Rio 2016 venue: Carioca Arena 2 – Olympic Park (Barra Zone)
Competition dates: Aug. 14-21
Medal events: 18 (12 freestyle, 6 Greco-Roman)
Olympic introduction: 1896 (Athens, Greece)

USA Wrestling heads into the Rio 2016 Olympic Games with high expectations. At the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas, Team USA had seven medalists, including four gold medalists. All four of the 2015 world champions earned berths to the Rio Olympics, including three-time world champion and Olympic champion Jordan Burroughs (74 kg.), and young Kyle Snyder (97 kg.) in men’s freestyle; and three-time world champion Adeline Gray (75 kg.) and Helen Maroulis (now at 53 kg.) in women’s freestyle. Another 2015 world bronze medalist Andy Bisek (75 kg.) in Greco-Roman also headlines the 2016 U.S. Olympic Wrestling Team roster.

The format of Olympic wrestling has changed for the Rio Games, which remains with 18 medal events, but now with six weight classes in each of the three disciplines. The United States qualified 14 athletes to compete in Rio – six in men’s freestyle and four apiece in Greco-Roman and women’s freestyle.

Joining Burroughs are three other returning Olympians from 2012, including four-time world medalist Elena Pirozhkova (women’s freestyle, 63 kg.), two-time world medalist Tervel Dlagnev (men’s freestyle, 125 kg.) and Ben Provisor (Greco-Roman, 85 kg.). Each veteran brings experience to an otherwise young team that features 10 first-time Olympians.

Three of the men’s freestyle team members were considered underdogs going into the U.S. Olympic Team Trials, including Daniel Dennis (59 kg.), Frank Molinaro (65 kg.) and J’den Cox (86 kg.). Molinaro and Cox were No. 9 seeds at Trials, knocking off deep fields of veteran stars to qualify for Rio.

The new face on the women’s team is collegian Haley Augello, who took an Olympic redshirt from King University, trained at the U.S. Olympic Training Center and dropped to 48 kg. for Trials. Although her selection to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team marks her first at the senior level, she is a past cadet world champion and junior world team member.

Joining Bisek and Provisor on the Greco-Roman team are Jesse Thielke (59 kg.) and Robby Smith (130 kg.). Smith moved up in weight after falling short of making the U.S. Olympic Team in 2012 and has thrived in his new weight class, twice placing fifth at the world championships with an active style featuring big throws. Also, a star at the junior ranks, Thielke will now have his first shot at an Olympic medal.

The U.S. won four wrestling medals in London, highlighted by gold medal-winning performances from Burroughs and Jake Varner in men’s freestyle. Based on recent results, and a strong international tradition in the sport, USA Wrestling has high expectations to earn more medals in Rio. 

The Greco-Roman events are slated for Aug. 14-16, followed by freestyle completion on Aug. 17-18 (women’s) and Aug. 19-21 (men’s). 

Athletes To Watch
Andy Bisek 
Bisek (Grego-Roman, 75 kg.) has emerged as Team USA’s top Greco-Roman wrestler heading into the Rio Games, winning back-to-back bronze medals at the 2014 and 2015 world championships. Nicknamed “The Cowboy” by foreign competitors, he is also known as “The Stache” in the U.S for his signature feature. The Minnesota native and Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center resident athlete has wins over the reigning Olympic champion and several world champions, an indication that winning gold in Rio is within reach.

Jordan Burroughs
Burroughs (men’s freestyle, 74 kg.) won gold at the London 2012 Olympic Games, and seeks to become the fourth U.S. wrestler to win two Olympic gold medals. He also boasts three world titles and a world championship bronze medal, which he garnered despite a leg injury. The New Jersey native hopes to surpass two-time Olympic champion and four-time world champion John Smith as the winningest American wrestler of all time. Having already announced plans that he will compete through the Tokyo 2020 Games, he is fully capable of reaching that goal.

Adeline Gray 
Gray (women’s freestyle, 75 kg.) is already one of the greatest American women’s wrestlers ever, with three world titles and five world championship medals. Only Tricia Saunders has more world titles (5), and only Kristie Davis has more world medals (9). A Colorado native, Gray has her sights set on her first Olympic Games after winning her third world title and taking a two-year winning streak into the Games. A daughter of a Denver policeman, she competed against boys in youth wrestling programs, and has become a fantastic role model and spokesperson for women’s opportunities in wrestling, and sports in general.

