The stage is set.
After a day of matches at the 2021 U.S. Olympic Trials for wrestling, 15 berths to the Tokyo Olympics will be decided Saturday. The winner in 15 of 18 weight classes qualify directly to the Games out of the best of three finals, while the remaining three champions (men’s freestyle 65kg, Greco-Roman 77kg and 130kg) must finish top two at a World Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria, next month.
There was drama off the mat before competition even began, as two-time and reigning World champion at the non-Olympic weight of 92kg J’den Cox failed to make weight Friday morning for the 97kg bracket. Cox was expected to face Olympic champ Kyle Snyder in Saturday’s finals in a hotly anticipated match-up.
Yesterday, Nick Suriano, a 2019 NCAA champion and the no. 5 seed in 57kg freestyle, was forced to withdraw due to a positive COVID-19 test.
Though there won’t be a Cox-Snyder match tomorrow, there will be plenty of exciting action highlighted in the 74kg weight where 2012 Olympic champion and four-time World champ Jordan Burroughs will face reigning 79kg World champion Kyle Dake. Dake defeated Jason Nolf in the Challenge Tournament Finals. Burroughs automatically advanced to the finals, having medalled at the 2019 Worlds.
Other final match-ups include Gable Steveson and Nick Gwiazdowski (125kg); Bo Nickal and David Taylor (86kg); Joseph McKenna and Jordan Oliver (65kg); and Thomas Gilman and Vitali Arujau (57kg).
Two U.S. women advanced straight to Saturday’s best of three finals by virtue of their status as 2019 world medalists. Adeline Gray, a five-time world champion who missed out on a medal at Rio 2016, will face Kylie Welker in the 76kg weight class. Tamyra Mensah-Stock, 68kg, will face Kennedy Blades.
Four other women – Sarah Hildebrandt (50kg), Jacarra Winchester (53kg), 2016 Olympic champion Helen Maroulis (57kg) and Kayla Miracle (62kg) – also sat until the best of three finals due to having qualified their weights for the Olympics at the 2020 Pan American Olympic Qualifier. In the finals, Miracle will meet Macey Kilty; Maroulis faces Jenna Burkert; Hildebrant will see Victoria Anthony; and Winchester is set with Ronna Heaton.
In Greco-Roman competition, Jesse Porter and Peyton Walsh will face off in the finals in the 77kg class with Adam Coon and Cohlton Schultz set to face off at 130kg. Ellis Coleman defeated Benji Peak to advance to the finals at 67kg where he'll face Alejandro Sancho. Braxton Amos and G'Angelo Hancock are set to meet at 97kg.