Sanderson Takes Fifth at World Championship and Varner Wins Bronze
Sept. 17, 2011
ISTANBUL, Turkey - COMPLETE RECAP COURTESY GARY ABBOTT, USA Wrestling -- Jake Varner has made huge gains in his wrestling since his first trip to the World Championships in 2009. That was clearly apparent at the 2011 World Championships on Saturday night at the Sinan Erdem Dome.
The bigger, stronger and much-improved Varner capped a superb day by delivering the winning move late in the match to capture a bronze medal at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. Varner's mentor and close friend, 2004 Olympic champion Cael Sanderson, fell just short of a medal after placing fifth at 84 kg/185 lbs.
Varner knocked off Taimuraz Tigiyev of Kazakhstan 0-3, 3-2, 2-1 in the bronze-medal match at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. Varner countered a Tigiyev shot late in the third and exposed his back to the mat for two points en route to earning the clutch victory.
"I knew I had to keep attacking obviously to win the match," Varner said. "I knew he would get tired and I just kept wrestling hard. I was upset when I lost today, but I knew I had to go back out there tonight like I was wrestling for the gold."
Tigiyev beat Olympic and World champion Khadismourad Gatsalov of Russia earlier in this tournament. Tigiyev won an Olympic silver medal in 2008.
Varner reached the quarterfinals before falling to Turkey's Serhat Balci 1-0, 1-0 before a boisterous Turkish crowd at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. Balci advanced to the finals to pull Varner back in for the repechage. Balci fell to Iran's Reza Yazdani in the finals at 96 kilos.
Varner took advantage of his opportunity, pinning Rustam Iskandari of Tajikistan in 1 minute, 50 seconds in the repechage to advance to the bronze-medal match.
The 25-year-old Varner reached the quarterfinals of the 2009 Worlds before finishing ninth in his first trip to this event. Varner (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC) was a two-time NCAA champion for Iowa State.
Sanderson dropped a controversial 1-0, 3-0 decision to Russia's Albert Saritov in the bronze-medal match at 84 kg/185 lbs.
Sanderson was on the attack the entire bronze-medal match, peppering the defensive-minded Russian with an array of leg shots. The Russian never took a shot in four minutes as both periods went to ball draws.
Sanderson lost the first period 1-0 after the Russian won the ball draw and finished in the leg clinch. Sanderson won the ball draw in the second period and appeared to finish for a point in the leg clinch, but the referee allowed the match to continue. Saritov countered and was awarded two exposure points. The U.S. challenged the call, but it was upheld and the Russian was given an additional point on the challenge.
"I was a little rough. I got what I deserved," Sanderson said of his performance. "I'm glad I went through this process. One thing is the weight is qualified for the Olympics, but that's not what you come to the World Championships for."
The 32-year-old Sanderson won his first match of the day before dropping a 4-1, 4-3 decision to Sharif Sharifov of Azerbaijan, who placed third in the European Championships this year. Sanderson shot in for a quick early takedown, but was unable to generate much more offense in the match. Sharifov advanced to the finals to pull Sanderson back in for the repechage. Sharifov went on to win the World title at 84 kilos on Saturday night.
Sanderson pinned Chan-Uk Yoon of Korea in just 50 seconds in his first repechage match before pulling out a tough win over Yermek Baiduashov of Kazakhstan 4-3, 0-1, 2-1. He then downed Alireza Goudarzi of Iran 6-0, 1-0 to reach the bronze-medal match.
Sanderson scored on a pushout with three seconds left in the second period, clapping his hands as he finished off the impressive victory against the Iranian.
Sanderson (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC) won a World silver medal in 2003. The head coach at Penn State returned to competition this year after nearly a seven-year absence.
Sanderson became emotional when asked about the performance of Varner, a wrestler he has coached collegiately and internationally.
"I'm really happy for Jake," Sanderson said. "That's awesome. I'm very proud of him. That's the first of many for him. He's the man."
The U.S. is tied for third with Iran in the team race with 22 points apiece. Russia leads with 28 points and Kazakhstan is second with 23 points.
Sanderson and Varner qualified the U.S. for the Olympics in their weight classes by virtue of clinching top-six finishes at the Worlds.
Reece Humphrey won his first two matches before falling to France's Didier Pais in the quarterfinals. Pais won the match 4-1, 3-3, 4-0 at 60 kg/132 lbs.
The third period was scoreless and went to the ball draw. Pais won the draw and finished in the leg clinch to advance to the semifinals. Pais lost to World champion Besik Kudukhov of Russia in the semifinals. That eliminated Humphrey, who placed ninth at 60 kilos on Saturday.
Humphrey (Columbus, Ohio/New York AC) was wrestling in his first Senior World Championships. He is a past World University silver and bronze medalist.
Puerto Rico's Franklin Gomez, a past NCAA champion for Michigan State, won a World silver medal at 60 kg/132 lbs. Kudukhov beat Gomez 5-0, 1-0 in the finals. Kudukhov won the ball draw and executed a five-point lift and plant to the mat to win the first period. He added a second-period takedown to win his fourth straight World title.
Gomez qualifies Puerto Rico for the Olympics in his weight class by virtue of clinching a top-six finish.
Americans Teyon Ware (State College, Pa./Nittany Lion WC), Jordan Burroughs (Lincoln, Neb./Sunkist Kids) and Tervel Dlagnev (Columbus, Ohio/Sunkist Kids) will compete for the U.S. in freestyle on the final day of the event on Sunday.
Ware competes at 66 kg/145.5 lbs., Burroughs wrestles at 74 kg/163 lbs. and Dlagnev at 120 kg/264.5 lbs. Ware and Burroughs are competing in their first World Championships. Dlagnev won a bronze medal at the 2009 Worlds in Denmark.
Wrestling is scheduled to start at 12:30 p.m. local time on Sunday.