Roberts, much older & wiser, meets Hafizov again in Final X
Photo: Dalton Roberts (left) beat Ildar Hafizov at the 2023 U.S. Open...
By Mike Finn, WIN editor
One reason Jordan Burroughs was able to win two World championships and an Olympic gold medal in less than five years after winning a pair of NCAA championships for Nebraska was that his college coach, Mark Manning, believed Burroughs was a natural.
Manning, who also sat in the corner to see Burroughs dominate three straight World and Olympic events between 2011-13 as he did when the native of New Jersey won NCAA titles in 2009 and ’11, now believes his wrestler has the same natural skills to become a great coach.
“Jordan is a good communicator and he’s a natural in terms of being a recruiter because he’s honest,” said Manning. “What you see is what you get with Jordan. He leads by example and is a great leader because he backs up all his actions by how he conducts himself. He’s a man of his word. He has a lot of things that come natural to him.
“Sometimes, people have to learn things on the fly, but for him coaching comes natural because of the way Jordan was made.”
And this is one reason why Manning suggested Burroughs become an official assistant coach — as the No. 2 assistant behind Husker-aide Bryan Snyder — this season at the same time Burroughs continues in his bid to win several more World/Olympic titles in freestyle.
“Jordan had expressed interest in wanting to coach,” Manning said. “He’s looking towards his future. ‘What am I going to do with my career after I get done competing?’
“(Coaching is) going to make Jordan a better wrestler because he is now teaching the things he’s learned. It keeps athletes sharp who have to teach and hold yourself accountable.”
Burroughs’ allegiance to his alma mater is also another reason why he chose to focus on coaching … even though he has already accomplished so much on the mat.
“I want to help in recruiting. I want to help in the wrestling room to help these guys win,” said Burroughs, who got married and had a child since winning a World title in 2013. “Whatever is necessary for me to put this team in the best position to win, I want to do that.”
Burroughs officially joined the staff shortly after he finished second in the 2014 World Championships. One of his first times to sit in a wrestler’s corner was at the recent Cliff Keen Las Vegas Invitational, Dec. 5-6.
And what has Burroughs learned about coaching that he did not know?
“It’s extremely hard,” smiled Burroughs. “It’s a different dynamic, especially with me being a competitor. I recognize you have to motivate these guys. It’s different than working with Olympians and World Team members who have earned their right to be there. These guys are guys we asked to join us. Essentially, you have to keep them motivated, keep them out of trouble, teach them to wrestle at the highest level and that is difficult.
“It’s an interesting dynamic and I’m still getting adjusted to it, but it’s also been enjoyable so far.”
One of the Cornhuskers Burroughs helped lead to a CKLV Invite title was 174-pound Robert Kokesh.
“Jordan is an amazing person,” said the senior now ranked No. 1 nationally. “He’s great mentally. He helps me keep focused on what I need to do and that really helps me with my wrestling.
“I get to wrestle him a lot in the wrestling room and I take my licking from him, but that’s what is great about it. I get to wrestle with someone of that caliber. If I can give him a good ‘go’ in the room, I can give anyone a go.”