2021 World Champions Thomas Gilman (Photo Courtesy of Tony Rotundo/UWW)
The U.S. men's freestyle team wrapped up at the 2021 World Championships with three gold medals and seven overall medals. As always, there were many standout performers along the way. The following looks at some of the squad's top statistical performers and some trends recognized by looking at the team as a whole.
Even though he finished with a silver medal, Daton Fix led Team USA in terms of point differential. He averaged 2.72 points per minute, allowed only 0.26 per minute and therefore finished with a +2.46 differential. Fix's measure was well ahead of the rest of the squad as J'den Cox had the second highest with 1.84.
Prior to the finals, Fix outscored his opposition 41-0, and he racked up those 41 points in less than 10 minutes combined. Ultimately, he dropped a 4-1 match in the finals and now his attention returns to the college mats, where he is expected to once again contend for the 133-pound title while representing Oklahoma State.
While Fix finished with 42 match points, he only registered eight takedowns. The team leader in terms of takedowns was Cox. He scored 28 points with 13 takedowns throughout the tournament. He managed to score a takedown in five of his matches on the way to a bronze medal. He scored four takedowns against both Orgilokh Dagvadorj (Mongolia) and Jeremy Poirier (Canada).
At 57kg Thomas Gilman finished with 10 takedowns, which was tied with Kyle Snyder for the second most of the team. However, he certainly made the most of his time on the mat. Broken down by most takedowns per six minutes of wrestling, Gilman was tops of the squad. He averaged 3.49 takedowns per six minutes, which edged Cox's 3.42.
As a team, Team USA finished 298 match points in the tournament. 174 of those points (58%) came via takedowns.
The Jordan Burroughs Return
Burroughs bounced back from his two losses to Kyle Dake at the World Team Trials. In that event, he outscored his opposition 30-5 and won five straight matches. Along the way, he averaged six points per match. While that performance showed he was ready to compete again on the World stage, this performance was arguably his return to form.
In his four matches at the 2021 World Championships, he outscored his opposition 34-6 and averaged 8.5 points per match. Burroughs scored nine takedowns; many were his vintage double legs, while allowing none. In fact, he allowed only one two-point score in the entire tournament.
While the majority of Team USA's points came via takedown, the second-biggest share of points were produced by exposures. 76 points were earned by exposing an opponent's back to the mat, and the vast majority of those points were scored with gut wrenches. As a team, the Men's freestyle squad earned 58 points with gut wrenches throughout the tournament.
Fix led the way for the team with 11 gut wrenches. Dake was second with seven as he scored three against Azamat Nurykau (Belarus) and four against Vasile Diacon (Moldova).
While the squad was able to score points in par terre via folkstyle-esque moves like armbars, half nelsons and cradles, there was an odd lack of leg laces. The team collectively finished with only six points on three leg laces. Yianni Diakomihalis, David Taylor and Jordan Burroughs all finished with one successful leg lace.
Collectively Team USA showed off impressive defense against exposures. They allowed only 12 such points in the entire tournament. Six on those points were from gut wrenches, while the other six came in the neutral position or in scrambles.
Step Outs/Shot Clock
Team USA often dominates in terms of step-out points. The ability to come forward and push the pace in the neutral position meshes well with the folkstyle background many wrestlers bring to the international scene. That was on display once again here. The team scored 27 points via the step out, while allowing only 17.
That same forward pressure also manifested itself in terms of shot clock points. Team USA finished with 12 shot clock points scored, while opponents earned only six points against Team USA wrestlers via the shot clock. Interestingly enough, the U.S. went only 1-2 when allowing a shot clock point in the tournament, and every U.S. wrestler who went on the shot clock ended up going on the clock twice in the same match.
Fix went on the clock twice in his finals match against Abasgadzhi Magomedov (RWF). Snyder ended up on the clock twice against Mojtaba Goleij (Iran) in the semifinals and pulled it out in dramatic fashion. He could not pull it off again as he dropped his final match against Abdulrashid Sadulaev (RWF) and ended up on the clock in both periods.
Burroughs and James Green both contributed a pair of four-point scores to help the team reach seven. Fix, Cox and David Taylor each added one of the scores. All seven of the four-pointers were takedowns that went feet to back. The only Team USA wrestler to surrender a four-point move was Nick Gwiazdowski, and it came against eventual champion Amir Zare (Iran).