Day three of the UWW Junior World Championships in Ufa, Russia, saw the United States collect two more Gold Medals to join Braxton Amos. University of Missouri freshmen Keegan O’Toole, 74 kg, and Rocky Elam, 92 kg, won their final matches. The United States finished third behind Champion Iran and Russia.
Keegan O’Toole made news yesterday with two come-from-behind pinfall victories. In the quarters, O’Toole faced Turan Bayramov, the defending Under-23 World Champion and Olympic representative from Azerbaijan. Bayramov recently wrestled former SR World Champion Frank Chamizo 5–3 in the Olympics. Late in the second period, O’Toole found himself down 5–1 with 1:30 seconds left. O’Toole shot a single leg, and Bayramov countered with shin whizzer. O’Toole adjusted to the front and draped one arm over the top of Bayramov’s head, and locked his hands. O’Toole then rolled through across his own back but already had the nearside cradle secured and got the fall over the Olympian.
Keegan O’Toole STUNS u23 World Champion and Azerbaijan Olympian Bayramov in a cradle late in his 74kg junior world quarterfinal bout! Bayramov had just lost to Chamizo 3-1 in Tokyo! Wow. 🔥 #USA pic.twitter.com/8aKHCVz0wp
— The Wrestling Room (Pat Mineo) (@MrPatMineo) August 17, 2021
In the semi-finals, O’Toole again found himself down late in the second, this time to Russia’s Ivan Khatanov. With a 10–5 lead, O’Toole shot and single-leg close to the edge. Khatanov stayed on his hands and knees, called a quad-pod position. In Freestyle, there is no takedown as long as the knees and elbows do not touch the mat. The Russian’s typically the toughest in the World in this position. O’Toole, a long-time student of two-time NCAA Champion and Mizzou legend Ben Askren, took a page from his mentor’s book by hooking his leg around Khatano’s. The Russian stayed firm in his quad position, which was his undoing. Utilizing a folkstyle technique, O’Toole draped his arms on the opposite side of Khatanov’s body and again locked his hands and secure the cradle. O’Toole pulled back and got another fall to advance to the Gold Medal match.
Keegan O'Toole gets it done! He just punched his ticket to the Junior World Championship Finals. 🥇🇺🇸
— FloWrestling (@FloWrestling) August 17, 2021
In the Gold Medal Round, O’Toole faced Nurdaulet Kuanyshbay of Kazakhstan. O’Toole notched a quick ten points to claim the US’s second World Title to earn a technical superiority.
O’Toole’s Missouri teammate Rocky Elam also found himself in the Championship match against Mahdi Hajiloueianmorafah of Iran. Elam took an early 1–0 lead after the Iranian failed to score in the thirty-second shot clock. Elam shot in on a single and earned 1-point on a step-out, taking a 2–0 lead into the break. In the second, Elam was again in on the single. Hajiloueianmorafah countered for a takedown to take the lead in criteria. The American roared back, which has been the story of the tournament. After being down late, Elam got the final takedown to win 4–2, adding a third Gold medal to the US total.
The Air Force Academy’s Wyatt Hendricks lost Andrei Bestaev in the Bronze Medal match 7–3 to finish the Junior Men’s Freestyle tournament.
Women’s Freestyle kicked off this morning, and the US sent three more wrestlers into the Championship match. Emily Shilson, Amit Elor, and Kylie Welker will also wrestle for the Gold Medal tomorrow morning in Ufa.