One of them wasn't even expecting to be there. The other had to earn his medal the hard way.
Just a month ago, former Iowa Central wrestler Joe Colon had no plans in taking part in the 2018 World Wrestling Championships in Budapest, Hungary. To the storyline of many former NJCAA greats, a door of opportunity opened for Colon when Nahshon Garrett had to withdraw due to an injury. Colon would make good on his late opportunity, earning a 9-6 decision over Ukraine's Ivan Bileichuk before a 10-0 tech fall over Bulgaria's Vladimir Dubov.
In the semifinals, Colon would drop a match 4-2 to eventual Freestyle 61 kg champion Yowlys Rodriguez (Cuba) but recovered quickly in the consolation bracket with a 13-2 TF over Mohammadbagher Yakhkeshi (Iran) to secure his bronze medal while representing the United States.
Colon adds to his collection of hardware, including the gold medal at the 2018 Pan American Championships and a silver at the Alexander Medved International Championships in Belarus earlier this year.
While at Iowa Central, Colon won the 2010 NJCAA 125 pounds national championship while also being named the Ernest B. Gould Award, given to one athlete annually as voted by coaches as the NJCAA's Most Outstanding Wrestler.
"We're extremely proud of Joe and what he's accomplished at the World Championships," said Iowa Central head coach Luke Moffitt. "From the time Joe was with us at Iowa Central Community College, he's always had big goals. He's a great example for all wrestlers at this level that setting goals and sticking with them can produce big things."
Colon then continued his career at the University of Northern Iowa where he earned All-American status after placing third in the 2014 NJCAA wrestling championships in the 133 class.
In an interview with United World Wrestling shortly after his bronze medal victory, Colon said he was proud of becoming Northern Iowa's first-ever medalist at the World Championships. "It's great, anything I can do for them. I graduated from there, it is where it all started... there and Iowa Central."
READ MORE (via TeamUSA): Joe Colon Capitalizes On Late Opportunity To Win Bronze At Wrestling World Championships
Former Colby wrestler Bekzod Abdurakhmonov also took home a bronze medal for Uzbekistan in the Freestyle 74 kg event. Abdurakhmonov did by working all the way from bottom after narrowly dropping his opening bout. Abdurakhmonov would be flawless the rest of his tournament, defeating Poland's Andrzej Sokalski by tech fall (12-1) and Azerbaijan's Abubakr Abakarov 7-0 before edging out Turkey's Soner Demirtas for the bronze medal.
While at Colby, Abdurakhmonov was a two-time NJCAA All-American. He finished as national runner-up in both 2009 (157lbs) and 2010 (165lbs).
"Everyone at Colby Community College is extremely proud of Bekzod for an amazing performance at the world championships," said Colby head coach Mitch Houghton. "He has always represented Colby in a positive way and we are extremely excited for him and his entire family in this amazing accomplishment."
Abdurakhmonov would continue his collegiate career at Clarion University in Pennsylvania. There, he would earn an individual PSAC conference title before capping his career off by finishing third in the 2012 NCAA Championships in the 165 class.
READ MORE (via ESPN): The fight that changed Bekzod Abdurakhmonov's life
Both Colon and Abdurakhmonov are active in the coaching circles. Colon currently is on the Fresno State staff while Abdurakhmonov is with the Harvard program.
Last year's 125 NJCAA champion Nodir Safarov (Northwest) also competed in World Championships in the 57 kg event. Safarov won his first event over Vladimir Egorov by a 7-0 decision before falling to Turkey's Suleyman Atli.
The 2018 World Wrestling Championships continue this week, with the Greco-Roman events set to start Thursday. The Championships conclude on Sunday, October 28th. Visit the World Championships official website for the most up-to-date information on the event.
READ MORE (via The Courier): World Wrestling Championships: Former Panther Colon wins bronze