G'Angelo Hancock (left) and Kayla Miracle (Hancock photo courtesy of Tony Rotundo;UWW; Miracle courtesy of Martin Gabor/UWW)
While the men's freestyle team was the first portion of Team USA to finish at the 2021 World Championships, women's freestyle and Greco Roman also took to the mats earlier this month. Women's freestyle brought home seven medals in their 10 weight classes, and Greco got in on the action as G'Angelo Hancock brought home a bronze at 97kg. The following looks at some of the top statistical performers from the event in both of those styles and tries to identify any trends or patterns in the numbers.
G'Angelo Hancock not only brought home the only medal for Team USA on the Greco side, but he was also the only member of the team to finish with a positive point differential. He averaged 0.84 points per minute, while allowing 0.19 per minute, which left him with a +0.65 differential. Hancock's points per minute rate was actually second on the team behind Max Nowry (1.97). However, he allowed only four points throughout the tournament. Unfortunately for him, all four of those points came in his semifinal defeat against Alex Szoke (Hungary).
On the women's freestyle side, Sarah Hildebrandt led the squad in point differential by relying on her offense. She finished with a +2.09 point differential thanks to a 2.53 points per minute rate, which also led the squad. She allowed only one point before running into Remina Yoshimoto (Japan) in the finals, where she ultimately dropped a 5-3 match. Adeline Gray finished with the second-highest point differential on the team with a +1.53 measure. She averaged 1.89 points per minute and allowed only 0.36 per minute.
Hancock Neutral Offense
In many ways, Greco these days has become a bit of a par terre battle. With the advent of forced par terre, most competitors get their opportunity to work from the top position, and they usually make the most of it. Interestingly enough, Hancock actually did a pretty sizable portion of his scoring from the standing position. He scored 18 points in the tournament, with six coming via takedowns, six from par terre turns, four from passive calls and two more on failed challenges. In fact, Hancock scored takedown points from the standing position in all three of his victories, but was unable to notch one against Szoke.
18 of Hildebrandt's 35 points came via the leg lace. Her nine leg laces were not only the most on the team, but also more than the rest of the squad combined. Kayla Miracle added four, Forrest Molinari finished with three and Helen Maroulis scored one during her run to the World title. This was Hildebrandt's second-straight tournament, where she led the team with points off the leg lace after putting up a whopping 26 at the Olympics.
The women's freestyle team of the U.S. collectively landed 49 takedowns throughout the tournament and allowed their opponents to collect only 22. Olympic gold medalist Tamyra Mensah-Stock finished with a team-high nine takedowns, and fellow gold medalist Helen Maroulis was right behind her with eight. Of the 198 points scored by Team USA in this style, 104 came via takedowns.
USA Greco returns to the medal podium
Hancock became only the fifth U.S. wrestler to bring home a medal on the Greco side since the team won the World title back in 2007. His bronze medal performance at 97kg linked him with some rare company.
Andy Bisek is the most decorated of the five as he won back-to-back bronze medals at 75 kg in 2014 and 2015. He returned to the World stage for the 2016 Olympics but failed to medal. He is currently the head coach at the National Training Site at Northern Michigan University.
Adam Wheeler won Olympic bronze at the 2008 Games at 96 kg. The following year, Dremiel Byers won silver at heavyweight to capture his third World medal. At the time, he was 35 years old and had previously captured gold in 2002 and bronze in 2007.
The last U.S. wrestler to medal at a World/Olympic event was Adam Coon. The heavyweight walked off the collegiate mats in 2018 and picked up four straight falls to make the World final. He came up short against Russia's Sergey Semenov, but his performance was enough to capture silver. In the process, he became the first U.S. wrestler to bring home a medal in Greco since 2015.
First Period Scoring
The U.S. women's freestyle team consistently jumped on opponents throughout the tournament. As a team, they scored 112 points in the first periods of their matches and allowed only 39. In fact, the majority of points scored against the score came in the second period (50). Hildebrandt led the way with 25 first-period points, but Kayla Miracle (22) and Forrest Molinari (20) both finished with more than 20.
Not only did Molinari finish with the third-most first-period points on the team, but she was also stingy defensively in the opening period. She allowed only two points in the first period of her matches throughout the tournament. Three other wrestlers, Mensah-Stock, Hildebrandt and Maya Nelson, each also only allowed three points in their first periods.
Gray had the most second-period points on any competitor on the team. She scored 16 points, including a vital six points in her gold medal match at 76kg. Gray went to the break down 4-0, but she got back into the match with six second-period points via two takedowns and a gut wrench to take it 6-4.