David Taylor in the 2022 World finals against Hassan Yazdani (photo courtesy of Kadir Caliskan/UWW)
The U.S. men's freestyle team brought home the team title with a 48-point margin over second place Iran. Along the way, the team won medals in eight of 10 weights and finished with four gold medals.
Collectively, the team scored 324 match points and allowed only 97. On a per-minute basis, the team averaged 1.67 points per minute. The only team with a higher rate was Costa Rica, who entered only one wrestler.
One of the key performers for Team USA was David Taylor. The former Penn State national champion was dominant on his way to the title at 86 kg. He advanced to the finals without surrendering a single point, and only allowed his rival, Hassan Yazdani, to score one point in the gold medal match.
Taylor averaged 2.95 points per minute, while allowing only 0.07 points per minute. His +2.88 match point differential was the highest on Team USA across all three styles and the fourth highest among all competitors in the tournament. The only men's freestyle competitor with a better differential was Rei Higuchi (+2.99) who won the tournament title at 61 kg.
22 of Taylor's points came via takedowns, and he added another 14 with exposures. He also scored a single step-out point, one shot clock point and his opponents failed on a pair of challenges. The only score his opponents were able to score against him was a step out in the finals by Yazdani. In his last three matches against Yazdani, Taylor had failed to keep him under three points.
Jordan Burroughs, who returned to the top of the podium at 79 kg, had the most points off takedowns in men's freestyle with 26. Yianni Diakomihalis broke the Team USA medal drought at 65 kg with a silver. He scored the most points via exposures with 18 (unconfirmed due to missing video).
A key factor in the team's overall success against Iran. While the final point gap between the two countries was wide, things could have easily turned out differently. In men's freestyle, Team USA went 4-2 in head-to-head matches against Iran with all four of the team's gold medalists defeating a member of Iran's team on the way to the title.
The women's freestyle team finished with seven total medals and a second-place finish behind Japan in the team race. Of those seven medals, three were golds. Olympic gold medalist Tamyra Mensah-Stock had a particularly strong showing on her way to the title in the 68 kg division.
Mensah-Stock scored 2.80 points per minute and won the title without surrendering a single point. Her +2.80 match point differential was the second highest on Team USA overall, behind only Taylor, and fifth overall in the tournament. In women's freestyle, it was the third best rate behind 50 kg champion Yui Sasaki (+6.43) and 62 kg champion Nonoka Ozaki (+3.02).
Of the 30 champions in all three styles, Mensah-Stock was one of only five to win gold without giving up a point. She joined Susaki, 55 kg champion Mayu Mukaida, 65 kg champion Miwa Morikawa and 55 kg Greco Roman champion Eldaniz Azizli of Azerbaijan.
One surprise for Team USA was the gold medal run for Amit Elor. The 18-year-old wrestler won all four of her matches and took home the title at 72 kg. She allowed only two points across all four matches and finished with a +2.60 match point differential. Across all three styles, Elor had the ninth-highest differential.
While Team USA fans are used to seeing Sarah Hildebrandt rack up points at world-level events, her performance at this year's World Championships was slightly different. She added a bronze medal to her collection, and her only loss came against champion Sasaki. Hildebrandt scored 33 match points, which was only one behind Mensah-Stock for the most on the team. Normally, she runs up the total with her leg lace in par terre. However, this year, she scored 24 of her 33 points via takedowns. It was the most points scored via takedowns for Team USA in women's freestyle.
Team USA's head-to-head matches against Japan had a lot to say about the final team score in women's freestyle. In the style, the team faced off against the perennial women's wrestling powerhouse in seven matches. Mensah-Stock and Elor won their encounters and went on to win gold. However, the other five all lost. Overall, Japan outscored the squad 32-7 across those seven matches.
At the 2021 World Championships G'Angelo Hancock broke through and brought home a bronze medal at 97 kg. Unfortunately, Team USA's Greco squad was not able to return to the podium. Overall, this was a tough tournament for the team. Three of the 10 wrestlers who made the world team pulled out and were replaced. The team went 7-12 through their 19 matches. The first score in 15 of those matches was a passive call by the referee.
Max Nowry (55 kg) and Ildar Hafizov (60 kg) provided four of the seven victories by adding two each. Nowry probably had the best performance as he pinned his first two opponents and made the bronze-medal bout before finishing fifth.
In terms of point differential, only three members of the team finished on the right side of positive. At 82 kg Spencer Woods (+0.75) finished with the highest as he was leading 13-10, when he lost by fall. The other positive differentials belonged to Alejandro Sancho (+0.52) and Wisconsin folkstyle wrestler Braxton Amos (+0.25).
Collectively, the team was outscored 88-67. Team USA was actually outscored at all three age levels so far in Greco. However, the edge at the senior level was larger than at the U17 level (91-86) and U20 level (107-100).
With the World Championships in the book, the American wrestling world will likely turn its attention to folkstyle with a brief break for the Olympic styles in late October for the U23 World Championships.