Jul. 20—Bo Bassett made the most of his first opportunity to represent the United States at the Cadet World Wrestling Championships in Budapest, Hungary, on Tuesday.
The 14-year-old Bishop McCort Catholic student pinned Malkhazi Khelaia of Georgia in 3:17 in the first round at 45 kilograms.
Bassett will wrestle again Tuesday morning in the freestyle tournament's quarterfinal round against either Yusif Isparov of Azerbaijan or Hayko Gasparyan of Armenia.
Khelaia seemed to use Bassett's aggressiveness against him early on, scoring a takedown after Bassett snapped him down. The Georgian popped his head out as the Windber wrestler tried to go behind him for two points.
A Bassett takedown on the edge tied the match at 2 before Khelaia took the lead again. Bassett scored a double-leg takedown just before the end of the first period to tie it at 4.
Bassett went on the attack again in the second period, but Khelaia used an arm throw for four points and an 8-4 lead. Bassett scored two more takedowns to tie it, then turned Khelaia twice for a 12-8 lead. In the final minute, he took Khelaia down to his back and pinned him with 43 seconds remaining in the bout.
American wrestlers turned in an outstanding performance in Budapest on Monday, with four of the five Team USA members reaching Tuesday's championship round. The U.S. held a 36-27 lead over second-place Russia entering the second day of the tournament.
Levi Haines, who will be a senior at Biglerville High School in Adams County, is the second Pennsylvania wrestler on the freestyle team. A Penn State recruit who won a state title at 145 pounds in March, Haines was scheduled to wrestle later Tuesday at 71 kilograms.
Bassett, who also will compete in Greco-Roman beginning Saturday, has been a dominant force in the United States.
A seven-time Pennsylvania youth champion in folkstyle — a title next season would make him just the second to win eight — he cruised to Cadet national championships earlier this year in Wisconsin. Competing in freestyle and Greco-Roman at 45 kilograms, Bassett went a combined 9-0 and outscored some of the best wrestlers in the country 86-12. No opponent went the distance with him.
He gained international experience at the Pan-American Cadet Championships in Mexico last month, as he went 4-0 in winning both freestyle and Greco-Roman. He dominated his opponents, outscoring them 36-0 and did not allow a single match to make it out of the first period.