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US Olympic Wrestling Trials: Recap from Saturday's best-of-three championship finals


FORT WORTH, Texas — Happy Saturday. We are back at Dickies Arena for the final day of USA Wrestling's 2021 Olympic Trials. 

The best-of-three championship series begins at 6:30 p.m. to decide the members of the 2021 U.S. Olympic wrestling teams. Below is information on how to watch, Iowa wrestlers competing and their matches, and other important information.

How to watch Saturday's U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials Finals, schedule, brackets

  • Session 4, 6:30 p.m., best-of-three championship finals, NBCSN

The tournament, as well as mat assignments and updated brackets, can be found at Trackwrestling. Session 4 will be televised on NBC Sports Network. Individual mat cams can also be found on the NBC Sports app and on NBC Sports online

Here, we will provide updates, thoughts and other observations throughout Saturday night's championship finals. Be sure to check back throughout the evening, and follow our wrestling writer, Cody Goodwin, on Twitter for more immediate updates.

► MORE WRESTLING COVERAGE FROM THE REGISTER

U.S. Olympic Trials, Championship Finals Series Matchups

Men’s Freestyle

57-kg (125-lbs): Thomas Gilman (Nittany Lion WC) vs. Vito Arujau (Spartan Combat)

  • MATCH 1: Gilman by fall, 5:41. Vito jumped out to a 4-0 lead thanks to a takedown and a turn on the edge in the opening minute. But Gilman came back with three step-out points, then a 4-point takedown to lead 7-4 at the break. He scored another takedown, then took Vito to his back for the fall late to take match one.
  • MATCH 2: Gilman, 2-2. Gilman completes the sweep thanks to a first-period takedown, which held up as the winner over Vito's two step-out points. Vito made some obvious adjustments, but it wasn't enough.

65-kg (143-lbs): Joey McKenna (Penn RTC) vs. Jordan Oliver (Sunkist Kids)

  • MATCH 1: Oliver, 3-0. Oliver led 1-0 in the second and was put on the shot-clock, and quickly converted a single-leg for 2 to ice this first match. There wasn't a ton of offense from either guy otherwise, but they were both very stingy defensively.
  • MATCH 2: Oliver, 5-2. Jordan Oliver was previously 0-4 in his first two trips to the Olympic Trials. This week, he went 4-0 and made the Olympic team. Now he's gotta qualify the weight, but that job is now his. He earned it.

74-kg (163-lbs): Jordan Burroughs (Sunkist Kids) vs. Kyle Dake (Spartan Combat)

  • MATCH 1: Dake, 3-0. Dake executed a tremendous gameplan to keep Burroughs quietly offensively. Dake scored on a step-out in the first period, then turned a Burroughs shot into a takedown in the second.
  • MATCH 2: Dake, 3-2. Dake sweeps JB and will represent the U.S. at 74-kg in Tokyo. He scored on a quick step-out in the first period, then added a takedown in the second period out of a flurry. JB scored off a shot-clock point and again on a step-out, but KD's defense and gameplan was too much. That was an impressive set of matches.

86-kg (189-lbs): David Taylor (Nittany Lion WC) vs. Bo Nickal (Nittany Lion WC)

  • MATCH 1: Taylor, 4-0. A quick 2 and 2 for DT holds up as the winner here. Bo was in on some opportunities, but DT is so sound defensively that he couldn't really utilize his underhooks and strong hips.
  • MATCH 2: Taylor, 6-0. David Taylor is headed to Tokyo, shutting out another former Nittany Lion wrestler for the second-straight time to secure his first Olympic berth.

97-kg (213-lbs): Kyle Snyder (Nittany Lion WC) vs. Kollin Moore (Ohio RTC)

  • MATCH 1: Snyder, 10-0. Battle between two Ohio State grads here, and Snyder put on his big brother cap in this first match. Handful of takedowns, a few step-outs, and it's over. Workmanlike performance.
  • MATCH 2: Snyder, 5-1. Make that TWO-TIME Olympian Kyle Snyder. Another workmanlike performance to seal the sweep. He led 5-0 after the first period, and that held up as enough to secure his spot.

