Cadet Day 3 Wrap and Day 4 Preview: Ramos grabs gold, Shilson reaches finals


The Fourth of July celebration for the United States at the Cadet World Championships included a near-perfect second session for the Americans in Zagreb, Croatia. Matthew Ramos captured a gold, Alex Facundo and A.J. Ferrari rallied back with late takedowns to bag bronzes and Emily Shilson continued her dominant path through the women’s freestyle bracket at 43 kilograms by rolling up Russia’s Viktoriia Aleksandrova 11-1 in the semifinals. The only loss for the United States in Wednesday’s second session came when Uzbekistan’s Shakhbos Komilov defeated Chance Lamer 10-2 for a bronze at 45 kilograms.



His resume includes four Fargo podium finishes, including a pair of Cadet finals appearances last summer.

His last two trips to the Illinois high school state tournament netted fifth- and third-place finishes.

Matthew Ramos has regularly put himself in the mix to win big tournaments, but he’s never won anything like this. Only a select fraternity of Americans have.

On Wednesday, Ramos became the 41st wrestler in United States history to capture a Cadet men’s freestyle World title.

“I can’t even explain it right now,” Ramos said in an interview with USA Wrestling. “It’s amazing. I wish I could’ve gotten to my offense, but I don’t even care right now. I’m just so excited right now.”

The path to gold was filled with landmines. Ramos needed a late takedown to seal a 5-3 win against Greece’s Ioanis Martidis in his first match of the tournament. He dug himself out of a five-point deficit during a 10-5 quarterfinal win against Mongolia’s Dashhtseren Purvee. He made a two-point tilt stand in a 2-2 criteria win in the semis against Iran’s Seyederfan Jafariangelyerdi and he trailed 5-2 after the break when he cranked Japan’s Kota Takahashi to his back with a bundle-arm stepover for a fall.

“He’s been scrapping all week — all week at training camp,” Cadet freestyle coach Kellen Russell said in an interview with USA Wrestling. “He’s a very unorthodox-type of wrestler and it really works to his advantage in the finals. He was getting in deep, using his funky hips and was able to get that bundle and stepover. I think he got it on that guy four times and the last time he sealed the deal. But he kept wrestling through every position and not giving up easy points.”

The United States topped off the day with two dramatic wins in bronze medal bouts.

Alex Facundo trailed by five with less than a minute remaining, but rallied back to beat Russia’s

Makhmud Magomedov 6-6 at 71 kilograms. Facundo scored four when he tossed Magomedov from a rear-standing position and then snapped the Russian down and spun around to score with 17 seconds left.

Ferrari registered a pair of wins against Asian Cadet medalists Wednesday morning and positioned himself to make the comeback to bronze at 92 kilograms when he took a 1-0 lead into the final minute against Germany’s Johannes Mayer, a European Cadet silver medalist. But Ferrari got put on the activity clock and then gave up a step-out point, forcing him to find points late. He got in on a single and finished with four seconds left to win a 3-2 decision.

The United States concluded the men’s freestyle tournament with six medals — one gold (Ramos), two silvers (Richard Figueroa II and Greg Kerkvliet) and three bronzes (Facundo, Ferrari and Abe Assad) — and finished second to Iran in the team race with 132 points. The Iranians took home three golds, a silver and three bronzes and accumulated 152 points. Russia was third with 116.

Shilson cruised into the Cadet World finals for the second straight year with a dominant run through her side of the bracket. She scored a pin and a technical superiority win Wednesday morning and rolled up Russia’s Viktoriia Aleksandrova 11-1 in the semifinals. She’ll face Azerbaijan’s Shahana Nazarova on Thursday for the 43-kilogram gold. Nazarova won Cadet gold last year at 38 kilograms.

The only other American who survived the tournament’s first day of women’s freestyle action was Tiare Ikei, who got pulled back into the repechage at 49 kilograms, thanks to a semifinal win by Russia’s Polina Lukina.

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Cadet Day 1 Wrap and Day 2 Preview: Figueroa and Kerkvliet reach freestyle finals, five Americans to make World debuts Tuesday

Cadet World Championships


Richard Figueroa II and Greg Kerkvliet reached the freestyle finals on the tournament’s first day and will wrestle Tuesday for gold. Abe Assad remains in medal contention and will compete in Tuesday’s repechage. He needs three victories to bag a bronze.


4:30 a.m. ET — Qualification rounds at 45, 51, 60, 71 and 92 kilograms and repechage at 48, 55, 65, 80 and 110 kilograms.

11:30 a.m. ET — Semifinals at 45, 51, 60, 71 and 92 kilograms.

Noon ET — Medal matches at 48, 55, 65, 80 and 110 kilograms.


Richard Figueroa wrecked everybody in his path Monday.

