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Much-hyped World Team Trials finals set for Saturday night

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Updated: June 10, 2017

Photo: Thomas Gilman stacked and scored four points at the buzzer to beat Nathan Tomasello in the 57-kilogram finals of the Challenge tournament. This sets up a Championship Finals between Gilman and his former Iowa teammate Tony Ramos Saturday night in the Devaney Center. (Ashley De Jager image).

June 10, 2017
By Mike Finn

LINCOLN, Neb. — The talking is over. It’s time finals of the 2017 World Team Trials in men’s freestyle, which begins tonight at 6 p.m. in the Devaney Center.
But before today’s Challenge tournament began on the campus of the University of Nebraska, there was plenty of talking, especially online and by some of the wrestlers, about three particular weight classes: 57, 74 and 86 kilograms. And all three wrestlers who emerged as champions of the Challenge tournament — Thomas Gilman, Kyle Dake and David Taylor — to take on three fresh wrestlers — Tony Ramos, Jordan Burroughs and J’den Cox — in the Best-of-3 Championship finals.
But all three challengers took on different approaches about their upcoming championship matches after securing extremely close victories in the Challenge tournament.
At 57 kilograms, Gilman scored a four-point takedown at the buzzer of his 6-2 victory over Nathan Tomasello to set up the Championship match-up against a former teammate Tony Ramos, who had no problem sharing his thoughts about beating the likes of Gilman on his social media account.
“I’m not on social media so I don’t read that bull crap,” said Gilman, who was also boastful about winning the Trials despite having to win a last-chance qualifier to even compete in Lincoln; just an hour from his hometown of Council Bluffs, Iowa. “Yes, I run my mouth too but I take my responsibility and it’s in front of cameras and people. If people want to hear me talk trash, I’m here. I’m not ‘peacocking’ on twitter. I’m ‘peacocking’ in real life.”
Gilman who failed to win a national championship at Iowa this past fall, looked impressive in his earlier matches, including a 9-0 shutout of Darian Cruz, the Lehigh wrestler who upset the Hawkeye at the NCAAs in St. Louis; and 11-0 over former Penn State national champion, who beat Gilman in the 2016 NCAA finals.

In a battle of past Hodge Trophy winners, Kyle Dake (of Cornell, top) defeated Alex Dieringer (of Oklahoma State), 2-1 in the 74-kilogram challenge final. (Tim Tushla photo)

Meanwhile, Dake will face hometown favorite and former two-time NCAA champion Jordan Burroughs of Nebraska, who defeated Dake on criteria at the U.S. Open in April. Dake, the former four-time NCAA champion from Cornell, held on to beat former NCAA champion Alex Dieringer, 2-1, in the Challenge final.
“I probably played it too close to the best just to be certain that I get a chance to make my first World team,” said Dake. “But these are things that you learn from; each experience has to be a learning experience.”
Dake believes he believes offense, not defense, will be the key in his bouts with Burroughs tonight.
“I have to get to (Burroughs’) legs and I have to score … and stay in good position; not get sloppy,” Dake said. “If you get sloppy against a guy like that, he will make you pay.”
Taylor, the U.S. Open champion who was forced to compete in the Challenge tournament since his Cox medaled in last summer’s Olympics, faced the biggest task in the Challenge final when he trailed Nick Heflin, 9-4, after the first period, before rallying to win 13-9.

David Taylor (bottom), who trailed 9-4 after giving up a defensive lift to Nick Heflin, avoided a similar position at the end of the bout and beat the former Ohio State All-American. (Ashley De Jager photo)

And Taylor, who is normally very talkative to the media after his matches, kept his message simple movements after beating the former Ohio State All-American.
“J’den and I wrestle tonight,” said Taylor, who  trained with Cox in Rio where the three-time NCAA champ from Missouri claimed a bronze medal. “It’s going to be a lot of fun. Let’s go.”
Among the other Championship finals:
• Challenge tourney winner Kendric Maple will face 2016 World champ Logan Stieber at 61 kilograms;
• The 65-kilogram final will feature a pair of former NCAA champions in challenge tourney champ Zain Retherford vs. 2016 Olympian Frank Molinaro;

Jimmy Kennedy, who competed at 65 kilos at the U.S. Open, has enjoyed his 70-kilo experience in the Challenge tournament where he beat Nazar Kulchytskyy 7-0 to reach the Championship finals. (Tim Tushla photo)

• Former World Team member Jimmy Kennedy moved up from 65 kilos to win the 70-kilo challenge tournament and will face former World bronze medalist James Green, another former Nebraska All-American;

• U.S. Open and challenge tourney champ Kyven Gadson will have to beat World and Olympic champion Kyle Snyder at 97 kilograms. Gadson, the former Iowa State wrestler, pinned Snyder of Ohio State in the 2015 NCAA finals at 197 pounds;
• The heavyweight final will feature challenge tourney winner Dom Bradley of Missouri and U.S. Open champion Nick Gwiazdowski, the former two-time NCAA champ from NC State.

Challenge Tournament Finals
57k/125.5 pounds — Thomas Gilman (TMWC) dec. Nathan Tomasello (TMWC), 6-2; will face Tony Ramos in Trials finals.
61k/134 pounds — Kendric Maple (TMWC) dec. Brandon Wright (New York Athletic Club), 10-4; will face Logan Stieber in Trials finals.
65k/145.5 pounds —Zain Retherford (Nittany Lion Wrestling Club) won by TF over BJ Futrell (TMWC), 10-0 3:50; will face Frank Molinaro in Trials finals.
70k/154 pounds — Jimmy Kennedy (New York Athletic Club) dec. Nazar Kulchytskyy (TMWC), 7-0; will face James Green in Trials finals
74k/163 pounds — Kyle Dake (TMWC) dec. Alex Dieringer (TMWC), 2-1; will face Jordan Burroughs in Trials finals
86k/189 pounds — David Taylor (Nittany Lion/TMWC) dec. Nick Heflin (Princeton Wrestling Club), 13-9; will face J’den Cox in Trials finals
97k/213 pounds — Kyven Gadson (Sunkist Kids) won by TF over Micah Burak (TMWC), 10-0 3:53; will face Kyle Snyder in Trials finals
125k/265 pounds — Dom Bradley (Sunkist Kids) dec. Tony Nelson (Minnesota Storm), 8-1; will face Nick Gwiazdowski in Trials finals

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