U.S. Open finals set with Burroughs-Dake, Molinaro-Oliver highlighting men's freestyle championship bouts

By Richard Immel, USA Wrestling | April 29, 2017, 1:56 a.m. (ET)
Photo: Frank Molinaro goes big for a four-point takedown on Jimmy Kennedy in the 65 kg semifinals at the U.S. Open. Photo by Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com.

Video: U.S. Open Men’s Freestyle Interviews

LAS VEGAS – Fireworks were aplenty at the South Point Arena on Friday night with the men’s freestyle U.S. Open semifinals delivering all the thrills and drama associated with World-class wrestling.

The matchup everyone in the wrestling world has been clamoring for will come to fruition Saturday night. Olympic champion and three-time World champion Jordan Burroughs will meet his greatest domestic challenger, Kyle Dake, in the 74 kg/163 lbs. finals.

Burroughs secured his fourth win of the tournament with a methodical approach. He picked apart Kevin LeValley 12-2, with the majority of his points coming by way of second-period takedowns. Conversely, Dake edged out budding star Alex Dieringer, 3-0, in his semifinal bout.

Saturday night will mark the fifth time Burroughs and Dake have wrestled on the Senior level. Burroughs leads the all-time series 4-0 with all four of his wins coming in the U.S World Team Trials finals.

Olympian Frank Molinaro jettisoned defending U.S. Open champion Jimmy Kennedy, 8-4, in the 65 kg/143 lbs. semifinals on the strength of a four-point high crotch. Molinaro will seek out his first U.S. Open crown against Jordan Oliver, who himself is looking for U.S. Open title number one.

Oliver, a three-time U.S. World Team Trials runner-up, came from behind to defeat two-time NCAA champion Zain Retherford, 5-3, in his semifinal. Retherford was ahead 3-0 midway through the second period, but allowed Oliver to grab a takedown and correct throw to steal the match late. The result was determined by official review with no time remaining in the match.

Two-time World Team member Tony Ramos kept up his trend of late-match heroics to down NCAA champion Nathan Tomasello on criteria, 2-2, in the 57 kg/125.5 lbs. semifinals. He looks to reaffirm his place atop the 57 kg weight class tomorrow against Nahshon Garrett. The two last met in the Olympic Trials quarterfinals with Ramos getting the win on criteria, 3-3.

“You’ve just got to maintain focus,” Ramos said. “I’ve got a great team behind me right now with Coleman [Scott], Kenny [Monday], you know, family, every supporting staff that I’ve got. I’m just excited to get THWC into the finals and put the name on the map.”

2015 World bronze medalist James Green held off a gritty comeback from NCAA champion Jason Nolf to book his place in the 70 kg/154 lbs. finals. Green led the match throughout, and was up 7-1 with just over one minute to go in the bout. Nolf poured it on late, but couldn’t overcome the large deficit, giving Green a 9-8 decision. Green will face Nazar Kulchytskyy in tomorrow’s 70 kg final.

David Taylor continued his colossal roll through the 86 kg/189 lbs. weight class with a 15-4 technical fall win over Nicholas Heflin in the semifinals. Taylor will take on No. 2 seed Richard Perry in the finals. Perry wrestled Taylor to a tight 8-5 match at the Paris International back in January.

“I want to wrestle, and I want to have fun, and I want to score points, and Heflin’s a tough guy. He’s got great hips, very strong. I mean, he was a 197-pounder in college, so I’m just ready to wrestle…My goal this year is to just be relentless,” Taylor said.

The heavyweight finals showdown will feature a clash of styles as the highly-offensive Nick Gwiazdowski is set to face the impenetrable force that is Zachery Rey. In the 125 kg/275 lbs. semifinals, Gwiazdowski upended Dominique Bradley, 6-4, while Rey topped Anthony Nelson, 4-3.

“I changed some things up in my year, just training freestyle, some different tactics involved, and they came together. You’ve got to trust what you’re doing. I just kept trusting what I was doing,” Gwaizdowski said.

The Cinderella story of this year’s U.S. Open comes from past NAIA national champion Brandon Wright who made his way to the 61 kg/134 lbs. finals with a 6-6 criteria win over past U.S. World Team Trials runner-up Joe Colon. Wright is slated to face past U.S. Open runner-up and NCAA champion Kendric Maple in the finals.

