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2021 U.S. Olympic Team Trials Men's Freestyle Lightweight previews: 57 kg, 65 kg and 74 kg

by Taylor Miller, USA Wrestling and Joe Wedra, Tarheel RTC

Jordan Burroughs, 2012 Olympic champion and four-time World champion, sits out at 74 kg.

The 2021 Olympic Team Trials are just around the corner, set for April 2-3 at Dickies Arena in Fort Worth, Texas.

Fans can watch all of this weekend’s action live on NBC and its platforms.

Below is a short preview of each weight.

57 kg

Thomas Gilman and Daton Fix are the top two seeds at 57 kg, with Gilman earning the top spot at the weight. Gilman defeated Fix at the 2020 Matteo Pellicone, but Fix does carry a 3-2 head-to-head advantage over Gilman since April 2019, with two wins at Final X in June of 2019.

Vitali Arujau, 2020 Senior Nationals winner, is the third seed ahead of Seth Gross and Nick Suriano. Gross, winner of the 2019 Bill Farrell International, is just ahead of Suriano, who brought home the title of the 2021 Henri Deglane earlier this year. Suriano also finished second at the 2021 Matteo Pellicone at 57kg.

Joe Colon is ranked sixth at the weight, his first time on the mat since taking second at 57kg at the 2020 Matteo Pellicone. Just behind him is Nathan Tomasello, who is also returning to competition after an extended time off. Tomasello last competed at the 2019 Senior Nationals, where he took second at 57kg.

Sean Russell is seeded eighth, while Zane Richards and Zach Sanders are seeded ninth and tenth respectively. Russell earned a spot into the field at last weekend’s Last Chance Qualifier, taking first in the event with a win over Richards in the finals. Three-time NCAA champion and two-time Junior World champion Spencer Lee scratched after sustaining an ACL injury leading up to his win at the NCAA Championships.

57 kg seeds

1. Thomas Gilman (Nittany Lion WC/TMWC)

2. Daton Fix (Cowboy RTC/TMWC)

3. Vitali Arujau (Spartan Combat RTC/TMWC)

4. Seth Gross (Wisconsin RTC/Sunkist Kids)

5. Nick Suriano (Sunkist Kids)

6. Joe Colon (Cyclone RTC/TMWC)

7. Nathan Tomasello (TMWC)

8. Sean Russell (Gopher WC RTC)

9. Zane Richards (Illinois RTC)

10. Zach Sanders (Gopher WC RTC)

65 kg

This weight could be argued as the deepest weight class in the event with impressive talent from top to bottom. At the top, two-time Senior World Team member Zain Retherford holds down the No. 1 spot. Behind him, Yianni Diakomihalis and Jordan Oliver are the second and third seeds.

Diakomihalis and Retherford will look to continue their head-to-head rivalry at the top while Oliver, winner of the 2019 Senior Nationals, eyes the top spot at the weight. James Green, runner-up at 65 kg at the 2021 Henri Deglane, is seeded fourth. Green is also a five-time World Team member at 70 kg, winning a World bronze medal in 2015 and a World silver medal in 2017.

The weight features a healthy mix of youth and veteran talent across the board — Nick Lee (No. 6) will be wrestling fresh off of his NCAA championship, while veterans like Frank Molinaro, a 2016 Olympian who placed fifth in Rio (No. 7), Nahshon Garrett (No. 9) and Evan Henderson (No. 10) will look to make runs to the finals.

Others in the field include former Big Ten standouts No. 5 Joey McKenna, No. 8 Anthony Ashnault and No. 11 Mitch McKee. McKenna finished third at 65 kg at the 2021 Matteo Pellicone and is a multiple age-group World medalist.

It’s important to note that the winner of this weight class will still have to qualify the weight for the Olympics at the World Olympic Qualifier in Sofia, Bulgaria, May 6-9.

65 kg seeds

1. Zain Retherford (Nittany Lion WC/TMWC)

2. Yianni Diakomihalis (Spartan Combat RTC/TMWC)

3. Jordan Oliver (Tar Heel WC/Sunkist Kids)

4. James Green (SERTC/TMWC)

5. Joey McKenna (Pennsylvania RTC/TMWC)

6. Nick Lee (Nittany Lion WC/TMWC)

7. Frank Molinaro (Sunkist Kids WC/TMWC)

8. Anthony Ashnault (New Jersey RTC/NYAC)

9. Nahshon Garrett (SERTC/TMWC)

10. Evan Henderson (Spartan Combat RTC/TMWC)

11. Mitch McKee (Gopher WC RTC)

74 kg

There are two sit-outs at this weight with Jordan Burroughs sitting out until the day two best-of-three finals, thanks to his 2019 World medal-winning performance at the Olympic weight, and Kyle Dake receiving a bye to the semifinals after a 2019 medal-winning performance at a non-Olympic weight. Learn more about our Team Selection Criteria.

Burroughs is a 2012 Olympic champion and four-time World champion. He seeks his third Olympic Team bid. Dake won two-straight World titles in 2018 and 2019. He’s looking to make a World/Olympic Team for the first time at 74 kg. They battled for many years before Dake moved up in weight during the most recent Olympic quadrennium.

There are seven other athletes in the bracket with 2020 Pan American champion Jason Nolf leading the pack as the top seed. Nolf won his Pan Am title at 79 kg. Two-time Final X champion Isaiah Martinez, who was originally seeded No. 1, pulled out of the tournament on March 29.

On the other side of the bracket is Last Chance Qualifier champion Chance Marsteller at No. 2 and 2019 Senior Nationals All-American Thomas Gantt at No. 3. Two-time Senior Nationals champion Logan Massa holds the No. 4 seed. Coming in with the fifth seed is David Carr, a 2019 Junior World champion and 2021 NCAA champion at 165 pounds for Iowa State.

Rounding out the bracket is No. 6 Evan Wick, who was fourth at the 2019 Senior Nationals, and No. 7 Vincenzo Joseph, who qualified with a top-two finish at the Last Chance Qualifier. National Team member and two-time NCAA champion Isaiah Martinez initially received a No. 1 seed, but scratched later in the day after the seeding meeting.

74 kg seeds

Jordan Burroughs (Nebraska WTC/Sunkist Kids) – sitting to best-of-three finals

Kyle Dake (Spartan Combat RTC/TMWC) – sitting to challenge tournament semifinals

1. Jason Nolf (Nittany Lion WC/TMWC)

2. Chance Marsteller (TMWC)

3. Thomas Gantt (Wolfpack RTC/ TMWC)

4. Logan Massa (Cliff Keen WC/NYAC)

5. David Carr (Cyclone RTC/TMWC)

6. Evan Wick (Wisconsin RTC/TMWC)

7. Vincenzo Joseph (Nittany Lion WC/TMWC)