Freestyle World Team Trials preview at 74 kg/163 lbs.

By Gary Abbott, USA Wrestling | May 30, 2017, 2:38 p.m. (ET)
Kyle Dake and Jordan Burroughs square off in the 2017 U.S. Open finals at 74 kg in Las Vegas. Photo by Tony Rotundo, Wrestlers Are Warriors

This weight class seems like a three-athlete battle between reigning superstar Jordan Burroughs, emerging star Kyle Dake and young champion Alex Dieringer. But there really is a lot of depth behind these three studs, making the road to the title quite exciting.

Burroughs is one of the greatest wrestlers in American history and World history. A 2012 Olympic champion and three-time World champion, Burroughs has ruled this weight class in the USA since his final year in college, when he won his second NCAA title for Nebraska and received the Dan Hodge Trophy in 2011. Throw in his 2014 World bronze medal, a year he was injured in his first-round match, and he had an amazing five-year run as the world’s best wrestler. In 2016, Burroughs fell short of the medal rounds at the Rio Olympic Games in a shocker. Burroughs has battled back from the disappointment and extended his stranglehold of No. 1 in the USA with a win at the 2017 U.S. Open.

During the last Olympic cycle, Dake was the top challenger to Burroughs, placed second at both the 2013 and 2015 World Team Trials to him. He was a four-time NCAA champion and Hodge Trophy winner at Cornell, the first to win four NCAA titles in four different weight classes. Dake went up to 86 kg for the 2016 Olympic year, and was second in the Olympic Trials to eventual Olympic bronze medalist J’den Cox. Dake is back at 74 kg, and won a gold at the Paris Invitational. He handled the rest of the 74 kg field, before he lost a 2-2 match to Burroughs in the U.S. Open finals.

Three-time NCAA champion Dieringer of Oklahoma State placed a strong third at the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials just weeks after his college career ended. Dieringer was also a Junior World silver medalist in 2013. He has lost to Dake in two events this year, first in the finals of the Paris International and then in the U.S. Open semifinals. The match was must closer in Las Vegas than Paris, showing that Dieringer is closing the gap. He has the skill, size and passion to be one of the world’s best, but first must become

There are two 2017 NCAA champions from Penn State who could wrestle here at the Trials, 2016 Junior World champion Mark Hall, along with talented teammate Vincenzo Joseph. Hall is expected to stay at the Junior level this year, where he is eligible to defend his 2016 Junior World title. Joseph was third behind current teammates Hall and Jason Nolf at the 2016 UWW Junior World Team Trials. Joseph’s pin over two-time NCAA champion Isaiah Martinez of Illinois ignited the college world at this year’s NCAA finals, part of an impressive run by Penn State’s murderers row in the middle weights.

The rest of the qualifiers for the World Team Trials which emerged through the U.S. Open are also talented freestylers. Arizona State star Anthony Valencia, who placed fourth in the U.S. Open in Las Vegas, was also third at the 2015 U.S. Open while still in high school. He competed on the 2014 Junior World Team.

Two-time NCAA champion Chris Perry of Oklahoma State is also a talented freestyle wrestler. Perry dropped down to this weight in 2016, where he was second in the U.S. Open. He was a 2014 University World champion and third in the 2010 Junior World Championships. He was also second in the 2015 Pan American Championships. He comes from wrestling royalty, as the brother of Mark Perry and the nephew of John Smith (and Lee Roy, Pat and Mark).

Veteran Kevin LeValley was sixth at the Open, and also qualified with his gold medal performance at the 2017 Dave Schultz Memorial. He has placed in the top six of the U.S. Open for four straight years, and has a number of medals from international events. A two-time NCAA All-American from Bucknell, LeValley was the last wrestler to score a win over Kyle Dake in college.

U.S. Open seventh place finisher Chance Marsteller was a top freestyle talent as a Pennsylvania high school phenom and is now breaking in at the Senior level. Marsteller was fifth in the 2012 Cadet World Championships. His college journey has been rocky, going first to Oklahoma State, where he was a starter and ended up leaving the team. He returned to Pennsylvania and enrolled at Lock Haven, where he ran into legal issues and has not wrestled for the team. He is a talented but troubled wrestler with a great skill set and has continued to train and compete while getting his life in order.

Earning the final berth in the field with a victory at the Last Chance Qualifier was two-time NCAA champion and three-time finalist Isaiah Martinez of Illinois. Martinez was the 2016 University Nationals champion at this weight, beating Marsteller in the finals. He was also a UWW Junior Nationals finalist earlier in his college career. Martinez went 70 kg for the 2016 World Team Trials in November and did not reach the top four, and is expected to stay up at 74 kg for this year’s World Team Trials.

The 2017 Freestyle World Team Trials will be hosted at the Devaney Center at the University of Nebraska in Lincoln, Neb., Saturday, June 10. Tickets can be purchased here

The event will be broadcast by Flowrestling.

World Team Trials qualifiers at 74 kg/163 lbs.
’17 U.S. Open champion advances to Trials finals series – Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb. (Sunkist Kids/Nebraska WTC)
World Team Trials Tournament qualifiers
’16 Bill Farrell highest U.S. medalist – Alex Dieringer, Stillwater, Okla. (Titan Mercury WC)
’17 Dave Schultz highest U.S. medalist – Kevin LeValley, Lewisburg, Pa. (Buffalo Valley RTC)
’17 NCAA Division I champion – Vincenzo Joseph, Pittsburgh, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC/Penn State)
’17 NCAA Division I champion – Mark Hall, Apple Valley, Minn. (Nittany Lion WC/Penn State)
’17 U.S. Open runner-up – Kyle Dake, Ithaca, N.Y. (Titan Mercury WC/Finger Lakes WC)
’17 U.S. Open fourth place – Anthony Valencia, Bellflower, Calif. (Sunkist Kids)
’17 U.S. Open fifth place – Chris Perry, Stillwater, Okla. (Titan Mercury WC)
’17 U.S. Open seventh place – Chance Marsteller, Fawn Grove, Pa. (Dark Knights)
’17 Last Chance Trials Qualifier highest placer – Isaiah Martinez, Leemore, Calif. (Illinois RTC)

2016 U.S. Olympic Team Trials results at 74 kg/163 lbs.
1st - Jordan Burroughs (Sunkist Kids) dec Andrew Howe (New York AC), two matches to none
Burroughs dec Howe, 9-3
Burroughs technical fall Howe, 10-0
Challenge Tournament
1st - Andrew Howe (New York AC) dec Nick Marable (Sunkist Kids), 2-1
3rd – Alex Dieringer (Cowboy WC) dec. Adam Hall (Titan Mercury WC), 6-3
True Third - Alex Dieringer (Cowboy WC) dec Nick Marable (Sunkist Kids), 2-1