125-kg (275-lbs): Nick Gwiazdowski (Wolfpack WC) vs. Gable Steveson (Gopher WC)

  • MATCH 1: Steveson, 10-0. Scored two takedowns and a turn in the first, then two more takedowns off re-shorts in the second. That was a clinic.
  • MATCH 2: Steveson, 10-4. Again, Steveson made this look ridiculous. Gwiazdowski is a two-time world bronze medalist, and Steveson's quick feet and efficient technique led to a series sweep. Steveson outscored his four opponents this weekend 42-4. He's going

Women's Freestyle

50-kg (110-lbs): Sarah Hildebrandt (NYAC) vs. Victoria Anthony (ASU RTC)

  • MATCH 1: Hildebrandt, 12-2. Anthony scored the first points here. Hildebrandt tied it, 2-2, before the end of the first. Then Hildebrandt went up 6-2 after two more takedowns and locked up a lace to secure the technical fall late in the second.
  • MATCH 2: Hildebrandt, 10-0. Back to back technical falls from Hildebrandt secures her spot on the Olympic team. Anthony was tremendous this weekend, but Hildebrandt is clearly on a different level.

53-kg (116-lbs): Jacarra Winchester (USOPTC) vs. Ronna Heaton (Sunkist Kids)

  • MATCH 1: Winchester, 7-4. Heaton isn't going to go down quietly. She was within 3-1 and 5-4, but Winchester never trailed in this first matchup.
  • MATCH 2: Winchester, 12-2. Not nearly as close this time. Winchester, another defending world champion, raced to an 8-0 first-period lead, then added a 4-point score in the second to punch her ticket to Tokyo.

57-kg (125-lbs): Helen Maroulis (Nittany Lion WC) vs. Jenna Burkert (Army WCAP)

  • MATCH 1: Maroulis, 5-3. Burkert led 2-0 after a quick first-period takedown. It took a while for Maroulis to get rolling offensively, but she built a 5-2 lead late in the second. Burkert was able to get to shots and create angles. Match 2 should be interesting.
  • MATCH 2: Burkert, 6-5. Hello, Jenna Burkert! She's able to complete the match in the second meeting, thanks to a takedown with 30 seconds left in the second period to force a winner-take-all third bout.
  • MATCH 3: Maroulis by fall, :24. Maroulis will get an opportunity to defend her Olympic title. She took Burkert feet to back and settled in for the quick pin to win this series and secure her spot in Tokyo.

62-kg (136-lbs): Kayla Miracle (Sunkist Kids) vs. Macey Kilty (Sunkist Kids)

  • MATCH 1: Miracle, 8-4. Miracle jumped out to a 6-0 lead after the first period. Kilty fought back with back-to-back takedowns in the second, but Miracle scored another to ice the first match.
  • MATCH 2: Kilty, 4-3. Hello, Macey Kilty! She scored late to lead 2-1 after the first period, then scored another early in the second to lead 4-1. Miracle scored a couple of step-outs to close in, but Kilty held on. Match 3 coming up!
  • MATCH 3: Miracle by injury default. Tough break for Kilty, who went down with an injury in the first period and couldn't continue. Miracle led 6-0 when Kilty first called injury time, then added another turn before Kilty called it quits. Hope she heals up, but now Miracle gets a crack at the Olympics.

68-kg (150-lbs): Tamyra Mensah-Stock (USOPTC) vs. Kennedy Blades (Sunkist Kids)

  • MATCH 1: Mensah-Stock, 12-4. Blades stunned the crowd a little by scoring the first takedown here, but Mensah-Stock just powered through her when in neutral the rest of the way. She's a defending world champ for a reason.
  • MATCH 2: Mensah-Stock, 8-1. Blades is going to be a problem in the years ahead, and the crowd gave her a standing ovation on her way off the floor. But Mensah-Stock should absolutely be considered the gold medal favorite in Tokyo. 

76-kg (167-lbs): Adeline Gray (NYAC) vs. Kyle Welker (Titan Mercury)

  • MATCH 1: Gray, 10-0. This is a tall ask for Welker, against a five-time world champ. Gray piled up the points here to close this first match in less than two minutes.
  • MATCH 2: Gray, 11-0. Gray does it again, another workmanlike performance from her. Her sights have always been set higher than just making the Olympic team, of course. 

Greco-Roman

60-kg (132-lbs): Ildar Hafizov (Army WCAP) vs. Ryan Mango (Army WCAP)

  • MATCH 1: Hafizov, 7-0. A first-period flurry turned a 1-0 Hafizov lead into a 7-0 lead, thanks to a turn and a 4-point toss. Hafivoz did well controlling ties and keeping Mango quiet offensively. Impressive stuff.
  • MATCH 2: Hafizov, 8-0. Hafizov closed this one down in less than 90 seconds. Two quick takedowns, then a big 4-pointer to secure the technical superiority. He can be super explosive. Here's hoping he brings that to Tokyo this summer.