Helen Maroulis 
A 2015 world champion at 55 kg. (a non-Olympic weight class), Maroulis dropped to 53 kg. to qualify for Rio. The Maryland native boasts three world championship medals (one gold, one silver, one bronze) and three junior world medals. A youth star who made her first senior world team at age 16, Maroulis was also a four-time WCWA college national champion for Simon Fraser University. For a first-time Olympian, she has extensive international experience and boasts a high-powered offense capable of racking up big points when she is wrestling at her best.

Kyle Snyder 
Snyder (men’s freestyle, 97 kg.) became the youngest American world champion at age 19 when he won the 2015 world title following his freshman year at Ohio State University. The junior world champion spent his senior year of high school training full-time at the Colorado Springs Olympic Training Center. The Maryland native defeated 2012 Olympic champion Jake Varner to make the 2015 World Championship Team, and defeated Varner again in the final of the U.S. Olympic Team Trials. He will have a chance to surpass 2008 Olympic champion Henry Cejudo as the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion, should he bring home gold from Rio.


  • With four world-level titles in his last five seasons, Jordan Burroughs is widely considered one of the best wrestlers in the world, regardless of discipline. The reigning men’s 74 kg. freestyle Olympic champion and three-time world champion (2011, 2013, 2015), Burroughs joins John Smith as the only U.S. wrestlers to win at least three consecutive world-level titles, with Smith having won six straight from 1987-1992. Burroughs owns a remarkable 126-2 record on the senior level as of June 2016, recording the longest win streak in American wrestling history in his first 69 bouts.
  • Women’s freestyle wrestling will return for its fourth installment at the 2016 Olympics. The U.S. women’s team has collected four Olympic medals (one silver, three bronzes) and will be seeking its first Olympic gold medal after placing third as a team at each of the last two world championships. Highlighting the list of 2016 Olympic gold-medal hopefuls are three-time world champion Adeline Gray (75 kg.), and world champions Elena Pirozhkova (63 kg.) and Helen Maroulis (53 kg.). A young star, former cadet world champion Haley Augello (48 kg.) also has her sights set on the podium. As a team, the U.S. women hope to return home with multiple medals, and all four women are poised for the challenge.
  • Men’s freestyle wrestler Kyle Snyder defeated reigning world champion Abdusalam Gadisov of Russia to win the 2015 world title at 97 kg., becoming the youngest U.S. world champion at age 19. If he can repeat in 2016 and win gold at the Rio 2016 Olympics at age 20, he would surpass 2008 Olympic champion, then-21-year-old Henry Cejudo, as the youngest American Olympic wrestling champion. Ironically, both graduated from Coronado High School in Colorado. Snyder upset 2012 Olympic champion Jake Varner at the 2015 World Trials and defeated Varner again in a competitive U.S. Olympic Team Trials final. Coming out of an Olympic redshirt, Snyder won the NCAA heavyweight title for Ohio State University just three weeks before the U.S. Olympic Trials in Iowa City, Iowa.
  • Greco-Roman is the first style to compete in Rio, and the U.S. will look to give the entire USA Wrestling delegation a strong start in Rio when it takes to the mat Aug. 14-15. Taking over as National Greco-Roman Coach two years ago was 2000 Olympic silver medalist and past MMA star Matt Lindland, who brought a new fighting spirit to the program. Two-time world medalist Andy Bisek (75 kg.) has been a leader and top performer on the team, while spirited heavyweight Robby Smith (130 kg.) has twice placed fifth at the world championships. 2012 Olympian Ben Provisor is healthy after a string of physical challenges and has his sights set on the podium as he makes his second Olympic appearance. Wrapping up the Greco-Roman contingent is young Jesse Thielke. (59 kg.), who came through big at the last Olympic Qualifier to put himself and his nation into the Olympics at his weight class.
  • Three collegians earned spots on the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team, including two-time NCAA champion J’den Cox (86 kg., University of Missouri), 2016 NCAA champion Kyle Snyder (97 kg., Ohio State University) and two-time WCWA women’s college champion Haley Augello (48 kg., King University. Cox and Snyder earned Olympic berths just three weeks after winning NCAA titles in New York, while Augello took an Olympic redshirt year and prepared for her Olympic run at the U.S. Olympic Training Center. All three seek to win Olympic medals in Rio, then return to campus to complete their education and collegiate wrestling careers.