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Woodbine resident Meyer Shapiro brings home gold at Cadet World Wrestling Championships

Woodbine resident Meyer Shapiro, 17, won a gold medal in wrestling at the Cadet World Wrestling Championships held July 19-20 in Budapest, Hungary.
Woodbine resident Meyer Shapiro, 17, won a gold medal in wrestling at the Cadet World Wrestling Championships held July 19-20 in Budapest, Hungary. (Barbara Haddock Taylor)

From the time he started wrestling when he was 6 years old, Bullis School rising junior Meyer Shapiro knew it was for him.

For the Woodbine resident, now 17, the sport brings a different kind of reward.

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The one-on-one competition brings an intensity he relishes, granting him the opportunity to see how he stacks up with others.

At the Cadet World Wrestling Championships, which took place July 19-20 in Budapest, Hungary, Shapiro stood above the rest.

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Competing in the 17-under world freestyle championships, Shapiro brought home the gold medal for Team USA in the 65-kilogram weight class. Considered the deepest class in the championships, he won four matches in reaching the top of the podium, getting his third pin of the tournament in the final second of the championship bout to beat Georgia’s Giorgi Gogritchiani.

“I stayed composed really well the entire tournament, so that was something I jumped a level with — my composure in the sport and understanding where I need to be at what time,” he said. “And also just understanding that you can really do anything you put your mind to. I trained super hard for the tournament and I didn’t know if I was going to win or not, so it was just really cool seeing that I could do that.”

By the time Shapiro had his hand raised a fourth and final time in the tournament, his multiple strengths on the mat were clear and impressive.

His tireless pace was difficult to match, his offensive arsenal was vast and he stayed calm and confident.

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In the second period of the title bout, Gogritchiani scored a takedown to go up 4-2 that Shapiro had an immediate and resounding answer for.

He scored a tying takedown 10 seconds later then wore down his opponent in the final period. Originally, it went down as an 8-4 decision, but it turned out Shapiro did get the pin in the final second.

“I didn’t think I was going to lose, honestly, because I didn’t think the kid was going to survive for another minute and a half without me winning,” he said.

“I got the second takedown on him and he kind of freaked out and tried to throw me and I ended up icing the match at the end. I didn’t know [I got the pin] until way after the tournament. I thought I didn’t get it, that time ran out, but it came one second before the match ended.”

Woodbine resident Meyer Shapiro, 17, won a gold medal in wrestling at the Cadet World Wrestling Championships held July 19-20 in Budapest, Hungary.
Woodbine resident Meyer Shapiro, 17, won a gold medal in wrestling at the Cadet World Wrestling Championships held July 19-20 in Budapest, Hungary. (Barbara Haddock Taylor)

The world championship is the highlight of a young and promising career that already has an impressive resume. As a freshman at Bullis, Shapiro went 55-4 with four tournament titles — including the Maryland Independent Schools state championship — along with a second-place finish at National Preps. His dedication to the sport was at the forefront this past year with no season taking place do to the pandemic.

“This has been a long process since he was probably 6 or 7 years old and he has been able to gradually build from one level to the next as he improved and with more challenges in front of him, it just kept building from middle school to high school,” said his father, Mike. “We had the down year with COVID, but we were able to manage that and work through the adversity there and he made the team in April, which has been a goal of his for the last three years.”

Bullis coach Ali Elias is regularly impressed with his standout’s work ethic, polish and love for wrestling.

“He’s phenomenal. What he does works completely,” he said. “Even if he throws a wrong move, he can score with it because of his physical ability, the way he thinks and the way he moves. He’s the full package.”

While Shapiro admits the rigorous demands can produce a love-hate relationship with the sport, the end reward — like his successful time in Hungary — make it more than worthwhile.

“It’s definitely something I found a love for and it just really stuck with me as far as how hard you have to work to be the best. And, I don’t know, being the best is something I always want,” said Shapiro, who already has his eyes on making the junior national team and is a prized recruit among the Class of 2023.

“Wrestling overseas and wrestling well was super fun. It was a huge learning experience. It was only the 17-under Cadet World Championships, so there’s a lot more to do after this.”

Woodbine resident Meyer Shapiro, 17, won a gold medal in wrestling at the Cadet World Wrestling Championships held July 19-20 in Budapest, Hungary.
Woodbine resident Meyer Shapiro, 17, won a gold medal in wrestling at the Cadet World Wrestling Championships held July 19-20 in Budapest, Hungary. (Barbara Haddock Taylor)
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