The Pulse With Andy Hamilton

The Pulse With Andy Hamilton: Jordan Burroughs Has Something To Prove

The Pulse With Andy Hamilton: Jordan Burroughs Has Something To Prove

Jordan Burroughs is on a quest to recapture the real estate atop the World podium and a D3 program in New York is cleaning up.

Sep 7, 2021 by Andy Hamilton
The Pulse With Andy Hamilton: Jordan Burroughs Has Something To Prove
The Pulse with Andy Hamilton is a look at the hot topics and interesting angles in wrestling. This week’s edition features Jordan Burroughs and his quest to recapture the real estate atop the World podium and a D3 program in New York that’s cleaning up.

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The Pulse with Andy Hamilton is a look at the hot topics and interesting angles in wrestling. This week’s edition features Jordan Burroughs and his quest to recapture the real estate atop the World podium and a D3 program in New York that’s cleaning up.

Jordan Burroughs scrolls through his social media mentions and occasionally comes across a message telling him it’s time to hang it up.

It’s not a common sentiment. It’s not one that raises the five-time World and Olympic champ’s blood pressure, either. But Burroughs knows the opinion is out there. 

“A lot of people think I’m an idiot right now,” he said. “They’re like, ‘Bro, what are you doing? Why are you still competing? You’re tarnishing the legacy you worked long and hard to build and you’re a shell of your former self.’ 

“But I honestly think I’m a better wrestler still, and that’s the challenge I desire to overcome. I want to prove to myself — more than the people, but also the people — that I am still an incredible wrestler and I still love it.”

A new chapter for Burroughs is just beginning. He’s trying to duplicate his old results at a new weight class with new coaches, new training partners and a new zip code. He’s 33 now, on the back nine of one of the best careers in American history, and he’s in an answer-seeking stage of his career. 

One of the questions he’s trying to solve: Can this be done? Because few American greats have competed this long at a high level and fewer have conquered the world after turning 33. 

Chris Campbell claimed an Olympic bronze in 1992 a month before his 38th birthday. Dave Schultz grabbed a World silver in 1993 at 34. Bruce Baumgartner won his fifth World-level gold in 1995 at 34 and continued on to capture an Olympic bronze the next year. Bill Zadick won his first World medal — a gold — in 2006 at 33. 

So the template exists. 

In the past five months, Burroughs has been in the midst of a metamorphosis, transitioning from 74 kilograms to 79 kg, from the Nebraska Regional Training Center to the Penn RTC and from Lincoln to Philadelphia. 

He’s also reinventing himself a bit on the mat. In the weeks after losing his decade-long domestic grip on the 74-kilogram spot to Kyle Dake at the Olympic Trials, Burroughs said he was going back to the drawing board and making “small tweaks.” 

“I’m not a guy who’s denying the fact that things are different for me physically, but I also know I have a lot left,” he said. “What most people would call a decline, I think I was competing at such a high level that even in my decline I’m still one of the best wrestlers in the world. And no one can definitively say that they feel confident wrestling me and in their ability to stop me from scoring and to score on me. I just feel really confident in my ability still.

“Yeah, adjustments definitely have to be made based upon how I feel, my ability, but the guys who wrestle the longest are the guys who have great technique. You look at the guys who wrestle into their 30s, it wasn’t because they were freak athletes anymore. It was because they used their savviness, their mental game and their mat IQ in combination with their high-level technique to continue to beat guys into positions. I think that’s what I’m trying to figure out. I’m still relying on all the stuff that worked for me when I was 22 and I have significantly more things in my arsenal, I just haven’t been able to execute them because I’ve been so well-studied for such a long period of time.”

When Burroughs won his fifth gold in 2017, he had to come from behind in all five of his matches at the World Championships. In 2018, he lost in the World quarterfinals to eventual champ Zaurbek Sidakov on a step-out point with 1.3 seconds left. A year later, he rallied back to win each of his first two bouts at the World Championships before losing to Sidakov in the World semis on another step-out with 2.6 seconds left. Earlier this year, he dropped a 4-4 criteria decision to 86-kilogram Olympic champ David Taylor. 

The point is, the margins are paper thin at the top of the international heap and Burroughs hasn’t been far off. He’s maybe four seconds away from being a seven-time champ on the hunt for an eighth gold now. 

Instead, he’s trying to recapture the real estate atop the World podium. To do so, he’ll first have to get through a 79-kilogram bracket at this weekend’s World Team Trials featuring the likes of Alex Dieringer, Isaiah Martinez and Jason Nolf. 

Dake closed the door on 74 kilos by claiming an Olympic bronze in Tokyo. So Burroughs moved up to the non-Olympic weight. He called 79 kilos his “ideal weight class” and said he thinks he’ll have a higher output without the additional weight management stress. 

“I still think my best wrestling is in front of me,” Burroughs said. “What that looks like, it’s hard to say. I think my best wrestling doesn’t mean being a champion again as much as being proud of my effort, being proud of what I put in. I know when I give my best — win or lose — I know when I’ve left it all out there and given it my best. I’d like to wrestle all of these guys who have beaten me. I’d like to wrestle Kyle Dake again. I’d like to wrestle (Frank) Chamizo again. I’d like to wrestle all the guys that think I’m not as good as I once was. I still have a lot to prove and I think I can still beat all those guys.” 

Cleaning Up 

Justin Signorelli was looking for a productive team-building activity last fall when he brought his Alfred State squad together for a campus cleanup day.

“Just trying to find some civic engagement that we could use to get the team together before we’re allowed to start training together,” Signorelli said. “I was looking for something we could do that would get everyone together and help benefit our campus.” 

The Division III Pioneers not only showed up to do it again this year on the first week of classes. They showed up a half hour early. Three dozen athletes and coaches combined to pick up 14 bags of trash on and around the New York campus located roughly 80 miles south of Rochester.  

“You’d think telling guys to meet at 8 in the morning to clean up the community they might not have the highest energy, but the group I have the culture we’ve built here, everyone was fired up,” Signorelli said. “They kind of made it a little competition. I’ve got this one kid who, two years in a row, I’ve gotta tell him to get out of ditches and out from underneath bridges because he’s trying to get as much garbage as he can.” 

News And Notes 

  • Fargo champ Ben Kawczynski moved in Friday at UW-La Crosse, and nobody was happier to see him than Dave Malecek. The longtime coach of the Eagles secured a commitment from the Wisconsin state champ last fall but had to fend off a late surge of Division I suitors after the Kawczynski's stock soared this summer, especially after his dominant win over #1 Chase Horne in the freestyle heavyweight title bout in Fargo. We wrote about Kawczynski's situation during a July edition of The Pulse when he said it would "take something big for me to leave La Crosse." In the end, he stuck with the Eagles, a huge win for Malecek's program. 
  • Seth Nevills might have been a Division I football prospect had he stuck with the sport throughout high school. But the four-time California state champ went all in on wrestling and developed into one of the nation’s top prep heavyweights. Now Nevills is playing football again. The Penn State heavyweight, who compiled a 17-5 record during the past two seasons, joined the Nittany Lions’ football team as a walk-on offensive lineman. The 6-foot-4, 301-pound junior did not play Saturday in Penn State’s season-opening win at Wisconsin. 
  • One of New York's most successful high school coaches was suddenly replaced last month without an explanation
  • Colin Heffernan has returned to Central Michigan, joining Tom Borrelli's staff after three seasons at Ohio. Heffernan was a three-time NCAA qualifier for the Chippewas.