We have a Senior World Team set! Or at least 29 of 30 team members after Final X in Newark, New Jersey on Saturday. Final X provided us with some exciting matches, controversial moments, historic performances and much more.
After evaluating the world team for each of the three styles and looking over the results, we’ve found some fun facts, trends, and random “other stuff.”
So, let’s get down to it!
Men’s freestyle had seven wrestlers with a bye through to Final X, based on winning a world medal. Three of those were beaten. In the remaining three weights, the US Open champion did not prevail, only at 92 kg.
Women’s freestyle had four winners that had to go through World Team Trials.
Greco-Roman had five World Team Trials winners go on to take the world team spot.
Zane Richards is the first Illinois alum to make a freestyle world team since Jimmy Kennedy in 2014. It was a good showing for the Illini, who also had Zac Braunagel make the Greco team.
Penn State has three alums on the men’s freestyle team with: Nick Lee, Zain Retherford, and David Taylor. The last time three current/former members of the same school were on the men’s team was in 2007 with Mike Zadick, Doug Schwab, and Joe Williams. (You could include the 2008 Olympic Team with Zadick, Schwab, and Steve Mocco).
Zahid Valencia is the first Arizona State alum to make the men’s freestyle team since Danny Felix in 2009.
Lock Haven alum Chance Marsteller is the first wrestler with LHU roots to make the team since Obe Blanc in 2010. Coincidentally, Marsteller transferred to Lock Haven from Oklahoma State; while Blanc went from Lock Haven to Oklahoma State.
This is the first world team without any alums from Nebraska schools on it since 2008. Jordan Burroughs made every world team from 2011-22, along with James Green (2015-16, 2017-19, 2021). Before Burroughs, Nebraska-Omaha’s Les Sigman made the team in 2010 and Nebraska-Kearney’s Tervel Dlagnev made the 2009 team.
The men’s freestyle team has five first-time World/Olympic team members (Richards, Vito Arujau, Nick Lee, Chance Marsteller, Valencia). The last time we had that many was in 2010 (Blanc, Brent Metcalf, Travis Paulson, JD Bergman, Sigman).
Richards is the first Illinois native on a freestyle world team since Tony Ramos in 2015. Illinois-native Dan Dennis was also on the 2016 Olympic team.
Lee is the first Indiana native to make the men’s freestyle team since Reece Humphrey in 2015.
Since Cael Sanderson arrived at Penn State, Nick Lee is now the fifth Nittany Lion alum to make a World/Olympic Team (Lee, Retherford, David Taylor, Ed Ruth, Frank Molinaro).
With Arujau making the team, every men’s freestyle World/Olympic team since 2019 has had at least one wrestler with collegiate eligibility remaining.
Arujau’s 13-10 win over Nahshon Garrett is the highest-scoring single match in Final X history. It broke a record set by Arujau’s teammate Yianni Diakomihalis and one of Garrett’s LVWC coaches, Evan Henderson, last year (11-9).
With Retherford and Marsteller on the team, it marks the first time since 1990 that PA has had two wrestlers on the world team. They were Nate Carr and Rob Koll. (There were two on the 2012 Olympic Team with Coleman Scott and Jake Herbert).
The most experienced member of this team is Kyle Snyder who’s making his ninth World/Olympic appearance. He has made every World/Olympic team since 2015.
At 61 kg, Arujau made his first world team. That makes a different representative at 61 kg for every world tournament since 2017. 17/Logan Stieber, 18/Joe Colon, 19/Tyler Graff, 21/Daton Fix, 22/Seth Gross.
The HS Class of 2017 continues to impress. With Arujau and Lee making the world team debuts, it will make four wrestlers from that class that have already made world teams (Fix/Yianni Diakomihalis).
Chance Marsteller, Brady Koontz, Pat Smith, and Zac Braunagel all lost their first match, but came back to win their series.
Jennifer Page is the first wrestler from Oklahoma City to make the world team since Becka Leathers in 2017.
Sarah Hildebrandt kept her impressive scoreless Final X streak alive. She’s the only wrestler to participate in every iteration of the event and has held her opponent's score in all eight matches. She won by a combined score of 56-0.
With her series-clinching fall, Adeline Gray got her third career Final X fall. She’s the only wrestler with more than one in her career.
Two of the women’s freestyle world teamers changed weights after a loss at the US Open finals. Page from 62 kg to 59. Emma Bruntil from 65 kg to 68.
Page at 59 kg is the fifth different woman to appear for the United States at the last five world championships. (22/Abby Nette, 21/Maya Nelson, 19/Alli Ragan, 18/Jenna Burkert).
Bruntil is the first wrestler that wrestled at McKendree to make a Senior world team.
As usual, California is well-represented on the women’s world team. There will be five women from California on the 2023 squad with Dom Parrish/53, Jacarra Winchester/55, Page/59, Amit Elor/72.
The 2023 team will have at least three first-time world team members with Page, Kilty, and Bruntil.
Two of the first-timers downed past world medalists to earn their place on the squad. Kilty defeated Mallory Velte and Bruntil knocked off Forrest Molinari.
The two wrestlers surrounding Kayla Miracle in the lineup; Page (59 kg) and Kilty (65 kg), both have lost to Miracle in a Final X or Olympic Trials final.
Adeline Gray is the senior member of the team having made her 12th World/Olympic squad.
Brady Koontz and Spencer Woods both won three-match series’ though they were cumulatively outscored by their respective opponents. Dalton Duffield had an 8-0 tech of Koontz in match one and ultimately outscored him, 12-11. Ryan Epps teched Woods in match two 9-0 and had a cumulative lead of 12-8.
Koontz started his Final X “career” with five consecutive losses (2x 2019/2x 2022) before rallying to beat Duffield in matches two and three.
Pat Smith is now 3-for-3, wrestling three-match series’ in each of his three Final X appearances. This was the second one he won. Smith downed Kamal Bey in 2019 and lost to Benji Peak last year.
Joe Rau made the world team at a third different weight. 80 kg in 2014, 87 kg in 2019, and 97 in 2023.
Xavier Johnson is the first wrestler from the Carolinas (South) to make a world/Olympic team in any style since Dremiel Byers (North) did so at 120 kg in Greco in 2012.
Speaking of heavyweights, after Cohlton Schultz made his third consecutive team, it extended a streak that’s seen only four wrestlers make a World/Olympic team at Greco’s highest weight dating back to 2005. Byers made the team from 05-2012. Robby Smith took over from 2013-17, and Adam Coon in 2018-19 (who also won the 2020 Trials).
Ildar Hafizov and Smith are the veteran members of this team with four world/Olympic team appearances each. (Hafizov has more wrestling for Uzbekistan).