Day one of the Junior World Championship from Tallinn, Estonia ended on a high note for the Americans and made up for an otherwise rough showing for the men’s freestyle team. Five members of the men’s freestyle squad started their competition on the first day of the tournament and all but one of them has been eliminated from medal contention. Now, the only wrestler that is still alive in the tournament is Vito Arujau at 57 kg, who has secured a spot in tomorrow’s gold medal match.
The US team was dealt a bunch of difficult draws on Monday and that was no exception for the All-American from Cornell, Arujau. The only difference between Vito and his teammates is that he was able to overcome his highly credentialed opposition. Match one in the Round of 16 saw Arujau face Giorgi Gegelashvili of Georgia, a three-time Cadet World Medalist. Gegelashvili was the opponent that Kurt McHenry defeating in the Cadet World finals, back in 2017.
In this match, the Georgian was up by a point with under two minutes remaining in the bout. Arujau notched a pair of takedowns and held on to advance to quarterfinals, 4-3. In the quarters, Vito would face India’s Vijay Patel. Arujau blew open the match with a pair of exposure points from a chest wrap situation. A late takedown by his opponent made the final score appear closer than it actually was at 10-8. Now, all that was standing in the way of Vito and a spot in the finals was the defending Junior World Champion Akhmed Idrisov (Russia). Like his previous two matches, Arujau was able to distance himself from his opponent with a high-scoring second period. A pair of exposures from a scramble helped Arujau to an 8-1 win over Idrisov. Tomorrow, Vito will face Japan’s Toshiya Abe in the world finals.