2021 Junior World bronze medalist Bryce Andonian (photo courtesy of Sam Janicki; SJanickiPhoto.com)
Team USA's Junior men's freestyle team finished third at the recent World Championships with three gold medals and two bronze medals. While the squad of college and high school wrestlers might mainly focus on folkstyle, the team displayed a dynamic and freestyle savvy style. Points were in abundance as the team averaged 12.23 points per match. The following looks at some of the standout statistical stories from the event.
Most Match Points
Bryce Andonian, who finished with a bronze medal at 70 kg, scored a team-high 38 match points across his four matches. He edged out Braxton Amos, who scored 36 points. 32 of Andonian's 38 points came via takedowns, which was also the most on Team USA.
Amos allowed only nine points on his way to the title at 97 kg, which was the lowest point total allowed on the team. Outside of a four-point throw, he allowed only a two-point takedown, a step out, a failed challenge and a caution for kicking out of a takedown attempt. On a per-minute basis, Amos averaged 1.61 points per minute, allowed only 0.40 points per minute for a +1.21 point differential. That was the highest differential on the team. Keegan O'Toole, who won gold at 74 kg, had the second-highest point differential at +1.19.
Traditional Par Terre
While Andonian only scored four points in par terre via a pair of gut wrenches, the squad as a whole had a strong performance when grounded. Much was made of the team's cradle usage, which resulted in eight match points and multiple falls. However, Team USA also had a strong performance with typical freestyle turning maneuvers.
On gut wrenches and leg laces, the U.S. outscored opponents 26 to 18. The team allowed only two points via the leg lace throughout the whole tournament. However, it was slightly outscored on gut wrenches 16 to 14.
Team USA also had an edge over their opposition in terms of big moves. Collectively, they registered nine four-point maneuvers, and Amos added a five-pointer in his gold medal victory over Polat Polatci of Turkey. Team USA's opposition managed to land six four-point moves against them.
Much like the Olympic team, Team USA was once again dominant when it came to leg attack takedowns. The team outscored their opposition 96 to 38 on leg attacks and added another eight points on leg attacks that ultimately resulted in a step-out. Rocky Elam led the way for the team with 22 points via leg attack takedowns.
On takedowns overall, the U.S. had the edge on points 149 to 76. Outside of Andonian's 32 points, Beau Barlett (24 points) and Amos (23) were also key contributors in terms of this metric.
This aggressive approach was also apparent via another stat. Team USA did not surrender a single shot clock point throughout the tournament. Elam scored twice via the clock and Bartlett added another point. The combined men's and women's freestyle Olympic teams allowed nine points via the clock in their nine-medal winning performance,
Over the course of the tournament, the men's freestyle team wrestled in 30 matches. In 21 of those matches, Team USA scored the first points of the match. Elam actually started all four of his matches with the lead.
As a team, Team USA outscored their opposition 123 to 74 in the first period and 106 to 64 in the second.
Highest Scoring Match
Andonian was also involved in the highest-scoring match featuring a U.S. wrestler. His bronze-medal match against Stanislav Novac ended with 26 points on the board. Not only did Andonain not score the first points of the match, he actually fell behind 8-2 early in the second period. However, he stormed back with 16 points to close out the 18-8 VSU1 victory and bring home a medal.
O'Toole finished with two falls, which were tied for the most in the tournament. Polat Platci of Turkey, who lost in the finals against Amos, also finished with a pair of falls. O'Toole also added a couple of superiority victories to finish with four stoppage victories for the tournament. Five other wrestlers finished with three, but O'Toole's four were the most in the field.