Greg Kerkvliet dusted his first three opponents and did just enough to get past a fourth to complete his return to the World finals.

The United States finished the opening day of the Cadet World Championships with bookend finalists. Figueroa started the semifinal round with a 10-4 victory against Ukraine’s Mykyta Abramov at 48 kilograms and Kerkvliet capped the session with a 2-2 criteria win against Russia’s Sergey Kozyrev at 110 kg to give the U.S. its first two medalists of the week in Zagreb, Croatia.

All five Americans who wrestled Monday registered a victory, but Robert Howard and Carson Manville were eliminated from medal contention. Abe Assad of Illinois will compete Tuesday in the repechage at 80 kilograms and needs to win three bouts to capture a bronze.

“I’d say overall the performance has been solid,” Cadet freestyle coach Lee Pritts said in an interview with USA Wrestling. “I don’t think we’ve performed up to our capabilities yet. But I also remember last year at this time after that first round we were going, ‘Oh man, we’re in trouble.’ And then (USA Wrestling freestyle developmental coach Kevin Jackson) brought the team in and had a conversation and next thing you know they pulled together as a unit and started firing on all cylinders and ended up with a great tournament.”

The Americans left Greece last September with four freestyle golds, including Kerkvliet’s at 100 kilograms. The Minnesota native who’s committed to Oklahoma State is up against bigger opponents this go-round with the heavyweight limit pushed up to 110 kg this year.

He got through a full-sized heavyweight in Monday’s semifinals when he used a second-period takedown to defeat Kozyrev, a European Cadet champion.

“I could be wrestling better,” Kerkvliet, who opened the tournament with three shutout technical superiority wins, told USA Wrestling. “We’ll find out tomorrow. The tournament’s not done yet and I’ve got a lot of work to do.”

Kerkvliet’s bid to become the third repeat Cadet champion in American history goes through Iran’s Amir Hosse Zare, who outscored his three opponents by a combined 32-0 count Monday.

Figueroa was nearly as dominant Monday during his run to the 48-kilogram final. The California state champ pinned China’s Xiaolong Ye in 54 seconds to start the tournament, dismantled Russia’s Valerii Androsov 10-0 in the quarterfinals and took out Ukraine’s Abramov in the semis. Figueroa will wrestle Azerbaijan’s Alihasan Amirli, a 2018 European Cadet bronze medalist, in Tuesday’s gold medal bout.

“He came out firing,” Pritts said of Figueroa. “First match, first World Championship and all of a sudden he’s got his headphones on and he’s bobbing and I’m like, ‘Look at this dude. He’s ready.’ And Izzy Martinez was here and Kellen Russell and we were watching him and I said, ‘I don’t know what’s going to happen, but this dude is about to bring heat.’ And he went out in his first match and just lit the gym up. When he came off, I was like, ‘Everybody else in the weight class is in trouble because he is coming hard.”


Five more Americans will make their Cadet World debuts on Tuesday during the second day of men’s freestyle competition.

Chance Lamer of Oregon, Matthew Ramos of Illinois, Josh Saunders of Missouri, Alex Facundo of Michigan and A.J. Ferrari of Texas received their draws on Monday. All five have wrestled in the Fargo Cadet freestyle finals and Saunders, Facundo and Ferrari won titles last summer.

Here are the draws:

45 kilograms — Chance Lamer (Oregon) vs. Pavel Sagdy (Russia) — Lamer is an Oregon state champ who reached the Fargo finals last summer. Sagdy is a Russian Cadet Nationals champion.

51 kilograms — Matthew Ramos (Illinois) vs. Ioannis Martidis (Greece) — Ramos was a Fargo Cadet freestyle finalist last year. Martidis placed fifth this year at the European Cadet Championships. Martidis placed 15th and 12th in two previous trips to the Cadet World Championships.

60 kilograms — Josh Saunders (Missouri) vs. Benedikt Huber (Austria) — Saunders, a two-time Missouri state champ and Fargo Cadet freestyle champion, has had an impressive 2018, performing well against Junior-level opponents in the U.S. Huber dropped a 12-2 tech against Ukraine’s Vladyslav Ostapenko in his only bout at last year’s Cadet World Championships. A Saunders win would set him up for a bout in the second round against India’s Ravinder Ravinder, an Asian Cadet champ this year.

71 kilograms — Alex Facundo (Michigan) vs. Damian Dan Korbus (Poland) — Facundo, one of the top prospects nationally in the 2021 class, won a Fargo Cadet title last year before his freshman year in high school. This is Korbus’ first major international tournament.

80 kilograms — A.J. Ferrari (Texas) vs. Banzragch Munkhbat (Mongolia) —  Ferrari, a two-time Texas state champ and Fargo Cadet freestyle champion last year, is one of the top wrestlers in the 2020 class. Munkhbat placed fifth this year at the Asian Cadet Championships.

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