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  • Photo: Tony Rotundo

    Photo: Tony Rotundo

    2021 Olympic Team Trials By the Numbers

    Gable Steveson in Match One of the Olympic Trials Finals (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)

    This past weekend, the U.S. selected their wrestling representatives for the upcoming Olympics. There are a few weights that still have some work to do in order to qualify, but for all intents and purposes, the team has been decided. There were several standout performances across the three styles, but perhaps with a deeper dive into the match statistics, it will be even clearer how outstanding some of these performances actually were.

    The following looks at some of the top statistical performances in terms of match points. The result, points and time for all matches were pulled directly from the official brackets. Forfeits and bye were excluded from the data set. Official times were not recorded for VSU and VSU1 results (technical falls), so the time is calculated using the timestamp of the final score.

    Point differential is defined as the number of points score per minute minus the points allowed per minute.

    Men's Freestyle

    Heavyweight Gable Steveson was clearly one of the biggest stories coming out of the tournament. Just weeks after winning both an NCAA title and the Hodge Trophy, Steveson ran through the field. He allowed zero points until the second match of the finals against Nick Gwiazdowski. On a per-minute basis, he allowed only 0.26 points per minute while scoring 2.72 for a point differential of 2.46. Both his point differential and points per minute rates were far and above anyone else in the men's freestyle tournament.

    The next four wrestlers with the highest point differentials will join Steveson on the Olympic team: Kyle Dake (+1.77), Thomas Gilman (+1.38), Kyle Snyder (+1.30) and David Taylor (+1.15). Jordan Oliver, who won the Trials but still needs to qualify the weight, finished with a +0.46 differential, which ranked 15th in the men's freestyle tournament.

    While Taylor only had the fifth-highest point differential, he was the only wrestler to go through the men's freestyle tournament without allowing a single point. Bo Nickal, who Taylor defeated and shutout in the two-match finals series, had scored 25 points in his first two matches before running into the former Hodge Trophy winner.

    Among wrestlers who did not win the tournament, Nick Lee had the highest point differential at +1.10. After dropping an 8-3 match against Oliver on the front side, Lee went on quite the run in the consolation bracket. He defeated Nahshon Garrett, Zain Retherford and Yianni Diakomihalis by a combined 38-14 score.

    Women's Freestyle

    Adeline Gray will be returning to the Olympics following a dominating performance at the Trials. She sat in the finals and waited for the challenge tournament to unfold. Once it became clear she would be taking on high school competitor Kylie Welker, Gray became a big favorite. She swept the two-match series in the finals with match-termination victories in both matches via 10-0 and 11-0 scores. In the process, she finished with a +5.43 point differential, which was the highest not only in women's freestyle but also across all three styles at the Trials.

    Sarah Hildebrant also had a bye to the finals series. She surrendered the first takedown against Victoria Anthony before storming back with 22-straight points across two matches. Hildebrandt finished with the second-highest point differential at +1.76. Jacarra Winchester had the third-highest differential at +1.33. Tamyra Mensah-Stock was fourth with +1.25. Both Kayla Miracle and Helen Maroulis needed three matches in the finals to best their opponents and finished with +0.88 and +0.40 point differentials, respectively.

    Even though she came up short in the finals against Helen Maroulis, Jenna Burkert's strong run through the challenge tournament helped her finish with the fifth-highest point differential in women's freestyle, +1.22. In the challenge bracket, Burkert outscored her three opponents by a combined 25-0 score and picked up a fall over Alli Ragan in the finals.

    Greco Roman

    Braxton Amos went from The Last Chance qualifier to the finals of the Olympic Trials in Greco. While it was an impressive run, waiting for him in the finals was the proverbial brick wall, Tracy Hancock. During the best-of-three series, Hancock won both matches via 8-0 score, and he became one of only two wrestlers in Greco to make it through the tournament without surrendering a single point. His +2.75 point differential was also the highest in the style.

    One of the best performances of the Trials that did not result in joining the Olympic Team came from Benji Peak. Despite losing in the challenge tournament finals, Peak finished with the second-highest point differential at +2.37. He won his first three matches via a combined 26-0 score and knocked off Xavier Johnson with a 9-1 finish in the true second match.

    The other wrestler to make the team without surrendering a point was Ildar Hafizov. The 2008 Olympian sat in the finals and waited for Ryan Mango. There he won both matches by 7-0 and 8-0 score respectively. His +2.01 was the third highest in the style.

    Match Termination

    Women's freestyle had some of the biggest brackets at the Trials. From that standpoint, it makes sense that the style would have the highest percentage of bouts that ended in match termination. 55.95 of all matches in women's freestyle ended before the full six minutes. The rate was significantly lower in Greco Roman (44.65) and men's freestyle (34.8%).

    As you might expect with his high point differential, Peak had the most match terminations across all three styles as he ended four of his matches early. In men's freestyle, Gilman and Steveson both ended the tournament with three finishes. In women's freestyle, a staggering seven wrestlers had three finishes. The list includes Burkert, Yelena Makoyed, Victoria Anthony, Ronna Heaton, Erin Golston, Emily Shilson and Alyssa Lampe.

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