USA Wrestling World Championships: Freestyle
When:September 14-22, 2019
Where: Nur-Sultan Kazakhstan
Later this month, the USA is sending its best wrestlers in the country to the freestyle and Greco world championships. This will be the last big tournament on the international circuit before the 2020 Olympics next year in Tokyo, Japan. Let’s see who from the US is heading over to the middle east on SS Gutwrench this year.
57 KG: At 57 kilograms, the US has Thomas Gilman seeded 8th and Daton Fix unseeded. Stevan Micic would have also been at 57, but has chosen to represent Serbia at this year’s Championships. In an interesting sequence of events, Fix has already beaten Gilman and the sixth seed Ortega from Cuba so it will be interesting to see how these two fair out. It is likely to both see a rematch against each other, or that they do not see each other at all, but a rematch for a world title would be quite entertaining. Micic choosing to represent Serbia doesn’t really come as a shock, but man it would be nice to have him representing team USA. He scored a bronze medal for the US at the 2015 Junior World Championships in Brazil.
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61KG: Tyler Graff will be repping the US after his stunning victory over Joe Colon at Final X. 61 kilos is bound to get a little interesting. Along with Graff, we have Yowlys Boone Rodriguez as the crowd favorite. YBR definitely has the rap sheet to be a favorite as he is a 2x Olympian, once in Brazil in 2016, and once in the UK in 2012. However, YBR has already been dismantled by then US rep Joe Colon, and then Colon went on later to lose to Graff. One would like to say that Graff would be able to handle him, seeing as how he beat the man that did, but as we all know, wrestling isn’t always that linear.
65KG: No wrestler is currently representing the US in this class. The hold up here is the Yianni and Zane rematch schedule for September 2nd. Although it was first ruled that Zane won the meeting at Final X, Yianni Zidkowski and Dogu invites this year, and beating Zane in the latter.
70KG: No US wrestler has entered at this point, however it is likely that former Nebraska All-American James Green will take the weight. If Green does enter, he is a favorite within the country to get Top 5 in the class, and if the cards fall just right maybe a ticket into the finals. Green has really found his stride in international competition, but we must keep in mind that 70 kilos is not an Olympic spot. Regardless of outcome, he’ll either cut to 66, or go up to 74.
74KG: At the top of the freestyle world at 74, we have Frank Chamizo and Jordan Burroughs at the one and two spots respectively. Although Chamizo has topped Burroughs before, Burroughs beat Chamizo at the 2018 Championships. Jordan has won everything he has competed in this season, and is resembling the Jordan Burroughs we saw at the 2012 Olympics, AKA The Champ. The one time these two would have wrestled before now is the finals of the 2019 Yasar Dogu finals, where Chamizo forfeited the match. It will be interesting to see if these two will be pitted against each other and what this chapter of their story holds.
79KG: 79 is one of the two new weight classes imposed by USA wrestling this year, and right now, Kyle Dake has his eyes set on becoming the first World Champ at 79 kilos. 79 is going to be a tricky class come next year because it also is not an IOC endorsed weight class. This would mean that Dake either drops to 74 and challenges Jordan Burroughs, or goes up to goes up a class to challenge J’Den Cox. Either way, he’ll have his work cut out for him.
86KG: With former Penn State phenom David Taylor hurt and out of the mix, it’ll be Pat Downey representing the United States at this year’s World Championships. Downey has been known as a bit of a hot head with a very aggressive style, and has been dubbed the bad boy in freestyle wrestling. Love him or hate him, you cannot deny that he can throw down with the best. Erdin of Turkey was tech falled by Taylor earlier on, so will see if his predecessor will be able to defeat the likely front-runner in the weight. It will definitely be interesting to see if Downey’s new found international success will carry him to a world title in Kazakhstan.
92KG: For as far as the home circuit is concerned, 92 is locked up by the infamous J’Den Cox. Cox seems to be the likely front runner for the gold medal at this year’s tournament. At seems as though his biggest challenge came from the likes of Bo Nickal whom he completely shut out at Final X earlier this year. Although the first place finish seems eminent, we must remember that even on his best days, a champion can fall. Cox shows promising consistency, but the slightest slip could be detrimental. I am sure he’ll be more than prepared for the occasion. J’Den was also an Olympic bronze medalist in 2016.
97KG: This one seems about as locked up as you can possibly get. Representing the US at 97 kilos is none other than the youngest world, and Olympic champ, Kyle Snyder. He has suffered defeat only one time this year and that is the only loss in recent times. Snyder has been nothing short of a wrecking ball for this outstanding team. Even among his most dominant teammates, Snyder’s light (or is that from his medal collection?) shines very bright.
And Last but certainly not least:
125KG: Nick Gwiazdowski will be representing the US at the Olympic heavyweight class. The Gwiz is expected to stake out somewhere in the top three of the world bracket, although it is not hard to favor him. Gwiz’s only recent loss is to teammate Kyle Snyder at 97 kilos. With both of these weights being Olympic sanctioned, both of these hammers can represent on the same lineup together, and undoubtedly pay dividends for Team USA.
Many coaches and experts say that this is possibly the best potential Olympic Wrestling and Worlds team since 91-92 which was headed up by names like Tom and Terry Brands and Dave and Mark Schultz. It certainly has been exciting watching these men win, represent their country, and above all else, have an absolute blast while doing it. Given the potential of this team, it definitely peeks a fans interest toward the 2020 Olympics and what the future is for Team USA. Given the statistics these guys have piled up, if they manage to win a world and Olympic title together, they would indeed rank in the same section as some of the all-time great Olympic wrestling teams.
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