Like any tournament, there are some guys who completely impressed and others who didn't exactly meet expectations at this past weekend's World Team Trials in Lincoln, NE. Surely, we were all super excited about the finals.
Kyle Dake, Jordan Burroughs, David Taylor, and J'den Cox had us all on the edge of our seats the entire time, and there were some guys who really brought the house. On the flip side of that, there were others who we could not believe had the downfall that they did.
Not every guy who impressed us was at the top of podium when it was all said and done, but that does not diminish their performances one bit.
By far the best performance of the entire tournament. Gilman went through the Last Chance Qualifier to make the World Team Trials and then completely made the most of the opportunity by clearing out the field in the challenge tournament and winning the 57kg spot with two straight wins over Tony Ramos.
His offense was on a high level as he made it to the trials finals against Nick Gwiazdowski to make his seventh national team. En route to meeting Gwiaz in the best-of-three finals, Bradley defeated Bobby Telford and Tony Nelson by a combined 13-2.
You don't get much closer than Gomez was in Lincoln. Gomez made an incredible return to action after needing surgery and getting sidelined for a bit. He was absolutely impressive on the way to his thrilling three-match war with Mitch Mckee. He took out Tariq Wilson, Nick Farro, who had just defeated Luke Pletcher 6-4, and Vito Arujau. Gomez showed just how tough he is by outscoring Arujau 10-0 in the second period to get the 14-7 win after being down 7-4 at the break.
Carr won the first battle before the tournament even started when he made weight. Carr isn't exactly the smallest guy, so winning his first battle with the scale proved plenty. He made it all the way to the semifinals, where he took a close loss to Brady Berge, who scored the winning points with under a minute left to wrestle. On the back side, he picked up a tough 6-4 win over Brayton Lee in the consi-semis before teching Kanen Storr to place third.
As a returning junior world team member, he may have been the favorite to not only make the finals but also make the team for the second time. The fact that he did in fact complete that task doesn't make it any less impressive that Moore took out everyone in the bracket while only giving up three points. His matches with Marsden may have been different, but he still put up 33 combined points in their two matches.
What can you say about Zain. It was a completely gritty showing. With a combined score of 35-2, he made his way to the best-of-three finals against his former training partner Frank Molinaro, where Retherford came out on top of an intense series two matches to one to make his first senior world Team.
After wrestling the Open at 65kg, Kennedy made the move up to 70kg for the trials and put on one great show. After taking out Dylan Ness, Kennedy beat Jason Nolf 8-6 -- overcoming an early 6-0 deficit in the process -- and ousted Nazar Kulchytskyy to make it to the finals against James Green.
From the Greco world team finals to his first senior freestyle national team. Zillmer was the Greco runner-up to G'Angelo Hancock in Las Vegas and then switched styles and made it to the trials by beating Timmy McCall to win the Last Chance Qualifier. Zillmer took a loss in the second round to eventual runner-up Kyven Gadson and then won four straight matches on the back side to place third.
Now for the "The Bad." These guys were certainly expected to make a bigger splash on the championship side of the bracket; however, things unfolded a bit differently.
It was a shocking 0-2 performance by Nahshon, who was the runner-up at the Open to Tony Ramos in a close match. Nahshon's day started with a jaw-dropping 18-6 loss to Alan Waters. Then NCAA champion Darian Cruz knocked Garrett out of the tournament in the next match.
Coming into the tournament as the No. 2 seed, Parriott, the 70kg junior national champion, was considered to be one of the favorites. However, it didn't turn out that way as he was downed by Jeren Glosser 8-5. Brayton Lee then ended Parriott's tournament in the following match with a 6-2 loss.
A little over a month ago, Ness came into the U.S. Open as the top seed at 61kg. He did not place there and earned his shot by winning the Last Chance Qualifier. However, he had a repeat performance in Nebraska as he went 0-2.
For the last few years, Rey has been a constant in the finals at heavyweight and was expected to navigate the challenge bracket and get another shot at Nick Gwiazdowski. But Tony Nelson had other ideas, and he handed Rey a loss, ending his run before it really got started. Rey ended up forfeiting out of the tournament afterward.