MO State HS Sports

Elam and O’Toole Crowned Junior World Champions

Keegan O'Toole holds the American flag up after winning the Junior World Championship

UFA, RUSSIA — Freshmen Rocky Elam and Keegan O’Toole will return to the United States as Junior World Champions after winning their respective gold medal matches on Wednesday at the United World Wrestling Junior World Championships in Ufa, Russia.

O’Toole was dominant in his championship-winning bout against Kazakhstan’s Nurdaulet Kuanyshbay, shutting him out 11-0 and winning by technical fall. The win was O’Toole’s second shutout and major decision of the tournament. His other two victories came by fall.

Wrestling at 74 kg, O’Toole’s path to the top of the podium also included defeating former junior world champion and 22020 Olympian Turan Bayramov.

Elam’s victory came after a hard-fought six minutes. With the score tied 2-2 with less than a minute left, Elam, who wrestled at 92 kg, secured a takedown tack on two points and defeat Iran’s Mahdi Hajiloueianmorafah by 4-2 decision.

They become the second and third members of an exclusive club of Mizzou wrestlers who have junior world championship belts. Former Mizzou All-American and current volunteer assistant Dom Bradley took home the junior world champion title in 2009.

Mizzou freshman Colton Hawks also notched his first international victory in Ufa, defeating Bulgaria’s Ilya Khamtsou by major decision, 12-1. He logged eight points for the American team from the 86 kg weight class.

Behind the 75 combined points from Elam, O’Toole and Wisconsin’s Braxton Amos, who took home the 97 kg title, the United States finished third in the tournament with 129 points.

Hear from the Tigers

“I’ve been dreaming of this moment for years,” Keegan O’Toole said of winning his junior world championship. “To have that American flag — it felt like a dream.”

“I’m not satisfied [with just a junior world championship],” Rocky Elam said. “I’m chasing that NCAA title with the Mizzou guys.”

“I’m so proud of Keegan and Rocky for their incredible performance in Russia,” Mizzou Wrestling head coach Brian Smith said. “The two of them have trained so hard for this moment and this is only the beginning for them. They are both perfect examples of what Tiger Style should look like.”

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This article is provided by University of Missouri Athletics