Jordan Burroughs (Camden, NJ) lost his first match in the United States since 2009, but was able to rebound and still make the world championship team.
Burroughs, 29, dropped his opening round against Kyle Dake at the U.S. world team trials last week 2-2 with a dropped tiebreaker, before rebounding in his final two matches. His last two victories against Dake secured his spot on the worlds team, for the championships in August.
The rebound in the later two matches, which Burroughs won 8-4 and 6-2, helped overwhelm Dake. Dake had left Burroughs’ weight class in advance of the Rio Olympics, in hopes of finding an easier time, but he was taken down by J’den Cox in the 86kg class. He moved back down to 74kg, but has still found himself unable to move forward.
The two had met in the U.S. Open in April as well, with Burroughs edging Dake barely 2-2 with a tiebreaker. Burroughs made the final with a bye from that Open win, while Dake had to win two matches to get a chance to square off for a bid at worlds.
Burroughs has had one of the most illustrious careers in U.S. wrestling history, posting a 142-5 career senior record. His stretch of dominance also earned him a gold medal at the London Olympics, as well as three world championship titles. However, he fell off the rails slightly in Rio, failing to medal despite being heavily expected to reach the podium.
“After leaving Rio de Janeiro with no medal, I promised myself I’d never let a man feel like that again,” Burroughs told NBC Sports after his victory.
He will join Rio gold medalists, Kyle Snyder and Helen Maroulis as USA Wrestling will descend upon Paris among the world’s best. Maroulis and Snyder have their eyes set on world championship gold this year, and have legitimate chances of reaching that goal. Maroulis will have an even easier time without Japanese legend Saori Yoshida in the field.
Given his recent struggles, it seems unlikely that Burroughs will seriously contend for his fourth world title, but a podium finish could be in the works for the veteran wrestler. Given the chip that has been placed on his shoulder following poor performances, it’s possible that there could be a surprise in store from the New Jersey native in France.