Colon Ranked Number 2, World Championships preview at 61 kg/134 lbs. in men’s freestyle

BY MIKE WILLIS, USA WRESTLING

Tyler Graff battles Joe Colon in 2019 Final X: Lincoln.
Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors

Dates of competition: Saturday, September 21 and Sunday, September 22

2018 World champion and fan-favorite Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez of Cuba is back again this year and looking to defend his world title. Known for his big throws and electrifying style, Bonne defeated Gadzhimurad Rashidov with a patented five-point “Bonne bomb” in the World Championship finals to win 6-5.

Bonne was a surprise gold medalist last year. A journeyman wrestler, he has been a two-time Olympian at 57 kg in 2012 and 2016 and a two-time World bronze medalist at 61 kg in 2014 and 2017. Since the 2018 World Championships, Bonne has not wrestled to the best of his world-class capabilities. He placed fourth at the Cerro Pelado International, third at the Ali Aliev tournament and second at the Pan American Championships. In the finals of the Pan American Championships, he lost to 2018 World bronze medalist Joe Colon of the United States. However, turn on the bright lights at the big event, and you might see Bonne come to wrestle.

Colon is currently ranked No. 2 by UWW. However, he will not be the United States’ representative. He was bested by Tyler Graff for the World Team spot. Graff placed fourth domestically at the U.S. Open and then won the World Team Trials Challenge Tournament, enabling him to wrestle Colon for the spot at Final X. In a best-of-three series, Graff dropped the opening bout, 6-4, before coming back to take the next two matches, 9-2 and 12-2.

Graff placed third at the Medved International in Belarus, his only international competition this year. Graff represented Team USA at the 2007 and the 2008 Junior World Championships, where he placed 16th at 55 kg and 13th at 60 kg. He also competed at the 2013 World University Games where he placed ninth at 60 kg. Graff was a star at the University of Wisconsin, and has trained in a number of locations. He has seemed to thrive since joining the New Jersey RTC, his current training situation.

Last year’s World silver medalist Rashidov will be competing at 65 kg for the World Championships. Not missing a beat, Russia will be sending Magomedrasul Idrisov at 61 kg. A 2018 U23 World Champion. Idrisov will certainly be gold medal threat. This year, he won the Ziolkowski Memorial in Poland and the Russian Championships, while finishing runner-up at the Ali Aliev Tournament and the City of Sassari Tournament, where he was competing at 65 kg.

While Mongolia’s lineup is not yet finalized, it seems likely that they will send 2018 World bronze medalist Tuyshintulga Tumenbileg. Mongolia did send Tsogbakrakh Tseveensuren to the Asian Championships, but after missing the medal rounds, it seems like they will send the wrestler who has already proven themselves at a World Championship. Tumenbileg did compete at 57 kg for the Ivan Yaygin, where he placed seventh and the Mongolian Open where he took third. However, more recently, he has been down at 61 kg where he placed second at the President Cup of the Buryatia Republic in Russia and the Ziolkowski Memorial in Poland. Tumenbileg is a 2014 World University Champion.

Current World No. 4 Rahul Balasaheb Aware is India’s most likely representative. Aware is a 2009 Junior World runner-up at 55 kg. This year he placed fourth at the City of Sassari in Italy, third at the Asian Championships and won the Yasar Dogu in Turkey. Aware has represented India twice at the Senior World Championships, finishing 25th at 55 kg in 2011 and 11th at 57 kg in 2014.

Iran has a decision to make with who they will be sending to the World Championships. It seems like they will be going with Behnam Ehsanpoor, a 2019 Asian Championships gold medalist, who is currently ranked 10th by UWW Ehsanpoor took third at the Takhti Cup this year. He took gold at the 2012 Junior World championships and silver at the 2013 University World Games, both at 60 kg. Ehsanpoor has represented Iran at the Senior World Championships three times, finishing 18th in 2015, fifth in 2016 and 14th in 2017.

Ehsanpoor took the spot from Mohammadbagher Yakhkeshi, last year’s fifth place finisher at Worlds and currently No. 6 in the UWW rankings, Yakhkeshi most likely got the nod last year because he won the Yasar Dogu. This year, Yakhkeshi took 16th at the Alany Tournament and won the City of Sassari Tournament.

Another wrestler to watch is Beka Lomtadze of Georgia, who is No. 5 in the UWW rankings. Lomtadze took fifth at the World Championships last year and has had solid performances this year. He placed second at the European Championships and the Alany Tournament in Russia and won the Henri Deglane Challenge in France. Lomtadze has represented Georgia at 60 kg every year since 2014. He medaled in 2016, placing second behind U.S. wrestling legend Logan Stieber.

