Rutgers’ #3 ranked Sebastian Rivera wrapped up his run at the United World Wrestling Championships this morning just one match shy of a bronze medal bout. During day one of competition in Oslo, Norway, Rivera won his first contest against Maxim Sacultan of Moldova utilizing a big five-point move at the end of the match to seal the victory. His next foe was Amir Yazdanicherati of Iran, who bested Rivera by a score of 13-3. The Iranian then won his next two matches to advance to the gold medal bout. Because of this, Rivera was pulled back into the tournament with an opportunity to earn a bronze medal with three additional victories.
That road started with Gabriel Janatsch of Austria whom Rivera handled easily winning 10-0 in 75 seconds. His next match proved to have one of the more controversial outcomes this weekend as he was edged by the #1 seed from Poland, Krzysztof Bienkowski.
Rivera had the lead 6-4 in the waning moments of the match but then was pushed out of bounds. The official indicated that Rivera was fleeing the mat, so he got hit was a “caution and one” meaning his opponent is awarded a point and Rivera also gets a warning to keep engaging in the match.
But, for some reason, the official then decided that Rivera be placed in “par terre” position where his opponent starts on top of him and can score points if Rivera’s back gets exposed to the mat. This decision confused lots of wrestling pundits, as none could remember seeing a wrestler be placed in par terre position as the result of a neutral caution call. So, at this point, Rivera is leading 6-5 and is down in par terre position, trying to stay glued to the mat to secure his chance at a bronze medal. Unfortunately, his opponent was able to secure a gut wrench, expose Rivera’s back to the mat, and earn two points to take the decision. It was a heartbreaking loss that weighs even heavier since it appears to have been impacted by poor officiating. You can see the exchange that lead to the controversial call below:
Despite all of this, Sebastian can hold his head high as he wrestled his heart out this weekend, scoring 33 points in four matches in an extremely challenging international bracket. His American counterpart, Yianni Diakomilhalis, couldn’t end the 65kg medal drought that has plagued the states since current USA Wrestling Chief Bill Zadick won a gold medal back at the 2006 World Championships.
Rivera now turns his attention to the upcoming Rutgers season where he’ll look to improve on his 4th place All-American finish at last season’s NCAA tournament.