Kyle Snyder, the starter for Team USA at 97 kilograms, meets with the media after clinching the UWW Freestyle World Cup for the United States.
IOWA CITY, Ia. — Nine months ago, the United States won its first world team title since 1995. The encore performance came here this weekend, as Team USA won its first UWW Freestyle World Cup title since 2003.
The United States men’s freestyle wrestling team went a perfect 4-0 this weekend, defeating India, Japan and Georgia in pool competition, then toppling Azerbaijan in Sunday afternoon’s Gold Medal match, 6-4.
Ultimately, the Americans won 31 of 40 matches, and saved the most-exciting dual for last, as their contest with Azerbaijan featured plenty of flair and exquisite wrestling ability. It wasn’t until Kyle Snyder won the penultimate bout that the United States clinched gold.
Here’s how it went down:
57 kilograms: Giorgi Edisherashvili (AZE) over Thomas Gilman (USA), 8-7
Thomas Gilman, a former Iowa wrestler and returning world silver medalist for Team USA, discusses the United States' World Cup title.
Tons of action here. Gilman took a 2-1 lead in the second after a slick takedown. He tried the same single-leg shot again, but Edisherashvili countered with a two-point exposure roll, then locked it up again for a four-point throw, and received another point after the U.S. challenged the call and lost.
Gilman tacked on a couple of takedowns late, but couldn’t fully close the gap. Tremendous action in the second period here after a slow first.
61 kilograms: Kendric Maple (USA) over Afgan Khashalov (AZE), 6-2
Kendric Maple, an Oklahoma grad, scores two takedowns in a win over Azerbaijan's Afgan Khashalov in the Gold Medal Match of the 2018 UWW Freestyle World Cup.
After dropping two close matches, Maple finally breaks through and gets one in the Gold Medal match. The Oklahoma grad struck early, scoring a takedown and a turn on the edge in the first period. Khashalov scored a takedown at the end of the first period to make it 4-2 Maple.
In the second period, Maple again got to the legs for another score on the edge and used quick hips to scramble out of a dangerous situation to secure his one victory for the weekend.
“It was tough,” Maple said of losing close. “Wrestling is the most humbling sport, and there’s nobody you can blame but yourself. I took those tough, but I’m glad (USA head coach Bill Zadick) gave me the opportunity to let me come back out and redeem myself a little bit.”
65 kilograms: Logan Stieber (USA) over Haji Aliyev (AZE), 6-3
Stieber was back on the attack again, scoring three takedowns to knock off Aliyev, a returning world champion (although he won at 61 kilograms). After Aliyev took a 1-0 lead off a push-out, Stieber came back with a takedown to lead 2-1 after the first period.
In the second, Stieber scored another takedown, but Aliyev came back with another to come within 4-3. Stieber then fought off Aliyev’s last-ditch efforts and scored another takedown for insurance, and to push the United States’ lead to 2-1.
70 kilograms: Joshgun Asimov (AZE) over James Green (USA), 4-4
An early takedown from Green led to a 2-0 lead after the first period. Asimov showcased some stellar defense to keep Green from rolling up points. In the second, Asimov scored a takedown and a turn for a 4-2 lead.
Green continued attacking, but a mean underhook from Asimov kept Green at a distance. Green scored two push-out points, but Asimov won on criteria — he scored two two-point moves, while Green’s scoring moves were worth two, one and one.
74 kilograms: Jordan Burroughs (USA) pinned Gasjimurad Omarov (AZE), 3:15
Jordan Burroughs, the 74kg starter for the United States men's freestyle wrestling team, discusses his pin in the Gold Medal match against Azerbaijan.
Burroughs capped a perfect World Cup with a pin. Leading 3-0 after the first period, Burroughs ran through Omarov for a takedown to begin the second period, then caught Omarov on his back for a pin that sent Carver into a frenzy. It also put the United States up 3-2.
“Usually, guys belly out,” Burroughs said. “He came back like he was going for an escape. I’m not sure. I just felt it, like we were wrestling folkstyle. He doesn’t know that I wrestle college guys every single day. I feel that feel a lot.
“It’s been a long time. I’m not a pinner. It’s an art form to be a pinner. I couldn’t see the ref where my head was positioned, so I was just, like, ‘Please slap the mat.’ That was a big moment for me.”
79 kilograms: Kyle Dake (USA) over Jabrayil Hasanov (AZE), 5-3
Kyle Dake went 4-0 for Team USA at the Wrestling World Cup. In the Gold Medal Match against Azerbaijan, he beat a past Olympic bronze medalist.
Big win here for Dake, who flashed his high-amplitude ability all weekend with many, many throws. Here, he knocked off Hasanov, a past Olympian and world bronze medalist, to cap a perfect weekend. He led 1-0 after a push-out point in the first.
Things got interesting in the second. Hasanov scored a takedown for a 2-1 lead, then Dake tied it with another push-out, then took a 4-2 lead with a takedown. Dake received another point for a caution and gave up a push-out for the final score.
“We kind of know each other a little bit — more so than previous opponents,” Dake said. “Obviously, he’s a really tough competitor. He’s an Olympic bronze medalist. I just went out and competed to the best of my ability, and that’s what I did.”
86 kilograms: David Taylor (USA) tech fall Aleksander Gostiev (AZE), 12-2
Taylor rolled up his fourth-straight opponent in dominant fashion. He led 5-0 after two takedowns in the first. In the second, he was up 8-2 when he scored a takedown and a turn at the buzzer to secure the technical fall, pushing the United States to the brink of a World Cup title.
92 kilograms: Aslanbek Alborov (AZE) over J’den Cox (USA), 4-4
Lots of action in this one. Alborov led 2-0 after a takedown in the first. Cox leveled the bout with a takedown early in the second. Alborov retook the lead with another takedown in the second, and Cox tied it again with points from a caution and a push-out. But criteria lifted Alborov to victory, keeping Azerbaijan in it with two matches to go.
97 kilograms: Kyle Snyder (USA) tech fall Roman Bakirov (AZE), 14-3
Snyder put the clamps on the World Cup title for the United States. He led 2-1 after a series of push outs, then scored a takedown and four turns to nearly seal it in the first period. Bakirov staved off losing by scoring an exposure score of his own, and Snyder led 12-3 after period one.
It did not take long in the second for Snyder to seal the deal. A quick takedown secured the technical fall and clinched the United States’ first World Cup title since 2003, when Snyder was still in elementary school.
“I would always pick myself to go out there and wrestle when it comes down to the team,” Snyder said. "We have a lot of good guys, but I’m very confident in my ability to wrestle under those types of circumstances.”
125 kilograms: Jamaladdin Magomedov (AZE) over Nick Gwiazdowski (USA), 4-3
Gwiazdowski nearly had the exclamation point on this dual, leading 3-2 late, but Magomedov scored a takedown as time wound down to get the win.
Final score: Team USA 6, Azerbaijan 4.
Cody Goodwin covers wrestling and high school sports for the Des Moines Register. Follow him on Twitter at @codygoodwin.