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Rio Men's Freestyle Analysis

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Long time lurker, but have been following the sport for years now. Had some thoughts on our individual wrestling performances I wanted to share after watching the USA team compete in Rio. 



Daniel Dennis - 57 kg


Olympic Notes - His match was over in the blink of an eye.  Hard to really take anything from his Rio experience. Par Terre defense would be the obvious suggestion. But I’m not sure if that’s actually a weakness or if his opponent just had a nasty gut. I’ll go with a little of both.


Pros - Top game.


Cons - Age (Turning 30 next month). Lack of international experience after long layoff from sport.   


Frank Molinaro - 65 kg


Olympic Notes - Just fell short of a bronze medal by losing to Frank Chamizo of Italy. I was yelling at Molinaro through my computer screen to move up and put the boots in to flatten the tripod, but he attempted a leg lace instead and wasn’t able to convert. Overall, had an excellent tournament, losing to two world beaters and showed the grit that got him there in the first place.


Pros - Frank is a warrior on the mat. There’s a reason he has the nickname Gorilla Hulk. Has the will and determination you just can’t teach, despite the fact that he isn’t considered a blue chip wrestler. Constantly outwrestles his seed.


Cons - Where do I start? Has no top game to speak of. Actually attempts what he did in folkstyle, which is some kind of bent-leg turk bow and arrow move to turn the hips combined with a cross face to turn the upper body. Can’t say I’ve ever seen him pull it off successfully in international competition, although it has gotten him bit a few times. Molinaro really only has one shot (left handed high crotch) and everyone knows this. Sometimes gets overly aggressive, which was very apparent when he wrestled Asgarov and kept getting pushed out of bounds. Has heavy hips if he is able to sprawl, but doesn’t defend single leg takedowns very well. Most competitors at this level defend with a whizzer combined with splits, limp leg, etc. but Frank tends to turn his back to his opponent while trying to kick his leg out and run away. His stance also seems a little herky jerky with a lot of wasted motion, but I’m just nitpicking at this point. With the amount of strength he has over his competition, I’m surprised he doesn’t try to go upper body more often. 


Jordan Burroughs - 74 kg


Olympic Notes - Went 1-2 at the Olympics, much to the shock and disappointment of many. Geduev was able to stop his double leg by not reacting to the level change set ups and also by utilizing a very effective double underhook defense. It was obvious he had been training specifically for Burroughs. In Burroughs's repechage match he was constantly being shot and scored on from space, which typically is the other way around in a Burroughs match. I’d say that he was never mentally ready for the repechage match after losing to Geduev, but JB would never make this or any excuse for losing. 


Pros - Best double leg in the world. You are not funking out of this without giving up 4 (sorry Jesse Delgado). Has an excellent reshot double/single that he utilizes very well. Also has a nice leg lace transition from a takedown that he has successfully used against high level opponents. 


Cons - Wrestles a style based on his quickness and athleticism. At 28 years of age he can still wrestle well for the next cycle, if he has the desire to, but will be on the wrong side of 30 and may move a little slower than what we have seen previously. Has shown that opponents have the ability to score on him if he isn’t constantly pressing on offense. 


J’Den Cox - 86 kg


Olympic Notes - Finished with a bronze medal after making his first Olympic/World team. Could have easily been in the finals against Sadulaev. Would have been a great match to watch. Has all the right tools to succeed internationally at the world level, just needs to get more matches under his belt to feel more comfortable with freestyle rules and match strategy.


Pros - Raw talent and freak athleticism. Seriously, just watch his matches. I don’t think he gave up a single takedown in all his matches. 


Cons - Also wrestles a style based on his quickness and athleticism. At 21 years of age, this isn’t a problem. Needs to learn the intricacies of freestyle (criteria, when to challenge scoring, etc) and develop more of an understanding for match strategy. To be expected for someone who never traveled overseas before this summer.


Kyle Snyder - 97 kg


Olympic Notes - Had a good draw and wrestled his way to a gold medal. Avenged a previous loss in the finals. Kept solid position throughout, and demonstrated incredible poise after being down 4-0 early in his semifinal bout with his opponent playing defense and trying to sit on the lead. 


Pros - Kyle is very young, and barring injuries or other circumstances, can potentially wrestle until 2024 or 2028. Wrestles a style that grinds down opponents, which works to Kyle’s favor in tournaments with quick turnaround times. He has multiple takedown setups and is equally as good with his defense. All around solid wrestler in every position.


Cons - No top game whatsoever. I don’t think I’ve ever seen him turn anyone, or even attempt to do so. Can be problematic since he will only be able to score 1 or 2 points at a time. Opponent may try to take advantage of this by sitting on leads and wrestling defensively. The only thing that separates him from being a truly elite wrestler.


Tervel Dlagnev - 125 kg


Olympic Notes - Lost his bronze medal bout. Was impressed he was actually able to defeat two opponents with his condition. His back problems flared up in his second match, leading to back to back 10-0 technical fall defeats. Probably not the best idea to go back out and wrestle knowing your back has seized up, but who injury defaults out of the Olympic Games?


Pros - Incredibly consistent. Quick for a big man with the ability to convert low level takedowns. 


Cons - 30 years old, back injuries, and just accepted a coaching job at tOSU. The writing is on the wall. This will most likely be his last time wrestling on the senior level. Bring on the Gwiz! (Anyone but Zach Rey).

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Kyle Snyder is absolutely a truly elite wrestler.  His 2 Gold medals prove that beyond any doubt.  He is very good defensively in par terre.  Also the best defense is not to get taken down and then you don't have to defend.  The way FS rules currently work you can be a great FS wrestler without having a good top game.  That being said Kyle is young and may yet develop some par terre offence.  If he does it's a bonus.

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My take on Snyder

He won the last two championships because of his gas tank, his offense, and has the ability to make adjustments. Take four examples, the Cuban at beat the streets was a 3-0 victory for Kyle ( I believe ). At Rio the margin was far greater and the Cuban seemed to be utterly exhausted by the end of the match. The Iranian he faced at Las Vegas was a fairly tight match, after Kyle raced out to a four nothing lead. When he faced him again at the World Cup he won by a larger margin. ( Yes you could say that Kyle may have sat on his lead a little bit in Las Vegas, and I'll concede that point). Next the Georgian, at the World Cup it came down to the wire, where Kyle had to get a late takedown to come away with the victory. At Rio, Kyle fell behind by four right off the bat, but relentlessly pounded the Georgian, turning him into a guy who barely could move. Lastly Gazymov, Gaz beat Kyle at the German Grand Prix like a month or so before the Games, but at Rio, Kyle was able to turn the tables on him and win the Gold. And I didn't even talk about wearing down and scoring on Gadisov to take the Title in Vegas.

I will also agree that I would like to see him add some more weapons to his arsenal, as well as improving his top and bottom game. But I do see him doing other things, like his feet to back move against Saritov, earlier in the year he was just walking these guys out of bounds.

But going back to what I said at the top of my analysis, is that Kyle is just out working his opponents. And I believe that through all this work, will also come these added techniques. All hail the Boy King!

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