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U.S. Men Seek More Medals At Wrestling World Championships

By Karen Price | Sept. 29, 2021, 1:17 p.m. (ET)

David Taylor competes during the Men's Freestyle 86kg Final at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games on Aug. 05, 2021 in Chiba, Japan.

 

Cody Bickley admitted that he had no idea how many of the U.S. wrestling team’s nine Olympic medalists would accept the automatic invitation to compete just two months later at the World Wrestling Championships. 

It was such a quick turnaround with so little time to recuperate after the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020, and the timing was new territory for the sport because of the Olympic postponement.

“So I sent the email out while I was in Tokyo and I remember hitting send thinking it’ll be interesting to see how quickly some of these confirmations come back from the nine medalists eligible,” said Bickley, the USA Wrestling national team’s high performance manager. “Later that day I had three confirmations back. There’s a lot of pride right now and a lot of momentum.”

Of the nine medalists, eight are on the team that will compete in Oslo, Norway, beginning on Saturday. The nine medals are the most won by a U.S. team in a non-boycotted Olympic Games, and led all countries in Tokyo, making Team USA a threat to collect not only individual but also team medals in Oslo. 

Here’s a closer look at the men’s freestyle and Greco-Roman teams.

Kyle Snyder competes during the Men’s Freestyle 97kg Semi Final at the Olympic Games Tokyo 2020 on Aug. 06, 2021 in Chiba, Japan.

 

Men’s Freestyle


The men’s freestyle team includes 2020 Olympic medalists David Taylor (gold, 86 kg.), Kyle Snyder (silver, 97 kg.), Thomas Gilman (bronze, 57 kg.) and Kyle Dake (bronze, 74 kg.). Only Gable Steveson, who won gold at 125 kg., declined the invitation to participate among U.S. men’s medalists. 

Taylor is the Olympic champion at 86 kg., and his first Olympic appearance was just as his nickname — Magic Man — would suggest. He was down 3-2 but used a double-leg takedown in the waning seconds of the match to beat Iran’s Hassan Yazdani, the reigning Olympic champion and two-time world title holder, to win gold. He also won the world title in 2018. 

Snyder won the silver medal against a familiar opponent. After Snyder won Olympic gold at 97 kg. in 2016, he beat Russian wrestler Abdulrashid Sadulaev at the world championships in 2017. Sadulaev was the Olympic champion at 86 kg., and moved up to challenge Snyder. To this day that’s the last time he lost a match. Sadulaev defeated Snyder in the first rematch at the world championships in 2018, then again in Tokyo. Will there be a part four in Oslo?

Gilman, the world silver medalist in 2017, beat Iran’s Reza Atrinagharchi, 9-1, to win bronze in Tokyo. Dake, who has two world titles, beat two-time world champion Frank Chamizo of Italy for his first Olympic medal. 

Two of the most anticipated appearances won’t come from 2020 Olympians but rather from athletes who didn’t make the team.

First is Jordan Burroughs. The two-time Olympian and 2012 gold medalist lost to Dake at 74 kg. in the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, ending his streak of nine consecutive years making either a world or Olympic team. Now the seven-time world medalist — including four-time champion — will compete on his eighth world team, but at a different weight. With Dake medaling in Tokyo and accepting the spot on the world team in that weight class, Burroughs had to move up to 79 kg. for the first time in his career. He beat Alex Dieringer at the World Team Trials to qualify.

The other is J’den Cox. The 2016 Olympic bronze medalist at 86 kg. and two-time reigning world champion at 92 kg. was set to compete at the Olympic Trials at 97 kg. since 92 isn’t an Olympic weight class. Instead of challenging Snyder for a spot on the team, however, Cox missed his weigh-in and was removed from the trials. He returned to 92 kg. at the World Team Trials, beat Kollin Moore and will go for his third straight world championship.

Rounding out the men’s freestyle team are Daton Fix at 61 kg., Yianni Diakomihalis at 65 kg., James Green at 70 kg., and Nick Gwiazdowski at 125 kg. Green and Gwiazdowski are both two-time world medalists, while Fix is on his second world team. Diakomihalis is the only first-timer on the senior world team. 

It’s a testament to the depth of the program, Bickley said. 

“We have athletes in the men’s program that are in the number two and three spots that honestly are probably ranked top five in the world overall,” he said. “It’s a little different in our sport in that we can only take one per weight, but it definitely sharpens the competition and raises the bar. The overall depth in the men’s program speaks for itself.”

Ben Provisor competes in the Men's 85kg Greco-Roman round of 16 match at the Olympic Games Rio 2016 on Aug. 15, 2016 in Rio de Janeiro. 

 

Greco-Roman


The Greco-Roman team doesn’t have any past Olympic or world medalists, but Ben Provisor (82 kg.) competed at the 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games and G’Angelo Hancock (97 kg.) competed in Tokyo. They both have senior world team experience, as do Max Nowry (55 kg.), Dalton Roberts (60 kg.) and Patrick Smith (77 kg.). 

The other five members will be making their senior world team debuts: Sam Jones at 63 kg., Peyton Omania at 67 kg., Jesse Porter at 77 kg., Alan Vera at 87 kg. and Cohlton Schultz at 130 kg.

The World Wrestling Championships will begin with men’s freestyle Oct. 2-5 followed by women’s freestyle Oct. 4-7 and Greco-Roman Oct. 7-10. 

 

Karen Price

Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic and Paralympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.

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