Kyle Dake took the first match from Jordan Burroughs at the World Team Trials (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
In 2018, the United World Wrestling World Championships will look a little different. For freestyle wrestling, there will be two new weight classes, 79 kilograms and 92 kilograms. The following is an early look at what the U.S. team could look like as they look to repeat as team champions.
57: In 2017, Thomas Gilman became the latest American to go straight from collegiate wrestling to the world-level podium as he won a silver medal in this weight class. With some of the top contenders, Tony Ramos and Nahshon Garrett, likely moving up, Gilman appears to be the favorite to represent the U.S. in 2018. However, there are some top Junior competitors moving up to the senior level including Daton Fix and Spencer Lee. Fix is coming off a gold medal at 55 kilograms at the Junior World Championships, while Lee is a two-time Junior world champion at 50 kilograms. Lee will be a freshman at Iowa this fall, so he will likely spend the year training with Gilman. This could be an interesting wrinkle at next year's World Team Trials.
61:This has been Logan Stieber's weight class since he failed to make the Olympic team at 65 kilograms last year. He went on to win a world championship at 61 kilograms that year and represented the U.S. again in Paris. He will likely be the favorite again next year unless he decides to move up due to the same day weigh in. If he moves up it could open the door for Ramos, Garrett, Cody Brewer or Tyler Graff.
65: The future of their weight depends a lot on where people end up. As previously stated, Stieber could end up here due to the new weigh in procedures. This year, Zain Retherford defeated 2016 Olympian Frank Molinaro in the finals of the trials and went on to compete in Paris. This winter, Retherford will finish his collegiate wrestling career, and he is favored to win yet another NCAA title. Kendric Maple could also be a contender here. He won the 61-kilogram challenge tournament at the trials before falling to Stieber.
70: James Green has owned this weight in the U.S. for the last three years. This year he followed up on his 2015 bronze medal with a silver medal. At the 2017 Trials, he defeated Jimmy Kennedy. The list of challengers could potentially include a pair collegiate seniors Jason Nolf and Isaiah Martinez as well as veterans Jordan Oliver and Nazar Kulchytskyy.
74: It will be interesting to see who sticks around at 74 kilograms. Obviously, reigning world champion Jordan Burroughs is the favorite to earn the spot on the World Team. In the past, there has been a log jam at this weight with David Taylor and Kyle Dake. Both moved up to 86 kilograms for the Olympic Trials in 2016, but Dake was back at 74 kilograms for last year's Trials. With the addition of 79 kilograms, there could be a mass exodus. With that being said, the weight could also feature some fresh talent such as Martinez, Chance Marstellar, Alex Dieringer or even reigning Junior world champion Mark Hall. Do not be shocked if any or all of those names move up.
79: The first of the new weight classes seems like a perfect fit for Kyle Dake. For years the four-time NCAA champion has been considered one of the better wrestles in the country, but he could not get past Burroughs to make the World Team at 74 kilograms. In 2016, he moved up to 86 kilograms and nearly made the Olympic team at a weight 24 pounds heavier than his last NCAA title in 2013. Many expect Hall to make the jump to 79 kilograms as well. This could set up an interesting rivalry. Hall will only be a sophomore in college next year, but he also holds an NCAA title and a pair of Junior world championships.
David Taylor cruised to his second U.S. Open title earlier this year (Photo/Tony Rotundo, WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
86: Taylor moved up to 86 kilograms to get away from Burroughs. Unlike Dake, Taylor decided to stay at this weight following the 2016 Olympic Trials. 2017 turned out to be an up-and-down year for the former Penn State wrestler. He won the U.S. Open and defeated Olympic gold medalists Sharif Sharifov and Hassan Yazdanicharati. However, at the World Team Trials, he lost a pair of matches against J'den Cox and failed to make the team. Cox has already announced his intention to move up to the new 92-kilogram weight, which seemingly opens the door for Taylor and robs the fans of a budding rivalry between the two. This weight class could also feature the likes of Bo Nickal, Gabe Dean and Pat Downey.
92: Cox has already announced his intention to move up to this new weight. He has now wrestled in two world-level tournaments and come home with bronze in both. With his talent and developing freestyle acumen, he could once again be a medal favorite in 2018.
97: This weight class will almost certainly remain home to Kyle Snyder. At the 2017 World Championships, he claimed yet another gold medal and defeated one of the sport's best in Abdulrashid Sadulaev. Snyder has dominated this weight domestically since winning the 2015 world team trials. It will be interesting to see if the addition of 92 kilograms leads more wrestlers to abandon 97 kilograms for a more realistic shot at the team.
125: Tervel Dlagnev retired following the 2016 Olympics. Many expected Nick Gwiazdowski to take the torch at heavyweight, and he did just that this year. He won a spot of the World Team and went on to win a bronze medal at his first senior world-level tournament. He should be able to hold the spot for the next few years. However, Zack Rey is always a tough out and might give Gwiazdowski a run in the Trials. Another contender for the heavyweight spot in the U.S. lineup is Gable Steveson. He will be a freshman at Minnesota this year and could make his senior level debut next summer. This past year, he added a Junior world title to his resume after picking up a pair of Cadet world titles the previous two years.