2021 World Team Member Maya Nelson(Photo/Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
Due to an extremely strong showing at the recent Olympics, the U.S. did not hold trials for multiple weights. Medalists from the Games could choose to return for the 2021 World Championships and many have made that decision. The rest of the representatives were decided at last weekend's World Team Trials. The following looks at the top statistical performance from that event.
Points Against per Minute
At this point, calling J'Den Cox the best defensive wrestler in the country might be an understatement. The multiple-time World medalist put his skill on display once again this past weekend at the 2021 World Team Trials. After missing out on a trip to the recent Olympics, he qualified for the upcoming World Championships without surrendering a single point.
Cox was the only wrestler across all three styles to complete the tournament without giving up an individual match point. Nick Gwiazdowski, who will also be returning to the World stage, allowed three points or 0.13 points per minute, which was the second-lowest rate of points allowed. Max Nowry (0.15), Zain Retherford (0.16) and Ben Provisor (0.17) rounded out the top five in terms of points allowed per minute.
Points per Minute
In terms of offensive production, the tournament belonged to Xochitl Mota-Pettis. After making the finals of the 2020 Senior, U23 and Junior nationals, Mota-Pettis finished third this past weekend. She averaged 4.35 points per minute, and her only loss was the highest-scoring match of the tournament (more on that later). That scoring rate was far away tops for the tournament. Austin Morrow, who wrestled only two matches in the 77kg Greco bracket, finished second with 3.08 points per minute.
The third highest point score was an interesting story. Current Maryland wrestler King Sandoval made an unlikely run to finish third at 60kg Greco. His only defeat came against 2020 Olympian Ildar Hafizov, and Sandoval averaged 2.96 points per minute. Along the way, he defeated Dylan Koontz (twice) and Aidan Nutter by a combined score of 19 to 2.
Mota-Pettis' dynamic scoring allowed her to bring home the highest point differential of the tournament. She allowed 22 points across her five matches with 20 coming in her only defeat against eventual champion Maya Nelson. This resulted in a 2.31 point differential (points per minute minus points allowed per minute).
She edged out Sam Jones, who earned a spot on the Greco team at 63kg. He finished with a 2.20 differential and actually picked up two 9-0 superiority victories that eclipsed the 8-0 the threshold for match termination in the style.
Zain Retherford had the fifth-highest point differential across all three styles and the highest in men's freestyle. He allowed only two points with both coming in his criteria loss against Jordan Oliver. The former Penn State national champion rolled in his other matches, scoring 21 points combined against Tyler Berger and Jarrett Jacques in under six total minutes.
Highest Scoring Matches
As previously stated, the Nelson vs. Mota-Pettis match was tied for the highest-scoring match of the tournament with 27 points. Even when losing by superiority, Mota-Pettis still managed to score seven points. Nelson opened the scoring with a two-point exposure in a scramble. However, Mota-Pettis quickly pulled ahead with a four-point throw along the edge. Nelson regained control and went to the break with a 10-7 lead. The second period was an entirely different story. Nelson dominated throughout. She scored a pair of four-pointers and threw in a two-point score to terminate the match.
On the men's freestyle side, Carter Young and Seth Gross were able to equal Nelson and Mota-Pettis with a 27-point match of their own. While Gross has been known to find himself in high-scoring matches over the years, Young was a revelation in the tournament and bested Gross at his own game.
The bout was the third-place match at 61kg, and unlike the Nelson vs. Mota-Pettis match, it was close throughout. Neither wrestler ever had more than a two-point lead in the first period. Young started the scoring in the second with an early stepout. However, Gross stormed back with a takedown, an exposure in a scramble and a trap-arm gut wrench. He nearly collected the touch fall on the gut wrench and appeared to be in control in the bout. Unfortunately for him, Young was not done. He got back into the match and eventually closed it out 15-12 with three-straight takedowns.
Results by Style
Women's freestyle had the highest percentage of matches to end via match termination. 65 of the 111 bouts (59%) ended prior to the full six minutes. The majority of Greco Roman matches also ended early as 62 of 112 (55%) came via match termination. Men's freestyle was the only style that saw VPO/VPO1 result as the most common. 74 of the 133 (56%) matches went the full time. Across all three styles, 176 of the 356 matches ended via match termination.