2019 Armed Forces Wrestling

Marine Corps Sgt. Raymond Bunker celebrates a victory at the 2019 Armed Forces Wrestling Championship that was held at Fort Bliss, Texas back in February.  

Team USA wins five gold medals, finishes second in medal count

Sgt. Raymond Bunker and Sgt. John Stefanowicz, Marines stationed at Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune, made their World Wrestling Championships debut in Nur-Sultan, Kazakhstan, Sept. 14-15. Both men punched their tickets to worlds as part of the All-Marine Wrestling Team.

In the 72 kg Greco-Roman division, Bunker won a close match against Yogesh of India 6-5 in the first round. In the quarterfinals, Bunker lost to Aik Mnatsakanian, the 2018 World Bronze Medalist from Bulgaria, in a 2-6 decision.

Mnatskanian went on to lose in the semifinals and finish third overall. As a result, Bunker’s shot at a world medal was ended; however, his performance was good enough for a final ranking of 12th in the world.

In the 82 kg weight class of the Greco-Roman division, Stefanowicz lost to Lasha Gobadze, the 2015 World Champion from Georgia, in a 0-7 decision. Gibadze then knocked off China’s Qian Haitao with a tech fall 9-0 before defeating Nurbek Khashimbekov of Uzbekistan 3-1 in the semifinals to clinch a spot in the final match. That gave way to Stefanowicz getting one more shot to earn a bronze medal through the repechage rounds.

In the first round of the repechage, Haitao beat Stefanowicz 9-0 via tech fall en route to a bronze medal. At the conclusion of the tournament, Stefanowicz’s world ranking was 23rd.

The women’s freestyle team had a strong showing at the World Championships by swiping three gold medals in all. Jacarra Winchster, Tamyra Mensah and Adeline Gray all won gold as the USA’s women’s freestyle team finished third overall in team points. Gray’s gold medal was her fifth, the most of any American wrestler ever.

Max Nowry was the United States’ top finisher in the Greco-Roman division by finishing fifth in the 55 kg weight class. Kyle Dake and J’den Cox won gold for the USA in the men’s freestyle division.

The United States tied for third overall in the medal count with five golds and two bronzes. Russia finished number one by a longshot with 19 total medals. The USA’s five golds were good enough for second most titles.