Jordan Burroughs was just a few months out of college when he won his first U.S. Freestyle World Team Trials in 2011.
One Olympic gold medal, three world titles and one world bronze medal later, Burroughs still hasn’t lost in a trials event in the United States. He’s won every World Team Trials (four) and Olympic Team Trials (two) he’s entered on the senior level.
Now he looks to continue that impressive streak during the 2017 U.S. Freestyle World Team Trials on June 9-10 at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln.
Burroughs likely will have to beat a very tough competitor in four-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake, who Burroughs defeated 2-2 on criteria at this year’s U.S. Open at 74 kg.
Burroughs does have a couple factors working in his favor. He is already in the best-of-three finals by virtue of his U.S. Open win. Dake will have to win the challenge tournament to earn a shot at Burroughs.
Burroughs is also wrestling at his second home. He has lived and trained at the University of Nebraska since enrolling there in 2006. He won a pair of NCAA titles for the Huskers.
The eight freestyle champions at the World Team Trials will earn a trip to Paris for the world championships in August.
Here are some of the top storylines to watch at the World Team Trials:
Kyle Snyder vs. The Ice Cream Man (97 kg.)
One of the most memorable matches in recent NCAA history came in the 2015 NCAA finals when Iowa State senior Kyven Gadson threw and pinned Ohio State freshman Kyle Snyder at 197 pounds.
Gadson earned an abundance of attention during an interview just after the match when he said, “I just want some ice cream.”
The stunning setback lit a huge fire under the already driven Snyder, who won a world title later that year at age 19 before capturing an Olympic gold medal in 2016 at age 20. He is the youngest American to achieve both feats.
Snyder has also won two NCAA titles while competing as an undersized college heavyweight.
Gadson also has made progress in freestyle. He won the U.S. Open this year with Snyder sitting out after already clinching a berth in the finals of the trials by virtue of winning the Olympic gold medal.
Gadson and Snyder have not met in a match since that NCAA finals match just over two years ago. Gadson would have to win the challenge tournament to earn a shot at Snyder in the finals.
J’den Cox vs. The Magic Man (86 kg.)
Forget Burroughs vs. Dake, the matchup between 2016 Olympic bronze medalist J’den Cox and 2017 Freestyle World Cup gold medalist David Taylor could be the new marquee matchup at the trials.
Cox came virtually out of nowhere to not only make the Olympic team last year, but to land a spot on the podium in Rio. He nearly made the finals. Cox followed that by capping his college career with a third NCAA title for Missouri.
Taylor, meanwhile, has been on a tear this season. He pinned Rio Olympic 74 kg. champion Hassan Yazdani of Iran at the World Cup in Iran.
Cox has one big advantage as he’s already in the finals of the trials by virtue of winning an Olympic medal last year. Taylor will have to win the challenge tournament to earn a shot at Cox in the finals.
Cox is huge for the 86 kg. class, and Taylor moved up to that division last season. Taylor has grown into the class and is a tough matchup with his relentless style.
Will College Rivals James Green, Dylan Ness Meet Again? (70 kg.)
Two of the best college wrestlers in recent years to not win an NCAA title were All-Americans James Green and Dylan Ness.
Green and Ness met a number of times in college, with Ness (Minnesota) pinning the top-seeded Green (Nebraska) in the quarterfinals at the 2014 NCAA championships.
Green has gone on to excel internationally, winning a world bronze medal in 2015 before making a second world team in 2016 at 70 kg. Green won the U.S. Open to earn a spot in the finals in Lincoln, where he has trained the past six years.
Ness had been wrestling Greco-Roman but switched to freestyle and won the last chance qualifier to earn a spot at the trials. Ness will have to win the challenge tournament to earn a shot at Green, but he definitely has a chance to do just that.
Logan Stieber’s Run (61 kg.)
Logan Stieber won four NCAA titles for Ohio State, but it took him a while to make his mark on the senior level. That changed in a big way when Stieber won a world title in 2016.
Stieber is heavily favored at the trials, but it’s always a treat watching him compete. He’s an aggressive, point-scoring machine at 61 kg.
Winners Win (57 kg.)
It hasn’t always been pretty when two-time world team member Tony Ramos wrestles. But when he staged yet another come-from-behind win to capture the U.S. Open title this year, Ramos summed up his domestic fortunes perfectly.
“Winners win,” he said.
Ramos is the trials favorite at 57 kg., but there are plenty of challenges in this class including past NCAA champions Nahshon Garrett, Nico Megaludis and Nathan Tomasello.
Jordan Burroughs vs. Kyle Dake (74 kg.)
Despite having two of the best 74 kg. wrestlers in the world in Jordan Burroughs and Kyle Dake, the United States can only take one of them to the world championships.
Burroughs hasn’t been as dominant since his stunning two-loss performance last year at the Rio Games. Neither Burroughs nor Dake scored a takedown in their most recent match that Burroughs won at the U.S. Open.
Dake has beaten some of the best guys on the planet. But he’s never beaten Burroughs, who will be tough to beat while wrestling in a senior-level event for the first time in his backyard in Lincoln.