By Gary Abbott
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado – The United States Olympic Committee has announced the finalists for the Team USA Awards presented by Dow, Best of August, which recognize the outstanding achievements of Team USA athletes from last month.
Wrestling is nominated in all three categories: World champion Kyle Snyder (Male), World champion Helen Maroulis (Female) and the World Champion U.S Men’s Freestyle World Team (Team).
Wrestling fans are invited to vote for Snyder, Maroulis and the USA Men’s Freestyle World Team at TeamUSA.org/Awards through midnight Tuesday, Sept. 5.
Please forward this information to your friends and colleagues and ask them to vote as well. Make sure to visit the website and vote every day for the wrestlers nominated.
A total of seven sports – diving, equestrian, Para track and field, softball, swimming, track and field, and wrestling – are represented among the 13 finalists across men’s, women’s and team categories.
HELEN MAROULIS, Nominee for Team USA Award, Best of August (Female)
Maroulis won a gold medal at 58 kg/128 lbs. at the World Wrestling Championships in Paris, France on August 23. It was Maroulis’ second career World title (also 2015) and third straight World or Olympic gold medal, as she also won the Olympic title in 2016. Maroulis won her three consecutive gold medals in three different weight classes (55 kg in 2015, 53 kg in 2016 and 58 kg in 2017).
Maroulis dominated her opponents in the greatest individual performance of the event, winning all five of her matches by technical fall and outscoring her opponents by a combined 52-0.
She dominated 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Marwa Amri of Tunisia in the gold-medal finals, showing spectacular technique on the way to an 11-0 technical fall.
Maroulis tore up the field in the morning session, scoring four technical falls and outscoring her opponents 41-0 in the matches. The opponents she dispatched were Hanbit Kim of Korea, Elin Nillson of Sweden, Yessica Ovieda Perez of the Dominican Republic and Michelle Fazzari of Canada in order.
Maroulis was the first U.S. woman wrestler to win an Olympic title with her victory in Rio. This was Maroulis’ fifth career World or Olympic medal, to go along with her 2016 Olympic gold, 2015 World title, 2012 World silver medal and 2014 World bronze medal. One of the greatest women’s college wrestlers, Maroulis was a four-time WCWA national champion, winning three for Simon Fraser and one for Missouri Baptist.
KYLE SNYDER, Nominee for Team USA Award, Best of August (Male)
Kyle Snyder won a gold medal at 97 kg/213 lbs. at the World Wrestling Championships in Paris, France, on August 26. It was Snyder’s second career World title (also 2015) and third straight World or Olympic gold medal, as he also won the Olympic title in 2016. He is just 21 years old.
In the gold-medal match, Snyder defeated 2016 Olympic champion and two-time World champion Abdusalim Sadulaev of Russia, 6-5, scoring the winning takedown in the closing seconds. United World Wrestling dubbed it the The Match of the Century. Snyder’s win, in the final match of the tournament, broke a tie with Russia in the team race, and gave the USA its first Freestyle World Team title in 22 years.
Snyder won his first two matches with 10-0 technical falls over 2014 Asian Games bronze medalist Mamed Ibragimov of Kazakhstan and then Naoya Akaguma of Japan, who was fifth in 2017 Asian Championships. In the semifinals, Snyder avenged a loss at the 2017 World Cup to Aslanbek Alborov of Azerbaijan, this time controlling the entire match in a 9-2 win.
Snyder is a two-time NCAA champion for Ohio State, going into his senior year in college. He was a USOTC resident athlete in Colorado Springs during his senior year in high school. He was the youngest U.S. World wrestling champion (at 19) and the youngest U.S. Olympic wrestling champion (at 20).
U.S. MEN’S FREESTYLE WORLD TEAM, Nominee for Team USA Award, Best of August (Team)
The United States won the World Team Title in men’s freestyle at the 2017 World Wrestling Championships, held in Paris, France, August 25-26. Team USA finished with 54 points, one point ahead of Russia with 53 points. It was only the third time in history the United States has won a World freestyle team title and the first in 22 years, going back to 1995. The other previous title came in 1993.
The team race was not determined until the final match of the event, when 2016 Olympic champion and 2015 World champion Kyle Snyder of the USA and 2016 Olympic champion and two-time World champion Abdusalim Sadulaev of Russia met for the 97 kg title. The team race was tied at 52 points going into the bout, so it was winner-take-all. United World Wrestling dubbed the The Match of the Century. Scoring in the closing seconds, Snyder defeated Sadulaev 6-5 for his third straight gold medal, giving the USA the team title.
Snyder was joined as World champion by Jordan Burroughs (74 kg), who won his fourth career World title and fifth career World or Olympic title (with a 2012 Olympic gold). Burroughs is tied at No. 2 with Bruce Baumgartner with five World/Olympic golds, behind only John Smith with six. He is a six-time World or Olympic medalist, also with a 2014 World bronze.
