LINCOLN, Neb. — It wasn’t easy, but Jordan Burroughs found a way to win on Saturday night and make his ninth straight World or Olympic team at 74 kilograms.
The 30-year-old Burroughs, a 2012 Olympic champion and seven-time world-level medalist, prevailed in three hard-fought matches against Isaiah Martinez at Final X: Lincoln at the Bob Devaney Sports Center on the campus of the University of Nebraska.
Martinez, a two-time U.S. Open champion and four-time NCAA finalist, held a 4-3 lead late in the first match before Burroughs scored a late takedown to claim a 5-4 victory. The second match went to Martinez, 6-5. In the third and deciding match, Burroughs controlled the match from start to finish, taking a 7-1 victory.
“It’s going to get more difficult every single year,” said Burroughs. “I think the general consensus from the public is, ‘OK, JB is going to go on, he’s going to make another Olympic team and he’s going to try to redeem himself from Rio. But it’s never easy. These guys are extremely tough.”
On the eve of Father’s Day, Burroughs said he represents fathers everywhere.
“I want to be that embodiment of, hey, listen, you can be driven and be a good dad at home,” said Burroughs, who has two young children, Beacon and Ora. “I think that I balance that line very well. There not a lot of people doing what I’m doing that have two kids at home.”
Burroughs’ teammate James Green, a two-time world medalist, also earned a spot on the World Team in front of his home fans in Lincoln. The 26-year-old Green avenged a U.S. Open loss by beating 2017 Junior world silver medalist Ryan Deakin in two straight matches at 70 kilograms.
Green needed just 18 seconds in the first match to roll to a 10-0 technical fall. After a takedown, Green used an ankle lace to score four turns and close out the match. The second match was much more competitive. Deakin led 2-2 on criteria in the second period, but Green scored a takedown with just over 20 seconds remaining to grab a 4-2 lead. He held on to win 4-3.
“70 kilos is not an Olympic weight, so I have to make the most of these opportunities,” said Green
Olympic champion Kyle Snyder won in two straight matches over Kyven Gadson at 97 kilograms. Snyder took the first match 4-0 before closing out the series with a 12-1 technical fall. He scored multiple times in par terre.
“I’ve been working a lot on my gut with Coach Slay, Tervel, Coach Ryan,” said the 23-year-old Snyder, who has won three world-level gold medals. “They’ve been helping me a ton. I want to continue to improve on top so that I can end matches quick.”
Daton Fix, a three-time Junior world medalist, made his first Senior team by topping 2017 world silver medalist Thomas Gilman in three matches at 57 kilograms.
Fix cruised to a 9-1 win in the first match. Gilman evened the series by winning the second match 3-2. The third and deciding match was a back-and-forth affair, with Fix scoring a late go-ahead takedown to win 6-3.
Three months ago, Fix fell in the NCAA finals to Nick Suriano of Rutgers. He used that loss to fuel him this spring and summer in freestyle.
“My dream was to be a four-time NCAA champion,” said Fix, who has three more seasons of college eligibility at Oklahoma State. “I got that taken from me. I wasn’t happy about it, so I went back in the room and started developing my skills and being able to get to legs. You really saw how that helped me in that first match. That last match shows I can win in more ways than one.”
At 61 kilograms, Tyler Graff broke through to make his first World Team, beating returning world silver medalist Joe Colon in three matches.
Colon took the first match 6-4, but Graff battled back to win the second match 9-2. In the third and deciding match, Colon scored first off an exposure to go up 2-0. Graff then took the lead with a takedown and then transitioned to an ankle lace and rolled to a 12-2 technical fall.
Graff becomes the second member of the NJRTC to make the World Team, joining Pat Downey at 86 kilograms.
“I’ve got a lot to work to do,” Graff said. “I just made the team. I can’t get too high on this. I’ve got to get ready for the Worlds now.”
