Jordan Burroughs has been the king of the wrestling world at 74 kg/163 lbs. over the past three seasons.
Burroughs has won an Olympic gold medal and two World titles in that span, but just making another American freestyle team will be a challenge again this year.
Burroughs rallied for a wild 7-6 win over two-time Hodge Trophy winner David Taylor in an epic U.S. Open final in April in Las Vegas. Burroughs scored two takedowns in the last 30 seconds to prevail.
Burroughs’ U.S. Open victory clinched him a spot in the final-round series for the U.S. World Team Trials, set for May 31-June 1 in Madison, Wis. He will face the winner of the Challenge Tournament in the best-of-3 match finals.
The champion at the Trials will advance to September’s World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan.
Burroughs, now 82-1 in his remarkable career, is coming off an impressive pin over Russia’s Atsamaz Sanakoev in the Beat the Streets Dual in New York City.
Taylor will have to win the Challenge Tournament to earn another shot at Burroughs in the final-round series. Taylor won a bronze medal at the 2013 World University Games. Taylor looked strong in defeating two-time World bronze medalist Yabrail Hasanov of Azerbaijan 6-0 in New York.
Tyler Caldwell, second to Taylor at the 2014 NCAAs, is another top wrestler in this class. Caldwell finished third at the U.S. Open.
Quinton Godley turned in a strong showing at the Open, placing fourth in Vegas.
Top young college star Taylor Massa, a dominant performer coming up through the USA Wrestling age-group ranks, placed fifth at the Open.
Thomas Gantt was sixth and Jesse Stafford seventh in Las Vegas.
Past NCAA champion Andrew Howe also has excelled in this division, but he may bump up a class for the Trials. Howe was second at the 2012 Olympic Trials.
Four-time NCAA champion Kyle Dake, second at the 2013 World Team Trials, will miss the Trials while recovering from an injury.
We also could see 2014 NCAA champion Alex Dieringer at the Trials. Dieringer won a silver medal at the 2013 Junior World Championships.
Burroughs is clearly the favorite here, but Taylor obviously is a very tough matchup for him if they meet again in the finals. Fans won’t want to miss the action in this weight class in Madison.
2014 U.S. Open Results
74 kg /163 lbs.
1st – Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb. (Sunkist Kids/Nebraska Wrestling TC) dec. David Taylor, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC), 7-6
3rd – Tyler Caldwell, Stillwater, Okla. (Sunkist Kids) dec. Quinton Godley, Raleigh, N.C. (Wolfpack WC), 3-1
5th – Taylor Massa, St. Johns, Mich. (Cliff Keen WC) dec. Thomas Gantt, Raleigh, N.C. (Wolfpack WC), 9-6
7th – Jesse Stafford, Loomis, Colo. (Rocky Mountain RTC) tech. fall Connor Keating, Montpelier, Vermont (Rock Eater Wrestling), 13-3
2014 World Team Trials Qualifiers
74 kg/163 lbs.
Final Wrestle-off Qualifier
2014 U.S. Open champion – Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb. (Sunkist Kids/Nebraska Wrestling TC)
Trials Tournament Qualifiers
2014 U.S. Open second place – David Taylor, State College, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC)
2014 U.S. Open third place – Tyler Caldwell, Stillwater, Okla. (Sunkist Kids)
2014 U.S. Open fourth place – Quinton Godley, Raleigh, N.C. (Wolfpack WC)
2014 U.S. Open fifth place – Taylor Massa, St. Johns, Mich. (Cliff Keen WC)
2014 U.S. Open sixth place – Thomas Gantt, Raleigh, N.C. (Wolfpack WC)
2014 U.S. Open seventh place – Jesse Stafford, Loomis, Colo. (Rocky Mountain RTC)
2013 World Team Trials second place – Kyle Dake, Ithaca, N.Y. (Titan Mercury WC)
2012 Olympic Team Trials runner-up – Andrew Howe, Norman, Okla. (New York AC)
2014 U.S. Open champion, 70 kg – Nick Marable, Columbia, Mo. (Sunkist Kids/Missouri WF)
2014 U.S. Open second place, 70 kg – Moza Fay, Colorado Springs, Colo. (Army (WCAP)
2014 Northeast Senior Regionals champion, 74 kg – Jeffrey Jordan, St. Paris, Ohio (OSU RTC)
2014 Northeast Senior Regionals champion, 70 kg - Josh Demas, Columbus, Ohio (OSU RTC)
2014 Northern Plains Senior Regionals champion – Lucas Smith, Wheeling, Ill. (Central Michigan RTC)
2014 NCAA Div. I champion, 157 – Alex Dieringer, Port Washington, Wis. (Oklahoma State)
Top U.S. medalist at 2014 Dave Schultz Memorial – Dan Vallimont, Long Beach, N.Y. (Blue & Gold WC)