London 2012 Wrestling Wrap-Up

Some Facts, Figures, and Opinions About The 2012 London Olympics

Men’s Freestyle Team Was Golden
The US men’s freestyle wrestling team had their best Olympic performance since 1996.  This year’s squad had a combined record of 14-7 and brought home 2 gold medals and one bronze medal.  New Jersey native Jordan Burroughs (@alliseeisgold) led the US contingent by claiming his second consecutive major world wrestling title at 74kg.  Burroughs used his unstoppable double-leg take-down just as he did  last year in winning the 2011 World Championships in Turkey.  Jake Varner surprised many in attendance by claiming the gold at 96kg.  Varner, a 2X California HS state champion, is a member of the Nittany Lion Wrestling Club where he is coached by his former college coach at Iowa State Cael Sanderson.  Sanderson, a 2004 Olympic gold medalist, is currently the head wrestling coach at Penn State University.  The final medalist from the men’s freestyle team was Pennsylvania native Coleman Scott (@CScott60kg).  Scott, a 3X PA state champ and an NCAA champion at Oklahoma State, earned a bronze medal at 60kg.  Make sure you read the rest of this article….you may be surprised when you learn about one of Scott’s losses while in college!

For the record, the 1996 men’s freestyle team had three gold medalists (Kendall Cross, Tom Brands, and Kurt Angle…yes he used to be a real wrestler), one silver medalist (Townsend Saunders), and a bronze medalist (Bruce Baumgartner).  To be fair to this year’s team, back in 1996, there were 10 weight classes in men’s freestyle…currently there are only 7 classes.

Women’s Freestyler Chun Grabs Bronze
The US Women’s freestyle team is making strides…but Japan absolutely dominated the competition.  The US squad went 3-5 with Hawaii native Clarissa Chun serving as the lone medalist for the women.  Chun went 3-1 and captured the bronze at 48kg.  The Japanese team was a combined 16-1 and took home 3 gold medals.

Women’s freestyle wrestling has only been an Olympic sport since the 2004 games held in Los Angeles.  The US earned two medals in ’04, one in ’08, and one this year…no US woman has ever won an Olympic gold medal in wrestling.  Better days are ahead though.  Next year, for the first time in US history, girls high school wrestling will be an official sport.  The state of Massachusetts will launch a girl’s freestyle wrestling season.  Until now, girls have been able to wrestle however the absence of a girls-only league has forced them to wrestle against boys.  Although some girls have done great against the boys, the total number of girls who choose to wrestle is minuscule.  Hopefully the pilot MA program is a sign of things to come.  Oh, by the way, the person perhaps most responsible for starting the high school girl’s program is none other than Section 9’s very own Anibal Nieves!  Great job Anibal!

Men’s Greco-Roman Team Fails To Medal
For the first time since the 1976 Summer Olympics in Montreal, the US Men’s Greco-Roman wrestling team did not take home a single medal.  Please note that the US boycotted the 1980 Summer Olympics in Moscow.  This year’s team went a combined 4-8 competing in only 6 of the 7 weight classes.  The US did not qualify wrestler at 96kg.  I was actually pleasantly surprised when I did the research and learned that the US has been consistently “solid” in men’s Greco-Roman.  Folkstyle wrestling is the predominant wrestling style in the US…it’s what we do in youth, high school, and college.  Greco-Roman wrestling does not allow for any leg attacks, thus it does not translate into success as consistently as it does in freestyle.  Hopefully through the continued hard work of the US Olympic Training Centers, US men’s Greco-Roman will continue to improve and get back on the medal stand….hey, who can forget the name Rulon Gardner!!!

Did You Know???
Back in November of the 2007-2008 college wrestling season, Oklahoma State’s Coleman Scott was the #1 ranked wrestler in the nation at 133 lbs.  Scott lost his #1 ranking when he was defeated by a score of 3-2 at the Brute/Journeymen Northeast Duals during a match against Hofstra.  Who beat him???  You guessed it….Valley Central graduate and 3X NYS Champion Lou Ruggirello!!!

Also…many of our Section 9 wrestlers do a tremendous amount of training in the off-season.  One of the more popular wrestling clubs in our region is SIR Wrestling in northern New Jersey.  One of the instructors at SIR is Will Livingston.  Livingston was a 4X state place winner and the 2006 NJ state champion while wrestling at Kittatinny HS.  He place 4th in his sophomore season.  During the medal round of the state tournament that season, Will Livingston recorded a pin to ensure that he would place in the top 8.  Who did he pin???  He pinned the now Olympic gold medalist, Jordan Burroughs! 

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