Maple was impressive as any on Friday, picking up three technical falls and an electric 14-7 win over fellow Oklahoma NCAA champion Cody Brewer in the semifinals.

“We’ve wrestled so many times before. He’s been my teammate, a brother to me. It’s hard to wrestle someone you’ve wrestled a million times. It was fun. We got to go fly around. A couple things I’d like to change, but it’s just fun getting out there,” Maple said of his match with Brewer.

Micah Burak and Kyven Gadson will add on to their rivalry in the 97 kg/213 lbs. finals tomorrow. Burak defeated Kallen Kleinschmidt 4-1 in the top-side semifinal at 97 kg, and Gadson put together an 11-1 technical fall over Nathan Burak in the bottom-side semifinal.

The men’s freestyle finals will be held at 6 p.m. (PT) on Saturday and can be viewed live on Flowrestling.com. The remaining consolation rounds will take place at 9 a.m. (PT) tomorrow morning.

Complete brackets and match-by-match results from all of today’s wrestling in Las Vegas can be found on FloArena

April 28-29, South Point Arena in Las Vegas, Nev.

Finals Matchups
57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Anthony Ramos (Sunkist Kids) vs. Nahshon Garrett (Sunkist Kids)
61 kg/134 lbs. – Brandon Wright (RNO/IPWA) vs. Kendric Maple (Titan Mercury WC)
65 kg/143 lbs. – Frank Molinaro (Nittany Lion WC) vs. Jordan Oliver (Sunkist Kids)
70 kg/154 lbs. – James Green (Titan Mercury WC) vs. Nazar Kulchytskyy (Titan Mercury WC)
74 kg/163 lbs. – Jordan Burroughs (Sunkist Kids) vs. Kyle Dake (Titan Mercury WC)
86 kg/189 lbs. – David Taylor (Titan Mercury WC) vs. Richard Perry (New York AC)
97 kg/213 lbs. – Micah Burak (Titan Mercury WC) vs. Kyven Gadson (Sunkist Kids)
125 kg/275 lbs. – Zachery Rey (Lehigh Valley WC) vs. Nick Gwiazdowski (Titan Mercury WC)

Semifinal Results
57 kg/125.5 lbs.

Anthony Ramos (Sunkist Kids) dec. Nathan Tomasello (Titan Mercury WC), 2-2
Nahshon Garrett (Sunkist Kids) tech. fall Alan Waters (Titan Mercury WC), 11-0

61 kg/134 lbs.
Brandon Wright (RNO/IPWA) dec. Joe Colon (Titan Mercury WC), 6-6
Kendric Maple (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Cody Brewer (Titan Mercury WC), 14-7

65 kg/143 lbs.
Frank Molinaro (Nittany Lion WC) dec. Jimmy Kennedy (New York AC), 8-4
Jordan Oliver (Sunkist Kids) dec. Zain Retherford (Nittany Lion WC), 5-3

70 kg/154 lbs.
James Green (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Jason Nolf (Nittany Lion WC), 9-8
Nazar Kulchytskyy (Titan Mercury WC) tech. fall Alec Pantaleo (Michigan RTC), 10-0

74 kg/163 lbs.
Jordan Burroughs (Sunkist Kids) tech. fall Kevin LeValley (Buffalo Valley RTC), 12-2
Kyle Dake (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Alex Dieringer (Titan Mercury WC), 3-0

86 kg/189 lbs.
David Taylor (Titan Mercury WC) tech. fall Nicholas Heflin (Princeton WC), 15-4
Richard Perry (New York AC) dec. Bo Nickal (Nittany Lion WC), 11-8

97 kg/213 lbs.
Micah Burak (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Kallen Kleinschmidt (New York AC), 4-1
Kyven Gadson (Sunkist Kids) tech. fall Nathan Burak (Titan Mercury WC), 11-1

125 kg/275 lbs.
Zachery Rey (Lehigh Valley WC) dec. Anthony Nelson (Minnesota Storm), 4-3
Nick Gwiazdowski (Titan Mercury WC) dec. Dominique Bradley (Sunkist Kids), 6-4