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Lawal wins gold, Cejudo takes silver at Takhti Cup in Iran

BANDAR ABBAS, IRAN - Mo Lawal (Colorado Springs, Colo./Gator WC) won a gold medal at 96 kg/211.5 lbs. on the first day at the Takhti Cup of freestyle wrestling on January 19.

Claiming a silver medal at 55 kg/121 lbs. was Henry Cejudo (Colorado Springs, Colo./Sunkist Kids), giving the USA two medals on the day

Lawal defeated Amir Moradi Gangi of Iran in the gold-medal finals, 1-0, 2-0. The bout drew the wild applause and appreciation of the Iranian fans at the packed house at Fadger Sport Hall.

Lawal used his explosive power going high and hard on the leg as he drove Moradi Gangi out of bounds for the only point of the first period. He duplicated the feat twice in the second period to earn his 2-0 victory and the gold medal.

"I knew he would try to take it to the clinch. And I knew by his stance that I could get his lead leg," said Lawal. "Coach (Terry) Brands has been stressing hard shots and penetration. I knew I had to get into position to score."

Lawal was also quick to credit Coach Kevin Jackson and his experience in the Resident Program at the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

"I don't think Mo was threatened all day," said Coach Terry Brands. "Nobody in the world can match his quickness and explosion. He is a great competitor and I don't know what more you could ask for."

Many of the Iranian fans wanted to get close to Lawal as he left the facility with his gold medal and his friendly personality.

"It was a nice win and I'd like to come back," saidl Lawal.

If the Iranians had their say, they would have him back in a heartbeat.

Lawal was seventh in the 2005 World Championships, then competing at 84 kg/185 lbs. Moradi was a 2005 Junior World champion.

Lawal won four matches during the day, also defeating Amin Mardani, S. Amiri and Jafar Daliri, all of Iran.

Cejudo was defeated in the gold-medal finals by Mohammed Razaei of Iran in two periods, 2-3, 2-3.

In the first period, Cejudo's body lock earned him two points, but Rezaee continued the action for two points himself in a 2-2 call by the referee. Rezaee took Cejudo down for the margin in the first period. In the second period, Rezaee took Cejudo down twice before Cejudo turned up the tempo. He turned Rezaee for two points . As part of the same action, he was quickly pushed out of bounds, and lost the period 3-2.

"I didn't even know I had scored. I came up and he took me out of bounds," said Cejudo.

"I knew he was lanky. He would shoot out of no where. I took him to a chest lock, but he was catching me with his reach. I kept trying to get an inside trip and catch his leg," he said.

The 19 year old Cejudo left the arena as a clear crowd favorite.

"Overall I wish I could have won. But they are good people. We had good food and good hospitality. They really took care of us," said Cejudo.

Cejudo, a resident at the Olympic Training Center, was also candid about the Resident Program.

"We eat, sleep and train there. It's the best thing for you if you are a serious competitor," he said.

Rezaei was the 2006 Asian champion at this weight class, a bronze medalist at the 2002 Asian Games and a 1997 Junior World champion. Cejudo, a 2006 U.S. Nationals champion while still in high school, has won a Junior World silver medal and bronze medal over the last two seasons.

U.S. wrestler Kyle Cerminara (Buffalo, N.Y./New York AC) was defeated in his first wrestleback match and was eliminated from medal contention at 96 kg/211.5 lbs.

Cerminara fell to Amin Mardani, 7-0 and 2-1 (clinch) in his wrestleback bout. Mardani attacked Cerminara on the whistle. One takedown and three gut wrenches later, 48 seconds had expired and the first period was over. In the second period, Mardani drove Cerminara out of bounds for the first point. Cerminara reciprocated and gained a point to force the clinch. Mardani won the toss, and was too much for Cerminara as he drove him hard before taking him down.

"I thought I came back hard in the second period. But again, I need more work in the clinch position," said Cerminara.

Cerminara was eligible for the wrestleback round when the opponent who defeated him in the opening round, Amir Moradi, qualified for the finals.

At the end of the day, wrestlers and spectators alike left the venue knowing that they had seen something special. The Olympic spirit was fused in Persia between wrestlers who brought friendship, great technical skill, and respect to the mats.

The U.S. wrestlers in the four remaining weight classes that will be contested on Friday (60 kg, 74 kg, 84 kg, 120 kg) have weighed in.

2006 World silver medalist Mike Zadick (Solon, Iowa/Hawkeye WC) did not enter the tournament at 60 kg/132 lbs. Zadick has a hand injury which had not healed sufficiently for him to compete.

Six U.S. wrestlers will have competition on Friday. Included in the group is 2006 World Team member Andy Hrovat (Ann Arbor, Mich./New York AC) at 84 kg/185 lbs., who will face J. Mirzaee of Iran in the opening round.