In the only Greco-Roman Final X match contested on Saturday night, Adam Coon, a returning world silver medalist, claimed his spot on the World Team at 130 kilograms by defeating 18-year-old rising star Cohlton Schultz in two straight matches.
In the first match, Coon countered a headlock for a takedown and then used a strong par terre game — scoring with three consecutive gut wrenches — to claim an 8-0 technical fall. Schultz scored first in the second match and led 1-0 at the break. But Coon came out strong in the second period, scoring a takedown, passivity point and turn to win 5-1.
In women’s wrestling, Adeline Gray and Sarah Hildebrandt earned spots back on the World Team, while Kayla Miracle made her first Senior team.
Gray, a four-time world champion, was untested in picking up two dominant victories over Precious Bell at 76 kilograms.
In the first match, Gray raced out to a 6-0 lead before putting Bell on her back and securing a first-period fall. In the second match, Gray built a quick 6-0 lead on the strength of three exposures. She then put the match away with a takedown and gut wrench.
“I did a great job of understanding where my energy needed to be and where my emotion needed to be, and I brought that,” said Gray.
Hildebrandt, a returning world silver medalist, was unscored upon in winning in two straight matches over Katherine Shai at 53 kilograms.
Hildebrandt took the first match 3-0, scoring the match’s only takedown with 35 seconds left. In the second match, Hildebrandt scored a takedown in the first period and transitioned to an ankle lace, which she used to score six points and go up 8-0, which is how the match would end after a scoreless second period.
Three-time U.S. Open champion Kayla Miracle exacted revenge on 2018 world bronze medalist Mallory Velte from last year’s Final X. Miracle was dominant on Saturday, winning in two straight matches at 62 kilograms.
In the first match, Miracle rolled to a 12-2 technical fall. She used a takedown and four-point move to go up 6-0. Then Miracle, a four-time WCWA national champion, was able to get multiple exposures and nearly picked up a fall before getting the technical fall. In the second match, Miracle blanked Velte 4-0. She used a takedown and step out to take 3-0 lead into the break. She added a step out in the final period.
She described herself as Kayla Miracle 2.0.
“I decided I’m not going to let what happened last year happen again,” said Miracle, who trains with the Hawkeye Wrestling Club. “I didn’t want it to be that way. It had to be a new person.”
57 kilograms: Daton Fix vs. Thomas Gilman
Match 1: Fix dec. Gilman, 9-1
Match 2: Gilman dec. Fix, 3-2
Match 3: Fix dec. Gilman, 6-3
61 kilograms: Tyler Graff over Joe Colon, 2 matches to 1
Match 1: Colon dec. Graff, 6-4
Match 2: Graff dec. Colon, 9-2
Match 3: Graff tech. fall Colon, 12-2
70 kilograms: James Green over Ryan Deakin, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Green tech. fall Deakin, 11-0
Match 2: Green dec. Deakin, 4-3
97 kilograms: Kyle Snyder over Kyven Gadson, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Snyder dec. Gadson, 4-0
Match 2: Snyder tech. fall Gadson, 12-1
74 kilograms: Jordan Burroughs over Isaiah Martinez, 2 matches to 1
Match 1: Burroughs dec. Martinez, 5-4
Match 2: Martinez dec. Burroughs, 6-5
Match 3: Burroughs dec. Martinez, 7-1
130 kilograms: Adam Coon over Cohlton Schultz, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Coon tech. fall Schultz, 8-0
Match 2: Coon dec. Schultz, 5-1
Women’s wrestling results
62 kilograms: Kayla Miracle over Mallory Velte, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Miracle tech. fall Velte, 12-2
Match 2: Miracle dec. Velte, 4-0
53 kilograms: Sarah Hildebrandt over Katherine Shai, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Hildebrandt dec. Shai, 3-0
Match 2: Hildebrandt dec. Shai, 8-0
76 kilograms: Adeline Gray over Precious Bell, 2 matches to 0
Match 1: Gray pinned Bell, 1:57
Match 2: Gray tech. fall Bell, 10-0