It’s a showdown at high noon with the United States vs. Russia. Well, almost.
When Bo Bassett, a 14-year-old Bishop McCort Catholic student, steps on the mat to face Alikhan Ashinov at the Cadet World Wrestling Championships for the freestyle title at 45 kilograms, it will be a little after noon Eastern on Wednesday, as a bronze medal match will precede it.
The live stream from Budapest, Hungary, is available to viewers in the United States on FloWrestling.org, a subscription-based service.
“I’m starting to get really excited,” Bassett said in a phone interview from Budapest about four hours before his scheduled match. “I can’t even hold it in.”
Bassett had to cut weight after his four matches on Tuesday. That turned out to be a good thing, as it tired him out and helped him sleep through the night instead of thinking about the match that he’s dreamed about for eight years, he said.
“I was over 4½ pounds so that kind of tired me out,” Bassett said. “My dad and I got to work. We did a nice run. We studied the Russian in the sauna. I lost weight and didn’t think I’d be able to sleep, but I actually slept pretty good.”
Ashinov outscored his opponents 25-3 on Tuesday and should provide a great test for Bassett, who pinned two of his foes and won his other match by technical fall.
“He wrestles like a Russian would,” Bassett said. "They have their certain tactics. He likes to get an early lead and sit on it."
That’s hard to do against Bassett, who sets a pace that no international wrestler has been able to hold up to in his young career. Including his performance in freestyle and Greco-Roman at the Pan-American Cadet Championships in Mexico last month, Bassett is 7-0 in international matches and no wrestler has lasted the entire 4 minutes with him.
“I know that I can push the pace and tire (Ashinov) out and ultimately break him in the end,” Bassett said. “I noticed that he can gas from time to time. I’m going to push the pace and come at him hard.”
Messages for Bassett and his family have poured in from across the globe, but especially from the Johnstown area.
“It’s amazing,” he said. “The support is crazy. Everyone is reaching out to me, reading the paper, following me on social media. I’m really appreciative of the community I have in Johnstown. I couldn’t ask for a better support system.”