It’s almost here! Saturday, 30 of the top men and women in the country will descend upon Rutgers University in New Jersey for the first of two weekends worth of action at Final X. This will be the second year in a row, where the Senior men’s and women’s freestyle team will be determined by a wrestle-off at a predetermined site, rather than under one roof at the World Team Trials. This year we have the Greco-Roman team aboard, as well, so all our Senior teams in all three styles will be determined over the next two weeks. Since there are two different dates, rather than the three in 2018, both sites were scheduled to have 15 matches apiece. That meant that each day’s worth of Final X would be broken up into two sessions. Session one will start at 12pm and a second session will begin at 6pm. Each best-of-three wrestle-off will be held during their scheduled session.
Now Final X Rutgers will only have 13 matches since David Taylor pulled out of the entire world team process for 2019, and yesterday, Kyle Dake asked for his wrestle-off to be moved back due to an injury (Since Dake is a returning world medalist, he can make such a request).
Even though this event lost some of its luster with the loss of Dake and Taylor, we are still left with three very intriguing matches. Each one features a wrestler that competed at the 2019 NCAA Championships facing, at a minimum, a past world team member. Will we see a passing of the torch or the proven great’s showing why there are among the best in the world? Here are the matches that will be taking place in men’s freestyle, a preview of the action, and predictions for all three matches.
Match Four : (125 kg) Nick Gwiazdowski - Titan Mercury WC/Wolfpack RTC vs. Gable Steveson - Minnesota RTC
How they qualified for Final X:
Gwiazdowski: 2018 World Bronze Medalist
Steveson: World Team Trials champion
What a treat for the first men’s freestyle match in the Final X series! Nick Gwiazdowski is the incumbent, having made the world team for the previous two seasons and earning a world bronze in both years. Nick has not been seriously tested domestically over the last two years, even in his 2018 Final X matchup against Adam Coon. On the other hand, the young upstart Steveson dismantled Coon in a fashion that even Nick could not match.
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