As many of the world’s top wrestlers convened at The Forum in Inglewood, Calif., for the third straight year, reigning World champion Kyle Snyder led a trio of U.S. wrestlers in posting 4-0 records at the Freestyle World Cup over the weekend. The individual performances, however, couldn’t lift the Americans higher than fourth as a team.
Snyder, the 2015 World champion at 97 kg/213 lbs., won on criteria (3-3) over World No. 5 Elizbar Odikadze of Georgia on Sunday evening, after defeating Iran’s Abbas Tahan, 8-1, earlier Sunday in a 2015 Worlds semifinal rematch.
“I feel like all the guys I wrestled did a pretty good job of scouting me,” Snyder said in a press release. “They did some things they wouldn’t have normally done unless somebody told them to. That’s alright. It makes it harder for me and I like that challenge.”
Snyder, who at 19 years old became the youngest World champion in U.S. history last year, opened the World Cup with a 10-0 technical fall victory over Kadian Satywart of India on Saturday. He followed later in the day with a tight, 2-1 win over Azerbaijan’s Aslanbek Alborov. Snyder is a strong gold-medal contender for the Rio Games.
American Frank Molinaro, who will make his Olympic debut in Rio at 65 kg/143 lbs., and 2015 Worlds bronze medalist James Green (non-Olympic 70kg/154 lbs.) also posted perfect 4-0 marks to collect individual gold medals.
The U.S. wrestlers battled Georgia in the third-place match Sunday. Both squads won four of the eight matches, but Georgia edged the hosts on criteria, 17-16. Earlier Sunday, the U.S. team lost another tiebreaker, this time to Iran on classification points, 17-15.
Iran went on to defeat Russia, 5-3, for the team gold medal Sunday evening. That’s Iran’s fifth straight Freestyle World Cup title.
The top U.S. freestyle wrestler, Olympic and World champion Jordan Burroughs, was a late scratch from the World Cup. His wife, Lauren, gave birth to the couple’s second child Saturday.