The competition was so tough, two Olympic champions on the Titan Mercury Wrestling Club roster lost matches on the first of two days of competition at the World Freestyle Wrestling Clubs Cup on Wednesday.
The depth of the team, including former Duanesburg High School and North Carolina State star Nick Gwiazdowski, carried it to victory on Thursday, though.
In fact, it was the heavyweight Gwiazdowski, in the last match of the finals, who came through to beat three-time World Cup champion Parviz Hadi of Iran 3-2 with a late takedown to break a
3-3 tie between the teams and give TMWC the hard-fought victory.
Gwiazdowski lost two of three matches in the preliminaries on Wednesday, but came through with the world club championship-deciding victory in the finals.
He defeated Oleksandr Khotsyanovskii 2-1 in TMWC’s 7-1 win over CSKA and fell to Giorgi Meshvildishvili 5-2 in a 5-3 TMWC victory over Champion and to Alen Zasieiev 4-2 in the semifinals.
TMWC tied the Ukraine A team 4-4 in that match, but advanced to the finals on criteria.
Gwiazdowski trailed Hadi 2-0 after the first period, then gained a point on a stepout in the second.
In the third period, he continued to shoot for Hadi’s legs and finally scored with less than 40 seconds left to pull ahead 3-2.
Among Gwiazdowski’s TMWC teammates is Kyle Snyder of Ohio State, who beat Gwiazdowski in the NCAA Division I final in March to deny him his third straight national championship.
Snyder went on the become, at 20, the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling gold medalist at the Rio de Janeiro Games.
In the world clubs championship, he pinned CSKA’s Andriy Vlasov, lost to Champion’s Elizbar Odikadze and beat Ukraine A’s Murazi Mchedlidze in the preliminaries.
In the finals, Bimeh Razi took a 1-0 lead heading into the 61kg bout between TMWC’s Vladimer Khnichegashvili, a 2012 Olympic silver medalist and 2016 gold medalist from Georgia, and Masoud Esmaeilpour.
The score remained 1-0, as those two were each disqualified, and Titan Mercury fell behind 2-0 with five bouts left when BJ Futrell lost in a quick technical fall at 65kg.
Titan Mercury finally got some momentum when Nazar Kulchytskyy defeated Atsamaz Sanakoev and Alex Dieringer came back from down 4-0 to pull out a 5-4 win with a late takedown of Reza Afzali.
David Taylor gave TMWC a 3-2 lead with a 12-6 victory at 86kg, leaving to the NCAA rivals Snyder and Gwiazdow-ski to close out the championship.
In a tight, grinding match against Abbas Tahan, Snyder was pushed out of the circle with two seconds left and the official awarded Tahan a point on a failed challenge by TMWC, setting up
Gwiazdowski to break the 3-3 tie and win or lose the world clubs championship.
After USA Wrestling tweeted the result, Gwiazdowski (@NGWIZZZ) replied: “Total team effort. I just happened to be out there last !” with a smiling sunglasses emoji.