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Move Over Dad: Arujau Wins World Crown

By MD, 09/17/23, 1:15PM EDT


Former NYSPHSAA Champion/Current Cornell Superstar Star is the 61kg FS King

Vito Slays 2021 World Champion, Abasgadzhi Magomedov, to Win 1st UWW World Title

Photo by Tony Rotundo/WAW

Photo by Tony Rotundo/WAW

The Oroudjov/Arujau family are going to need to make some extra room in trophy case of their Syosset, NY home, because there is another senior World Title coming home from Belgrade, Serbia!!

The ultimate signature celebration to culminate a year of nothing but glory, Vitali "Vito" Arujau is your 2023 UWW Senior Freestyle World Champion at 61kg!!

In his Senior Worlds debut, the Long Islander knocked off 2021 titlist, Abasgadzhi Magomedov (Russia; Independent Athlete this week), by a score of 10-9!!!

Non-stop action from the opening whistle, it would a go-behind with 1:17 remaining in the 2nd period, followed by an induced stepout with 16 ticks to go in regulation that proved invaluable as the former 4x NYSPHSAA DI Champion/2023 NCAA National titlist (on behalf of Cornell) would go from trailing 7-7 on criteria to enjoying a 10-7 cushion with little time still to be contested...

True to what he has always said about his heart/dreams belonging to the discipline of freestyle, Vito would put on quite the clinic  in terms of proper FS scoring technique, as already up 1-0 (Swing-single to earn the stepout :17 into the 1st period),  he would get the better of a wild 35-40 second exchange in the last 1:00 of the opening stanza, defending a Magomedov attack by countering for THREE different exposures (chest-wrap, chest-wrap, crotch-lift) to carry a 7-4 edge into the intermission...

The Russian would battle back to surge into the lead when he'd strike with a 2pt exposure off of a single-leg attack :43 seconds into the 2nd period....Feeling that Arujau was deserving of his own 2pt exposure (roll through near the out-of-bounds line), the U.S. corner challenged, but were unsuccessful to create the 7-7 scenario referenced above!!  

The final points of the bout went on the board in the waning moments when Arujau stepped out and was then issued a caution +1 with only :07 unspoken for!

The outcome being a bit of a reversal of fortune/curse to both competitors, for Arujau, today marked the first time he had prevailed in a UWW finals match after previously settling for Cadet bridesmaid distinction in 2016 & Junior silver in 2019!

On the flip side, Magomedov received his first taste of defeat in quite a while, as in addition to his '21 senior belt, he had also won a Junior gold in 2018...Add in a Cadet silver back in 2015 and he has never known anything but centerstage in his UWW Championship career! 

Arujau, who is the first LI gentleman to win a Senior World medal since Kerry McCoy (120kg) delivered a silver at Madison Square Garden in 2003, also now finds himself in the driver's seat to book a trip to the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris!

By virtue of being a Senior Medalist in a non-Olympic weight, USA Wrestling procedure states that he will be awarded an automatic bye into the Trial semifinals....And since 57kg rep, Zane Richards, is not going to achieve top-3 status this week, the NYer will be the freshest man in the field!!!...Note: The U.S. still needs to qualify the weight at a late date!

The first of the Stars + Stripes' three individual kings crowned on Sunday, the Big Red senior was later joined on the top step by Penn State alumni--- Zain Retherford (70kg) who hoisted hardware today after falling just short a year ago (world runner-up), &  David Taylor (86kg), whose collection now features three World belts + 1 Olympic Gold medal....

The former [Retherford] won an 8-5 decision over fellow (2021) former World silver,  Amirmohammad Yazdanicherati; while the "Magic Man" [Taylor] pinned rival Hassan Yazdanicharati (2016 Olympic Gold medalist/3x World titlist) at the 5:57 mark (up 9-3) to improve his record to 5-1 in the series! 

All in all, the Red, White, and Blue went a perfect 4-for-4 in securing medals/qualifying the weight for the Olympic games in the classes that commenced their tourney yesterday....Mason Parris (125kg), the 2019 Junior Champ, who was a late replacement for 2020 Olympic  Gold medalist, Gable Steveson, took the bronze among big daddies to notch his first senior medal of any color!

