At the recent 2023 World Wrestling Championships, Team USA finished with four gold medals and 14 total medals, which was the most in the competition. The squad also brought home the team title in men’s freestyle. The following looks at the overall statistical performance of the squad and some of the top performers.
As a whole, Team USA outscored their opposition 629 to 321 in individual match points. The biggest difference came in men’s freestyle where the team had a 295 to 119 edge. That 176-point advantage edged out the women’s freestyle team who more than doubled up on their opponents 262 to 104. It was a tough tournament for the Greco-Roman squad who were outscored 98 to 72 in the event.
The largest single contributor to the men’s freestyle point total was Vito Arujau. On his way to the title at 61 kg, he scored 50 match points, which is 17% of the points scored by the team in that style.
In women’s freestyle, 22-year-old Macey Kilty finished one match short of the title at 65 kg. However, she put up the most points for Team USA in the style. She scored 41 points in her first four matches before being shutout by Nonoka Ozaki in the finals.
Kamal Bey went 2-2 in the 77-kg bracket in Greco-Roman. He dropped to the repechage after losing his second match and finished two wins away from a bronze medal. In those four matches, he scored 14 points. That was the most by any member of Team USA in Greco.
The distinction between a takedown and an exposure in the international styles is rarely relevant. At the end of the day, two points are the same as two points. However, for statistical tracking, it can be interesting to see how a wrestler racks up their points.
In men’s freestyle, Team USA managed to score 164 of their 295 individual match points (56%) via takedowns. David Taylor was the largest contributor with 28 of his points coming via takedowns on his way to the championship at 86 kg.
The women’s freestyle group scored the same proportion of points off of takedowns. As a team, they scored 146 of their 262 points from takedowns or 57%. Both Helen Maroulis, bronze medalist at 57 kg, and Amit Elor, gold medalist at 72 kg, scored 26 points off takedowns in the tournament.
Perhaps more than ever, Greco has become a par terre sport. As a team, the American Greco squad scored only 18 points off takedowns and allowed only 22. Bey, Joe Rau, and Cohlton Schultz each scored four points from takedowns.
In terms of exposures, men’s freestyle once again led the way with 86 points off of exposures. Arujau, the highest-scoring member of the team, scored 24 of those points. That total was far and away the most scored-off exposures for the team in that style. The next highest scorer via exposures was 74 kg runner-up Kyle Dake with 16.
Points off exposures were an essential element of Grey’s run as well. She scored 28 points off exposures on her path to a bronze medal. Those 28 points were the most off exposures in women’s freestyle and for Team USA overall.
Perhaps the best performance in Greco for Team USA belonged to Xavier Johnson. The veteran came up one match short of the bronze medal match. Along the way, he scored eight points on exposures, which was the most for the team in the style.
Defense is always an essential part of wrestling, and in international tournaments, the best members of Team USA are usually quite stingy when it comes to allowing points. That was certainly the case for Elor. She allowed only four points in her four matches on the way to a gold medal. She allowed an exposure in a scramble against Kendra Dacher (France) in the semifinals before winning via a 12-2 score. In the finals, Enkh-Amaryn Davaanasan (Mongolia) was able to secure a takedown in the second period, but Elor closed out the win 8-2.
No other champion for Team USA allowed fewer than the four points allowed by Elor. However, Taylor came close in men’s freestyle. The now four-time World/Olympic champion allowed only five points with three of those coming in the finals against rival Hassan Yazdani (Iran).
The new caution rule regarding fleeing the mat on the edge can introduce a level of randomness into matches. Officials seemingly do not call it consistently, and it can appear to run a one-point step out into a two-point move. However, there was little impact on Team USA in this tournament. The call was only made twice against Team USA, once each against Arujau and Zain Retherford. Opponents of Team USA were only called for it three times.
Team USA was rather successful in the challenge department. The team scored 11 points off failed challenges while only allowing opponents three points. Perhaps coaches are more tactical in their application of challenges or winning matches resulting in more desperation from opponents.
The squad was also extremely successful when it came to pushouts. The team, as a whole, scored 47 points on stepouts, while allowing only 17. While some fans are hesitant to embrace the idea of a step-out or push-out point in folkstyle, it seems likely that the background in folkstyle has helped the team do well in the international styles when it comes to step-outs.