back with a two-point takedown with 1 minute, 30 seconds left in the second period to prevail at 55 kg/121 lbs.

Escobedo tried valiantly to get to Akgul’s legs in the closing minute, but was unable to score against the Turk’s strong defense.

Escobedo, a past NCAA champion, placed fifth in his first World Championships.

“I thought I wrestled decently, but this is obviously not what I wanted,” Escobedo said. “I wanted to win a gold medal. I’ve made improvements and I’m going in the right direction. I want to come back and win a World title next year.”

Escobedo dominated France’s Zoheir El Ouarraqe 8-2 in the repechage to reach the bronze-medal match.

Escoedo came out strong in scoring two first-period takedowns and one takedown in the second to defeat Romania’s Andre Dukov in the first round on Monday.

Escobedo followed with a quick 8-0 technical fall over Hungary’s Robert Kardos in the second round. Escobedo scored a takedown before hitting a succession of gut wrenches to finish the match in just over a minute.

Escobedo was unable to generate any offense in a 6-0 loss to India’s Amit Kumar in the quarterfinals. Escobedo was pulled back in for the repechage when Kumar advanced to the finals.

Brent Metcalf fell short of placing after dropping his opening bout at 66 kg/145.5 lbs.

Metcalf opened by falling to two-time World champion Mehdi Taghavi of Iran. Down 3-0, Metcalf scored on a pushout early in the second period before Taghavi came back with a takedown en route to the win.

Metcalf, competing in his second World Championships, was eliminated when Teghavi lost his next match and fell short of reaching the finals.

J.D. Bergman fell short of placing after dropping his opening bout at 96 kg/211.5 lbs.

Bergman came out strong in the first round and held a 3-0 lead earlier in the second over 2005 World bronze medalist Alexey Krupnyakov of Kyrgyzstan. But Krupnyakov caught Bergman with an upper-body throw and recorded a fall at the 3:58 mark.

Bergman was eliminated when Krupnyakov lost in the quarterfinals to fall short of the finals. Bergman was competing in his second World Championships.

“I probably could’ve played defense the rest of the match and been totally fine because he didn’t have much offense,” Bergman said after he built a 3-0 lead. “I’ve been in that position for the whole summer with a bear hug and pushing guys to the edge. I wanted him to try something like that and make a mistake, but it didn’t work out that way. It’s extremely unfortunate when I clearly felt I was in control of the match. I didn’t think I was in as much danger as I clearly was.”

The U.S. went a combined 3-3 in its matches on Monday.

“It’s a game of inches, and you need to take care of those inches,” U.S. National Coach Zeke Jones said. “We just didn’t do that today in those critical moments. We need to come back strong tomorrow.”

Bulgaria’s Boris Novachkov, a past NCAA runner-up for Cal Poly, dropped a first-round decision to Japan’s Takahiro Inoue at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. The match finished with a 5-5 score, but Inoue won on a tiebreaker.

Champions crowned on Monday were Iran’s Hassan Rahimi at 55 kg/121 lbs., Armenia’s David Safaryan at 66 kg/145.5 lbs. and Iran’s Reza Yazdani at 96 kg/211.5 lbs.

Day 2 of the seven-day event is set for Tuesday in Budapest. American freestyle wrestlers Reece Humphrey, Keith Gavin and Tervel Dlagnev are scheduled to compete.

Papp Laszlo Sports Arena, Budapest, Hungary

55 kg/121 lbs.
Gold – Hassan Rahimi (Iran)
Silver – Amit Kumar (India)
Bronze – Sezer Akgul (Turkey)
Bronze – Nariman Israpilov (Russia)
5th – Angel Escobedo (USA)
5th – Rassul Kaliyev (Kazakhstan)
7th – Zoheir El Ouarraqe (France)
8th – Altynbek (Kyrgyzstan)
9th – Bekhbayar Erdenebat (Mongolia)
10th – Giorgi Edisherashvili (Georgia)

66 kg/145.5 lbs.
Gold – David Safaryan (Armenia)
Silver – Livan Lopez (Cuba)
Bronze – Magomed Kurbanaliev (Russia)
Bronze – Mandakhnaran Ganzorig (Mongolia)
5th – Levan Kelekhsashvili (Georgia)
5th – Jim Hyok Kang (North Korea)
7th – Saba Bolaghi (Germany)
8th – Haislan Garcia (Canada)
9th – Takahiro Inoue (Japan)
10th – Alexandr Kontoyev (Belarus)

96 kg/211.5 lbs.
Gold – Reza Yazdani (Iran)
Silver – Khetag Gazyumov (Azerbaijan)
Bronze – Anzor Boltakaev (Russia)
Bronze – Pavlo Oliynik (Ukraine)
5th – Alexey Krupnyakov (Kyrgyzstan)
5th – Dato Kerashvili (Georgia)
7th – Kamil Skaskiewicz (Poland)
8th – Takeshi Yamaguchi (Japan)
9th – Nicolai Ceban (Moldova)
10th – Egzon Shala (Albania)

Gold-medal results

55 kg/121 lbs.
Hassan Rahimi (Iran) dec. Amit Kumar (India), 2-1

66 kg/145.5 lbs.
David Safaryan (Armenia) dec. Livan Lopez (Cuba), 2-2 criteria

96 kg/211.5 lbs.
Reza Yazdani (Iran) dec. Khetag Gazyumov (Azerbaijan), 4-2

U.S. results

55 kg/121 lbs. – Angel Escobedo, Columbus, Ohio (New York AC/Titan Mercury WC) – 5th
WIN Andre Dukov (Romania), 6-0
WIN Robert Kardos (Hungary), 8-0
LOSS Amit Kumar (India), 0-6
WIN Zoheir El Ouarraqe (France), 8-2
LOSS Sezer Akgul (Turkey), 1-2

66 kg/145.5 lbs. – Brent Metcalf, Iowa City, Iowa (New York AC/Titan Mercury WC)
LOSS Mehdi Taghavi (Iran), 2-5

96 kg/211.5 lbs. – J.D. Bergman, Columbus, Ohio (New York AC/Titan Mercury WC)
LOSS Alexey Krupnyakov (Kyrgyzstan), 3:58