The United States of America currently holds a 90-65 lead in the team standings based on the results in these first four brackets!

Arujau's father, Vougar, was a three-time Senior FS finalist, winning the brass ring on behalf of the Soviet Union in 1991 and 1995 at 48kg (silver in '93)....He was also the 1992 Olympic Bronze medalist


Photo by: Durwood Tenny

QuALIFICATION: 10-0 TF OVER Ossimzhan Dastanbek (Kazakhstan)

The former 4x NYSPHSAA DI State Champion (Syosset)/3x NCAA DI All-American (2023 National titlist) for Cornell opened up his tourney by posting an emphatic 10-0 technical fall in a time of 2:25 over 2023 Asian Senior runner-up, Ossimzhan Dastanbek (Kazakhstan) in his 61kg qualification round contest!

Wasting little time in asserting his dominance, Arujau got in deep on a single-leg and utilized a head-wheel finish for the 4pt feet-to-back takedown to seize the immediate 4-0 advantage...

He'd add two additional takedowns when he drove through on a double-leg with 1:15 remaining in the opening stanza to make the score 6-0, and then had a snap + spin with :48 to go in the 1st to further pull away...

Having come up empty from par tarre in two previous occasions, the Big Red senior finally was able to get a turn, as he secured the 2pt exposure off a tight gut-wrench to complete the shutout!

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ROUND OF 16: 10-0 TF OVER Stillyan Iliev (Bulgaria)

Squaring off with 2021 UWW U21 5th/2023 European U23 9th, Stilyan Yanchev Iliev (Bulgaria), after a mini (:45) feeling out period, the points went flying on the board and came in bunches for the New Yorker!!

Breaking the ice with takedown off of a sweep-single on the edge of the mat with 2:15 remaining in the 1st period to go up 2-0, Arujau really took over when after being stood up, he'd dive in and finish his second TD of the match approximately 10 ticks later and then added three consecutive turns with the bread-and-butter leg-lace to come away with a 10-0 TF (1:09) in the round of 16 to match his qualification round triumph!!

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QUARTERS: 8-2 DECISION OVER Kodei Ogawa (Japan)

Getting in repeatedly on his shot attempts, Arujau would punch his ticket to the 61kg semifinals behind an 8-2 decision over Japan's Kodai Ogawa (2022 U23 World Championships; 5th at the 2023 Asian Senior Championships)!!

Building a 4-2 advantage at the break behind the strength of a pair of induced stepouts (:43 into the 1st; 1:05 remaining), as well as a 2pt counter-chest wrap (originally scored as just 2 for the American; Japan challenged and the call was changed to an exchange of exposures), the entire final 3:00 of action belonged entirely to the NYer...

Picking up exactly where he left off, Arujau was able to register his third stepout of the bout :15 into the 2nd period and then finally broke through with the TD, when he got in on a sweep-single, caught the ankle, and then spun behind to increase his cushion to 7-2 with just 67 seconds to go in duration...

For good measure, he tacked on his fourth and final pushout in the last 40 ticks to account for the aforementioned outcome!!

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SEMIS: 12-2 tf OVER Taiyrbek Zhumashbek Uulu (Kyrgyzstan)


VITO ARUJAU now found himself on the pinnacle of joining his father (two-time senior belt winner, Vougar Oroudjov) as a UWW World Champion, as he cruised into the 61kg finals behind a statement-making 12-2 technical fall in the semis over the representative from Kyrgyzstan, Taiyrbek Zhumashbek Uulu ( 2022 UWW U23 World Silver Medalist/2023 Asian Senior Champion)!!!

Arujau vaulted himself to a 4-2 lead approximately 1:11 into the 1st period when he transitioned from a single-leg into a four-point throw before surrendering a 2pt counter-exposure)!!

However, the majority of the damage he inflicted occurred in the final :50 seconds of the opening stanza, as he'd get in deep again on the single, trip out with the leg, and then circle behind for the TD to go up 6-2...

After completing the takedown, the former 2x UWW Age-Group World runner-up (and guaranteed first-time Senior World top-3) did not hesitate when jumping straight into deadly leg-lace, establishing the lock and then popping it through ONE, TWO, THREE times to take care of business!!!

A well-deserved primal yell of celebration signified the moment for the NYer!!


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