Thursday morning update: Cejudo, Lawal qualify for finals

At Bandar Abbas, Iran, Jan. 18

U.S. performances

55 kg/121 lbs. - Henry Cejudo, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids), 2nd
WIN Rajab Rejepove, Turkmenistan, 3-2, 7-0
WIN Fardid Dejemkhoo, Iran, 4-1, 1-0 (Clinch).
WIN Bahador, Iran, 1-0 (Clinch), 5-1
LOSS Mohammed Razaei, 2-3, 2-3

55 kg/121 lbs. - Matt Azevedo, Arroyo Grande, Calif. (Sunkist Kids)
LOSS Majid Yousefi, Iran, 0-1 (Clinch), 0-3.

66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Jared Frayer, Cambridge, Mass. (Gator WC)
WIN Omid Kadkhodaee, IRI, pin 1:35
LOSS Eric Larkin,USA, 0-1, 0-2

66 kg/145.5 lbs. - Eric Larkin, Tempe, Ariz. (Sunkist Kids)
WIN Arash Rabiee, Iran, 2-1, 7-0
WIN Jared Frayer, USA, 1-0, 2-0
LOSS Nasrolah Fadaee, Iran, 0-2, 1-2

96 kg/211.5 lbs. - Mo Lawal, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC), Champion
WIN Amin Mardani, Iran, 1-0, 4-0.
WIN S. Amiri, Iran, 1-0, 3-1.
WIN Jafar Daliri, Iran, 3-1, 1-0.
WIN Amir Moradi, Iran, 1-0, 2-0

96 kg/211.5 lbs. - Kyle Cerminara, Lewiston, N.Y. (New York AC)
LOSS Amir Moradi, Iran, 0-5, 0-2 (Clinch).
LOSS Amin Mardani, Iran, 2-7, 1-4

U.S. first round pairings for Friday, January 19

60 kg/132 lbs. - Mike Zadick, Solon, Iowa (Hawkeye WC)
Did not enter due to injury

60 kg/132 lbs. - Zach Roberson, Ames, Iowa (Sunkist Kids)
vs. M. Rahimi (Iran)

74 kg/163 lbs. - Ramico Blackmon, Colorado Springs, Colo. (New York AC)
vs. H. Razani (Iran)

84 kg/185 lbs. - Andy Hrovat, Ann Arbor, Mich. (New York AC)
vs. J. Mirzaee (Iran)

84 kg/185 lbs. - Lee Fullhart, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC)
First round bye, then will face H. Tatari (Iran)

84 kg/185 lbs. - Tony Gansen, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Sunkist Kids)
vs. M.B. Aali (Iran)

120 kg/264.5 lbs. - Michael Irving, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Gator WC)
vs. H. Zareian (Iran)

Complete pairings for Friday January 19

60 kg/132 lbs.
#1 Poursadeq,M. (Iran)
#2 Aqajani, M. (Iran)
#3 Rezaeefar, M. (Iran)
#4 Mohammadzadeh,H. (Iran)
#5 Jahanbakhshian,M. (Iran)
#6 Hosseinkhani,M. (Iran)
#7 Pashaamiri,M. (Iran)
#8 Aslani,M. (Iran)
#9 Roberson, Zach (USA)
#10 Rahimi,M. (Iran)
#11 Ahmadi,S. (Iran)
#12 Samiee,A. (Iran)
#13 Salehi,S. (Iran)
#14 Shahpalang,A. (Iran)
#15 Amirian,A. (Iran)
#16 Goligarmestani,A (Iran)
#17 Kambarov,R. (Turkmenistan)

74 kg/163 lbs.
#1 Mohammadian,I. (Iran)
#2 Bahabasteh,M. (Iran)
#3 Emamqolipour,S. (Iran)
#4 Tavakkol,S. (Iran)
#5 Mohammadi,M. (Iran)
#6 Ramezani,S. (Iran)
#7 Mostafajokar,M (Iran)
#8 Goudarzi,S. (Iran)
#9 Razani,H. (Iran)
#10 Blackmon,Ramico (USA)
#11 Habibi,H. (Iran)
#12 Niyazmengliyev,A. (Iran)

84 kg/185 lbs.
#1 Fullhart, Lee (USA)
#2 Tatari,H. (Iran)
#3 Kamarvand,H. (Iran)
#4 Safiullin,I. (Iran)
#5 Aali,M.B. (Iran)
#6 Ganson, Tony (USA)
#7 Mansouri,M. (Iran)
#8 Ashouri,A. (Iran)
#9 Khodaee,M. (Iran)
#10 Enteshari,A. (Iran)
#11 Mirzaee,J.(Iran)
#12 Hrovat,Andy (USA)
#13 Rajabzadeh,A.(Iran)
#14 Vagozari,S.(Iran)

120 kg/264.4 lbs.
#1 Razaee,M.(Iran)
#2 Pouralijan,M.H. (Iran)
#3 Damavandi,J.(Iran)
#4 Rezaee,A.(Iran)
#5 Jalali,S.S.(Iran)
#6 Sedaqatizadeh,SH.(Iran)
#7 Azarshakib,M.(Iran)
#8 Irving,M. (USA)
#9 Zareian,H.(Iran)
#10 Gajiyev,A.(Iran)
#11 Seifi,H.(Iran)
#12 Moradi,R.(Iran)
#13 Kafaee,T.(Iran)
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