Jordan Burroughs lost on U.S. soil for the first time since 2009 but rallied to make the world championships team on Saturday night.
Burroughs, a 2012 Olympic champion and three-time world champion, beat Kyle Dake 2-1 in the best-of-three 74kg freestyle finals at the world team trials in his hometown of Lincoln, Neb.
“After leaving Rio de Janeiro with no medal, I promised myself I’d never let a man feel like that again,” said Burroughs, who had not competed in Lincoln since 2011. “My wife thinks I’m a whole lot sexier when I’m winning, so it’s going to be a good night for me.”
Burroughs lost the opener to Dake on a 2-2 tiebreaker but rallied to win the second and third matches 8-4 and 6-2. He joins Rio gold medalists Helen Maroulis and Kyle Snyder headlining the U.S. team for worlds in Paris in August.
“I don’t even want to be the leader anymore,” Burroughs said. “I think this is Kyle Snyder’s time.”
Burroughs, 29, moved to 142-5 in his senior international freestyle career dating to 2011. The opening loss to Dake marked his second pro defeat to an American (Nick Marable, 2014) and first on U.S. soil since 2009, when he wrestled folkstyle at the University of Nebraska.
Dake is one of only four men to win four NCAA wrestling titles, doing so from 2010-13. He’s the only one to do so in four different weight classes or without a redshirt year. But Dake, 26, has struggled against the older Burroughs, getting swept at the world team trials in 2013 and 2015.
Last year, Dake moved up one weight class in part to avoid Burroughs at the Olympic Trials, where only one wrestler per weight class advanced to the Games.
But Dake lost in the 86kg finals at Olympic Trials to Missouri’s J’den Cox, who went on to take bronze in Rio before his senior NCAA season.
Dake returned to 74kg this year and pushed Burroughs to a 2-2 affair at the U.S. Open in April, but lost on a tiebreaker.
Dake had to win two matches earlier Saturday just to face Burroughs, who earned a bye into the finals via that U.S. Open victory.
“I had to sleep in the same house with two toddlers all week, so I say we’re even,” Burroughs joked of his two kids. “I’m getting older, a little bit slower. It’s a little bit harder to get up in the morning and go to practice.”
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