USA Wrestling Excitement builds du...

Excitement builds during World Championships press conference

By Craig Sesker USA Wrestling | Sept. 06, 2015, 10:48 p.m. (ET)

U.S. National Freestyle Coach Bruce Burnett takes part in the World Championships press conference on Sunday night at the Orleans Arena. John Sachs photo.

VIDEO: 2015 World Championships Press Conference

LAS VEGAS – U.S. National Freestyle Coach Bruce Burnett knows what a home-mat advantage means at a World Championships.

So does U.S. National Women’s Freestyle Coach Terry Steiner.

The U.S. is hosting its first World Championships in 12 years and the 24-member American team is looking to deliver in front of their home fans over the next six days.

Top U.S. coaches and athletes talked about those aspirations during the World Wrestling Championships press conference Sunday night at the Orleans Arena.

The six-day Worlds will kick off with the Greco-Roman competition starting on Monday at 10 a.m. Women’s freestyle will start Wednesday with men’s freestyle opening Thursday.

“If you don’t think your home fans make a difference, you are out to lunch. It makes a huge difference,” said Burnett, who led the American team to the 1995 World team title in Atlanta. “We think our fans will get behind them and boost them, and give them some extra gasoline in the tank. We have the crowd on our side.”

Steiner led the U.S. women to a second-place finish at the 2003 Worlds in New York City. The U.S. tied Japan in the team standings with Japan winning the team title tiebreaker with more individual champions.

“We just need to take advantage of the opportunity here at home,” said Steiner, whose team has been third the last two years. “This is probably the only opportunity these girls will have to compete in a Worlds or Olympics in their career on home soil. We know we can be right in the mix with any of the teams here. We are on our soil and we expect great things.”

U.S. standouts Jordan Burroughs, Adeline Gray and Robby Smith each talked Sunday night about their excitement level as this event approaches.

“I always want to win when I step on the biggest platform in the World,” said Burroughs, an Olympic gold medalist and two-time World champion. “I had the same dreams last year and wasn’t able to accomplish those goals. I have a big opportunity wrestling in the U.S. I’m excited to go out and try to win a fourth title.”

Burroughs will have a chance to wrestle on a World or Olympic stage for the first time with his father, Leroy, and son, Beacon, both in attendance.

“I think it’s great to be at home,” Burroughs said. “My dad doesn’t have a passport, so this is the first time he will be able to be in the stands and watch me compete at a World Championships. And it’s my son’s first World Championships. That’s really exciting for me.

“This is huge to be wrestling at home. Just having the extra boost of energy from the crowd is really big for us. That extra push late in the period could provide that electricity and drive that can get us to that next level.”

Gray, a two-time World champion and four-time World medalist, is ranked No. 1 in the World in women’s freestyle at 75 kg/165 lbs.

“Being No. 1, you still have to earn it,” Gray said. “I have to wrestle every match like it’s the finals of the World Championships. I had the best training camp of my life and kudos to Coach Terry Steiner for making sure I am prepared to compete. I’m excited to get out there and wrestle.”

Smith, fifth in the World in 2013, has made his third straight U.S. Greco-Roman Team at heavyweight.

“My preparation has been awesome at the Olympic Training Center in Colorado Springs,” Smith said. “We’re excited and we’re ready to go. We have an amazing team. They are ready to compete. We’re ready to roll. We’re going to do some big things this year.

“It’s about us performing. We are going to put Greco back on the map. Every one of our guys is here to be a World champion. That’s our mindset. We’re hungry.”

U.S. National Coach Matt Lindland and his Greco-Roman team will take the mat Monday with 2014 World bronze medalist Andy Bisek competing along with Bryce Saddoris and Caylor Williams.

“The key is we are building a team,” Lindland said. “We have guys with a great work ethic and great character. We are all excited. The guys are feeling good and they’re buying into what we are telling them. 

“We’ve got some great draws, but we still have to wrestle and perform. I’m really looking forward to tomorrow.”

This World Championships takes on added importance as it serves as the main qualifier for the 2016 Olympic Games.

The top six qualifiers in each of the 18 Olympic weight classes – six in each style – will qualify their countries for the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

“I gave our team the history and background of how we got to where we were in 1995,” Burnett said. “We have a team that can win this. Our athletes have trained hard. We just can’t make mistakes. We have the potential to win.

“Being in the United States with our fan support, and the work we’ve put in, we’re definitely capable. We’re excited. This team has an opportunity to win the World Championships.”

WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS SCHEDULE

Monday, Sept. 7
Greco-Roman 66 kg, 75 kg, 98 kg

Tuesday, Sept. 8
Greco-Roman 59 kg, 71 kg, 80 kg, 130 kg

Wednesday, Sept. 9
Greco-Roman 85 kg
Women’s freestyle 48 kg, 53 kg, 69 kg

Thursday, Sept. 10
Women’s freestyle 55 kg, 58 kg, 63 kg; 75 kg
Men’s freestyle 65 kg

Friday, Sept. 11
Women’s freestyle 60 kg; Men’s freestyle 61 kg, 86 kg, 97 kg

Saturday, Sept. 12
Men’s freestyle 57 kg, 70 kg, 74 kg, 125 kg

Wrestling starts at 10 a.m. each day at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.