By Andy Elder
Special to TheMat.com
FORT WORTH, Texas — For nearly a decade, 2012 Olympic gold medalist Jordan Burroughs has been one of the faces of U.S. freestyle wrestling.
Saturday night in the 2020 U.S. Olympic Trials – Wrestling in Dickies Arena, Kyle Dake (Titan Mercury Wrestling Club/Spartan Combat Regional Training Center) made a case for replacing Burroughs (Nebraska Regional Training Center/Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club), or at least being included in the picture.
Dake, who swept the 74 kg best-of-three series with Burroughs, 3-0 and 3-2, punched his ticket to the Tokyo Olympic Games. A two-time World Champion, the Lansing, New York, native will try to win an Olympic title to his resume.
Kyle Snyder (Nittany Lion Wrestling Club/TMWC), in the last half of the last 10 years, has joined Burroughs as a leading force in U.S. freestyle wrestling. The 2016 Olympic gold medalist and two-time World Champion earned the right to try to repeat.
Snyder vanquished a former Ohio State teammate, Kollin Moore (TMWC/Ohio Regional Training Center) twice in the 97 kg best-of-three series. He cruised to a 10-0 win in the first meeting and then came back with a 5-1 win to win the weight.
The Snyder-Moore showdown was one of two between former college teammates. At 86 kg, former Nittany Lions David Taylor (TMWC/NLWC) and Bo Nickal (TMWC/NLWC) met in a much-anticipated series.
Taylor, a 2018 world champion, didn’t yield a point to Nickal, a 2019 U23 world champion. Taylor controlled the action throughout each match, notching 4-0 and 6-0 shutout wins.
Taylor will be joined in Tokyo by another Nittany Lion Wrestling Club teammate, Thomas Gilman (TMWC/NLWC). Gilman won both bouts against young upstart Vitali Arujau (TMWC/Spartan Combat Regional Training Center), the 20-year-old. Gilman scored a fall in 5:41in the opener and then had to fend off an attacking Arujau late in the second and hung on for al 2-2 criteria win.
Another 20-year-old, Gable Steveson, was able to get over the hurdle and earn a trip to the Olympics. Wrestling at 125 kg, Steveson unseated two-time world bronze medalist Nick Gwiazdowski (TMWC/Wolfpack Wrestling Club) in two straight convincing wins. Steveson rolled to a 10-0 win and ceded four late points in a subsequent 10-4 win. As he did after winning an NCAA title two weeks ago, Steveson showed off incredible athleticism for a man his size by doing a roundoff into a backflip on the mat.
The final member of the U.S. men’s freestyle team comes at the only weight that hasn’t qualified for the Olympics 65 kg. If Jordan Oliver (SKWC) continues to wrestle like he did in Fort Worth, that shouldn’t be a problem. His 3-0 and 5-2 wins over Joey McKenna (TMWC/Penn Regional Training Center) weren’t as close as the scores might indicate.
Oliver will have a chance to qualify the weight at the World Olympic Games Qualifier on May 6-9 in Sofia, Bulgaria.
Final X Championship Series in men’s freestyle
57 kg – Thomas Gilman (TMWC/ NLWC) dec. Vitali Arujau (TMWC/ Spartan Combat), two matches to none
Bout One – Gilman pin Arujau, 5:42
Bout Two – Gilman dec. Arujau, 2-2
Gilman qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team.
65 kg – Joseph McKenna (TMWC/ PENN RTC) vs. Jordan Oliver (Sunkist Kids Wrestling Club)
Bout One – Oliver dec. McKenna, 3-0
Bout Two – Oliver dec. McKenna, 5-2
Oliver wins U.S. Olympic Team Trials, and will attempt to qualify the weight class for the Olympic Games at the World Olympic Games Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria, May 6-9
74 kg -. Kyle Dake (TMWC/ Spartan Combat) dec. Jordan Burroughs (Nebraska WTC/Sunkist Kids), two matches to none
Bout One – Dake dec. Burroughs, 3-0
Bout Two – Dake dec. Burroughs, 3-2
Dake qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team.
86 kg – David Taylor (TMWC/ NLWC) vs. Bo Nickal (TMWC/ NLWC)
Bout One – Taylor dec. Nickal, 4-0
Bout Two – Taylor dec. Nickal, 6-0
Taylor qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team.
97 kg – Kyle Snyder (Nittany Lion WC/TMWC) dec. Kollin Moore (TMWC/ Ohio RTC), two matches to none
Bout One – Snyder tech. fall Moore, 10-0
Bout Two – Snyder dec. Moore, 5-1
Snyder qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team.
125 kg-. Gable Steveson (Gopher Wrestling Club) dec. Nick Gwiazdowski (TMWC/ Wolfpack WC), two matches to none
Bout One – Steveson tech. fall Gwiazdowski, 10-0
Bout Two – Steveson dec. Gwiazdowski, 10-4
Steveson qualifies for U.S. Olympic Team.