The United States kicks off its Olympic men’s freestyle efforts on Friday, with 2012 Olympic champion and three-time World champion Jordan Burroughs (Lincoln, Neb./Sunkist Kids/Nebraska WTC) competing at 74 kg/163 lbs. and Daniel Dennis at 57 kg/125.5 lbs.
Burroughs and Dennis have weighed in and received their first round draws for the Olympic Games, where they will compete in Carioca 2 Arena.
As returning World champion, Burroughs has the No. 1 seed in the top half of the bracket, in the first quarter-bracket, sitting in the No. 1 draw position. He will face Augusto Midana of Guinea Bissau. Burroughs beat Midana in the first round of the 2014 World Championships in Tashkent, Uzbekistan, a match where Burroughs hurt his leg and ultimately ended up taking a silver medal.
If Burroughs wins his first bout, he would face the winner of the match between Aniuar Gedeuv of Russia and Bekzod Abdrurakhmanov of Uzbekistan. Burroughs beat Geduev in the 2015 World Championships in Las Vegas, where Geduev placed third. Burroughs has two career wins over Geduev. Abdurakhmanov was a 2014 World bronze medalist, and was an NCAA All-American for Clarion.
In the bottom portion of Burroughs’ half-bracket are Jakob Makarashvili of Georgia, Georgi Ivanov of Bulgaria, Carlos Izquierdo of Columbia and two-time World bronze medalist Jabrayli Hasanov of Azerbaijan. Ivanov competed for Nebraska-Omaha and Boise State in college.
Burroughs boasts an unbelievable 129-2 record on the Senior level. His only loss at either a World Championships or Olympic Games came in the 2014 World semifinals to three-time World champion Denis Tsargush of Russia, who is not entered in the Rio Games. Burroughs was injured in that 2014 World meet and wrestled back for the bronze. He has won the Pan American Games, the World Cup, and many other top international events during his career. Burroughs was a two-time NCAA champion and a Dan Hodge Trophy winner for the Univ. of Nebraska.
Dennis in the top half of the bracket, in the second quarter-bracket. He will face 2013 World silver medalist and 2015 World bronze medalist Vladimir Dubov of Bulgaria in his opening match.
If Dennis wins his first bout, he would face the winner of Suleyman Atli of Turkey and Ivan Guidea of Romania.
In the top portion of Dennis’s half-bracket are top seed and 2015 World champion Vladimer Khichegashvili of Georgia, Nurlan Sanayev of Kazakhstan, two-time World champion Haji Aliev of Azerbaijan and Junsik Yun of Korea.
Dennis, an NCAA runner-up for the University of Iowa, took a number of years off from the sport, but came back in 2015 with a renewed focus and spirit. He was No. 2 in the USA at 61 kg in 2015, then dropped to 57 kg for the Olympic year and won the Olympic Trials.
“Honestly, if something bad happens, it is not for the lack of preparation. The guys have done such a good job. Their personal coaches have been on top of them, covering every scenario that could take place. Everything has gone really good, and I feel good about it. We are anxious to get the draw, prepare for tomorrow and get on the mat and take care of business. Their preparation has been good. Their attitude has been great. We have gotten a lot accomplished in the last three weeks, so I feel really good where they are at,” said National Freestyle Coach Bruce Burnett.
The preliminaries are set for 10:00 a.m. Rio time, with the medal rounds set at 4:00 p.m. (This is one hour ahead of U.S. Eastern time).
Fans can see every match streamed live through NBC, with television coverage expected on other NBC platforms. United World Wrestling will have live results and brackets.
2016 OLYMPIC GAMES
At Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
U.S. men’s freestyle draw for Thursday
57 kg/125.5 lbs. – Daniel Dennis, Iowa City, Iowa (Titan Mercury WC/Hawkeye WC)
Vs. Vladimir Dubov (Bulgaria), 2013 World silver medalist, 2015 World bronze medalist, 5th in 2007 Junior World Championships
74 kg/163 lbs. – Jordan Burroughs, Lincoln, Neb. (Sunkist Kids/Nebraska WTC)
Vs. Augusto Midana (Guinea Bissau), Six-time African champion, Seventh in 2012 Olympic Games, 2008 Olympian