Silver medals were earned by James Green (70 kg) and Thomas Gilman (57 kg). For Green, it was a second career World medal, while Gilman was in his first World Championships.
Bronze medals went to 2016 Olympic bronze medalist J’den Cox (86 kg) and first-time team member Nick Gwiazdowski (125 kg). The six World medals were the most that the USA has won in men’s freestyle since 1995, the last time Team USA won a team title.
Also competing for Team USA were 2016 World champion Logan Stieber (61 kg) and new team member Zain Retherford (65 kg). National Freestyle Coach Bill Zadick led a team of coaches and support staff that assisted the athletes in their victory.
2017 U.S. Freestyle World Championship Team roster
57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Thomas Gilman, Council Bluffs, Iowa (Titan Mercury WC/Hawkeye WC), silver medal
61 kg/134 lbs. – Logan Stieber, Columbus, Ohio (Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC), 12th
65 kg/143 lbs. – Zain Retherford, Benton, Pa. (Nittany Lion WC), 11th
70 kg/154 lbs. – James Green, Lincoln, Neb. (Titan Mercury WC/Nebraska RTC), silver medal
74 kg/163 lbs. – Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb. (Sunkist Kids/Nebraska RTC), gold medal
86 kg/189 lbs. – J’den Cox, Columbia, Mo. (Titan Mercury WC/Missouri WF), bronze medal
97 kg/213 lbs. – Kyle Snyder, Woodbine, Md. (Titan Mercury WC/Ohio RTC), gold medal
125 kg/275 lbs. – Nick Gwiazdowski, Raleigh, N.C. (Titan Mercury WC/Wolfpack WC), bronze medal
Team Leader – Jamie Dinan, New York, N.Y.
National Team Coaches –Bill Zadick, Kevin Jackson, Joe Russell of Colorado Springs, Colo.
World Team Coaches – Sammie Henson, Morgantown, W.Va. and Coleman Scott, Chapel Hill, N.C.
Each of the finalists automatically qualify for consideration for the 2017 Team USA Awards presented by Dow Best of the Year. Their collective accomplishments tell the inspiring story of U.S. Olympic and Paralympic athletes year-round. A complete list of monthly finalists from the 2016-17 qualification period can be found at TeamUSA.org. The 2017 Best of the Year Awards will be held Nov. 29 in Los Angeles.
In addition to Dow, the presenting sponsor, the Team USA Awards are supported by DICK’S Sporting Goods and USG.
OTHER AUGUST FINALISTS
Male Athlete of the Month
David Dinsmore (New Albany, New York), Diving
Claimed the silver medal at his World University Games debut, posting three dives of 82.50 points or more in the final – including a back 2½ somersault 2½ twist pike that earned 91.80 points.
Sam Kendricks (Oxford, Mississippi), Track and Field
Became the first American since 2007 to win the world championship gold medal in men’s pole vault, while also upsetting the world-record holder and eight-time-reigning Diamond League trophy winner to remain undefeated in 2017.
Isaiah Rigo (Cheney, Washington), Para Track and Field
Swept the T53-54 100-, 200- and 400-meter events at the World Para Athletics Junior Championships, recording a 1:01.99 in the 400 – fast enough to have earned a medal in the event at this year’s senior world championships.
Andrew Wilson (Bethesda, Maryland), Swimming
Set a meet record in the 200-meter breaststroke, earning three gold medals at the World University Games with additional wins in 100 breaststroke and 400 medley relay.
Female Athlete of the Month
Emma Coburn (Crested Butte, Colorado), Track and Field
Became the first American woman to ever win the 3,000-meter steeplechase at the IAAF World Championships, earning her first global gold medal while setting American and meet records in 9:02.58.
Hannah Dederick (Spokane Valley, Washington), Para Track and Field
Won five medals – including four golds – at the World Para Athletics Junior Championships, recording a 100-meter time that would have placed in the top-five at the 2017 senior world championships.
Ella Eastin (Irvine, California), Swimming
Won three medals at the 2017 World University Games, including gold in the women’s 200-meter butterfly with a personal-best time of 2:09.20.
Haylie McCleney (Morris, Alabama), Softball
Led Team USA to the gold medal at the Pan American Championship, pacing the U.S. offense with a team-high .613 batting average, one home run, five RBIs and 17 runs scored.
Team of the Month
U.S. Show Jumping Team, Equestrian
Won gold at the FEI Nations Cup CSIO5* Dublin on zero faults, becoming the first all-female team, from any country, to win the Nations Cup in event history.
U.S. Women’s 4×400-meter World Championship Team, Track and Field
Won gold and recorded Team USA’s fastest time since the 2012 Olympic Games, beating the field by 5.98 seconds to set the largest margin of victory ever in a world championship 4×400-meter.
Each National Governing Body may nominate one female, one male and one team per sport discipline. An internal nominating committee selects finalists to advance to the voting round. Votes received from NGB representatives and select members of the media account for 50 percent of the final tally, with the other half determined by online fan voting via TeamUSA.org/Awards.