Recent World Results

2018 World Championships
61kg/134 lbs. – Gold - Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez (Cuba); Silver – Gadzhimurad Rashidov (Russia); Bronze – Joseph Colon (United States); Bronze- Tuvshintulga Tumenbileg (Mongolia); 5th – Beka Lomtadze (Georgia); 5th – Mohammadbagher Yakhkeshi (Iran); 7th – Kazuya Koynagi (Japan) 8th – Sonba Gongane (India); 9th – Ivan Bileichuk (Ukraine); 10th – Parviz Ibrahimov (Azerbaijan)

2017 World Championships
61 kg/134 lbs. - Gold - Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan); Silver - Gadzhimurad Rashidov (Russia); Bronze –Vladimer Khinchegashvili (Georgia); Bronze – Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez (Cuba); 5th - Cengizhan Erdogan (Turkey); 5th - Rinya Nakamura (Japan), 10-0; 7th - Daulet Niyazbekov (Kazakhstan); 8th - Ivan Guidea (Romania); 9th - Mykola Bolotnjuk (Slovakia); 10th - Ivan Bileichuk (Ukraine)

2016 World Championships
61 kg/134 lbs. – Gold – Logan Stieber (United States); Silver - Beka Lomtadze (Georgia); Bronze – Akhmednabi Gvarzatilov (Azerbaijan); Bronze – Akhmed Chakaev (Russia); 5th - Behnam Ehsanpoor (Iran); 5th - Iurii Siemakin (France); 7th – Andrei Perpelita (Moldova); 8th – Temurjon Usmonohunov (Uzbekistan); 9th – Bajrang (India); 10th – Heorgi Kaliyeu (Belarus)

2015 World Championships
61 kg/134 lbs. – Gold – Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan); Silver – Nomin Batbold (Mongolia); Bronze – Vladimir Dubov (Bulgaria); Bronze – Vasyl Shuptar (Ukraine); 5th – Masakazu Kamoi (Japan); 5th – Bajrang (India); 7th – Beka Lomtadze (Georgia); 8th – Munir Aktas (Turkey); 9th – Valodya Frangulyan (Armenia); 10th – Jaehoon Yang (Korea)

2014 World Championships
61 kg/134 lbs. – Gold – Haji Aliyev (Azerbaijan); Silver – Masoud Esmaeilpoor (Iran); Bronze – Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez (Cuba); Bronze – Nyam-Ochir Enkhsaikhan (Mongolia); 5th – Andrei Perpelita (Moldova); 5th – Artas Sana (Kazakhstan); 7th – Vladimir Dubov (Bulgaria); 8th – Krzysztof Bienkowski (Poland); 9th – Aleksander Bogomoev (Russia); 10th – Jimmy Kennedy (United States)

2013 World Championships
60 kg/132 lbs. – Gold – Bekhan Goigereev (Russia); Silver – Vladimir Dubov (Bulgaria); Bronze – Bajrang (India); Bronze – Masoud Esmailpoor (Iran); 5th – Nyam-Ochir Enkhsaikhan (Mongolia); 5th – Artur Arakelyan (Armenia); 7th – Franklin Gomez (Puerto Rico); 8th – Reece Humphrey (United States); 9th – Ivan Guidea (Romania); 10th – Vladimer Khinchegashvili (Georgia)

2012 Olympics
60 kg/132 lbs. - Gold – Toghrul Asgarov (Azerbaijan); Silver – Besik Kudukov (Russia); Bronze – Coleman Scott (USA); Bronze – Yogeshwar Dutt (India); 5th – Kenichi Yumoto (Japan); 5th – Ri Jong Myong (North Korea); 7th – Masoud Esmailpourjouybari (Iran); 8th – Hassan Ibrahim Madani (Egypt); 9th – Malkhaz Zarkua (Georgia); 10th – Tim Schleicher (Germany)

Current UWW Ranking Series Standings (for seeding)
1 Yowlys Bonne Rodriguez (Cuba)
2 Joseph Colon (United States)
3 Gadzhimurad Rashidov (Russia)
4 Rahul Balasaheb Aware (India)
5 Beka Lomtadze (Georgia)
6 Mohammadbagher Yakhkeshi (Iran)
7 Nikolai Okhlopkov (Romania)
8 Tuvshintulga Tumenblieg (Mongolia)
9 Munir Recap Aktas (Turkey)
10 Behnam Ehsanpoor (Iran)