67-kg (147-lbs): Alejandro Sancho (Army WCAP) vs. Ellis Coleman (Army WCAP)

  • MATCH 1: Sancho 2-0. A score early in the first period held up for Sancho in this first matchup.
  • MATCH 2: Sancho, 3-1. Sancho turned a 1-0 deficit into a 3-1 lead in the second thanks to a 1 and 2 scoring sequence that ultimately held up as the match and series winner. Coleman announced his retirement afterward. Kudos to a tremendous career.

77-kg (169-lbs): Peyton Walsh (All-Marine Wrestling) vs. Jesse Porter (NYAC)

  • MATCH 1: Porter, 8-1. Porter scored a big 4-point throw and added a quick turn right after to turn a 1-0 hole to a 6-1 lead midway through the second. That led to a match one win.
  • MATCH 2: Porter, 7-7. Porter jumped out to a 7-0 lead in the first period thanks to a BIG 5-point throw. While Gable racked up takedowns against Gwiazdowksi, Walsh battled back thanks to a 4-pointer. That 5 gave Porter the win on criteria, the highest-scoring move. Porter is now tasked with qualifying this weight for Tokyo.

87-kg (191-lbs): Joe Rau (Titan Mercury) vs. John Stefanowicz (All-Marine Wrestling)

  • MATCH 1: Stefanowicz, 6-5. Rau jumped out to a 4-0 lead on a gnarly head-pinch. Then Stefanowicz took top on a passivity on Rau and turned him twice to lead 6-4. That ultimately held up for him.
  • MATCH 2: Stefanowicz, 2-1. Stefanowicz completes an impressive run with a hard-fought, single-point victory to secure his spot on the Olympic team. Joe Rau announced his retirement afterward. Kudos to a tremendous career.

97-kg (213-lbs): G'Angelo Hancock (Sunkist Kids) vs. Braxton Amos (Wisconsin RTC)

  • MATCH 1: Hancock, 8-0. Amos's run through this tournament has been impressive, but Hancock is among the best in the world, and showed it there.
  • MATCH 2: Hancock, 8-0. Identical, dominant performances from Hancock earns him a spot on the U.S Olympic team.

130-kg (286-lbs): Adam Coon (Cliff Keen WC) vs. Cohlton Schultz (Sunkist Kids)

  • MATCH 1: Coon, 10-1. When Adam Coon gets on top, he's hard to stop. He rolled up a couple of turns in the first period to lead 6-0, then added a couple more in the second to seal the first match.
  • MATCH 2: Coon, 3-3. Coon makes it a clean sweep, but had to work a little in this one. Schultz led 3-1 late into the match, but Coon converted for a takedown to lead and ultimately win on criteria. Coon now has to qualify the weight 

How did the other Iowa wrestlers do?

Joe Colon, a Cyclone-RTC member and an All-American for Northern Iowa, reached the 57-kg semifinals in men's freestyle, where he lost to Gilman, 10-0. Then he medically-forfeited out of the consolation rounds. He finished 1-2.

David Carr, a 2021 NCAA champ for Iowa State, reached the 74-kg semifinals in men's freestyle, where he lost to Nittany Lion WC's Jason Nolf, 10-0. He wrestled back on Saturday but lost to Wolfpack WC's Thomas Gantt, 7-1. He finished 1-2.

Sam Brooks, a two-time All-American for Iowa and Hawkeye Wrestling Club member, competed at 86-kg in men's freestyle, but lost both of his matches Friday and was eliminated.

Pat Downey, a 2016 All-American for Iowa State, competed in men's freestyle at 86-kg. He lost his first match to Nickal, but advanced through the wrestlebacks to reach the third-place match. There, he lost to Zahid Valencia, 11-1, to finish fourth.

Kyven Gadson, a 2015 NCAA champ for Iowa State, competed in men's freestyle at 97-kg. He lost his first match on Friday, but advanced through the wrestlebacks to Saturday's third-place match, where he beat Ty Walz, 6-0. He followed with a first-period pin over Mike Macchiavello to finish true third and earn a spot on the U.S. national team.

Felicity Taylor, a South Winneshiek grad and 2021 national collegiate champ for McKendree, competed at 53-kg in women's freestyle. She finished 2-2.

Rachel Watters, a Ballard grad and current assistant coach at William Penn, competed at 68-kg in women's freestyle. She finished 0-2.

Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.