Jordan Burroughs at the 2020 Olympic Trials (Photo/Tony Rotundo; WrestlersAreWarriors.com)
After missing out on the 2020 Olympics, Jordan Burroughs is returning to action this weekend. He will move up to 79 kg and attempt to make the 2021 freestyle World team. While he does have a history with one of the other entries, the weekend will likely lead to many first-time matches.
Since starting on the senior level in 2007, Burroughs has dominated domestic competition. He has gone 47-7 against other Americans with three of those losses coming against Kyle Dake. Four of Burrough's losses have been via criteria, and his largest margin of defeat was only three points.
History with Isaiah Martinez
Another one of those losses came against four-time NCAA finalist and two-time champion Isaiah Martinez. While Burroughs does hold a 4-1 record overall in the series, Martinez was able to score a 5-5 criteria victory at the 2019 edition of Final X. In the three-match final, Burroughs won the first bout and ultimately took the rubber match with a commanding 7-1 score.
In their second bout of the 2019 Final X, Burroughs started the scoring after being warned for passivity. He got in deep on a single, got to his feet and nearly finished. However, Martinez was able to maintain the quadpod going out of bounds and surrendered only a single point. Burroughs kept the pressure on and picked up another step out after a series of leg attacks to finish the first period up 2-0.
Burroughs started the second period with another flurry of leg attacks. This time Martinez defended well, reversed position on the edge and picked up his own step out. Shortly following the restart, Martinez got in deep on a shot and collected the second leg for the first takedown of the series. He locked in the leg lace, while Burroughs defended by grabbing the ankles. However, it was not enough to prevent the score, and Martinez moved ahead 5-2 in the bout.
The match went back to action with 2:08 left. As one might expect, Burroughs continued to attack. He shot a double and transitioned behind to cut the score to 5-4 and then added a caution point after Martinez got called for a finger grab. Even with the score tied at 5-5, Martinez held criteria. Burroughs had him on the edge as time expired, but Martinez escaped with the rare win over the multiple-time World champion.
Going into this weekend, Martinez is the only competitor in the field to hold a victory over Burroughs. Even though Burroughs has the edge in the series overall, this one win might do wonders for Martinez's confidence.
Alex Dieringer Reigning 79 kg Finalist
Since UWW expanded to 10 weights, the US has been quite successful at 79 kg. Dake was the representative at both the 2018 and 2019 editions of the World Championships, and he brought home a pair of gold medals. In 2018, he bested Zahid Valencia to make the team. Valencia is not currently registered for this weekend. Dake needed to get past Alex Dieringer in 2019, and he will be at the Trials this weekend.
Dieringer made Final X after defeating Valencia in the finals of the World Team Trials. He dominated both matches and scored victories via 12-1 and 12-2 scores. It was a different story against Dake. Dieringer was able to keep the bouts close, but Dake ultimately won the series in two straight contests. He won the pair 3-2 and 4-2, respectively.
Since the 2019 Final X, Dieringer has had somewhat inconsistent results. He moved up to 86 kg and won the 2019 Bill Farrell with a dominant 7-2 victory over Myles Martin. However, he then fell in the semifinals of the 2019 Senior Nationals against Martin in a 6-4 bout. Dieringer then won a bronze medal at the 2020 Pan American Championships after dropping a 2-1 match against Cuban veteran Yurieski Torreblanca Queralta.
While he qualified for the Olympic Trials, Dieringer was forced to miss the tournament due to injury. He is reportedly healed and ready to make another run. As a finalist for the last two Trials at 79 kg, Dieringer could end up being one of the tougher tests for Burroughs this weekend.
Jason Nolf as the Fourth Seed
While Dake won the Olympic Trials challenge tournament at 74 kg and earned the chance to face off against Burroughs for the spot on the team, he had to get past Nolf in the semifinals. Dake got past Nolf in dominant fashion, but the former Penn State national champion had a strong tournament, otherwise picking up 10-0 victories over both David Carr and Evan Wick.
Nolf also kept himself busy during the lockdown period. He competed on a variety of NLWC cards and other events. During that stretch, Nolf picked up victories over Jordan Oliver, David McFadden and current MMA competitor Bubba Jenkins.
As a three-time NCAA champion and four-time finalist, Nolf is one of the best college wrestlers of this generation. He seems to still be rounding into form on the freestyle side, but he has often found himself in stacked weight classes. That is certainly the case here, and he will likely get a chance here to make a statement against Burroughs.
Years Since Graduation
While Burroughs is only 33 years old, he will certainly be the elder statesman of this group. He completed his eligibility in 2011, which was 10 years ago. No other competitor is more than five years removed from their college career.
The oldest competitor to win an Olympic gold medal in freestyle at this past Games was David Taylor, who is 30. However, there were two gold medalists in Greco older than Burroughs, TamÃ¡s LÅ‘rincz (34) and MijaÃn LÃ³pez (39). Age is certainly not a determining factor, but it is natural for competitors to slow down as they get older. Burroughs' performance this weekend will say a lot about his prospects going forward.
While Burroughs has made his mark on the international scene at 74 kg, he will be moving up to 79 kg as Dake automatically qualified at the lower weight. A difference of five kilograms could make a significant difference as Burroughs will be facing off against some competitors who have spent the majority of their career at higher weights.
Seven of the 19 entrants compete as high as 165 pounds, which was Burroughs' college weight. However, there are also eight competitors who spent their college days at 174 pounds or higher. Despite competing exclusively at 157 pounds, NC State's Hayden Hidlay is reportedly set to move up to 174 pounds this season as well. Pat Downey had his best season in college at 197 pounds, so it will be interesting to see how he does all the way down at 79 kg.
Despite the meaningful size difference, Burroughs will likely be able to hold his own. Last January, he faced off his rival David Taylor on a one-off show. While he dropped a 4-4 match on criteria, he held up physically against the competitor who ended up bringing home the gold medal at 86 kg.
If Burroughs is near his top form, he should be the clear favorite to win this weight and qualify for yet another World team. The field is not the toughest he has faced during his career, but a win here would be a significant accomplishment and a sign that there might be a few more international medals in his future.